In 1965, I had been playing for three years on my first guitar, a Harmony Sovereign, and received enough gift money for graduating from Stanford to buy a used 1960 D-28. At Stanford, I studied basic engineering and physics, giving me the conceptual background to analyze forces acting in the myriad ways they do in a guitar.
Living in Palo Alto back then had an unexpected, life-changing event. I had heard of and then seen a guitar player who was teaching at Dana Morgan Music. I was a bit intimidated, having never seen someone with hair down to the middle of his back, but I had heard him play some gigs, and once, sitting at the curb in front of Dana Morgan, leaning against a parking meter. Electric blues, with cord stretching back to an amp inside, people politely stepping over the cord. I ditched classes and sat at the next parking meter for a couple of hours listening in amazement.
Once I owned the D-28, I decided it was time, and scheduled a half hour lesson--which cost $3. On the wall of the music store’s back room hung a black and white 8x11 promo picture for his band, “The Warlocks”, but Jerry said they were now calling themselves the Greatful Dead. Within a month, their first hit was on the radio, and his career in teacher came to an abrupt end.
Jerry Garcia explained cross flat picking, wrote out a simple bluegrass run, told me to learn to make a G chord with fingers 2, 3 and 4, so that the index finger was free to do the run, and to listen to Doc Watson.
During that half hour, I mentioned that I was disppointed in the D-28, and he told me about Jon Lundberg’s store in Berkeley, where I could have the braces “shaved”. The Dead used guitars Jon had re-voiced on their acoustic albums of the late ‘60s, Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty, and these albums became more guitar lessons for me, as they expanded on what I first learned that day in July, 1965.