Dubai Diaries: My guitar hero

Did you know there is a bustling guitar community in the UAE that never sleeps?


Kirstin Bernabe

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Repetition of rock music band. Cropped image of electric guitar player. Rehearsal base
Repetition of rock music band. Cropped image of electric guitar player. Rehearsal base

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:55 AM

No matter what we do, my husband just can’t stick to one— guitar, I mean.

In a span of 11 months and three days, he has had six electric guitars, but not all at once. He would usually keep two at a time. He would buy one and then sell it when another comes along.

Sometimes, the purchase is a brand-new baby but, often, he goes for the pre-loved ones in excellent condition. He’s in this never-ending search for ‘The One’ — as if he hasn’t found it yet (*eye roll*).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.

In fact, I’m fascinated by how smooth and easy this buy-and-sell cycle goes within the UAE’s guitar community.

My husband has never waited over three days to sell his gear online. And I find this unbelievable.

Since 2018, my mum and I have been trying to sell this one never-used luxury bag. We’re nearing 2022 and the bag is still here.

In the case of my husband’s music stuff, someone is always willing to buy, be it a newbie or a pro.

There was this 16-year-old girl who was looking for her first-ever guitar and chose Kevin’s white Squier stratocaster. One collector was on a hunt for a particular model, which we luckily had at home.

The best thing about this circle is that you can get a new guitar or pedal without paying a cent, because they have trade-in options, too.

I call them a ‘community’ because, really, they know each other, except for the one-off customers.

I would usually tag along whenever Kevin meets a buyer, a seller or a trader. Lo and behold, I see the same faces and we go to the same addresses.

With his love for guitars, he has made new friends and they now have their own group chat — an online man cave of sorts. I am *this* close to contacting their wives so we can run our own club.

After all, I’m pretty sure we have the same question hanging above our heads: Why do our husbands need to change guitars all the time? And why is one never enough?

There are many reasons, I’ve been told, but the most important one is that: No two guitars sound the same. The feel is different, too.

“Run you finger through this fretboard, and compare it to this one,” he told me, trying to show the difference. “That tiny bump there would create a different sound,” he explained.

Then, he played them, one after another. I listened very carefully — and, of course, I couldn’t tell the difference. “But it doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” he said. Right.

Kevin is a big John Mayer fan. And recently, he finally got his dream guitar: A classic Fender with JM’s signature. “This is going to be my last guitar,” he told me then.

Now, here he is beside me, glued to his phone, looking at a custom one. “I need this one — because I don’t want to wear the JM out.”

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