A new toy…

Well, not so much a new toy, rather an new copy of an old one.

On my 21st birthday, oh so many years ago (OK, if you insist – 1980), my parents bought me a new guitar. I had been learning on a second-hand Yamaha classical (which I still have) but wanted a steel-string for the kind of stuff I was playing.

We went to a guitar shop, to pick it together, and I decided I really liked the look of an Eko Ranger 12 string. I’ve played and loved that guitar ever since, partly for the sentimental value, but also because it sounds so beautiful.

It’s a pity it got broken.

ranger12natural_midAbout 10 years ago, I was at a convention, and had a gig to play. Needing to nip to the loo, I left my guitar safe in a corner, and came back to tune it up. It wouldn’t tune – I’d tighten a string, but it would go slack again. Looking at the neck, I was horrified to see it had split just under the headstock. I didn’t have time to cry about it – I loosened the strings and went to borrow a guitar for the gig.

Later, on examining it, I could see other damage, indicating that it had had an accident, rather than just failed. However, I never did find out exactly what happened to the guitar.

I ended up taking it to a friendly guitar guru in Peterborough that my friend Mike recommended. He did a splendid job, gluing the neck and strengthening it with bolts, and then revarnished it to match. It looked as good as new, but he warned me that it might not be able to take the tension of 12 strings.

He was right. After a while, the newly applied varnish cracked, and where the neck met the body, it started to bow at the back. I quickly reduced it to 6 strings, and it didn’t get worse – even the action was still good. More recently I have been playing it as an “8 string” – with the top two strings doubled up. It gives it a nice ring, and also gets strange looks from people.

Not long after the accident, I bought another 12-string, a Yamaha electo-acoustic. It sounds gorgeous through an amp, but I have never really been satisfied with the acoustic sound – pretty, but with no oomph.

What I didn’t know was that Eko were manufacturing a new reissue of the Ranger 12. It appears that they have done for some time, so I don’t know how I missed this news. I’ve certainly spent long enough looking at old Ekos on eBay, and wondering whether to buy or not; you would think I would have noticed new models if they had been around. Perhaps it is simply a case of distribution in the UK.

Anyway, I discovered this last week, and ordered a new 12-string. Of course I had misgivings – a significant part of the mellow tone of my old one is down to aging; but then I thought of how I was delighted with it when I first got it, and thought “what the heck”.

200 quid has never been better spent. It arrived today, and is beautiful. It is not as deep and mellow as my old 12/6/8-string, but it rings clearly like the Yamaha never has (unless you put it through several hundreds of pounds worth of amp). I am quite delighted with it, and look forward to bringing it to the next session I play.

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