It's Not the Guitar, It's the Guitarist
2/13/2013 3:42:00 PM
I’ve often heard experienced musicians describe real players as being able to “play a cardboard box and make it sound good”, and you know, I think they might just be correct.
Over the weekend I picked up a bunch of the recently released and already partially sold out Jimi Hendrix Anniversary guitar pedals from MXR. Added to my collection now is a Hendrix Fuzz Face and the super cool Univibe.
I quickly setup my guitar rig to accommodate my recent urge to BE Jimi Hendrix. I mean, I got the pedals. I got an awesome 57 reissue Fender Stratocaster and my old school Marshall stack. Why, that has to be it. I know I’ll sound just like Hendrix now.
I turned the amp up way louder than I’m sure my neighbors were prepared for and threw the Strat over my shoulder. In my head, the imaginary announcer declared over the 100,000 watt PA to a record arena crowd “Ladies and Gentlemen, the man voted as guitarist of the year for the last 35 years and counting, the duke of decibel, Patrick Capone and the Pat Capone Experience!”
(Insert enthusiastic crowd applause here)
I hit the new Hendrix pedals and quickly said a prayer to the holy one. Dear Jimi, may your style flow through me, now and forever, amen, and I scraped my strings, pumped the wah pedal, and did my best Voodoo Child.
The skies parted. Angels sang. My God, the tone made the hairs on my arms stand up. This is it, I’ve done it, I sound just like.. well like.. ah.. I sounded like Pat Capone just picked up Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and started playing. Sure, it was Hendrix like, thick, distorted, psychedelic, and in all the right ways, yet, still not Hendrix.
Was I disappointed? Hell NO!
You see, truth be told, I don’t really want to sound exactly like anybody. Like most musicians, I do like to share in some of my hero’s tones and adapt them to my style. Ah, and there it is.. my style.
Sure, you can buy all of your hero’s exact gear, spend $15,000 on the exact replica of Eric Clapton’s brownie guitar, but at the end of the day it’s YOUR fingers, and YOUR brain, and YOUR skill that really determine that sound that comes out of YOUR instrument.
And guess what?
That’s what people really want to hear… They want to hear you. They want to hear your take on that classic song or lick. They want to hear how you choose to sound, mistakes and slop included, believe it or not, they really don’t want to hear YOU sound just like anybody else.
So, go ahead and buy all the cool clone gear you want. Chase after your favorite guitarists sound a little bit. It’s all good. Just remember at the end of the day, like it or not, it’s not your hero that’s playing that instrument, it’s all you, and the listeners are excited to hear what you got.