Guitar players now have a sanctuary
By J.B. Blocker, Viewpoint
You don’t have to die to go to Guitar Heaven!
In the heart of Collin County lies Adriatica, a 45-acre Mediterranean village reproduction. Go to West Virginia and Stonebridge on the west side of McKinney.
Music from above
If you happen to be strolling around the stonework streets of Adriatica, while you are admiring the architecture and landscape of the inner urban community, you might hear the sounds of a guitar coming from the bell tower. That would be George Fuller the builder/contractor up there trying out some of his newest guitar discoveries.
When he is not building or participating in community development, George answers to a higher power. He plays lead guitar for a band named for his wife, the Maylee Thomas Band. The higher power is a devotion to God, Family, and Guitars.
There are guitar prodigies all over the world. There might be one under your roof. I’ve known people who can pick up just about any musical instrument and instantly make a connection. Don’t be surprised if it’s your son or daughter who is just waiting for the opportunity and inspiration to become the next Taylor Swift or even John Lennon.
But it takes more than talent to make it as a musician. The difference in instruments can change everything! The way it fits your body, your hands, and your personality all come together when you sit down with the right guitar. Knowing equipment and accessories is a must, and associating with better musicians is the catalyst to improving your art.
The first time I visited the Guitar Sanctuary, I was greeted by an old acquaintance Quinten Hope. He’s the kind of guitar player that makes my fingers ache. If you are a guitar player, and you watch somebody really good, you automatically try to air guitar along. When their talent is out of your league, your fingers get tangled in knots trying to copy the riffs and make the transitions.
Guys like Quinten, George and a host of other local guitar talent work, hang around, and teach at the Sanctuary. They can show you how to play that chord that has the 5 spots arranged in some ridiculous pattern on the guitar tablature.
The tablature is music copy with those little boxes with black spots that appear above the lines of sheet music and show chord transitions and how to make that chord. The problem for beginners is figuring out how you make five fingers move around the neck and cover those black spots. And if you don’t have the tablature for the music, how do you transition from a Bb7 to an Eb7sus. How do you even make an Eb7sus?
The really talented and seasoned pros had someone to teach them the tricks along the way. For the lucky beginners who have access to the pros, the learning curve changes dramatically.
Kiss the Girls
Two things have to happen to turn the tide for a budding guitarist.
First of all, finding the instrument that fits you is like finding a lover. To find that connection, you really need to play the field. You know, kiss a lot of girls! It will be worth it.
When you find that guitar and take her home with you, you will fall asleep with her in your lap. You will have her strategically resting within arms length of your favorite chair. You will talk to her with your fingers, and she will magically talk back with sounds that started somewhere between your head and your heart. Those sounds are finally spoken from the hollow depths of wood and electronics.
Expert dating advise
I walked in to the Guitar Sanctuary and behold! Beautiful variations of a woman’s form in a full range of colors and embellishments cover the walls. I am looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars hanging on Georges custom made racks like wall flowers at a debutants ball.
I greet Quinten who is the store manager, and I instantly know I have a new guitar resource always at the ready. He can’t run, he can’t hide, he works there!
I haven’t had a real Guitar haven since the days of Earl Swinford’s studio/guitar shop in Lubbock, Texas.
It was a place where the elite of Lubbock’s guitar world hung out. It was my entry into the world of 6 strings. Oh, I was already playing little steak house gigs for tuition, but I didn’t have much range past Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, and others noted for easy 3 chord progressions. I couldn’t transpose and I stumbled mightily with the chord complexities of many of the Beatles, John Denver, and the Eagles songs that were in my vocal wheel house.
I can thank a dozen or more players who showed me the way while I was discovering new guitar models and new electronic gizmos.
I can’t abide the big super music stores. Piano players are selling flutes and guitars they have never played. The chance of someone knowing how to use different effects boxes is slim and bad information is as rampant as lack of knowledge. They sell Wal-mart versions and knock off accessories because sales are more important than customer satisfaction.
If you were to find a competent sales associate, they probably wouldn’t still be working there the next time you stop by. I quit stopping by those big boxes years ago.
As George Fuller promises, “Everything in here is here for a reason, and we know the reasons. Every new guitar and effect gets played with because we can’t help it! It is our own candy store.”
Guitarist like Quinten and George love to share their knowledge and will happily strap you in and turn you on to the world of guitars and effects.
I spied a Martin acoustic and strapped in. Behind me, a Takamini much like my own kept staring at me until I had to change partners. Next to the Takamini was a Collins special edition flirting with me. I am so fickle!
But while I’m playing the Collins, two ladies kept winking at me from across the room. They were Paul Reed Smith custom acoustics. Beautiful works of art with details of fine rare woods, intricate inlays, and custom hardware. I shyly put away the Collins with her clean clear tones, and I tentatively reached for one of the PRSmith girls.
Once she was safely in my embrace, she began to talk back to me! With tones that were astonishingly deep and rich! She sang a new song. One that I had heard in my head but it was music that had gotten lost in the translation through my own guitar.
Uh oh! My love for my Takamini just changed. I instantly realize that I might have been dating the wrong girl. No wonder my music seemed flat and lifeless.
I looked up at Quinten and his always sheepish grin. I held the PR Smith sister away from me and said to Quinten, “I’m not sure I’m worthy!” He looked back and knowingly responded, “I know what you mean!”
This is Guitar Heaven!
There is a lot more to this story but I said there were 2 things a guitar player needs. First, you need a guitar that you can dance with like a seasoned partner, and secondly, you need continuous knowledge and inspiration like flowers need rain! Knowledge is inspirational!
Get Some! at a sanctuary for the guitarist at heart. Bring your prodigy and meet some of Collin Counties Guit Arch Angels.
You might even get some autographs when you are there! You never know who might be there. You might be seeing them on the big stages.
They had better not be dancing with my girl! I’m saving for the engagement ring that is engraved JB loves PR Smith!
J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney.