A strange thing happened a few weeks back. I suddenly wanted to learn to play the guitar. I hadn’t been listening to a lot of Yngwie Malmsteen, I hadn’t been playing a lot of Rock Band, I hadn’t done anything remotely musical in months, or actually, productively musical in years. A few years back I made a quarter-assed attempt at learning to play the violin, but like most quarter-assed attempts that one didn’t get me very far. The only real instrument-playing experience I have under my belt is a few years of piano lessons as a child. These were piano lessons I hated, by the way. Of course, I now find myself in the not entirely uncommon position of wishing my parents had taken a harder line with me and forced me to keep at it, but at least I took the ability to read music out of the experience.
I had planned to hit craigslist and search out a cheap guitar, or maybe hit up a pawn shop and see what was out there. The fact that I know nothing about guitars was a significant stumbling block, especially considering the bewildering variety of types, brands, shapes and sizes out there. I could tell the difference between those gigantic mariachi guitars (thanks, Robert Rodriguez) and those guitars that are, y’know, double guitars, but that’s about it. In a stroke of good luck, I happened to mention my strange guitar aspirations to my roommate and less than a week later she had collected a pristine Fender Squier, patch cord (is that what that is?), and amp from her family home in a nearby town, and long-term loaned it all to me! I was slightly pessimistic as to the amount of sticktoitiveness I’d manage in this endeavour, so this is doubly ideal; I won’t be burdened with the trappings of another failed hobby should I get distracted by something shiny or give up for one of a hundred reasons.
I’ve been at it for two days now, and I’m ready to continue to suck for the foreseeable future. My fingertips are sadly soft and squishy; moving through a list of beginner chords for 15 minutes leaves me squinting my eyes and frowning in discomfort. Worse yet, whenever I push down on the strings my soft, weak fingers blorp all over the place and hit other strings. Step one: develop calluses.
There about a dozen other step ones I could be taking right now, memorizing chords, learning the notes on the fretboard, actually knowing what standard tuning is (EADGBE?), figuring out all the different crazy tablature nomenclature… and this is the exciting part. Whenever I get frustrated with one aspect I can move it on down the line to the next.
I’ll keep you posted as to when my first show will be. (@June, 2034)