“Because MY Dad was born in the Ukraine and learned to play guitar as a boy on a 7- string guitar. I learned how to play the guitar in the same style as he did! My Dad even rebuilt a 6-string guitar so that a 7th string could be attached. It’s the first string played with the thumb. It’s tuned one octave lower than the “D” string.”
There was a long pause. Micky didn’t believe me. But if it was true how could such a coincidence happen? It was too farfetched to be true.
“Let’s go to your flat and play,” I said.
“OK.I do have two 7-string guitars. But first let me ask my wife.”
When he did, it was immediately clear that she was not in favour of this plan.
“My wife says no.”
“But do you realize in all my life I have never found anyone who plays the guitar like my Dad? The tuning and chords are different. The minor key is haunting. Some say it’s beautiful. Please convince your wife. We must play together.”
Micky tries again. I see her resolve crumbling.
“What’s the problem, Micky?”
“Well she says the flat is not fit for you to see. She’s embarrassed.”
“Listen. I don’t mind. We are not coming to admire the apartment. We are coming to play guitar.”
When Micky pleads with her again, she finally relents. She agrees but only on the condition that we stay in the car while she tidies up.
As we drive away to the outer edge of town Micky explains. They have waited 7 years for a better flat but even this one is only three rooms and one is a washroom. They have one child and her mother lives with them. She occupies one room and the remaining room serves as kitchen, living room and bedroom for the family.
But they have to be happy. It’s better than what they had before.
On the way we pass some very elegant homes of bungalow style protected behind solid walls. Trees and vegetation grow profusely around these mansions reminiscent of pictures of Italian villas.
“Who lives here?” I ask.
“Communist bosses,” Micky mumbles without further comment. Marshall Law declared December 1981 by General Wojciech Jaruzelski has produced tight lips.
Once in the parking lot outside their flat, Ludmila goes up and we wait.
“I promised 15 minutes,” Micky says.
Soon we take the dark elevator and enter their flat. We sit on the bed and tune up.
The 6-string guitar is tuned with the highest string in D. The second string is B. The third is G. The fourth is D. The fifth string is C and the last string is G.
The most common chords are G, C and D. The guitar is played with the thumb plucking any one of the three first low strings, and either the first finger strums the top three strings or the 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers pluck the top three strings in unison.