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10 Things Only Guitar Players Understand

May 23, 2018

10 Things Only Guitar Players Understand

Do you know the secrets of being a guitar player? Check out this list by guitar teacher Jessica D. and let us know if you can relate…

Psst. Hey you—guitar player—you may not know it, but you’re actually an elite member in a group of very special people—people who play the guitar.

Sure, there are a lot of us out there, but there are still many others of all ages who are mystified by our moves, flummuxed by our finger work and down right impressed with our axes. They look from the outside in, thinking, “Maybe, one day…” but then somehow life, work, and other interests kept their guitar dreams from coming true.

Thus, they think that “a fret” is to worry about an accidentally unpaid bill, their favorite jam is blueberry, and the fact that you can actually play “Freebird” makes you a rock genius. Here are some other things that only guitar players understand…

1. The Value of a Guitar

At a flea market or a yard sale, a non-guitar player might see a sweet acoustic dreadnought priced at $200 and think, “Wow, what a steal!” But the truth is, you can get a used or even a brand new guitar online for somewhere in the $50 range.

Meanwhile, the same non-guitar player might wonder why that 1960’s Martin Guitar is hanging up at Guitar Center for $10,000. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a used classical guitar or a new Taylor. If you love playing guitar, you are happy to have one in your hands, no matter what the value is.

2. How To Pronounce Yngwie Malmsteen

(Skip to 8:28 in video) This cat is incredible in his way, and most people who are serious about playing guitar have at least heard of him, and can usually, mostly correctly pronounce his name (depending on who you ask, it’s “Ing-vay” or “Ying-vie” Maahlm-steen). Seeing him live in concert is similar to a religious experience to some guitarists.

But if you’re really a pro, you know the truth: he’s a dude who spent a lot of time practicing his scales, and with time and practice, anyone can do what he does, even a 15 year old girl.

which leads us to…

3. There Are a Lot of Dope Female Guitar Players Out There

Some people think that guitar is a fella’s game, but there are many straight up incredibly talented female shredders out there. Professional guitarists know their names: Carrie Brownstein, Joni Mitchell, Jennifer Batten, Nancy Wilson, Joan Jett, Orianthi, Lita Ford, PJ Harvey, Bonnie Raitt, Marnie Stern, St. Vincent, Kaki King, more recently Taylor Swift and Tina S, the list literally goes on and on.

Anyone who thinks that “guitar isn’t for girls” is just living in the dark ages.

4. Fingernails Grow Like, REALLY Fast

Guitarists notice this even more, because fretting with fingernails totally sucks. Serious guitarists are known to carry finger nail clippers in their guitar cases or pockets, or heck, just bite their nails off before a gig in a pinch. And the hard core ones just get manicures—all the time.

Hold the fancy decals or rhinestones in the nail polish though; the steel strings of the guitar will pull them right off.

5. Picks (for Strumming) Are for Suckers

When most people pick up the guitar for the first time, they assume that a pick is a necessary accessory for rocking purposes. But the truth is, a pick distances you, literally, from your guitar. It takes you millimeters away from your strings, making things like finger picking and even just familiarizing yourself with the strings much more difficult.

The pick, should you decide to include it in your regular rotation of guitar-tillery, should come later, young grasshopper.

7. Guitar players should really be called guitars players

Because NO guitarist in the world has only one guitar. Sure, you start out with one, but one becomes two, becomes 10. Cat ladies don’t got nothin’ on us.

At this writing, I believe I am the proud owner of 8 guitars and counting. If you live with a guitarist, be prepared to sacrifice space for that sweet guitar collection. In a pinch, you can always use a hardcase as a coffee table. Rock n’ roll!

8. Not all guitars are gigantic

Just like shirts, shoes and hats, there are different sizes of guitars for different sized people. There are 7/8 and ¾ size guitars for those of us with more delicate frames, smaller hands or guitarists who just like to travel light.

Fun fact: The ¾ and 7/8 size guitar, such as a baby Martin, fit overhead on a plane and work as a personal item. Checking guitars is for people with too much free time! Speaking of which…

9. Not all Martins cost a fortune

The aforementioned baby Martins sell for less than $200 new, and did I mention, they fit overhead on a plane…?

10. People who make and fix guitars are called luthiers

And they are pretty much across the board awesome. My local luthier is a Spanish hippy who grows herbs in his windowsill and fixes my guitars for tips. Not to mention, he builds about a guitar a week using reclaimed wood, found garbage instruments and old parts out of various handtools. Can anyone say life skill?

Luthier classes are very rare and quite expensive, so if you get a chance to learn from a luthier or take a class at a lesser rate, DO IT!

And there you have it, 10 things that only guitarists understand. What did I miss?

Jessica D.Post Author: Jessica D.
Jessica D. is a guitar, ukulele, singing, and songwriting instructor in New York, New York. Learn more about Jessica here!


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Megan L. is a writer and musician living in San Diego. She loves supporting independent artists and learning more about music every day. Megan has been working for TakeLessons since November 2011. Google+

Megan L.