“But we don’t NEED another stereo.”

Travis Naughton

My exasperated wife was right, in a practical sense, that we were not in immediate need of another home stereo system. In our living room, there resides a perfectly functional sound system pieced together from garage sales past.

Our basement family room contains a Bluetooth soundbar and subwoofer setup that can work with the TV or any connected smartphone, so we didn’t need any more audio equipment downstairs either.

In my shop/mancave/music studio, I have yet another system, comprised of various mis-matched components each purchased second hand. When the twenty or so musical instruments displayed throughout the room are taken into account, one cannot escape the fact that there is neither need nor space for more musical equipment.

Bethany was absolutely right, we in no way needed another stereo system. But then the Ashland city-wide garage sale happened. And that’s when I saw it, sitting in the driveway of a motivated seller. A sublimely beautiful 1960s-era Magnavox console stereo. It was love at first sight.

“Where would you even put it?” Bethany asked, worrying that the coffin-sized relic would occupy an unreasonably large amount of real estate in whatever room I decided to place it.

“It doesn’t matter,” I told her. “It’s glorious, and it’s only twenty bucks. I HAVE to buy it!”

And I did. During the ride home, my spouse tried to convince me to stash the monstrosity in some far corner of the shop, but we both knew better. My new baby was going in the house—where she could be seen and appreciated by everyone who happened to stop by, perhaps by the queen of England herself.

“And right over here, Your Majesty, is my fifty-year-old Magnavox console stereo—made in England, by the way. Isn’t it lovely? Why yes, the record player DOES still work. I have a recording of ‘Dueling Banjos’ on the turntable now if you’d like to have a listen!”

After setting my baby against an interior wall of the dining room, I plugged her in and tested the phonograph. It worked, but the needle skipped. It was a condition easily remedied by taping two nickels to the top of the stylus. While listening to the soundtrack to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (purchased for twenty-five cents at another garage sale), I noticed that no sound was emanating from the right side of the speaker cabinet. I removed the back cover and discovered a wire connected incorrectly. After a quick repair, “Baby” revealed her true beauty.

With four functioning speakers, the sound quality of the half-century-old stereo was astonishing. After a thorough cleaning with a high-quality wood soap, the exterior of the console matched the beauty of the unit’s internals. I decided at once that Baby was too gorgeous to hide from the world. As soon as Bethany left the room, I moved my new love to the living room.

When my spouse returned and questioned the stereo’s prominent location, I defiantly exclaimed, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”

Bethany was forced to admit that the old Magnavox actually looks pretty good in the previously underutilized space between the couch and the door to the back deck. And she also had to admit that although we didn’t necessarily need a huge console, it is nice to have a record player in the house. I spent the rest of the weekend playing old albums including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s greatest hits, Beethoven’s symphonies number six and nine, the Star Wars original motion picture soundtrack, and songs from The Sound of Music.

In addition to obviously having excellent taste in music, I also have a bit of a knack for spotting good deals when it comes to music equipment. (I love garage sales!) It appears that my $20 Magnavox purchase was a pretty great deal. I did a little research online and determined that similar consoles sell from anywhere between $200 to $600. The rest of my antiquated, but fully functional stereo components are worth less than that combined.

To me, my collection of used music-related equipment and items is priceless. Music is such an important part of my life. When I’m not listening to music, I try to make my own—including my own instruments, which I will be sharing with my students at the primary school over the next few days.

I’ve made cigar box guitars, diddley-bows, oil can banjos, and a wash tub bass. I also have a keyboard, a drum set, two trombones, a trumpet, a few guitars, a mandolin, a fiddle, and several more instruments. I don’t really know how to play most of them, but I do have fun trying. And that’s what I want my students to understand. You don’t have to know anything about music to enjoy it.

As I’ve been typing this, Baby has been quietly humming in the background. Now that I’m finished writing, I think it’s time to crank up that CCR album I bought for a quarter. Twenty dollars for a behemoth, antique phonograph + fifty cents for two albums + two nickels to keep the records from skipping = the best $20.60 I’ve ever spent.