The closest I have ever been to an electric guitar is several feet away. I have never touched one. Never wanted to touch one. And before the last few months, never cared to know a thing about them.
Yet, starting with Brian May‘s Red Special and moving on to Eddie Van Halen‘s* Frankenstrat, both home-made guitars, I have become enamored with electric guitars of all kinds.
I’m learning about bridges, tremolos/whammy bars, fretboards, pickups, different knobs and switches, and more.
I’m reading how guitarists choose a guitar, that there are certain brands that create specific sounds.
I didn’t know how many guitarists develop their own sound that distinguishes them from others. I’m shocked at how many guitarists I know just from their sound. How I never noticed this before is beyond me.
I’m learning the nuances of how amplifiers affect the sounds and that feedback is not always a negative.
I’m even learning about the individual types of picks guitarists choose and why. (I still find Brian May’s sixpence the coolest pick out there.)
I Know Nothing About Technology
I can’t figure out why I am so excited to learn about guitars considering I am clueless about the technical aspects of anything electric. I’m 61, have no intention of ever learning how to play even an acoustic guitar, yet I keep reading about the workings of guitars and the musicians that play them.
I had no idea how hard an electric guitar was to play. I thought someone picked up a guitar, plugged it in and were off and running. Ha! It’s a math problem to the 50-thousanth degree. It’s geometry, algebra, and physics with a ton of passion on top of it all. The dexterity required is incredible. Watching the flying fingers and hands sometimes makes me dizzy. These musicians are amazing.
Learning By Watching
I’m learning about other great guitarists: Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Randy Rhoades… and am still learning about who to listen to and watch.
The female guitar players I’m watching are Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, Lita Ford, Orianthi, but still need to educate myself about women of color.
Inspiration for My Writing
Every one of these guitar players started out not knowing how to hold a guitar. And now, they are the best of the best in the Western World. They practiced endlessly. I especially love hearing about how the musicians got started, when they got their first guitars, how they learned or taught themselves to play.
It’s quite incredible knowing that my guitar is pen and paper. I must practice to get better. I must practice with love filling my heart and with the passion of the world pushing me forward to finish what I started.
Instead of getting sidetracked by guitars and guitar players, I have been writing more… still to Queen’s Made in Heaven, including Track 13… but the accumulation of guitar solos, riffs, and shreds feels like a Hawaiian wave pulling me to ride it, to curl under the water’s canopy, and soar with the Universe.
Watch me fly!
*Eddie Van Halen
Be sure to watch the link to Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption.” It is, in my mind (and many others’) the best guitar solo out there. At least the ones I have seen so far.
He is one with the guitar; they sing together.
Note: He smokes in the video and it is painful knowing that smoking contributed to his death in 2020. Oh, the choices we make when young that don’t affect us for decades.
Rock in Power, Eddie!