I’ve been banging away on a guitar (and sometimes, bass) for as long as I can remember. When I was getting started, this whole thing of “playing guitar” was like a secret fraternity; lots of mysterious ritual, information and code to decipher before you could take your rightful place among the fraternity of “players”. I never really figured out whether I was ‘in’ or not.
Until now. Look around; everyone’s a guitar player these days. Everywhere you go, kids are walking about with gig bags slung over shoulder; busking is rampant; open mike events are packed; Facebook pages (for young and old) show photos of people slinging everything from flat-tops to shred-rods. More significantly, “homemade” music abounds in the social space.
I think it’s great. Music playing has finally come to the masses. It’s also (I think) caused a re-emergence of guitar music, which, through the techno-pop period, suffered a noticeable decline. You often hear songs on pop radio that were clearly penned on a 6-string, using just a couple of basic chords, but with a cool hook and sung with real gusto. You don’ t have to be Wes Montgomery or Jeff Beck to make your mark musically anymore.
OK, there is a downside; you have to endure quite a bit more (public) out-of-tune ‘first position’ hammering from time to time. But that’s just the cost of acquiring some chops and confidence. All in all a fair price to pay for de-mystifying a craft that seemed reserved for a relatively few chosen ones not too long ago.
There’s increasing talk of issuing laptop computers to every kid for school at an early age. I think a lot more long-term value, fun and benefit might arise from issuing each one a guitar instead. Maybe that would be the spark necessary for the next Hendrix, Dylan or Segovia.