Seeing Mark's thread about finding an Epi Strat like his first one, got me to thinking. What was your first "real" guitar, and do you still have it? I started playing on an acoustic guitar that was loaned to me from a neighbor. Wouldn't stay tuned because the neck butt varied from touching the guitar body to being about an 1/8" away. After about 3 months, I got my first "real" guitar. It was a Carlos acoustic - dreadnought size...about the cheapest acoustic guitar that Lange's Music City (the only music store in town that sold guitars and not school band and orchestra instruments) had hanging on the wall. It was $100 with a chip board case out the door. It was pretty good for a first guitar. To my teenage ears, it sounded fine, but it didn't sound anything like the Martin the lady at church played. I played it for nearly 2 years until one of the tuning keys broke. At that point, an old family friend that had decided to quit playing gave me his D-35...the one I still have and play today. The Carlos, although a good guitar, paled in comparison to that Martin, so I ended up trading it on a banjo that I kept for a couple of years and then traded away for a Takamine. I haven't seen anyone sell Carlos guitars since then nor have I ever seen anyone playing one. So I'm guessing it was just a short-lived, budget import sold to mom and pop shops around the end of the 80s. All I remember about it is that the sales guy told me that it was a plywood top because "nobody makes a solid top guitar anywhere close to your budget" and that the tuning keys were not that great (after all, one broke after 2 years). Other than that, it was pretty much what you would expect from an entry level guitar.