I'm starting another blog, to be updated erratically like my other blogs. The topic is the guitar.
I've been playing on and off, mostly off, since I was about sixteen years old. I'll be forty this year, so you do the math. Am I any good? I'm not the best one to judge. I have strong basic technique, but I'm almost entirely self-taught. I'm undisciplined as a player and have a very minimal and eclectic repertoire. So, obviously I have a long way to go. What is my goal? I'd like to play with a band for fun, or for worship services. I'd like to record original music for podcast productions.
In High School, I performed the Rush instrumental "YYZ" with a bassist and drummer at a school variety show. It was pretty terrible, but I still count that among my proudest achievements -- for an introverted underachiever, it was a big thing to do! I played heavy metal with other kids in the garages of Harborcreek, PA, on a red 1968 Fender Mustang with racing stripe, now sadly long-gone.
It didn't sound very good, partly because I couldn't play very well, but also because the pickups in an original Fender Mustang don't put out much voltage, and just couldn't give me the crunchy, harmonic-rich tone I was looking for. Of course, it didn't help that I was playing through a measly little solid-state Peavey practice amp. So I was was always frustrated with that guitar, and eventually sold it. (As a side note, that Mustang, had I kept it in good condition, would be wroth a fortune today).
A few years ago I played electric and acoustic guitar, and occasionally Chapman Stick, with a small band at St. Francis of Assisi church here in Ann Arbor. We had a lot of problems, and I was inexperienced, but I learned a lot, particularly how to learn new material quickly and read and play a lot of chords in a lot of keys. I played the occasional solo. I learned a bit more about reading traditional musical notation, but I still can't really sight-read. I've forgotten a lot of my chord forms. Oh, and I had to sing, and on rare occasions sing harmony while playing. That can be a bit tough -- hearing a melody, playing an accompaniment, and singing a different line, the harmony, all at once. Pros do it all the time, but it was a big challenge for me.
These days I have sold off most of my music gear but I still have an Ovation acoustic and a customized and abused Jag-Stang guitar. I'm practicing again and trying to get back to the basics, get past my last plateau and break out of my bad habits!
What am I practicing? I'm getting back to some of the very first music I tried to learn back when I was sixteen. Songs by Rush, along with a variety of other material including some of the contemporary Christian rock songs I played with the St. Francis band. In my next post I'll write a little bit about Rush, the good and the bad, for aspiring guitarists.