A recent chance remark from a guitar-playing maniac and friend made me laugh out loud. But only briefly, because what he’d intended as a joke might not have been.

My friend is no motorcyclist, perhaps wisely, but he is one mean guitarist – although I would never admit it – and he knows lots and lots about guitars, which are as varied as are motorcycles, and as increasingly the modern way, they are marketed as much as ‘lifestyle’ accessories as for serious use by serious musicians.

There is – when you look at it – quite a considerable overlap, although I do accept that it’s not obvious. My friend considers motorcycles – specifically my own motorcycles – to be loud, ugly and fairly obnoxious devices intended to inflate the ego of the user while being of little benefit to everyone else.

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It’s hard to argue… although I can, and indeed do, apply much the same descriptions to his guitars.

His off-hand crack the other day was to wonder whether bike manufacturers would at some point offer ‘roadworn’ new bikes. I’d just posted a picture of a newish toy (a very handsome 1960 Norton M50, thank you for asking) on Facebook and he was laughing at its challenged cosmetics. I had of course retaliated with a definition of ‘patina’ and its enormous value to some fans of old bikes. He was of course suitably derisive.

‘Roadworn’? Fans of Fender guitars will know what this word means, but I accept that not all readers of a magazine intended to be about elderly motorcycles will know Fender guitar lore, so let me explain, briefly. You can buy new Fender guitars. Of course you can. There’s a familiar snobbery based around the locations of the plant producing them – although Fender is an American company, it builds guitars in several parts of the world: Japan, Mexico and Korea, to name but three. There are those who consider the Japanese instruments to
be better than the American items, and if you spot a parallel between UK and Thai-built Triumphs you get a star.

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As well as new, new guitars, you can also pay more money for a ‘roadworn’ new guitar, which is a new guitar to which someone has applied an angle grinder and several blunt instruments to make it look old – to make it look like it’s been around for many years and lived a hard working life on that very road. I can’t see the appeal myself, but they sell very well, presumably to players who want to give the impression that they’re mean hombres who’ve seen a whole lot of life in the fast lane. I’m aware of no such trim level for any new motorcycles – not yet – but if you consider the idea for a moment…

That’s it. See you out there.

Frank Westworth

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