Archive for the "Essays" Category

Fewer Guitars

Perhaps it’s heresy to speak about reducing the number of guitars you own on a guitar-focused blog, but this year I’ve been very deliberate about reducing the number of guitars in my collection. While there has been a tinge of regret with selling a few of them, I’ve been happy about my decision to sell them off.

I started the year with 11 guitars, most of which I’ve accumulated over the past five years or so. Each purchase usually began with the idea of adding a new sound to my arsenal. For instance, I wanted a Telecaster to add some variety to my single coil tones. After 8 different Telecasters and two years of trying, I’ve realized I’m just not really a Telecaster guy.

What I was finding happening is that when I decided I wanted a new sound, I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect guitar. So much time, in fact, that I wasn’t playing much guitar while I was searching for the next one. Repeat this several times over the course of a year, and I started to realize that I really wasn’t even playing much guitar at all. Buying and selling guitars was taking the place of actually playing the guitar.

Furthermore, I was spending more time just playing different guitars to hear them than trying to improve my playing. I’d grab one guitar and start playing for a few minutes. Then, I’d want to hear another guitar and grab that one and play the same riffs and licks that I was playing on the first guitar. Repeat for several more guitars, and I’d really accomplished nothing in my playing session other than hearing what each guitar sounded like.

I’ve sold six of my guitars so far this year, with at least one more on the block to go. I have one guitar that I’ll never sell for sentimental reasons, but the rest must prove to be useful to me in order to stay. That is, if I don’t play one for a while, then it’ll likely be put up for sale. My hope is that this will help me whittle my guitars down to just those guitars that actually inspire me to play.

I’ve realized that having multiple guitars that provide slightly different sounds is less important to me than having fewer guitars which are all comfortable and inspiring to play. If I want different sounds, I can add a few pedals or adjust my attack to alter the tone. And, buying less and playing more is going to help me improve my tone with the guitars I have.

I love guitars and I’m not willing to say that I won’t buy more guitars in the future, but right now I’m very happy with fewer guitars. It’s allowed me to put more focus on my playing than the tools I’m using.

Posted in: Essays, General

Chuck Klosterman on the Metallica Lou Reed Collaboration

Music writer Chuck Klosterman, in an article for pop culture website Grantland.com about Metallica and Reed’s upcoming Lulu album:

…on a personal level, I’m glad Metallica and Reed tried this, if only because I’m always a fan of bad ideas.

The whole article is pretty entertaining and is definitely an interesting take on the collaboration. Click here to read the full article.

Posted in: Artist News, Essays

The First Gig

“What the hell am I doing?” I thought as I looked down at the bass. I didn’t even own a bass, yet here I was in front of an audience about to play the bass in my first paying gig. How this happened is, in my opinion, a fairly interesting story.

A week earlier, my friend’s band had a falling out with their singer and bass player. Like many singers, this one had come down with Lead Singer’s Disease (LSD), which is a horrible affliction that causes people to believe that they are better than the other members of the band. What ultimately caused the band to fire the singer and the bass player is what is normally called “creative differences.” Whatever the cause, the singer and the bass player were out, and I (along with another singer) was in.

Actually, I was originally going to replace both the bass player and the singer. However, after one rehearsal, we all knew that it was time to find another singer.

By this point, there were only a few days before the gig, and we didn’t have a singer. Furthermore, we had only had one rehearsal. In fact, that was the only formal rehearsal that we would have before the gig. And, I’m here to tell you that we were not good enough to go without rehearsals.

We finally found someone who would be willing to sing for us. Unfortunately, there was no time to get together and go over the songs as a group. We just told him the setlist and hoped for the best.

Time was getting tight. Our gig was coming up fast, and we were hardly prepared. Fortunately, my friend had a bass, so I spent time after school at his house trying to learn the songs. I was just happy to be involved; I was very excited about playing my first paying gig with some of my best friends.

Saying that it was a “paying” gig is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, money exchanged hands, but we received $40 to split between five people. Needless to say, it barely paid for our gas and food that night. However, it was thrilling that someone was willing to hand us good money to play for their daughter’s 13th birthday party.

We later found out that the only reason we were booked was because of the old singer. Apparently, the birthday girl had a bit of a crush on the singer. We learned this after we showed up and the girl wanted us to call the singer so he could come sing for her. Fortunately, the girl’s parents were understanding and had us play anyway. On with the show!

So, there I was looking at the bass, wondering what I was doing. It felt like a million eyes were staring at me, although there was actually only about 20 people in the audience. But, they were all looking directly at us and waiting. So many thoughts crossed my mind. “Were we as a band ready?” “Was I ready?” “Did our singer know the songs?”

Ugly Kid Joe’s “Everything About You” was popular at the time, and that was our opening song. We launched into it, and we heard the singer sing for the first time. Conventional wisdom (and common sense) would indicate that you should never hire a lead singer without first at least hearing him sing. We didn’t have that luxury. It turns out that we got fairly lucky. The singer wasn’t all that bad.

By contrast, we as a band were not all that good. We weren’t bad, mind you, just unrehearsed and unpolished. And, we were losing the audience fairly quickly. Fortunately, the founder of the band had an idea: Get the crowd involved in the music! We started bringing up audience members to help sing the songs. This got the audience re-interested into the music, and we ended up playing the rest of the show that way.

I still can’t believe that my first gig was playing an instrument I didn’t own in a band I had been in for less than a week. But, all in all, it was an exciting night. We could have played better, but we had a great time, and I think our audience had a good time, as well, which is really all that matters.

Posted in: Essays

Tags: ,