Thursday, November 6, 2008

Being a Generic Twenty-Something

60% of this photo plays the guitar

I'm a twenty-something, single, white, American male. This means I should like certain things. As a matter of fact, there are websites (and now books) devoted to stuff I like. Of the #114 things I like, I'm surprised that "playing guitar" or "being self-delusional about ability to play guitar" hasn't made the list. Since Dave Matthews hit the scene in 1993 it seems everyone I know has wanted to be him at some point. I suppose it might be gender specific; I only know a couple girls who play the guitar and quite a few guys. Some are very good. Others aren't. I fall into the latter category.

Two weeks ago I decided that I wanted to just sit around and play on the guitar. In this image I had created in my head I was just laying back in my red chair playing Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and occasionally just playing something I come up with on the spot. I was feeling a quiet and thinking and thought that if I could just strum a guitar and play around a bit it would help clear my head. Of course, I didn't own a guitar. I could have gone to a music store and bought a cheap (in the music world) acoustic guitar for about $200 or a (still relatively cheap) electric guitar for about $400; not a bad deal - bit of an investment but overall the price wouldn't bankrupt me.

I spoke to some friends who play the guitar decently, asked around on quality and read some reviews. I searched various sites online and a few stores in town; the stores mostly recommended the $400-500 electric guitars while online sites were saying that $100 cheapo guitars were ok for beginners. I can understand the store's sentiments though; they're not just selling me a guitar to play but one that is actually

$3,700,000 for this guitar

decent quality and will last me for awhile. After all, if people are willing to pay $3.7 million for a guitar then paying $400 for one is hardly a major investment. Talking to people though, most agreed that the cheapo guitar - a Squier Stratocaster on ebay for $100 - is a decent choice. If I knew more about guitar or was more serious about playing perhaps I'd get a nicer one, but really, I just want something to play around with for now. If I get better, I'll upgrade. If not, I'm only out $220 after buying everything I need for it (amp, chord guide, that kind of stuff).

I now own a Squier Stratocaster guitar. It's cheap quality, but it's a fun guitar to play around on. I tried tuning it when I first got it and reminded myself that I seriously suck at matching pitch and notes. I mean I am terrible at it. I tried to tune it with a recorded sound file I found online and thought I did ok, but was advised by a friend that an

worth($$) = weight(kg) -> gold(kg)

electric guitar tuner is worth the $20. I found the one he recommended on ebay for $12 and bought it; it arrived yesterday. That thing is a godsend. Turns out my guitar was quite out of tune, a testament to the suckage that is my ear-tuning abilities. But it's in tune now.

Now I just need to learn how to play the stupid thing and I'll be able to finally live out my fantasy of lounging around my house lazily playing the guitar on a Saturday afternoon to relax. I look forward to doing so in 20 years. (My actual goal is to be able to do so in about 2 years; I figure by then if I practice a little bit a day and read up on some skills/theory each week I should be at least not-terrible by then.)

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