Wednesday, May 23, 2007

today : guitar week pt1 - KERRRAANNGG!

My nephew walks around these days with his electric guitar practiacly glued to his front. He's sixteen. The thing is, he plays it upside down. When he got it it was a right handed instrument and strung for a right hander. It just felt natural for him to play it left handed- and so he did. An adult guitarist that he met was horrified that he wasn't playing 'properly'. As a guitar player myself, I am less bothered.

Us guitarists can be pretty nerdy creatures. Like trainspotters and, actually, anyone else who has that peculiar nerd gene that seems to belong mainly to men in their thirties, we can witter on for hours over the nuances of different makes of guitars, technique and all the variables of being a guitarist - never mind the qualities of other guitar players. With all our talk about vintages and hammer-ons we talk in a language that is somewhere between engineering and wine-buffery.

But the real pleasure of being a guitar player is..well...playing the guitar. The other day I was thinking about this topic and it prompted me to pick up my acoustic guitar and spend a couple of hours simply playing along to myself. It was a sublime couple of hours. I kind of got lost. Some people take drugs to get a similar effect.

One thing I do notice is that there are two types of amateur guitar players. The first I will call the guitar shop loiterer. These type of people are not really musicians as such, but have guitars and guitarists as their hobby in the same way as other male 'collectors' have trains, scale models or toy soldiers as their hobby. They are rarely technically gifted - or even competent and idolise those million mile an hour rock guitarists like Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. If I were to be cruel I would categorise these folks as 'adolescent' in their view of the guitar, rather like people who fantasise about fast cars and never really think about the journeys they may take in them

The second are the people I will write about in my next part.

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