Although my version of Sweet Dreams is rusty at best, and my version of Celebrity Skin is so disastrous that even I can’t listen to it, I love playing guitar. And every time I spend some time practicing my riffs, I say to myself: “Damn, I should do this more often.” Not (only) because I suck and need to get better, but because I realize just how much I love it.
It’s one of those activities I can do no matter what I feel like because it always makes me feel better. I can be at my most miserable moment and playing guitar would take any shred of my pain away. I can be the happiest grrrl in the world and playing guitar would exponentially increase that feeling. That’s because even if I’m no Hendrix, every once in a while I struck the perfect chord, and it sounds so in tune with the note I’m trying to reach, and it fits so perfectly with the key I’m trying to sing. When all the notes come together, it’s a feeling like no other.
Speaking of notes, I’m not much of a player by ear. In my early guitar days, there was no ultimate-guitar.com. There were no online tabs. So I would play the song on my stereo, sing along to it, try to find the notes of the vocals on the instrument and play the corresponding chords. This is how I thought that Marilyn Manson’s “The Last Day on Earth” has only two chords.
However, today, when my boyfriend and I decide to learn a song and we find some online tabs, there are times where even my tone-deaf ear can pick up on a mistake in some of the notes. When we learned Sweet Dreams, the hardest part was the solo, and it was made even more complicated by the tabs we found since they made a mistake or two. And when we played back the song, it sounded completely off. I managed to find the correct note and was really proud of myself.
Also, if we play along with a song, it sounds absolutely atrocious to me when the original song is tone-dropped. I don’t know how to tune my guitar to a dropped key. Hell, I can’t even tune it to a normal key without a tuner. So I’m forced to play all Nirvana songs without Kurt to guide me, because he drops his guit on all their songs. Drops it and fucking breaks it. And then he breaks my heart, because smashing a Fender must be some sort of musical sin. It’s like that video of Guns n’ Roses where Slash slams his Gibson on the roof of some building (and it doesn’t break). Every time I see that part of the video, I feel my heart sink.
“You don’t want that LesPaul, motherfucker, give it to me! Don’t break it!” I scream at the screen.
But I digress.
Another thing that causes my eardrums to itch is playing with a pick. Playing guitar, especially classical guitar, with a pick is like having sex with a condom. The pleasure is somewhat reduced, you don’t come into full direct contact with the instrument, and it makes an odd sound which doesn’t jive too well with the sounds you are trying to make.
I try to practice with a pick in order to get used to it, but only when I play on my electric. Because, again like a condom, I need protection. Otherwise, the metal strings wreak havoc on my nails. Goddess forbid if the strings get a little rusty or blacken over time, then my fingers really get a beating.
But with my classical, playing with a pick is just plain wrong. The way the plastic snaps against the nylon strings makes me cringe. It sounds like About a Girl covered by a flying cockroach trapped between doubled window shutters. Ughhhh…
One of these days, when my muscle condition decides to improve, and my fingers don’t get tired as quick, maybe I can nail Lithium which I’ve been trying to learn for some time, or Under the Bridge which I didn’t even start, and maybe I’ll finally muster up the courage to try some of the “easier” Arch Enemy songs. I also want to learn some bass lines. Maybe if I struck the perfect notes once again, it could make me forget about the pain in my fingers, too…
I seriously need to play more.
Peace, love and reverb..erb…erb…