Welcome to a new Monday post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including spirits, dates, and why it’s not actually easy. Here we go…
#1 – Spirits
The Halloween season is nearly upon us and today I want to talk spirits.
Not those spirits, but “methylated spirits”.
I remember when I was a kid, and my dad was learning to play guitar…
He would dip his fingers in some sort of methylated spirit to toughen them up.
Apparently, this sort of thing still goes on (someone left a comment on my Facebook page talking about this).
I used to wonder why he was doing that.
Even then, it seemed strange.
“Is the guitar that hard to play?” I wondered.
The thing is, unless your guitar is awful or has a terrible action where the strings are inches away from the fretboard, this isn’t really necessary.
I mean, why not go the whole hog, and dip your fingers in acid to completely numb them (don’t do that, of course)!
It still surprises me that people give this sort of advice.
Instead, it’s much better to play a decent guitar that is well set up with light strings.
…And make it your number #1 priority to fret every note with the lightest touch possible.
Get close to the frets and press the strings as gently as you can while ensuring the notes sound clear.
That, to me, is far better than having fingertips as rough as sandpaper.
Anyway, that’s just a little reminder of the importance of technique over brute force.
#2 – Dates
I went on a fun date last week.
After grabbing some food, we went to the arcade next door.
(I’m a big kid and I love shooting games).
So I stick a £20 note in the machine to get some change.
There we are, expecting a few notes and pound coins to come out.
Then I realised my big glaring error.
I put the note in the wrong machine.
Instead, what came out was £20 worth of 10p coins.
Meaning 200 coins came flying out!
It was pretty hilarious, and we both laughed about it, as I had to get a big tub to fit all the coins in.
As well as being funny though, it’s an important lesson on laughing things off.
I mean, back when I was younger, I would have probably been embarrassed.
These days, I just laugh about stuff like this.
That’s a good lesson for life too.
Especially with the guitar.
Ever have a bad practice day?
See if you can laugh it off and try to turn it into a positive.
Learning guitar can be hard enough (much like dating so I hear!), but keep being positive, find the funny side…
…And your optimism will be rewarded!
#3 – Pretending “it’s easy”
There’s nothing that bugs me more than people who say, “playing guitar is easy”.
I mean, yes, it is easy, but only once you can already play it.
Like anything, it certainly isn’t easy at first.
For instance, learning to drive is tough for most people at first.
It can feel like doing a million different things at once.
Sweat can pour down your face, your heart can race, and a sense of panic can take over.
That’s just one example.
Another is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which I’ve been doing for a while now.
Each session is gruelling, but it’s getting easier.
In my first few sessions, I felt a bit scatterbrained.
Now, it’s clicking a lot more.
There are a million examples like this out there of course.
So, if anyone ever makes out playing guitar is easy…
It’s because either they forgot what it’s like to learn OR…
They are trying to show some bravado and make out it was easy for them (it almost certainly wasn’t).
I thought I’d share this as this is something I come across here and there and I know comments like “playing guitar is easy” can be disheartening.
Ignore comments like that and keep enjoying your journey.
There you go.
I hope you enjoyed those three random thoughts.
For more help with your playing, you might want to take a look at this.
Have a great week!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.