Thursday, 7 March 2013

my first guitar

"Guitar contains an orchestra and is more reliable than any romantic partner." Terry

After years of begging him to get me a guitar, my dad eventually got me a cheap second hand ninja nighthawk copy of a  fender strat, which plays grungy punky sounds.

All the other kids had fender strats because that is what everyone believed made you cool. I wanted to play guitar since seven years old and I had to wait until my 16th birthday. I was so happy. I played it for hours but my parents wouldn’t let me use the cheap amp that came with it. Too noisy.

When my brother saw I had a guitar and got jealous, my dad went out and bought him a brand new fender strat and brand new amplifier. He trashed it a year later doing the whole punk rage thing with his mates, bashing it against the stage for image and reputation purposes after seeing the wankers do the same thing on mtv.

I still have my ninja nighthawk, indeed I also still have my brothers fender strat which I have done my very best to fix the intonation and replace the broken parts; my belief that no musical instrument should be treated like a disposable bit of shit.

I had one formal guitar lesson as part of my 16th birthday present. It was several years before I saw through my dads apparent kindness that the whole thing had for him been a manipulative ruse to try and put me off pretensions of being a musician. During the one lesson I learned how to play the major chords, how to power-strum, finger-building scales ("the difference between a guy with a guitar and a really great musician, is doing at least half an hour to an hour of scales, every day of your life."), how to read basic guitar notation (the dot / fret charts) and quite a lot else. It was an intensive lesson because I am a fast learner when I am passionate about the subject.

My dad told me a few days later that the teacher had quit and the music center was closing down so there would be no more guitar lessons, thus saving himself five pounds an hour on his sons education.

Some time later he bought my brother a drum kit and a railway carriage for the garden for him to play it in. I worked my arse off cleaning tables and washing up at the motorway service station for £3.41 an hour, eventually saved up and got a Korg G3 multi-effects box so I could sound proper gothic and start my first band, Oubliette.

This year I will be 36.

Thanks to part-payment schemes I now have a semi-acoustic Samik Blackbird which when played well is pure tonally beautiful, the sound has colours I never felt before in any other make of guitar. So long as you can cope with the pay-off that the scratchy noises your fingers make on the strings is a part of its nature, and that the guitar all carved from one piece of wood (unlike most makes) so the neck eventually warps and you have to extend the bridge to raise the strings, which requires an adjustment to the tuning.

The stringed instrument I play most often is an Irish flatbacked buzuki (Arabic ones have hardwood, rounded backs) a medieval long-necked lute that sounds of folk-music and the existence of which, as well as traditional songs of both cultures having the same root, proves a trade route between Arabia and Ireland that I later discovered more about while reading Irish mythology/history (which are both the same thing and therefore more honest than academic records who pretend half of it is fiction).

I also have an unidentified type of Encore which sounds great too and was a tenner from Cash Generator, and a Jedi fretless bass, a Japanese import which I traveled two hundred km and slept on concrete streets to put a deposit on, and which cost me a relationship - but it is worth it; any girl who doesn't understand how important bass is to a musician does not deserve to date one.

I regret not having more time to study. I have made many recordings, none as yet made proper and ready for public release. I'm currently in the formative stages of yet another band; mixed age, mixed ability. Also I'm now giving tuition myself (for free because I believe in music and encouraging talent), the most important aspect of which is: "ignore what everyone else is doing, find your own way to play if you want people to pay attention to what you're doing." Unfortunately most kids now are too programmed by video games to ever discover that.


  1. I had never head about how you got the bass, I love it even more now <3

  2. It’s kind of sad but inspiring to hear your story. It’s obvious that being a musician has always been there inside you. Too bad your parents didn’t have it in them to support you. I don’t know what your Dad was thinking, but all I can say is, your experiences must have helped you ignite more of your passion for music. Good luck on your music endeavor! Cherie @