Monday, December 29, 2008

My Electric Guitar

Diagram for hard rockingLike you, I’ve noticed how December has almost entirely escaped us, sneaking away quietly while distracting with snow storms, holidays, and football. And like most of you, I, too, during idle moments have found myself mentally gesturing back and forth, vaguely reflecting on the past and planning for the future.

Have a couple of posts in mind with which to wind up the year. One will collect a list of poker books I have read -- not just this year, but since I started reading ’em shortly after the day I began playing poker. I’ll try to post that one tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I’ll see if I can come up with a selection of posts from 2008 that have either gotten above-average attention or might otherwise be worth another look before we pull that dog-eared calendar off the fridge and chuck it.

Today, though, I just wanna play my electric guitar. Let’s jam!

My brother gave me this nifty little all-in-one electric guitar and amplifier set for Xmas. You might recall I mentioned last week that I’d gotten him a copy of The Truth About Chuck Norris. Goes without saying I came out slightly ahead on that exchange.

Our dad is a guitar player. Quite good, actually. So me and my bro grew up with lots of acoustics laying around the house. I picked one up at some point during my early teens -- either a Martin copy or an Ovation, I think. Found my pop’s Beatles songbook that had diagrams showing how to make chords, and before too long I’d learned myself how to play the sucker. Ever since, I have always had an acoustic guitar around, and while I’ve played electrics off and on I’d never actually had one of my own.

The side of the box in which my gift came is adorned with a few pics and text indicating a “red hot guitar with amplifier pak” awaits inside. Indeed, when one opens up the box one does find a decent little axe (color black) along with an unassuming 9-volt battery-powered amp. Plus picks, an extra set of strings, a tuner, and even an instructional DVD. Designed as a starter set, I’d imagine, for the novice player.

The amp surprisingly puts out a fair amount of noise, and if one turns up the gain and fiddles with the knobs a bit, it is possible to mimic a fuzzy Zeppelinish vibe, even if it sounds more like yr playing inside a closet than for an arena full of head bangers.

My acoustic style is generally quiet and reserved. I do not use a pick, and unless I’m teaching myself pop songs by the Flamin’ Groovies or Ween or Cheap Trick, I’m usually just softly plucking away at short little instrumentals I’ve made up. Lots of arpeggios and gentle, sweet (or sad, depending on yr POV) melodies that probably wouldn’t disturb you from your book over there in the next room.

The electric is a different story. Took me all of five minutes to get the distortion fully cranked so as to showcase stumbling-but-passable fakes of “The Ocean,” “Spirit of Radio,” and “Back in Black.”

John Lee Hooker's 'House of the Blues' (1960)Am also unexpectedly enjoying playing routine blues progressions -- something I don’t tend to do much on the acoustic -- which on the electric sound somehow fuller and more soulful. To me, anyway. Again, we’re talking mostly fakery, but in my mind these modest little blues bits might as well be House of the Blues-era John Lee Hooker earnestly stomping out a series of blistering, burning howls into the unforgiving darkness. It is “red hot”!

Was trying to come up with a poker analogy so as to justify writing about my electric guitar. I suppose playing the acoustic is like nursing the small stack, carefully picking spots while not causing too much trouble for everyone else. Meanwhile, the electric is like having the chips to do some damage, or at the very least annoy yr neighbors. Hey hey, mama! Listen to me!

Hope whatever gifts sent yr way were rockin’, too.

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Blogger United113 said...

have a look at ultimateguitar on the internet it's great for guitar tabs

12/29/2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks for the tip, United113. I've probably landed there before in search of tabs.

The interwebs sure make things a lot different today from when I first learned to play.

12/29/2008 8:34 PM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

I used to play a fair bit of guitar. I miss it.

When I was in college, I was able to get myself into a guitar teachers clutches. At our first meeting, he asked if I had any guitar heroes I might be aiming for. Thinking I would list of the usual Van Halens and Satrianis.

Sure! Can you teach me to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan? Or maybe even David Gilmour or Muddy Waters?

Hm. You aim low, he said. Let's just start with a blues progression and go from there.

Happy Holiday Mr. Shamus. Glad to see you enjoying the roses.

12/30/2008 12:49 AM  

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