Music, Personal

Inside the mind of a guitar nut.

When you get really into something, you can become really anal about it. Like really anal. I’m like that with guitars. Because, when all is said and done, what is a guitar? It’s some bits of wood and metal glued and screwed together. Add some electromagnets, some wiring and a speaker and you have an electric guitar. That’s all they are. Bits of wood and metal. And yet, they mean so much more to me than that. And yet, I now really care about what types of wood are used to make which particular model of guitar, what pickups are in there

I’m fortunate to have multiple guitars available to play. And those who don’t play will often ask why do you have so many? It’s something I’ve actually been asked quite a lot by family. ‘Why would you want another guitar, don’t you have enough already?’ The point is though that every single guitar sounds different. You can take two guitars off a production line, made of the same wood types, with the same construction methods and they will sound different. And that is why, if you are in the position to do so, you end up with more than one guitar. And that is different from any other musical instrument. You don’t swap to a different piano and keep your previous one, you upgrade it to a better model. Same with a violin, any stringed instrument, woodwind instrument. You take bits on and off a drum kit to best fit your situation, you don’t change the whole thing out. Guitars can be tuned exactly the same way, they do exactly the same thing but there will be that one of a type that connects with you, that is special to you. The variety of construction and electronics mean that there is such a breadth of sounds available as well that having a few to choose from can actually benefit you if you are a working musician. For the casual players like me, it’s fun to mix up what you’re playing, both the material and what you’re playing the material on.

That’s why successful guitarists almost by default end up becoming collectors as well. They might be known for playing one particular type of guitar, but they could end up with dozens of them. Because, again, every single one is a little bit different. Often guitars have been designed or adapted by players to fulfil a specific role. That’s why I ended up with multiple guitars instead of one. I wanted to be able to play the songs I love playing closer to what they sound like. You could very easily just stick to one guitar for your whole life. Some guitarists have, very successfully. But having multiple (electric in particular) guitars available just gives you so much more options. It can really expand your pallette of what you are able to create, even if you’re just doing it at home where no-one is ever going to watch you.

Another thing that can take over your life when you have a hobby, is all the paraphernalia that goes with a hobby. That is certainly true for guitar. There is a lot of stuff that you don’t need to make it actually work. You don’t even need a pick. You can just use your fingers. That’s even more true for acoustic guitars. All you really need to make an electric guitar work is a way to amplify it. Anything that goes between that first major function is really just extraneous and again helps to alter the sound, but you could very easily do without it. But you buy it anyway, and then you have bits and pieces lying around, that to you does a really cool thing that is totally worth it and was a great purchase; and yet to everyone else it looks like a lot of miscellaneous crap doing nothing.

You spend a lot of time fantasising as well. I’m very guilty of that. I can spend far too much time looking through guitar store websites rafting through their pages and thinking “that would be nice.” But that has changed recently. Dad inherited some money recently and told me on Christmas Day that he would buy me my first ‘proper’ guitar. I put that in inverted commas because all the guitars I have are proper guitars. However, they are essentially licensed copies made in China and the Far East. Now, I love them, they are great guitars that sound good and authentic and they play nicely as well. (Mum’s favourite is what she calls the shiny one. That infuriates me.) But this meant I was going own a guitar made in the USA with the right name on the top of it. So my fantasising is about to become reality. I’ve been able to go back to all the websites and really think about what I want to get. I have a budget. I have an idea of what I want to do. All the guitars I’ve owned have been special to me. They helped me on a path of playing music, even if it is someone else’s. And this will be another tool to do just that. But I can’t deny that I’m a bit giddy thinking about it.

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