Passion is one of the more prominent and admirable human traits. Most times people talk about being in the zone, it usually means that they managed to tap into their passion for work, hobby, or some other activity they really adore. We instinctively associate music with passion. Guitar players, due to the nature of their instrument, have the most expressive presence. As soon as somebody mentions a guitar player, we get an image of a stage with a guitar player blasting a solo on it.
Similar to mastering any other art, learning the guitar (electric or acoustic) has its trials and tribulations. It isn’t pure expressionism all day long. Guitarists can come off as unreasonable from time to time. However, being that I consider myself to be one of them, I have a closer insight into the problems they can run into.
Here are the some things all guitarists can relate to.
1. You understand pain is part of success
Most people who have never taken a serious shot at learning to play the guitar are not aware how painful the process can be. Your fingertips blister and chafe. Your wrists, forearms, and shoulders hurt and cramp up. Your back kills you. And yes, after a while, your head can even begin to ache. Still, as time goes by, you overcome the pain and reap new skills that allow you to shred like never before!
2. You understand the importance of security
Guitars and guitar equipment (amps, pedals and so on) are quite expensive. Sure, there are budget solutions out there, but let’s be honest, that gear doesn’t really give you a tone you are looking for. A quality guitar costs somewhere around $1,000, and up to even $5,000. Let’s not even mention the guitars that belonged to famous guitarists (they can go up to millions of dollars). Amps and other gear included can stack up to a pretty substantial sum in gear. This gear isn’t too hard to transport — and therefore steal. Guitarists are very emotional about their gear. They don’t view it as mere objects they paid money for. This is why they always keep their home very secure. Losing a favourite guitar to theft is something that happened to big stars like Zackk Wylde, BB King (God rest his soul), Satriani, and many others.
3. You are aware of the hardships of being in a band
My friend once said: “Being in a band is like being in relationship with 2-4 people at the same time”. And yes, a band break up is just that, a massive break-up where nobody gets spared of drama. (Ok, maybe the drummer). There is an awful lot of talking, bickering, compromising, trash talking, behind the back talking, and all out shouting matches throughout the course of a band’s life. Things get even crazier when money starts to go around. This is why experienced guitarists hone their people skills because they know they are going to need it.
4. You know the pain of being asked to play one of the “classics”
“Smells Like Teen Spirit“, anyone? How about, “Smoke on the Water“? Maybe “Nothing Else Matters“ is a bit more up your ally? No? Well, unfortunately these are some of the most commonly requested songs when people learn that you are a guitar player. Personally, I always had an aversion towards learning these songs, not because I don’t like them but because they are clichés. I can play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and have enough skill to play the others as well, but ultimately, what’s the point? A bravo from someone who never played a note on the guitar? That’s not why I started playing, no offence intended.
5. You know what cable hell means
If you have proper gear, you have miles of cables to go along with it. This is where proper “cable hygiene” needs to kick in or you are set on a course for disaster. Imaging playing a gig and losing 5-10 minutes on finding which damn cable stopped working! Now, that’s awkward.
6. You keep an eye on non-guitarists handling your equipment
Some guitarist twitch even when other guitarists mess with their gear — let alone people who never held a guitar. Many even forbid anyone from touching their baby. This is all quite understandable when you take into consideration that experienced guitarists have setup their instruments to fit them perfectly, and any minor adjustments might destroy that setup they spent years creating. Furthermore, clumsy guitar handling can lead to some nasty accidents that no amount of apologies can atone for.
7. You are a hopeless tech geek
Guitarists are always waiting for that next big innovation the guitar industry is going to come up with. We love making predictions and fantasizing about that imaginary piece of gear that we dream of having. Sometimes, we hit the nail on the head with our predictions, sometimes we miss completely, but even greater minds have had partial success with their predictions. Some guitarists even go as far to modify their gear themselves. However, this requires tremendous knowledge and skill to do properly.
8. You notice when people can’t play in movies or videos
Lil Wayne is the freshest example of that — with an added bonus of having the audacity to let his “solo” really be heard live. We can debate about style until kingdom come, but the fact is that his skill isn’t even basic.He should definitely sit down and practice some more before the next live solo.
9. You see the irony in guitars used as ornaments
Anyone who struggles with gathering enough money for gear like I do will feel the pain of seeing a guitar hung on a wall with no intention of ever using it to play something. A guitar is not a decoration. There is absolutely no reason to leave it hanging on a wall. If you bought it, grab it sometime, and spend some quality time with it. It might become your new best friend.
10, You understand what it means to get lost in the moment
A lot of people believe that guitar players practice their performance moves. And it is true for some. Still, the most authentic and emotion filled “moves” are actually natural reactions of the guitarist’s body to the emotion they feel while playing. Jimi Hendrix had it, Jack White has it, Josh Homm definitely has it. You can really see and feel that it is natural. The same thing happens to players who get lost playing while at home, sometimes even sitting down. There were thousands of moments when I sat at home playing for nobody but myself, yet at one moment I just had to get up and start moving. It is an instinctive reaction to being hyped up by your own playing, not a rehearsed performance.
I hope I managed to bring up some points most guitarists agree with, and that I managed to shed some light on what you get from playing this instrument. There are not the only universal points, of course. Please, feel free to point out those that I missed. Have fun playing — and may your string never break mid-performance!