The Top 10 Reasons to Quit Playing Guitar

(Image credit: Damian Fanelli)

First things first: We don’t want you to stop playing guitar. After all, Guitar World is a magazine for (and by) guitarists, so playing guitar is something we promote (understatement of the year).

Pursuing a special interest, however, has its hazards!

For one, approached with the wrong outlook, your hobby/vocation could lead to pathological behavior. Indeed, much like "The Force," the guitar, once mastered, can be used either for good or for evil.

Consider yourself warned.

10. Guitar Lingo Cramps Your Game: Convinced that strapping on a guitar is akin to bathing in Spanish fly, you get the idea that mentioning you are a guitarist is a tremendous pick-up line. See how her interest wanes as you wax eloquently about the Spanish Phrygian scale, the scale of love. Keep this up and you will spend the rest of your life alone.

09. You Can Make More Money Selling Lemonade: What, playing the guitar isn’t making you rich? But those rock magazines made it look so easy—as though any dunce with a savant-like talent for plagiarizing Zeppelin riffs could make a down payment on a new Jag. Yeah, right. Unless you can diversify your talents, you’re better off busking by slapping beef tongues together. At least that way you might actually catch the attention of passersby.

08. To Curb Your Flagrant Ego: Caught up in the fiercely competitive (yet small) world of guitar hotshots—where the main objective is to play faster than the dude sitting next to you at Guitar Center—you have forgotten one thing: in the big scheme of things, relatively few people on the planet care if you are the alpha dog of the Strat. And yet, operating with an inflated sense of self-importance, you have broken up good bands and destroyed friendships. What’s worse, the old-time guitar teacher with a love for folk, who can no longer compete with you, has gone out of business and is living on the street. Thanks, arsehole. Widdly, widdly, widdly …

07. You’re Worshiping False Gods: Clapton is not God. In fact, it’s possible the pressure put on him by the mere suggestion that he was God drove him to booze and drugs—well, that and the endless line of stalkers looking for parables about string bending. Have you been tempted into this sort of zealotry by your favorite soloist? If so, you are a fanatic. Please stop before your lust for guitar playing destroys the world, as predicted in Revelations.

06. You’re Running Out of Floor Space: Apparently, the latest trend in home decorating is clutter. Yeah—some long-winded yuppy showed it to me in one of those glossy lifestyle magazines. I’m kidding. Hey, pack rat, try selling some of that gear—the various stompboxes, 14 wah pedals and busted A.D.A.—you’ve been collecting since high school, and you just might have enough room to invite some people over. As a bonus, you may be left with enough cash to pay rent for another month.

05. Because You’re Bumming Us Out: Hey, guitar is great therapy. No doubt about it. But keep in mind that personal sessions are subject to instrument-patient confidentiality. Setting your personality disorder to Am–C–G–D and inflicting the depressing results on a captive audience is not only embarrassing—it’s downright cruel. Either refine your craft or invest in a sense of humor.

04. A Professional Injury: In your pursuit to be the ultimate string-stretching guitar hero, you have now damaged the tendons in your wrist. Technical term: carpal tunnel syndrome. You’ve tried awkward wrist braces. That didn’t work. Now your thumbs have curled in on themselves. You are less than human. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t sue us or the guitar shop when it does. Oh yeah, and be careful with those pointy heavy metal guitars.

03. The Malmsteen Effect: You’ve hit an existential crisis. You’ve seen Yngwie … and Van Halen, and Buckethead, and Paul Gilbert, and Michael Freakin’ Angelo Batio. You’ve tried to play like them. But no matter how you train your fingers and study your theory, you never get it right. As your eyes become voids of despair, you ponder whether it’s worth continuing with this guitar, this … monstrosity. Despite that, your chops are in fine form.

02. There’s Nowhere Left to Go: Hell-bent on taking yourself to the top of the guitar heap, you’ve secretly developed techniques and products that are sure to get you noticed: things like using six amps on stage (one for each string), playing a five-neck, putting alligator clips on your strings, and swallowing a pack of D’Addarios and playing them internally. In short, your fixation has driven you mad.

01. Thou Shalt Not Covet: Remember the scene from This Is Spinal Tap where Nigel Tufnel shows off his guitar collection, including the one that has never been played? Is this you? Do you keep your guitars in plastic and sleep with the Blue Book of Guitars under your pillow? Guitars are meant to make music, not to be bought and stored. Have a heart: Some Third World countries are experiencing guitar shortages.

In addition, your obsessive habit has driven up the price of common used guitars. Quit now before you single-handedly collapse the economy.

Awesome iPhone photo (top): Damian Fanelli

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.