Over the summer, I posted a few videos and people were asking, “Hey Matt, did you get a new guitar?” and, well, here’s the story!
I went to Spain for the first time in 2010. Hours after landing in Madrid, painfully jet lagged, I went to look for a flamenco guitar. I bought a Conde, and it has been my constant companion ever since. That was also the day I began to develop a caffeine addiction.
That’s me with Felipe Conde, the day I bought my guitar. I was eighteen! Time flies. In retrospect, I’m glad I’ve grown my hair out. That wasn’t a very “flamenco” look I had going on at the time.
I don’t want to take the Conde on an overseas flight every time I go back to Spain. So whenever I go, I fly over, buy an inexpensive guitar, play it for a few months, fly it home, and sell it. Not a bad scheme, eh? After one of the trips, I kept the cheap guitar I bought, installed pickups, and adopted it as my “this is a bad gig for microphones” guitar. That guitar doesn’t play very well, and I’m pretty sure it’s made of reconstituted wood pulp or plywood. But it does the trick when I need it. I’ve joked that I’d burn it for a hundred dollars, but it’s been through enough great gigs with me that I’ve learned to care for it.
Back to the Conde. No matter how hard I tried, Northern Ontario’s climate started to wreak a little havoc on it, and I sent it away to be examined (turns out it’s fine, just normally aging). I was without my Conde for the first time in six years. It was awful to be away from it for so long. That said, the Conde shop does a wonderful job of caring for its instruments and the musicians who play them. My guitar got the vacation that I wanted for myself!
So, that guitar in my videos this summer? That’s the backup guitar with the pickups. Through the wonders of modern technology and countless hours of tinkering, I actually learned to make it sound pretty good on recordings.
Musicians form incredibly strong bonds with their instruments. I think it’s to do with what they represent to us. My guitar is my voice. I’ve spent so many hours using it to communicate my emotions and ideas. Many people who watch my videos or see my shows have never heard me speak except through my instrument. Besides that, I probably spend more time with my Conde than I do with actual people, and when I’m awake it’s usually within a few feet of me if I’m not in fact holding it. It’s no stretch to say that my guitar feels like an extension of my body. When I thought it was damaged, if felt like there was something wrong with me, like I was injured. It was physically distressing, as though I had injured one of my hands.
Now to be fair, I am the kind of person who bonds easily with inanimate objects (I was visibly upset when I sold my old iPod), but guitars are far from “inanimate” – they transform, amplify, and express the energy you put into them. My guitar helps me connect with people, and you could probably make a compelling argument that it’s in fact more animate than I am. It’s so nice to have it back home with me.
Also, back in October, my friend Dennis Duffin came to Thunder Bay to record his new album in my studio, so I got to play recording engineer/producer for someone else! Dennis even brought in a U67 that I got to play around with. It was a lot of fun. Can’t wait for his project to get out there for you all to hear!