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Thread: My Journey: The Caretaker vs The Owner

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    My Journey: The Caretaker vs The Owner

    I was congratulating forum member justmund on his modified PRS (seen here) and praised him for being an "Owner". He mentioned that he never saw the thread (on BaM, may it rest in peace). Half-way through my response, I thought it prudent to revive the discussion in a thread all it's own.

    (EDIT: While the original post (and this one) was about MY journey, those two words (caretaker & Owner) carried on in the community. I added them to the Lexicon and then deleted them when it was clearly the wrong thing to do. I'm not trying to apply labels to anyone. I'm just describing my own experiences. If they resonate with you too, then I suppose we have even more in common than before.)

    The gist of the original thread was that I was at a cross-road in my journey from guitar player to guitar collector and was slowly making my way back to being a guitar player who happens to have a guitar collection. My fear of hurting the value of my guitars was starting to get a little silly. In my original thread, I mentioned that I no longer felt the need to keep them perfect for the next guy to enjoy. I called that (keeping them perfect) the Caretaker perspective. A caretaker, to me, regards each guitar as an investment and keeps them nice, presumably, for the next guy to consume. That's not to say that people who prefer them flawless are all Caretakers.

    Many of my guitars were destined to spend their lives in the case. Their basic value was tied, primarily, to my selfishness and greed. The Caretaker perspective is now the thing I dislike most in myself. It is ever-present. But I am committed to becoming a full-time Owner. Even if I'm an Owner with a collection - which may include some guitars that hardly ever leave the case.

    An Owner, in the context of this discussion, is not afraid to play, modify, or scratch/dent the guitar. I didn't say that an owner is concerned about keeping the guitar nice - just that if a scratch or dent happens, its just part of the ownership experience. An Owner is prepared to consume the value of each guitar in his/her lifetime -- leaving something between a well played guitars and a worthless pile of sticks upon his/her departure. An Owner makes each guitar "a tool" to accomplish a task. A beautiful tool, sure... but a tool nonetheless. An Owner with Caretaker tendencies will probably remember the time and place of every single ding and dent. I think that's a bonus. That brings me to the heart of the original thread... when you really own a guitar, it becomes more than a tool; it becomes a diary of a life well-lived.

    Example: I had a stunning HB2 Artist once. My daughter, Eden, closed the lid of case as I was removing the guitar. It received a small ding from a latch on the case. I was really upset about it (like a good Caretaker) at the time. I sold that guitar - which I regret. Now, 4 years later, I see it very differently. That ding is mine! It was made made by my daughter when she was a year old. I will never forget the moment and having that guitar would make the memory a little more vivid. More tangible, if you will. I feel so silly that I got upset about it. I really wish I had THAT guitar back. I would never repair that ding. It was an entry into the diary of my life - and my journey with Eden. Why would I want to erase that?

    Anyway... I am an Owner at heart but I carry on as a Caretaker. It's a 60/40 split in favor (to my frustration) of the Caretaker. Being a full-time Owner is an important goal of mine. I may never get there but I'm going to try.
    Last edited by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©; 12-02-2012 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Clarifications
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Oh I so get this....
    I was a "caretaker" of a Les Paul Custom for 20 years... I've become an owner of several guitars the past two years. I actually like to find used guitars that already have a ding - "pre disastered" - so they are ready to be players and it overcomes my "Caretaker" tendencies. My description was I went from being a Guitar "owner" to a guitar "player".

    I had one guitar that I considered to valuble to play... so I just sold it. I have an R9 that sort of falls into that catagory so the first thing I did with it was GIG it. It was build in my daughters Birth year... I'm going to give it some history before she gets it.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Rango View Post
    Oh I so get this....
    I was a "caretaker" of a Les Paul Custom for 20 years... I've become an owner of several guitars the past two years. I actually like to find used guitars that already have a ding - "pre disastered" - so they are ready to be players and it overcomes my "Caretaker" tendencies. My description was I went from being a Guitar "owner" to a guitar "player".

    I had one guitar that I considered to valuble to play... so I just sold it. I have an R9 that sort of falls into that catagory so the first thing I did with it was GIG it. It was build in my daughters Birth year... I'm going to give it some history before she gets it.
    Then how can you tell your history from that of the previous owner?

    Quote Originally Posted by aduayer View Post
    Hans, you are a poet. loved it.
    That's nice of you to say, Alex.
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    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    Then how can you tell your history from that of the previous owner?
    There was no History ON the guitar. I have the history OF the guitar. The guy was a Strat Player, he bought it and put it under the bed. He was its caretaker, case still smelled of lacquer when you opened it and it had the original strings with no corrosion. He bought it as a celebration of 25 year sober but had other issues and it was time for it to move on. He was pleased when I told him what would happen to it.... I'd play it and hand it to my daughter when she was of age.

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    Senior Member
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    Unless i miss my guess, HANS is deep into his menopausal state. Peace be with you!

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    Bobble Head Moderator JMintzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefade View Post
    Unless i miss my guess, HANS is deep into his menopausal state. Peace be with you!
    If you have personal issues, please refrain from airing them on the forum. Thank you.
    ---Jamie---

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    Member Rosewoodsteel's Avatar
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    I pour beer on my guitars and leave them outside in the rain.
    From the People's Republic of Maryland (One beer away from the West Street Shop)

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  8. #8
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosewoodsteel View Post
    I pour beer on my guitars and leave them outside in the rain.
    Nice try, but you're not this guy:

    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

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    Senior Member aduayer's Avatar
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    Hans, you are a poet. loved it.

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    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I think I am an owner who tries to take care of things.
    I usually only buy things that I am going to suck every speck of life out of, but I do treat them in such a way as to maximuize that life.

  11. #11
    I am a little of both I guess. I just recently acquired a 2005 CE 24, and it was used, and of course had a few dings here and there, and some buckle rash on the back, but that is ok, as it is a player, and that is what I intend to do is play the bejeezus out of it...hahahahaha. However I will try to be a caretaker, and hope it doesnt get any more boo-boo's, but if it does it just gives it character

  12. #12
    Wheels cjmwrx's Avatar
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    I am an owner. I was a caretaker when I first started playing again. Now that I am serious about finally getting theory down, they are just tools of the trade.

    I now have only one PRS, my Cu24 EIRW, and it goes everywhere with me. I have a Martin 00028 for my acoustic that travels as well. It gets dings (I still ***** about them) but I am not afraid to use/take it anywhere.

    I am also down to only one amp now. My Mesa/Boogie DC3. I recapped it, and keep an entire set of tubes on hand for failures. Play it through my 2x12 Recto cab when I need to sound "bigger".
    BDR-529

  13. #13
    408 Sig Club President Twinfan's Avatar
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    I am an "Owner" of all but one of my guitars, the rest get used and enjoyed regularly. My ME1 has dings, tarnished hardware and buckle rash which I guess means I've completely devalued it; however, I gigged it regularly and have some great memories of doing so!

    My current #1 squeeze for live work is a PS Signature that I dropped on its first outing just after soundcheck, causing a big ding in the lower edge. I was really upset at the time, then I played the snot out of if at that gig and have continued to do so since. I completely OWN that guitar now!

  14. #14
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    I was at a local theater turned bar last year to watch a friend of mine's band play. There was a warm up band playing when I got there and the lead guitarist was playing a CE24. This is a New Rock/Metal genre. The guy was jumping around on stage like most do these days but then at the end he did what I decided to write about. He held the last power chord and as the crowd cheered, he walked around on stage and banged it on cabs and mic stands. Then he took off the strap and threw his PRS on the floor (making sure that it landed flat on it's back). Now, IMO he is neither a caretaker nor an owner. He's just a stupid player.

    I have collected a number of really nice PRSi over the years, but I don't think of them as a collection. I play them all regularly. Then again, when playing I don't bang them into anything I can find either. I don't mind the inevitable ding, but I try to take as good of care with them as possible. I wear soft clothes when practicing and when performing I have fun but take care at the same time. I guess that makes me an "Owner/Player" with a "Collector" mentality.
    1988 CE24, 1995 CE22, 2000 SC, 2006 Cu24 AP, 2006 SC AP, 2007 CuRo22, 2008 Mira, 2010 Starla Stoptail, 2012 Mira
    2007 SE Soapy 2, 2010 SE 25th Anni Cu24, 2012 SE Bernie, 2013 SE Angelus

    PRS SE50, Mesa Single RectoVerb, Mesa Lonestar, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

  15. #15
    DEEPER STRIATIONS markie's Avatar
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    I believe I am a "Caretaker" of all my Guitars. However, I do play them. I just can't get my head around being careless with them. I cannot understand why anyone would wear a belt buckle, shirt with buttons, or metalhead rings while playing an expensive guitar. I understand the World is made up of all types. I also know that if you take care of anything, it will still be nice in 3-5-10-20 years. My wife can have nice furniture if she wants it. If she is going to let my Grandchildren destroy it.............. She needs to get it at a rumage sale or Goodwill.
    Fanboy of the Jester (AKA) James (Previously known as 11top)

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by markie View Post
    I just can't get my head around being careless with them. I cannot understand why anyone would wear a belt buckle, shirt with buttons, or metalhead rings while playing an expensive guitar.
    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    There is a third possibility, Hans: Owners who take care of their stuff! And for themselves, not for the next guy.
    I certainly agree on both counts. If you saw the 1st thread, both points were well made.

    IMO, being an owner does not mean you have to be careless or destroy them deliberately.

    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    The whole categorization of owners vs. caretakers is pointless, since everyone's habits are different. Why the need to generalize?
    The original thread got off on this foot too. It was about me and my journey and, somehow, became something more - like I was judging those who wish to remain caretakers, which isn't the case. I also made it clear that there is no way I could be one or the other. I am absolutely in both camps.

    Nothing about this discussion is intended to categorize or generalize the philosophy or tendencies of others. It had nothing to do with anyone but myself until I posed the question... "Which of the two are you?"

    Both or None are also acceptable answers.
    Last edited by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©; 10-09-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    The original thread got off on this foot too. It was about me and my journey and, somehow, became something more - like I was judging those who wish to remain caretakers, which isn't the case.
    Well it became something more because it's included in the PRS Lexicon that you linked to this thread:

    "Owner - Someone who is not afraid to play, modify, or scratch/dent his/her guitar. An Owner is prepared to consume the full value of his/her guitar in his/her lifetime -- leaving only a worthless pile of sticks on his departure. An Owner makes each guitar "a tool" to accomplish a task. A beautiful tool, sure... but a tool nonetheless. An Owner regards his/her guitar as a diary of a life well-lived. An owner is the opposite of a Caretaker."

    Now, I realize that you took a certain poetic and creative license here. Nothing wrong with that.

    If you meant to apply it only to yourself, you should maybe call it "Hans' Lexicon" instead of the PRS Lexicon? Because nothing in that definition limits its applicability to only you. And if memory serves, you made this definition up, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    You're saying you're not "judging those who wish to remain caretakers." I suppose you can make up a definition of a word, and apply it to whoever you like, and not make a judgment about them, as in whether they're good or bad. But to define someone (even yourself) necessarily involves a judgment as to whether a person at the very least fits into that category.

    And by the same token, the people you'd define with your own special meaning don't have to accept your definition.

    As an Owner, I have no wish to consume an instrument and leave a worthless pile of sticks. I know of wonderful instruments treasured and used professionally by generations of their owners and players, that were built in the 17th and 18th Centuries. They're used to their very fullest potential to make music that people enjoy, most by professional orchestra players who play the full repertoire on them. What else would you have them do?

    Leave a pile of sticks on top of everything else?

    Of course not. I know you don't mean that. But they're hardly caretakers. They probably spend more time practicing and playing than most of the folks you'd define as "owners." Many practice - not just perform, practice - 8 hours a day. They play the crap out of these six and seven figure instruments.

    So part of my Ownership decision making is to keep the instruments in a condition I personally enjoy and demand for my own professional use, and part of my Ownership decision is to do the opposite of leaving a worthless pile of sticks.

    I think it's perfectly cool that you'll make your own ownership decisions for yourself. But that doesn't make this one an owner, and that one a caretaker.

    Meantime, you're a great guy, I like you a lot, and I have no quarrel. But I'd prefer to stick with the dictionary definition, "A person who owns something." I work hard and sweat blood to Own my instruments. That's what makes me want to keep them in great shape. And enjoy playing them all the more.

    Les

    PRS Owner.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-09-2012 at 05:41 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Harker1440's Avatar
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    I am a PLAYER and according to SOME People here on the forum a FLIPPER

  19. #19
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harker1440 View Post
    I am a PLAYER and according to SOME People here on the forum a FLIPPER
    Funny you don't look like a dolphin!
    -Bob

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Harker1440 View Post
    I am a PLAYER and according to SOME People here on the forum a FLIPPER
    I thought flipping was just your schtick.

    But that's an entirely different thread... which also died with BaM. Not that I'm calling you a flipper...



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