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The $100 Guitar Project: Act 1

Pascal-Denis Lussier By

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"The spirit of the project is to mine sounds out of this crappy guitar and that's what's important: just get into its identity and do a piece with it," explained Didkovsky. "We expect people to really get into whatever this thing is and let it do the driving as they speak with their own voice. It would be disappointing if we heard a piece and went, 'uh, is the $100 Guitar really in there somewhere?' or if a piece had the $100 Guitar slapped on there just to fulfill the requirements of the project. But nobody's going to do that; everyone gets it. And, interestingly, it's an even playing field. We're not over-promising anything about this guitar, and then snickering at the thought of some guitarist discovering that really it's a finger hatin' dead fish. We all know it could well be a finger hatin' dead fish. Speaking for myself, that's what's cool about it. It's going to put up a fight and likely reveal some sonic treasures in the process."

O'Meara expounded: "Besides our love for the absurd and ridiculous side of things, this project is also about tapping into the 'soul' of something. Nick and I are huge fans of Werner Herzog and I think this is a theme in much of his work: finding something profound in an otherwise ordinary world."

The Details

Project details and rules are very straightforward: each guitarist keeps the guitar for one week and then send O'Meara and Didkovsky a finished, ready-to-go-on-CD sound file as well as a picture of themselves with the guitar.

"The restrictions—we prefer the term 'guidelines'—are primarily practical," O'Meara explained. "We can't let 30 guitarists keep the guitar for a month or more because it would take years to finish the project, so we have to impose a one-week time limit. One firm rule is 'no cover tunes'; we just don't have the time or resources to be able to bother with copyrights and royalties and all that legal/financial stuff. If they want to play slide, fine. If they want to sing a song and use the guitar to accompany themselves, fine. If they want to multi-track it, fine. They can use effects but they cannot modify or improve [the guitar] in any way other than repair it if necessary or change strings."

Once done, each person then signs the guitar and sends/delivers it to the next at his/her own expense.

"Chuck and I will deal with the scheduling and let people know where to send it next or to whom to hand it locally." Although nothing has yet been formalized, Didkovsky added: "Sponsorship would be grand—it would be nice to relieve anyone of any shipping costs."

What about the CD and all those other details?

"We expect totally finished tracks from participants. We will just take care of sequencing, mastering and the package. We don't know who will put this out yet. We haven't approached anyone," O'Meara offered.

"We're batting a lot of ideas around," Didkovsky said. "For a while we were batting around the idea of just making the project virtual—that pieces would be posted as mp3's as they became available—but we think a CD is the way to go. It's too early to tell much more. Who knows... maybe a label might get interested. We'll look at every distribution possibility with a welcoming and critical eye."

The guitar's end?

"I saw Pete Townshend try to smash a Stratocaster in 1967," said O'Meara, "and I was amazed how much it took to make that guitar go silent! There's not much to fail, electric guitars are pretty tough. Wires can be soldered. Certainly if it got lost or burned up in a fire or something, that would be the end of it. Nick and I actually envision the guitar traveling around the world someday. If this project is successful, we'd give it to someone in China or Bulgaria and let them take over."

I'll be following this project, providing updates and further info as the story unfolds.

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