The Guitar and The Dude Who Plays It

Today I'm going to talk about my guitar.

I started playing guitar eight years ago. In one of those expressions of the moment teenagers are prone to, I bought a Peavey Raptor, and an amp. I've always been attracted to music, and love listening to Hard Rock, but I had no idea what I was doing with my guitar. I was so ignorant that when I changed the strings for the first time (remember, this was before Youtube), I ended up removing the screws from the bridge. Embarrassing, but it taught me a great deal about patience and doing things right the first time.

I got the guitar fixed, and excitedly took a lackadaisical path to success. I didn't put much time into playing, and certainly didn't learn very fast. I couldn't figure out how to work my amp and it was always too loud or too quiet to get the sound I wanted. I started with Sweet Child o' Mine instead of Smoke on the Water

When I bought an acoustic Ibanez, it wasn't much different. A change in guitar was not a change in the musician. I hit the same walls, struggled to understand the same music, was wholly unsatisfied with myself and both guitars spent more time in my closet than in my hands.

Last year I sold my guitars to a friend, and went several months without playing until, last spring, I got that itch again. I needed a new guitar. I wanted to play.

My friend (same friend) and I returned to the exact guitar store where eight years earlier I had bought my Raptor. It was like returning to the scene of a crime. Yet this time I was in store for much more than I expected. I found the best acoustic guitar in the world. The perfect musical instrument.

Now, when I say “the perfect guitar”, what I mean is that this guitar sounds the best to my ears. Guitars are completely, 100%, subjective. They all sound different to me, and they all sound different to everyone else. You will not likely find two guitars made from the same company, from the same tree, that sound exactly alike, nor will two people listen to the same guitar and hear the exact same sound. And then you can change strings, the action, nuts, bridges, and pins and get a totally new sound out of one guitar.

This guitar happens to be a “Great Divide”. It only cost me 240 dollars.

I played 1,000 dollar guitars that day, and I listened to my friend play a 3,500 dollar Martin (was a little scared to touch that one...). None of them sounded as good as my guitar. None of them looked as good. It has a very dark, tobacco-tar color. And its cedar top makes it a very dark, melodic instrument. I imagine it's meant to play Pink Floyd tunes, in a room whose only light is a small fire. Edgar Allen Poe would have dug this guitar.

It wasn't until I returned home and began playing that I noticed something different. The guitar was different, to be sure, but for the first time the musician was different too.

Perhaps it was the time away from playing, or that I was practicing for an hour or two a day, every day, or just that I was older and wiser, but I was having a real epiphany about music. I was playing with a completely new perspective. Tablature made sense to me like never before. I could feel the music as well as see it, and it all just made perfect sense. It clicked together, finally, like two well-fitting gears. Or two perfectly well struck notes.

It was actually quite similar to how writing finally came together for me. It was all of a sudden. I could see a story in its entirety and understood how each character should fit into it

Life changing. Now it's fun. Now I no longer struggle with the basics, stumbling from the gate like some stupid horse with its legs caught together.

I can just play and enjoy myself. It was well worth all the mistakes.

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13 Responses to The Guitar and The Dude Who Plays It

  1. wow, congrats on overcoming the struggles...i bought a guitar some three years, took lessons diligently but now it sits on its stand unused. i hope one day i can get back to it is one of my fav instruments.

  2. That seems to be what a lot of people do with their guitar, lol. It's hard was really boring after the new feeling wore off and I couldn't play that many songs. Now that I have improved, more music is accessible to me. I can always find something new and challenging to play.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. J.R., sounds like it’s your day. It’s like that with anything we’re called to in life, be it playing an instrument or writing that novel. Timing is everything. Being a seasoned writer means having collected the necessary wisdom and experience it takes to convey thoughts that seduce the reader. It’s an art that isn’t mastered overnight.

    I once played guitar. When I was in high school I played my brother’s Gibson. Now I’m a pianist/piano instructor.

  4. How great for you that you could return and try your passion again. Beautiful experience for you. I glad you are back to it, there is nothing quite like music to cure ill, unless it is the poetry that goes with it. <3

  5. Hello.
    There's definitely a lesson here (no pun intended)...perhaps a little wisdom, patience & willingness to learn & conquer.

    Nice post.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn

  6. @ Debra...I wish I had a Gibson :D
    I agree...I don't think anything worth doing is mastered very quickly.

    @ Jan, music is a cure-all for me. Whether it's playing or just listening to it. I love music.

    @ Andy, There was a lot there, a lot going though my mind. I couldn't really say what it all meant to me specifically, and it's cool to hear what it means to you!

    Thank you all for commenting :)

  7. Your article was great! I love the way you persisted, took a break and got back after it again. You made the right connection and that's what you probably needed all along. Hope you fall more in love with the music than ever. Music has a powerful effect on most people! :)

  8. Kudos to you for going back and starting again. I started playing at 9 yrs old. I played every day for an hour and progressed rapidly in the short 4 yrs of playing. I played Amazing Grace at my grandfather's funeral at age 12 and never picked up the guitar again. Unfortunately, I got screwed out of a what was then a 35 yr old Gretsch. My grandfather who played drums, guitar, and fiddle had left it to me. It is now a 59 yr old guitar and how I wish I had it. My parents were jerks and never gave it to me when I moved out. I have 3 guitars, acoustic, electric, and a mix of the two in my room and still after 24 yrs can't pick it up. One day I will, one day!

  9. @ Forjenssake

    That's a tough story. I know how valuable old guitars can be, even more so when they have meaning to us as heirlooms, and emotional connections to people we have lost.

    I hope you can work your way through the pain that keeps you from playing :(

  10. I had secretly wished to be talented never happened! I went as far as taking Guitar Lessons and discovered it was not for me -- I learned something very valuable, you cannot be uptight and play the guitar. Kind of like life; its difficult to enjoy life while being uptight. lol.

    Thank you for the reminder...its wonderful that you are back at it!

  11. lovely. glad you are growing into yourself. it is what we humans do best ;-)

  12. This was beautiful my friend. :-)

    I don't know how to play the guitar, but I do know how to play the keyboards. And I remember those moments in high school when I get up from bed at midnight because I have the urge to play. :-)

  13. @ Amy, I do my best not to be uptight about life. That's a great comparison. Music flows, as does living. You cannot force it and possibly play good music or lead a happy, fulfilled life. You'll just hit all the dead notes.

    Thank you, Linda and Irene.


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