Brown River Queen cover art

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guitar Update

As many of you know, I procured a Raven electric guitar last week with the intention of claiming my rightful place in the lofty pantheon of Rock and Roll.

Sure, I'd need to learn to play the thing first.  A minor detail.  Trivial, really.  And it's not like I was completely inexperienced.  I'd seen a guitar once before.  From a distance.  Through heavy foliage.  But I'd taken that chance to observe the wild guitar, in its natural habitat.  I watched the guitar feed, watched it use its trunk to spray cooling water on its back...

What?  A what?  An elephant?  Are you sure?

Hmmm.  Well, that explains a few things.

Anyway, I've been practicing.

Using the amazing free lessons available at, I've learned a few things about the art of playing a guitar.  Chief among these things is that I am completed unsuited physically to actually play the guitar.

First of all, there is the issue of my hands.  While I have two of them, which is considered the minimum number necessary for a guitarist, my hands are the exact wrong size.  Seriously, they're big huge Frankenstein's monster hands, which are well suited for use as bludgeons or shovels, but problematic when employed to strum and fret.  Observe my photo below, to see what I mean.

Fig. 1, Frank's Hands.

See?  On a side note, I cannot get a decent manicure in this town.  I walk in, and all the little Vietnamese ladies shriek and run.  Sigh.

I remain undeterred by my physical obstacles, though.  And things are easier after last night's session -- I unlearned one bad habit I didn't know I had, which was that I was pressing down far too hard on the strings with my fret-hand.

I thought that, to get the proper note, one had to bear down with all one's superhuman might on the hapless string.  I was really putting the pressure on.  Blood was spraying.  Bones were being ground down.  Children screamed.  Clowns nodded, knowingly.

Turns out only a gentle touch is required. Oh well.  Skin grafts are a lot cheaper than they once were anyway.

I'm still practicing the D this week.  Yeah, I know, your average lab monkey could probably master the D on a guitar in half an hour, but keep in mind this is me we're talking about.  I was 27 before I first walked upright.
I still have to mutter 'left, right, left, right' while I walk.  

Next week, I plan to move on to the next chord, which is I believe the A.  After that, I may risk the perilous task of following a D with an A, in the same sitting, as long as a team of chiropractors and mental health professionals is standing by.  And maybe a professional barbecue master too.  I find that any endeavor is improved by the presence of a professional barbecue master.

At that rate, let's see, carry the 1, add the Leap Year -- yes.  At that rate, I expect to perform my first full song, a Death Metal version of "Here Comes the Sun," by late 2022.

Okay, hopefully not that late.  But I'm not making any promises.

Oh, and in case anyone is keeping score, here's the practice amp I have picked out:

It has a built-in tuner, and a setting labeled 'INSANE.'  I've always wanted a machine -- any machine-- with a setting of INSANE.  I don't even know what it does, people.  But whatever it is, it will be sweet.

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