The guitar is the sexiest instrument in the world.
Now I know there will be some who read those words and the hackles will start to rise, so let me say it is not my intention to offend. As a child during the Seventies, I remember well the bittersweet, evocative melodies Billy Joel, Elton John, and Barry Manilow coaxed out of their pianos; I’ve witnessed first-hand how fair-to-middling bands can be elevated to near-awesomeness with the addition of a top-rate bassist laying down those funky rhythms; and I can appreciate the pure power and animal magnetisms generated by a stick-wielding barbarian pounding on the skins like a maniac (see my brother). Anyone who’s made the sacrifice to learn an instrument even fairly well will reap the benefits as someone else will always find that ability attractive – all instruments can be sexy.
A guitar can travel, though – you can’t pull out the drum kit at a campfire and you can’t take your piano with you to the in-laws. And while you can show up to the company Christmas party with your violin or strumpet in tow, not everyone wants to hear Mozart or Herb Albert, and both instruments are nearly impossible to sing along with. Even if you’ve only mastered the basic chords, a guitar is a welcome addition to any setting.
(And dear sweet Lord, the guitar isn’t just a panty-dropper – them underdrawers come flying up on stage once the hot licks commence. It isn’t the lead singer who gets all the babes – it’s the lead guitarist, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.)
I bought myself a guitar while in a transitional period about a decade ago, then managed to transition myself into a full-time day job and lost the momentum to learn the damn thing (a poor decision that is haunting me all day, every day now that I’m in a band); now I’m still working full-time and need to be able to at least strum some chords, so I’m stuck trying to teach myself during my downtime. I got myself an Epiphone acoustic: nothing fancy, not cheap but not all that expensive – all the reviews have been fairly positive, it seems to be a good starter guitar for the beginning player (and before you go off on me about how electric guitars are easier to learn because they’re thinner and more forgiving to the fingers, you weren’t around ten years ago to school me wise and I can’t justify a new guitar purchase with a perfectly good six-string specimen sitting in the corner of my office, so there). I don’t particularly want to waste a bunch of time relearning what a quarter-staff means (and no, it has nothing to do with Robin Hood and Little John), so I’m skipping over the basic how-to book and pinning my hopes to Guitar for Dummies.
Guitar for Dummies is, IMHO, freakin’ awesome. I can’t even play the guitar yet, and I’m already learned more about music theory than I did in two years of high school choir. I can appreciate how the book is written in a completely unpretentious manner, making it easy for a layperson like myself to comprehend the subject matter. I really appreciate how the authors flat out tell you stay with Chapters Three and Four until you’ve got them done pat, those are the money subjects: basic major and minor chords, and those bluesy sevenths. And the thing I appreciate most is they are unsparingly honest about one specific topic: learning the guitar HURTS.
Dear sweet baby Jesus, I haven’t picked up that Epiphone since last Wednesday and the fingertips on my left hand are STILL tender. It’s bad enough just trying to wrap your hand around the guitar neck in a foreign manner, but then having to not only press down on metal wires but press down with enough force to create a buzz-free tone is literally torture – I can get in a couple of strums and then I have to let go, shake my hand and curse like a sailor on shore leave for a minute or two. I’m attempting to learn the three chords of the key of A and failing miserably so far: A is the easiest to manage with the fingers, and E is the easiest to strum with the open strings, but D is kicking my tuckus big time – hard finger position, difficult to strum just four strings, and pressing down feels like nails being driven into your fingertips. Sumbitch hurts like HELL, and according to the book, sumbitch may hurt like hell for a few WEEKS until the calluses I need develop. And I haven’t even mentioned how foreign it feels just sitting with a guitar in your lap attempting to just strum the damn thing.
You want to know why more singers don’t learn the guitar? That’s why. Singers don’t generally dig on weirdness or pain unless gratuitous nudity is involved, and that’s a different post on a different blog altogether.
Learning the first instrument in my quest to Rock Stardom flat-out means weeks of pain, with every day taken off for whatever reason adding just that much more time spent very, very uncomfortable.
I feel sexy already.