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The "Water Dog": Tales of wilderness adventure and Steve Stahl's RainSong WS

Customers regularly contact us to share stories and photos of their beloved RainSong acoustic guitars. We love every one of them. But when Durango, Colorado native Steve Stahl told us about the "Water Dog," we knew we had to share his stories with all of you. And what better way to do it than have Steve tell the stories in his own words?!


Story #1: Drowned in the Colorado River

"I have a Rainsong I purchased in 2007. It has become my go-to guitar since the day I bought it. I own many high-end guitars and love them all. But my RainSong is my favorite. It sounds so fine no matter what the situation is.

In addition to my work as a flight nurse, I also row boats on western rivers. I had my wooden dory* on the Colorado River last September and October for a 21-day trip. It was a lovely trip, with beautiful weather and my RainSong guitar, the "Water Dog," which was in its soft gig bag, strapped in and standing up in the back of my boat. It has seen hundreds of river miles and has been my trusty companion as I entertained many river trippers, barflies, families, festivarians, guides, and my own children. On day 6, we arrived at Hance rapid, a large, technical rapid with some vital moves. After scouting the rapid and with the pucker factor at an all-time high, we launched. I missed the top vital move, and my dory flipped. It went over multiple pourovers, many huge waves, rocks, and all sorts of other ugly things that would eventually crack my dory in half. I swam a class-five rapid for 30 minutes and came as close as I've ever come to drowning. Seriously. When I was fished out of the river, I had what felt like a gallon of water in my lungs. The dory was upsidedown for about two miles of whitewater and about 40 minutes. My boat was literally split in half at the bow post.

We guides righted the boat, and there was my RainSong, still standing up in its case, the neck extending over the top of the boat. I thought for sure that my old friend, the Water Dog, was destroyed. Its neck and headstock were not only under the upsidedown boat but poking and dragging on rocks. We call it getting maytagged. I was devastated as my two favorite forms of entertainment, my wooden dory "Cañonita" and guitar became sacrificial lambs to the river gods.

We strapped the boat back together the best we could to get her down to camp, where we could have a good look and see if she would make it another two weeks. When we arrived at camp, I pulled the Water Dog out and unzipped the gigbag. Her body was full of cold Colorado water, which I drained out. Upon further inspection, it was determined that the guitar had indeed taken a beating but was mainly intact. Her neck was still tight; not cracked, not bent, no warping, and she remained very playable.

A change of strings, a good drying off, and a few hugs to tell her I was sorry, and she was back to her old self. I picked and grinned with her for the rest of the expedition with no issues.

My daughter, a professional musician, joined us the next day, and we held concerts about every other night on the sandy beaches, in caves, grottos, against the walls of hidden caverns, and next to waterfalls, not to mention on my dory, which we limped down the mighty Colorado for another 15 days."


Story #2: Music Connects All Life

"About 12 or so years ago, while on another trip on the Colorado River, I was taking a wedding party down after their wedding mid-trip. As the day turned to dusk and night fell, some of us were playing music around a campfire when the bats emerged. It is a pretty common sight at dusk on the river for bats to show up just after sunset, and we welcome them as they take care of the mosquitos.

We were doing a rendition of "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles, with 3-part harmonies and guitars, etc. It was stellar. While I was playing, a bat landed on the neck of the Water Dog and hung out while I played. When the song was over, he flew away. After we started again, he came right back, landed on the neck, and hung out.

Every song we played, he would come and sit on the neck of my guitar and fly away when it was over. It was amazing! I concluded that bats really like RainSong guitars!

I can't begin to tell you how much I love the Water dog. She has pulled me out of some dark places, entertained my friends and me, and made me a happy man. She's a bit worse for wear after so many years, but she still sings like a bird. She boosts my ego, brings me that warm fuzzy feeling, and will always be treasured.

You guys keep making fine instruments.

They are top-notch in every way. And I, for one, appreciate all the work you do every time the Water Dog and I start howling at the moon."

Steve Stahl Durango, CO


* Dory

"A small boat with pointed ends and high, flaring sides. A dory may be up to 22 feet (7 m) long and commonly has a narrow, V-shaped stern and a narrow, flat bottom. It is a seaworthy boat that can be rowed, engine-driven, or sailed; it is used extensively by New England fishermen." ~

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