We started our Every Instrument Has A Story series to explore the important, often extraordinary, bond that musicians share with their instruments. We are always forming connections with fans and customers through social media, so when we saw that Bryan Minerly had posted a video on Instagram captioned “I love telling the story of how I was blessed by an anonymous friend who GAVE me a Taylor 814ce guitar when I couldn’t afford anything,” we reached out to him and asked permission to share his story.
This is our first ever customer submission for Every Instrument Has A Story, and we know you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. To learn more about Bryan’s music visit here.
How I got my Taylor 814ce
I have been a worship leader in various churches since my early teens. I just finished my senior year of high school and I had been playing an inexpensive Ibanez acoustic electric with a red sunburst finish. I had the guitar for about 4 years and my friends and other worship leaders had the running joke that my guitar was the “I’ve-been-had” acoustic. The reason for this was there was almost always something wrong with it— the electronics would buzz, it required a new 9V battery on a weekly basis, and worst of all, the top had warped slightly, and there was something wrong with the neck. I had no money, and a local shop had taken pity on me and set my guitar up so that as long as I stayed underneath the fifth/sixth fret, the guitar would be in tune. The action was terrible, and I had to push down REALLY hard for basic chords so that it didn’t buzz.
On one Sunday morning, we had a great set. I was leading vocally and rhythmically, and the whole congregation got really into the song. The sermon had to be cut short because no one wanted to stop playing. Then I felt a burning sensation in my fingertips and then the strings seemed to slide underneath my fingers easier. Then sharp pain. I looked down at my hand and saw that the high E and B string had cut straight through my calluses and got stuck under my skin. I had been bleeding on my fretboard. I carefully took my hand off and walked off the stage and to the bathroom, then found some paper towels and duct tape to make make-shift bandages for my fingers (as teenagers do).
I had decided then and there I was going to go to Guitar Center, because at the time, they were approving nearly everyone for their cards and I was going to get a Taylor 110 or a 210 if could afford it. I couldn’t play this acoustic anymore.
An older friend of mine said he would come with me to make sure they didn’t rip me off. I agreed, figured it would be fun, and we set up a time to go.
When I pulled up to his condo, he opened his second floor window and asked me to come inside, he wasn’t ready to go yet. “Bring the Ibanez!” he yelled down. I said OK, grabbed the guitar, and headed inside. We started talking and then we sat on the couch and he was very encouraging of me as a leader and a musician.
Then his face got more serious. He said, “Look, I feel weird asking you this, but I’m going on a missions trip overseas, and I know this guitar is a throw-away for you… would you mind giving it to me? Just so I don’t have to worry about a guitar getting damaged on the trip?”
I was taken aback, honestly. In my mind I was thinking, ‘Really, dude? I have no money, and this thing is my only down payment towards me having a guitar to continue leading… and you’re asking me for it? C’mon.’
But for whatever reason, I thought, ‘Eh. It is useless to me. If it will give him peace of mind, fine, let him have it.’
So I agreed, and handed him my guitar. His face lit up, and he started preaching at me about how God ‘takes out the old, and brings in the new’, but honestly, my mind went ‘NOW you’re going to PREACH at me? Just take the thing and lets go sign my life away at Guitar Center.’
Then he reached in between the wall and his couch and pulled out a brown Taylor guitar case. He smiled very warmly and said:
“This is yours.”
I had no words. I opened the case to see a beautiful, perfect Taylor 814ce, expression system and all. It was a guitar that would have cost over 3 times what I was planning to buy.
I looked at him and said, “I’m not taking your Taylor.”
He started laughing at me, and said that I had no choice, I was taking this Taylor. There were a few conditions, I never told anyone who gave me the guitar, never sold it, and made sure it was insured in case anything happened to it.
I owe that man a lot. Today, I am a music director at First Church in Wethersfield CT, the oldest church in the state of Connecticut. I have won different singer songwriter competitions, opened for some of my favorite acts, and played in countless weddings (including his), all with that guitar. I’ve had several guitars come and go, but this Taylor has been like an old friend— sounds cheesy, but I know it, and it knows me.
A big thanks to Brian Minerly for sharing this with us. Every Instrument Has A Story, and I’m sure yours does, too! If you’d like to share your instrument’s story with us, please reach out to us on Twitter @strymon or Instagram @strymonengineering or email [email protected]