What Is This Thing? Re-discovering the Guitar
It’s complicated…my relationship with the guitar, that is. The classic on-again/off-again saga has gone on so long that sometimes I look at my guitar and ask myself, “What is this thing?” What was once a would-be chick magnet turned into a pivotal career tool that led me to Los Angeles and onto multi-platinum recordings…but I never considered myself to be a real player. Well, not the kind of player that I hoped to be when I started out. When I was 8 years old, family-mandated music lessons paired me with a ¾ sized acoustic guitar whose string action rivalled that of a bow and arrow. Aside from being Robin Hoodwinked into another excruciatingly painful childhood activity, it would be a few years later when I would realize that those callouses would count toward something much cooler: the electric guitar. It was when I made this improbable connection between my mis-fretted campfire songs and the monster guitar tone of Van Halen or Def Leppard that everything changed.
The mid-80s was truly the epicenter of all guitar-wankery and, as it turned out, my point of entry into the seismically charged world of rock guitar. I admit that it may have taken more than a couple of years to stopping viewing life through Floyd Rose colored glasses, but guitar evolved to being a conduit for song writing, arranging and session playing. Pseudo blues licks and derivative rock riffs forced me to reject this guitar culture with which I was once so enamored. I just couldn’t stomach one more predictable routine of “go-to” pentatonic clichés adorned with pitch-challenged bends, spasmodic hammer-ons with a barrage of misfired pinch harmonics. There was something about what humans tend to do with a six string in their hands that I found particularly objectionable. It seems that we’re hardwired to deploy some variation of the same fucked-out phrasing and guitar techniques unless a conscious effort is made to find a unique voice. And that became my mission for the next couple of decades.
Re: Birth Right
Yes, it took a while to realize that being ground breaking and being grounded aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. There’s something therapeutic and reorienting with plugging straight into a loud tube amp and playing every rock n’ roll cliché known to man – finally with impunity.
Dropped the dropped tunings.
No amp modeling agencies, nothing rack mounted or aftermarket
…just the way Les and Leo intended.
It’s the best way to feel 15 again...really!