She added that the songs she spends all her time working on are the ones that aren't as good.
Songwriting can be kind of hard to explain, but guitars are a different matter. They're pure magic, as far as she's concerned, and Wheeler is very particular about hers.
She said, "It's funny I was talking to someone yesterday, and they asked me if I got to a show and somehow my guitar didn't make it, could I do the show?"
She wasn't entirely sure about that.
"I suppose I could use another person's guitar," she said, hesitantly. "If it wasn't too big. And I really need fingerpicks...
"I don't know. I just don't know anyone more fussy about their instruments than I am."
These days, Wheeler keeps a tight grip on her Collings C-10, which has a story attached to it.
"I bought it at McCabe's in Santa Monica, which is this great guitar shop that's also a gig," she said. "At the time, I bought it because I was flying with one of my Olson guitars, and I didn't want to fly with my Olson guitar because I love the guitar, right?"
(Some of the players who use Olsons are James Taylor, Leo Kotke, Lou Reed and Sting).
So Wheeler bought the Collings guitar, played with it, but wasn't entirely happy with it. On a trip to Austin, where Collings is based, she stopped in at its workshop and asked them to adjust the neck to make the guitar a little easier for her to work with.
"Then it became my absolutely favorite guitar," she said. "So I bought another Collings, so I wouldn't have to fly with that one."
Lately, however, she's been playing with an old Goya guitar, the same guitar she had when she was 13.
Wheeler said, "I picked it up because I was playing the ukulele again and playing nylon strings again instead of steel and remembering how delightful that is."
The strings are kinder to her hands, particularly in the winter when her skin gets very dry and the steel strings cut her fingers.
"Nylon strings are just so much easier to deal with," she said.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.