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Here’s a quick thank-you that will hope­fully make you smile. In 1993 I en­tered a com­pe­ti­tion in Gui­tarist to win a US-made Hamer Di­ablo as used by Jan Cyrka. Much to my amaze­ment I won! The in­stru­ment was pre­sented to me by David Mead at the Live ’93 event, the year that Guthrie Go­van won Gui­tarist Of The Year. Un­for­tu­nately, my part­ner and I had to leave the event be­fore Jan had a chance to sign the gui­tar and hand it over, but I did get to meet Jen­nifer Bat­ten as well as spot­ting the likes of John En­twistle and Gor­don Gil­trap wan­der­ing around the show. I ac­tu­ally met Jan by chance some years later and now con­sider the gui­tar to be ‘vir­tu­ally signed’!

When I first got it, on open­ing the case you would be greeted by the smell of mint. Alas the smell has gone, but I still have the gui­tar, although it has been a while since I used it at a gig. These days, it sports a few of the sorts of dings that you might ex­pect on a 25-year-old in­stru­ment that was taken out and used reg­u­larly. Oh and the dog chewed the se­lec­tor switch tip (don’t ask!). It still looks great though and although the neck is a lit­tle more slen­der than my pref­er­ence these days, it plays beau­ti­fully and sounds as fan­tas­tic as ever. I’m think­ing that maybe the time has come to get it out again to cel­e­brate 25 years to­gether! I can’t be­lieve how quickly the years have flown by, but I’m still play­ing and read­ing the mag­a­zine of course.

Any­way, thanks again for a mem­o­rable day and a very mem­o­rable gui­tar. Rob Hens­ley, via email

We’re de­lighted that a Gui­tarist prize is still giv­ing you plea­sure a quar­ter of a cen­tury on, Rob. And how about that smell when you open the case of a new gui­tar? It’s such a cool thing and ev­ery brand is dif­fer­ent – we’ve al­ways thought Gib­sons smelled a bit like Play-Doh, while Martins have a spicy, in­de­fin­ably com­pelling fra­grance of their own too. We would sug­gest ‘Eau de Nou­veau Gui­tar’ as a line of af­ter­shave, ex­cept the only peo­ple we would prob­a­bly at­tract are other geeky gui­tarists...

Rob Hens­ley’s slen­der­necked, dog-chewed fan­tas­tic-sound­ing Hamer Di­ablo

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