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Confessions of a Guitar Hoarder

How to put an instrument collection to good use

Man hugging guitar
Photography by Ali Yahya

I’m a guitar hoarder from the Baby Boom generation. I grew up in the Beatles era when everyone played guitar and formed garage bands, trying to sound like the Ventures, Rolling Stones, or The Who. We started collecting instruments like electric guitars and amps. Some of us ventured into folk styles, expanding our collections to include banjos, mandolins, ukuleles. We emulated our heroes, who seemed to change guitars with every song they played, filling the stage with their instrument collections. We became guitar hoarders.

Guitar hoarding is still around. Social media is filled with people who share their latest instrument purchases. It’s an illness and they lovingly know it! People post photos of guitar collections that fill entire rooms. Once the guitar-collecting compulsion takes hold, you seldom can give it up—unless you can find a way to put it to good use.

That’s what I did in my mid-40’s. I took a more minimalist approach in my lifestyle during the 1990’s after reading the book “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin. In the past two decades, I haven’t really given up buying guitars and ukuleles, but now I buy them to share on loan or as gifts to kids that are with out. At any given time, I probably have 90 to 100 instruments in circulation to kids so they can take music lessons and practice at home. It’s a way of putting my hoarding tendencies to good use and I still get the pleasure of finding new instruments.

The reality is that most music instrument collections wind up collecting dust in closets, under beds, or in garages and attics, eventually falling into disrepair. If you are one of these collectors, please look around you for a way to put it all to use by helping others.

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