Getting over the pain of the first dent

I bought my Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster in March 2009. When I took it out of the case for the first time, I could immediately tell the difference between it and all of the other guitars I had owned up to that point. The workmanship was impeccable – the surfaces were perfectly smooth, the joints were tight, the hardware shone, and the wood was beautiful. I was in awe of it – it’s the most beautiful instrument I have ever owned, and my first impression was that it looked like a fine piece of furniture – and I’ve taken extra-special care of it since then.

Lately, I’ve noticed some loosening of the output jack. It hasn’t affected the sound, but I could tell that it wasn’t tight whenever I removed the cable. No problem, I thought. Jacks are easy to tighten.

So last weekend, I got out my tools and set to work. As I was finishing up, though, I did the unthinkable: I accidentally dropped a tool on the surface of the guitar from about five inches in the air, which resulted in a small ding, about a millimeter in diameter.

(Click photo for a better view.)

In the center of the photo on the left, you can kind of see the dent. Due to poor lighting, a cheap camera, and a general lack of skills (my fault), the only way that I could get a decent photo of the dent was to use a flash. All other blemishes are just dust. The photo on the right shows the recessed output jack. At least the dent really doesn't show up from afar, which is good.

Oh, the pain!

I was mortified! And not because the guitar guitar belongs to anyone else, or because I plan to sell it ever, but because it’s the guitar’s very first blemish. My beautiful guitar, blemished forever! I felt so bad – it was as if I had hurt someone else’s guitar, even though it is totally my own.

So I took a couple of deep breaths and tried my best to shake it off.

I felt badly enough about it that I actually went online and ran a search for the phrase “i got my first dent in my new guitar,” or something lame like that. After doing some digging, I found a guy who said, in response to a gentleman who got a slight ding on his fretboard, “It’s your guitar! If it doesn’t affect playability, play it some more, and get more dents in it!” I smiled – somehow, that actually made me feel better. Battle scars do give the instrument some character, right?

I’ve gotten dents in new guitars before. My acoustic, which I’ve had since 2003, has a whole bunch of dents: I would often walk around the house while I played it, bumping it into corners and doorknobs and so on. It also has several scratches on it, from an instance when my old cat became fascinated by the strings and started pawing at it near the bridge. The guitar has taken its share of lumps, but it still plays as well as it did when I bought it, so technically it’s no worse for wear.

However, that was a low-to-mid-budget instrument. The Strat is a much more expensive, well-made instrument, and dropping a tool on it is such a crappy way to christen it… so it’s a little more difficult to swallow.

I think I’ll be OK, though. Looking critically at the guitar, I can see that it’s already showing signs of slight (normal) wear, particularly on the fretboard. As I play it more, it will continue to become broken-in over time, and the small ding I just gave it will be of less significance.

The fact that it happened because I dropped a tool on it just stings, for now. That’s all. 😛

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2 Comments on “Getting over the pain of the first dent”

  1. djbaroque says:

    As a fellow guitarist, I totally get where you are coming from. I’ve got a strat myself, albeit not as desirable as yours, I’ve noticed a few dinks on it also. Just like you I was in two minds about it. Firstly, it’s my paintjob and the instruments appearance, but then secondly like yourself, I’m thinking that at least it shows that I’m playing the guitar and it’s taking up all the mojo, sweat and vibes from my playing. I look at someone like Rory Gallagher and his guitar is battered almost beyond belief, and whilst I like that look for above reasons, sometimes though, I want my nice untarnished paintjob back!

    • Russ says:

      Yeah, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are two others who had/have crazy guitar wear and tear. Shepherd’s main guitar has a huge chunk out of the body!

      If, at some point down the road, I notice my guitar looking well-worn, I most likely won’t have these temporary feelings of shame and horror; instead, I’ll be proud it, as evidence that the guitar has been well-used, and has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years.


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