My first guitar

30 10 2015

I’m almost 50, and have just bought my first guitar, I acknowledge the insanity contained in that sentence.

I had wanted to play an instrument when I was younger, but my primary school didn’t teach music… although one teacher tried to get one going for a while, and my high-school was much the same, of course there was, a big focus on sport, which left me entirely unimpressed.

There wasn’t any direct contact with music, it was something done by the musicians I listened to on the records I bought during the 80’s.

It was the synthesizer I was most interested in back then, especially the brilliant Fairlight CMI, but those were expensive, and without piano lessons, how would I be allowed to join in the fun, I stayed home and dreamed.

After leaving high-school, I had a stint at The School of Audio Engineering in St. Kilda, but its focus was less on the art of music making and more on the technical, which lost me.

Then I went to Radio school, and learnt how to be a DJ, which I enjoyed, although the music I played on air would always be someone elses.

I met friends online who had instruments, they could play them, a few others could sing, some were well known, others simply did it for fun, which was still more than I could manage.

I thrive on music, I couldn’t live without it, It keeps me sane.

I am a frustrated musician on the inside, as many of us are.

Oh yes, I can edit a few sounds together in Audacity and produce an intro or something, I could probably produce a whole instrumental in that way, I’m sure there is better software to do this in an easier way, but I am unfamiliar with it.

The technology to produce music via electronic means, is now in everyone’s hands, I use the computer daily, do I really want to use it even more for my art? I don’t find the computer much fun.

I am still disconnected.

I tried guitar apps on my phone, which even as awkward as they are to play, suggested that I could play, that perhaps if I tried, I really could.

I began writing a story about a band too, but then began to wonder about it, would it sound honest? although I know my way around a studio, I don’t know a thing about playing instruments,

My story might seem a bit like a story about a surgeon, who removes an appendix via the chest,

So I began looking for a guitar online, and finally settled on a Hagstrom Viking “P” in Wild Cherry,There was something about it, it looked cool, a guitar should look cool, it was big, bold and beautiful. It was electro-acoustic, and it had “F holes”.

It looked very similar to the one Marty played in Back to the Future, something I didn’t realise until later.

Whenever I want to find out about something, I consult YouTube, and wasn’t disappointed to find Mike Bradley demonstrating a black one in admirable fashion, I’d love to play with as much confidence.

Confidence is something I will have to cultivate, I am confident with a camera, I’ve had cameras all my life, they never bothered me, I even have an unusual 3D film camera which I have used successfully.

I am confident with computers, although there was a time when I remember not even knowing what a sound card was,

But this?

There is only one way to know if you can play a guitar, and that is to buy one, and try.

So, I wanted a Hagstrom, and why not? I found out they were favoured by Elvis, Bowie, Zappa, and Bjorn from Abba (It is a Swedish guitar)

Except… nobody in Australia sold them, worse still Amazon wouldn’t ship them to Australia and there were very few of the model I was after on E-bay.

I asked one of the salespeople at a guitar shop in the US if they could get one, so they checked for me, only to return and tell me that not only did they not have any (Cherry ones, they had a black one), but Hagstrom in the US had none left, and were not making them anymore.

Hopes fizzled.

But there was one guy with a small guitar shop in the US, his E-bay page said “Probably won’t ship to Australia”, Probably…

I e-mailed him and said that if he were to reconsider, he might have a buyer.

Not more than ten minutes later, He wrote back and said he would do it for me.

So I have waited all this week, fretting (see what I did there?) about the delivery, and whether I would ever really play the thing, if dreams would be shattered, confidence lost, would I roll into foetal position and cry about it?

I’m scared, I feel like a person who has never seen the ocean, and been driven to the beach in a bag, carted to the end of a pier, and tossed over-board.

It’s a massive risk.

I’m scared, I really am, but perhaps I need to fear something else that at least I can possibly overcome given time and care.

It turned up today, early, in a box inside of a box filled with lurid green beans, I have never seen so many beans, it’s a shame I don’t have a bean bad to fill up, it would do the job well.

It had arrived safely.

But it’s an alien from another world, it doesn’t belong here, and looks wrong against my narrow body, and in my hands, it’s so big, I didn’t think it would be so big somehow, My air guitar is much smaller, and a lot lighter.

I tried the strings, The A string sounded wrong, especially when I placed a finger on the fret, it buzzed. My tuning app claims it’s too low, but I haven’t adjusted the strings, I’m scared.

Now I haven’t got any picks yet, but they are coming with Rocksmith, which I hope is going to keep my enthusiasm up, if I can make it to the point where a light-bulb comes on, then it will have done its job, that’;s really all I need.

But I’m kind of glad I haven’t got Rocksmith yet, There’s an alien in my house, and I’m a bit scared of it, I need to sniff it warily until I am convinced it’s a friend.

Perhaps some of you will watch me from the bushes, as I take these cautionary steps.

Should I manage to do something interesting, I will likely upload a video to YouTube.

But right now I’m unsure if I’m drowning or waving.

Wolfie Rankin.