The year was 2003. I was 14 years old and little did I know, the next couple of years would shape my life as a musician. I had been taking lessons for about 3 years at this point at a local music shop. They didn't have much as far as instruments but my teachers were great and that's all I needed. They usually stocked beginner guitars and starter packs. It was way easier and faster to move that stuff as a business than a $2k+ LP Custom. So when they got cool gear in, I would drool over it. Every Friday I had lessons so I knew what was on their walls at all times. At the time, I only had a Cort Strat copy and a beginner Dean bass. Nothing to brag about but they did the job.
One Fall day, I rolled in with my dad and saw a Wine Red LP Studio sitting up on the wall. I had never really played anything that nice and at 14 years old, it looked amazing. I took it down and riffed on it a little bit and fell in love. Unfortunately at the time, My dad didn't have a lot of money and everything he made basically went to bills and food. I walked into my lesson thinking knowing I couldn't have it but hopefully it would last a couple weeks so I could keep playing it at the store. I left that night staring at it. The following Friday I showed up for my lesson at the same time. I walked in and it was gone. Someone had scooped it by the time I got to play it again. I was upset but I knew whoever got it would love it as much as I did.
Fast Forward to December 23rd. I was heading to a local show with a couple friends to see some bands that we all knew from our school. I knew the headlining band, but didn't really know any of the other bands. After a few bands, a group of kids walked on stage to get ready for their set. One guitarist pulls out this awesome LP Classic. Black with a cream binding. The other.... pulls out a wine red Les Paul Studio. It was the guitar. The kid playing it I recognized from the same music store. He also took lessons there. It was like a god damn knife in my heart. Ill say this though, he shred that thing to high hell. After the show I went back to my dad and told him about it. He knew I loved the guitar and was bummed out for me too. I told him that it was the same one and he laughed about the situation.
The next day was Christmas Eve. My dad and I always exchanged on the 24th because I spent Christmas Day with my mom. I had given him my gifts so now it was my turn. He walked downstairs to grab my gift from a friend that was hiding it for me in his apartment downstairs. He walked in with an Epiphone case and a 5 guitar stand. Of course I was excited but what I didn't know, was that the 96 Les Paul I had seen in the store was in that case. I opened it up in complete shock. Not knowing how it could be possible. I saw the guitar, it was on stage with another kid..... Or was it? My dad explained to me that when I walked in that room for lessons, even though he didn't have the money, he told the store owner he'd take it. They worked out a payment plan right then and there and I was completely in the dark. When we left the store that day, the owner put the guitar in its case and hid it in the closet. That's why I didn't see it the following week.
Its pretty beat up nowadays but it still riffs like it did 20+ years ago. This guitar was my first taste at owning something that was a little more on the higher end scale. It's by no means the best guitar I've ever played, but I love it. Its definitely on the list of gear I'd never be able to part with. Check out some pictures below and let me know what was your first taste of high end gear!