but also, guitar anxiety

It’s a kind of early in the morning and I’m listening to my coffee brew (Stumptown coffee makes me so happy) and hugging my robe a little tighter around me. This a robe that used to belong to Nonna that I ended up with after her passing. It’s a really good robe. Warm and spacious.

I woke up this morning having overslept a bit because I was supposed to drive my dad to the bus stop (he has a conference in New York where he’s supposed to be speaking on a panel with some technology bigwigs) because I wanted to use the car today. But I kept snoozing my alarm and when I looked at my phone it was nearly 6:30 and he was headed out the door. I wish he would have woken me up. But it’s fine. He got his bus and where he parked isn’t that far away from where we live. My mom can likely drive me to the car to pick it up since we have another set of keys for it. Because I wanted to go to Guitar Center to sell some stuff today and I’m definitely going to need a car to transport it all (and also to get there – it’ s not exactly down the road). But my mom may or may not be going out today, so I may just use her car if she’s staying home.

To add, I woke up with a feeling like I have a sty in my left eyelid, which is kind of uncomfortable. It doesn’t really hurt unless you press on it, but it’s annoying just the same. My eye doctor said I’m predisposed for them. I guess I’ll have take extra care today. I have these special eyelid cleansing cloths I should be using more often I guess, though I do regularly use eye drops and have been taking Omega-3s – all good for eye health.

Coffee tastes good.

I have a lot of anxiety right now, which funnily enough I think has to do with my guitar-purchasing indecision? I don’t know which guitar is right for me! I want it to be a Harry Potter wand-selection moment and its not because Guitar Center for me is a strange purgatory. I’ve been feeling a Les Paul, but I’ve been using this Gibson hollowbody in the studio and now I’m wondering if I should look into Gretsch hollowbodies because I’ve always loved Gretsch guitars. They have a really nice look and feel and tone. And I’ve been reading articles and watching videos and it’s like that line from “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” by Say Anything where the lyrics go, “I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want”, but over and over and over in my head. (Luv u Max Bemis.)

There’s just something about committing to it. Like, beyond the price point itself, there’s something about committing to a guitar and taking it home with you. And to be honest, I could probably never tell if the guitar is going to be right for me unless I take it home and play it privately; spend time with it. Because there’s such a weird performative aspect to trying out guitars at Guitar Center. Someone is always wailing away and showing off, I feel embarrassed to try a few chords or it’s so loud, I can’t even hear my own amp. That happened to me yesterday. I was in the special Gibson / Fender room and some guy just comes in plugs in and is literally playing every classic rock lick he knows. I wish they would have private rooms for that shit. Maybe they’d pay by the hour and they can go into a soundproof room. It’s just so difficult for me to concentrate and actually focus on what the hell I want to buy.

And then I was playing my acoustics last night because I’m really looking to sell my Tanglewood (which I never should have bought and am kind of bitter about, but live and learn, right?) and I took out my Takamine G-Series (its a black G320 Dreadnought), which I haven’t played in a while and couldn’t believe I still felt a little soft on this guitar. I wrote a lot of songs on that thing and it still plays nice. I think my mom spent less that $300 on it. And yeah, there’s definitely better guitars out there, but I don’t know if it’s worth giving up. I probably couldn’t get anything for it anyway. It’s one of those budget-friendly acoustics. I actually don’t think they sell it anymore. It has a spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fretboard. And it has this laminated finish on it. I was actually ready to throw it away at one point. Back when I didn’t know how to take care of my guitars, I had the thing right next to a radiator and a window in my dorm room in this common area where the two suites met. But between the heat from the radiator and the cold from the window we’d sometimes open, the wood started to warp a bit and I noticed the intonation, especially on the higher frets, was really off and would often buzz. Thankfully, through a friend (and one of my suitemates), her father introduced me to a guitar technician who fixed that thing UP. Like he turned this guitar around and actually made it playable again. He was such a great guy who taught me how to care for guitar, that the guitar is a living, breathing instrument, the wood its made of is a living breathing thing. He taught me how to change strings too. But he’s since moved away a couple years ago, so I haven’t seen him in a bit but I’ve never forgotten what a strong impact he had on my musical life. But before this guy fixed it, I considered it dead and went to buy the Tanglewood at some Seton Hall musical instrument sale, which is an acoustic-electric, but now I wonder if those guitars are just hype – Like they’re more expensive because of the electronics and at one point getting an acoustic-electric was really important to me – because any time I played an show or open mic, it was always a pain to either put the pickup in the sound hole, or arrange the microphone just so to pick up the guitar. And I play hard and wild sometimes and would occasionally knock into the guitar mic, which is never a good look. Plugging in just looked so easy. But in my mind now I’m like, if I ever play solo from this point forward, using a hollowbody (or fuck it – even an solid body electric) would be GREAT. Who needs an acoustic-electric as long as you have a clean tone?

So I think I’ve made my peace with not selling the Takamine, but I am the self-ascribed “Queen of Indecision”. And I am a Libra after all, which is likely the root cause for all this anxiety because it’s how my brain operates. I would love a new acoustic though. But I’m trying to convince myself that my priority is studio recording right now, so I should prioritize that purchase because I buy anything else.

We’ll see what happens today –  Hopefully there’ll be no one wailing away and after I sell my stuff I can try to play a few more things.


Blind Rage & A Middle Finger To My D String

Something amusing happened to me today.

Now, I’ve written about how I believe the Universe speaks and sends messages, in what I suspect is a near parallel to how dream and the unconscious functions. At the time it seems some chance occurrence that was either so profound or incredibly frustrating, and you have no idea why the thing occurred. But I’ve found that if you wait these things out, you can accurately determine why the event took place. I’m still in a bit of rage of disbelief and it’s only been a few hours since it happened, so I’m still hypothesizing answers.

With that said, yesterday I was playing guitar in my room when my D string suddenly snapped off. I hate when that happens, and it’s happened to me enough times that I get immediately agitated when it does. And of course I have every other string in the house but that one. So I resolved to walk to my local music shop the next day to get another string so I could quickly replace it (I’m playing a open mic tonight).

So today, at around 11 o’clock, I walk 20 minutes to the local music shop and tell the owner about the string. I end up asking if it’s possible I could just get one string and not the whole pack because I just want to quickly replace it. I know if you change the strings it’s important to treat them like tires – You don’t know replace one, you replace all of them at the same time. That’s just really how it should be done.

[There’s another thing I should probably add here: I’m terrible at changing strings. I mean, I can do it as well as the average guitar player. Sure, I can string it through the tuning knob hole and turn the knob ’til I get the note I need, but within the past few years I’ve been adamant on getting the process right. There’s a certain way to do it so that it looks perfectly coiled (I also believe it’s better for the guitar when it’s done that way too). Imagine how the strings look on the headstock when you walk into a guitar store. I’ve been trying to do that, and every time I do I fail miserably. Only when I do it under the supervision of my guitar tech do I get it right.]

So he’s unsure of what the gauge of the D string should be (for my particular guitar) and hands me a .32 gauge (the thickness of the string, basically) and says, “Well, that should be close to what you need”. My heart seized up – I didn’t want it to be close. I wanted it to be accurate. I’ve strung my guitar with the wrong gauge before and kind of messed up the nut and my saddle. If they’re too fat, it’s not good for the guitar. But I payed for the string anyway and left.

When I left, I still didn’t feel right about it. I even went on Google to search to see if I could find the correct gauge. Long story short, I made myself go back and after telling my story, asked the guy if I could just exchange the string I just bought for a pack of strings (with the correct gauge) and pay the difference. “For peace of mind,” I said. It was no problem at all and he understood.

So I walk all the way back home to change the string. Turns out the whole time the .32 WAS correct. When you by a pack of .11 or .12 gauge strings, the D and A strings are the same size for both sets. (I also confirmed this online) So I kinda felt like an idiot. So I’m changing the string, trying to remember when my tech taught me, I’m winding the string and guess what? It POPS. The string fucking pops off and breaks. I wanted to cry and punch a wall.

That was the only D string I had. Not only that, but I could’ve saved $7 and just bought the original one he sold me!

Blind rage, I tell you. Blind rage.

Luckily, I have another guitar I can use for tonight (who’s strings hopefully won’t break on me) but I’m still pissed.

I ordered a new pack of strings online, and I guess I’ll have to see my guitar tech when they come so we can put them on together and can learn how to do this once and for all.

It’s just so irritating when shit doesn’t work out and goes wrong.

But to go back to my original point – So why did this happen? What’s going on here?

Is there a lesson to be learned? A point to be understood? Just random BS?

Maybe it’s a lesson in “we have no control”; Stop trying so hard; No matter what we do, the end result will be the same.

Maybe it’s bad karma – But to me, even that has a moral when it happens.

And I don’t believe in random chance.

I’m still pondering…and waiting for illumination.