The Top 10 Reasons to Play Guitar
How to quiet that voice in the back of your head that keeps asking, “Why am I doing this?”
Right now, you're reading a story on a website for (and by) guitarists.
This means you already play guitar and are looking for a little vindication of your obsession—or you’re a beginner looking to find out whether you've chosen the right instrument.
Well, here's every reason you'll ever need to quiet the little voice in the back of your head that asks, “Why am I doing this?” Check out the top 10 reasons to start playing guitar!
Boys, admit it. Whatever your purportedly purist goals were, you had visions of female affection racing through your mind when you figured out the riff to “Enter Sandman.” After all, it pays off when the fairer sex sees how well you can use your hands. Conversely, girls, though you often don’t get proper recognition as players, you automatically have the rapt attention of every male music-nerd who dreams of dating a guitar heroine.
09. Piss Off Your Parents
Rebellion is a natural expression of individuality. Since several generations of adults were raised on rock music, it takes a bit of creativity to get under the folks’ skin. A gentle, new-age acoustic interlude could drive Slayer-loving parents bonkers. And if you want to get artsy, assembling a dozen friends to rehearse an atonal Glenn Branca guitar symphony should do the trick.
08. An Alternative to the Sporting Life
Too short and skinny to play football? Pick up an axe. The average jock’s self-esteem—not to his mention knees—collapses shortly after high school. For guitarists, life just gets better, as there are years of gigs, jam sessions and musical explorations ahead.
07. Improve Your Vocabulary
Learn the arcane meanings of common words like action, bridge, gauge, stack, shred and pickup. Using their secret meanings around the square crowd might lead to embarrassing and potentially dangerous situations, but when you speak them around another guitarist, he will recognize you as one of the club and doors will open.
06. Be the Life of the Party
People are drawn toward guitarists in social situations—as long as those guitarists play (rather than talk about gear). It’s the guitarist’s responsibility to lead the campfire sing-alongs as well as make night club audiences gasp at ripping-good riffs or solos. Lamp shades and chicken buckets are optional.
05. Form a Band and Join the Circus
It’s a great way to meet friends and gain attention. If the combo is good, you could stay away from home for weeks at a time, eat a steady diet of fast food, associate with mentally unbalanced characters, get ripped off by club owners and then return to a lousy job so you can save up money to do it all again.
04. Head Start on a Psychology or Management Degree
You’ve seen This Is Spinal Tap and The Commitments. Once in a band, you get to observe the twisted little minds of musicians. If you figure out how to make the insane drummer, egomaniacal singer, absent bassist, (ahem) insecure guitarist and redundant yet snobbish keyboardist get along and show up for gigs on time, document it and put it on your college application. Dammit, sociologists get published for writing about musician subculture.
You can’t play chords on a violin. You can’t slur notes on a piano. You can’t play counterpoint harmonies on a sax. Pete Townshend couldn’t have beaten up Abbie Hoffman at Woodstock if he had played bagpipes now, could he? It ain’t perfect, but the guitar has a vast range of musical possibilities for those who take the time to learn it well.
02. Slay Your Idols
OK, Nietzsche (pictured above), once you master “Eruption,” the next step is proving you’re faster than Yngwie, more inventive than Hendrix and more athletic than Angus. You will dominate the guitar universe and lay your heroes to waste! Good luck. Don’t attempt to be a god. Strive for guru status, develop a cult of followers and sell them instructional videos.
If you wade though all the other reasons for playing and make it a lifelong activity, the realization will hit that you possess the gift of communicating with people through the sublime language of music. Ever walk away from a gig or a jam session and felt as if you had just been in another world because your playing was so good? That’s the ticket to nirvana, brah.
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