When he was thirteen, George was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be a minor kidney problem. As with Ringo, a spell on the children’s ward proved to be the catalyst for obtaining his first musical instrument.
To cheer up his sick son, his father agreed to buy an old classmate’s Dutch Egmond flat-top acoustic guitar.
What George would later describe as a ‘cheapo, a horrible little guitar’ had a selling price of £3 ($4). This was a large sum for a poorly paid bus driver, though it would prove an inspired long-term investment. In 2003 it was sold for $800,000 at auction.
This Egmond proved very difficult to master. His mother, Louise, observed his painful struggle with it.
George tried to teach himself [the guitar]. But he wasn’t making much headway. ‘I’ll never learn this,’ he used to say. I said, ‘You will, son, you will. Just keep at it.’
Early progress was also hampered by an ill advised experiment. Curious to see how the guitar was engineered, George unscrewed the head — and was unable to fix it back on. Abandoned in a cupboard in two pieces, the Ergmond was eventually rescued and repaired by George's brother. He managed to put it back together but there was nothing he could do about the warp that has remained ever since.
How did George learn guitar? (5 min Medium article)