I started taking guitar lessons this week for the first time in years. I took lessons when I was younger, but a great deal of the stuff I know is self-taught. I always approached the guitar like a songwriter, from a compositional standpoint, and I really want my playing to equal the best of what I can write. Although I was always good at coming up with guitar parts, I have never been a great soloist. For years I have tried to learn how to be the best songwriter possible. I listened to an infinite number of albums and read as much as I could. (I am still under the impression and possible fallacy that a good songwriter should read a lot, so as to not just spout cliches.) Most of the time when I would pick up a guitar, although there have been plenty of times I practiced the art of playing, I usually was trying to write songs. I’ve played bass professionally for the last few years, even though I grew up switching back and forth between that and guitar. When I needed to pick the guitar up again, as I have started performing solo shows, I knew I needed to up my game. I also figured with guitar lessons I would learn new things for bass, whereas you one could learn a lot about bass and not have it necessarily transfer to guitar.
In one lesson I learned as much as I have in five years of playing in my house. It’s amazing how many nights you can hold an instrument and for there to still be a seemingly infinite amount of knowledge that you don’t possess. For everything I can do on an instrument, and I can do a lot, there are probably ten things I can’t do.
I find the electric guitar really fascinating because it seems an instrument of endless possibility. It is the one instrument that relies so equally on a combination of technology and humanity. The way everyone holds and touches one is unique to that person in the way that all stringed instruments are. However, with electric guitar you must also find the right combination of amps and effects to achieve the desired sound.
That’s one thing that always comes back to me in life and taking lessons again has only enforced it: How much we don’t know. You can work at something for years and still have so much to learn. I don’t understand those that aren’t curious, that are too comfortable being comfortable. I especially don’t understand those that are arrogant enough to believe that they know everything. When this is in the arts it might just be a charming character flaw. When it is mingled with religion or politics it can become fatal. Human life is so short and there is so much we don’t know…