The Guitarist's Bucket List

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Ninety nine things that the staff of the Fretboard Journal thinks every guitarist should do before they die. How many have you done? And what are we missing? 

  1. Play a real '59 Gibson Les Paul Standard.
  2. Join an online guitar forum.
  3. Get into an argument with someone on an online guitar forum.
  4. Get invited upstairs at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, Tennessee to see the good stuff.
  5. Fire a drummer.
  6. Take a factory tour at C.F. Martin & Co in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
  7. Have at least two quotes from This is Spinal Tap committed to memory.
  8. Attend Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival.
  9. Host a house concert.
  10. Play "Eight Miles High" on a Rickenbacker 12-string. 
  11. Perform a song you wrote at an open mic.
  12. Order a custom guitar from an independent luthier.
  13. Pay for a neck reset.
  14. Buy a ukulele in Hawaii.
  15. Have a moment of twang on an original Blackguard Telecaster.
  16. Stick a mirror in your acoustic guitar's sound hole to look at the bracing.
  17. Attend a NAMM show, the annual trade show for musical instrument manufacturers held in Anaheim, California. 
  18. Own a guitar worth more than your daily driver.
  19. Find yourself in a strange neighborhood chasing a Craigslist lead.
  20. See B.B. King perform.
  21. Swear off a particular brand of strings.
  22. Go to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, one of the world's greatest music festivals and it's completely free.
  23. Film yourself playing and post it on YouTube.
  24. Introduce yourself to one of your guitar heroes after a concert.
  25. Order a flight case to keep your favorite instrument safe and sound.
  26. Teach a kid his/her first three chords.
  27. Install a humidity gauge somewhere in your house.
  28. Change a broken string onstage in the middle of your set.
  29. Walk around Greenwich Village in New York City contemplating Bob Dylan and step into Matt Umanov's store.
  30. Travel to Paracho, Mexico to see the world's only community centered around guitar building and order a nylon stringed model to take home.
  31. Play "Wipe Out" through a spring reverb.
  32. See a show at McCabe's Guitars in Santa Monica, California.
  33. Play a show at McCabe’s Guitars in Santa Monica, California.
  34. Attend a guitar-centric summer camp such as Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch or the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.
  35. Listen to Leo Kottke tell a joke between songs at one of his concerts.
  36. Take a class at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.
  37. Take a long roadtrip listening to Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas soundtrack.
  38. Hoard a stash of tone woods for a custom guitar that you haven't fully decided upon yet.
  39. Hold a blacklight up to a vintage guitar to see if it's had any finish work done.
  40. Install a boutique set of pickups by yourself.
  41. Buy a cheap acoustic guitar specifically for outdoor jams and barbeques.
  42. Strum a pre-war Martin herringbone.
  43. Play a Carter Family tune on an old 16" Gibson L-5 like Maybelle's.
  44. Buy a pick that costs more than $20.
  45. Lend a piece of expensive gear to a musician far more proficient than you.
  46. Play through a tape echo.
  47. Attend a multi-day bluegrass festival like MerleFest or Telluride; partake in too much music and other stuff.
  48. Carry more than $5000 in cash to a vintage guitar show, just in case something catches your eye.
  49. Play a little Robert Johnson on a 1920s or '30's Gibson L-00 or L-1.
  50. Talk about vintage Martin guitars with expert Richard Johnston of Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California. 
  51. Play Django Reinhardt's "Minor Swing" on a Selmer-style guitar.
  52. Peruse the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, the semi-annual showcase featuring the world's best luthiers.
  53. Burn yourself on a hot vacuum tube.
  54. Busk.
  55. Find yourself backstage at a stadium rock concert.
  56. Join Instagram just for the guitar porn. 
  57. Learn how to Travis pick.
  58. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
  59. Refuse to buy an otherwise great guitar because you don't like the way the neck feels.
  60. Have Westwood Music's former owner Fred Walecki captivate you for at least an hour with storytelling and guitars.
  61. Drop your guitar and then realize it’s not the end of the world.
  62. Learn the middle and end of “Stairway to Heaven.”
  63. Grow your fingernails out.
  64. Capture a Les Paul Monday at the Iridium in New York City (bonus points if you actually saw Les Paul play when you could).
  65. Try to play a harp guitar.
  66. Adjust a truss rod without any outside help.
  67. Attend a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
  68. Play a vintage Weissenborn.
  69. Force your family to take a Taylor Guitars factory tour on your San Diego vacation.
  70. Own Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, the influential boxed set of early blues and old-time music.
  71. Build your own cigar box guitar.
  72. Find your inner bluesman by taking a pilgrimage to the Crossroads Monument in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Highways 61 and 49 meet.
  73. Attempt to play "Dueling Banjos" on a 5-string banjo.
  74. Learn an open tuning.
  75. Buy a 12-string guitar.
  76. Go to Elderly Instruments in East Lansing, Michigan and ask to see the Tone Balls.
  77. Collect a vintage set of strings for the cool packaging, even though you have no intention of ever using them.
  78. Buy a short-scale or parlor guitar specifically for travelling.
  79. Find yourself on the Staten Island Ferry holding an instrument you just purchased from Mandolin Brothers.
  80. Play James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" on an Olson guitar.
  81. Scratch and sniff a piece of Brazilian rosewood.
  82. Go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
  83. Conduct a photo shoot with your current guitar quiver.
  84. Own at least one guitar made in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  85. Own at least one guitar made in Fullerton, California.
  86. Visit the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
  87. Learn a song written by a musician who is fifteen years younger than you.
  88. Learn a song written by a musician who died before you were born. 
  89. Restring your guitar in "Nashville" tuning.
  90. Play "Little Wing" on a Strat loud enough to upset the neighbors. 
  91. Go look at the Stradivarius guitar at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
  92. Catch a set by Telecaster whiz Redd Volkaert at Austin's Continental Club.
  93. Regret that you sold a great guitar when you were younger and needed the cash. 
  94. Learn the difference between a Duolian and a Triolian.
  95. Contemplate buying a guitar made the year you were born.
  96. Own an effects pedal not carried by Guitar Center.
  97. Miss a day of work because you were up too late playing.
  98. Write a song for your significant other.
  99. Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal.