You played it by tapping the strings to the frets with both hands. Though it was expensive, I was intrigued. I called up the company and asked if they had any used ones. No, they didn’t. I scouted music stores. I found one, and bought it, then set to learning to play.
I was lousy.
On a week’s vacation, I practiced. After a week, I could play the song “Just in Time”, and felt very proud. A year later, I had some time off. I’d just sold my business, and had my first vacation in many years. For several months, I practiced daily, and then I was ready to play in public.
I was terrified, so to get over it, I’d drive to San Francisco where I’d put out a hat and play in Ghirardelli Square with a portable amp. I wasn’t very good, but some people liked the music. I made gas money, and got over being scared.
Ready for the big time, I learned 30+ songs, and arranged them in a binder. I bought a tuxedo, and had studio pictures taken, then made up a kind of program, with a story (somewhat dramatized) about my musical past, and a big list of songs in the middle. It was like opening a menu at a restaurant, but it was a menu of songs.
With a little tape of my songs, I talked several restaurants into letting me play on certain nights, for tips and a meal. Since I didn’t know many songs, I’d play a bit, then walk around and hand my menu to folks. They’d choose tunes, I would go back and play them, then they would put tips in my tip jar. This way they never requested other songs, because I didn’t know any others!
It was a lot of work, hauling the amp and setting up. From these jobs I got a few paying jobs: a corporate meeting on the Embarcadero, a wedding in Tiburon. But I never got even close to making a living.
As my money drew near its end, I had to choose: get a job, or start another voicemail company. I had a voicemail machine. I started another voicemail company. It quickly grew to provide a living, but the time spent playing in public dwindled and dwindled, until I stopped doing it.
Yes, the career of a musician is an exciting thing. Yup.