FEATURE: Making Noise to Make It Work

Not everyone is a guitar virtuoso.  Heck, most people learn a few chords so they can lead the friggin’ sing-along at the campfire. And, yes, some folks pick up a guitar and make it sing like an angel the first time they plug it in.  Thankfully, there are the dedicated that stick to it and find their sound.  Those have always been the guitar players that I’ve got into.

By no means am I a guitar player.  I know a few chords, and heck, I even taught myself to play the thing upside down because I felt more comfortable playing left-handed and my father had a right-handed guitar, and we were too 2-P-Great-Expectations-3poor to get me a lefty.  Nope, I don’t play it anything like Hendrix did, because no one, right or left handed, plays guitar like he did.  At best, I am the sing-along guy at the camp fire; if I’m not too drunk – and campfires mean beer and beer means drunk.  There have been a few times when I had the chance to plug a guitar in and fuck with some pedals and whatnot, and tinker out some interesting sounds.  That’s what I love; when an obvious journeyman at best can take limited talent and make it sound great.

You could tell that folks like Kurt Cobain or Joe Santiago from Pixies or even blues legend Hound Dog Taylor weren’t the highest skilled guitarists around, but they found a sound, and sweet buttery fuzz, that sound changed the world. 9210 Hound Dog Taylor could slam that slide guitar across those strings like no other, and the filth of his sound was so fuzztastic and dirty you had no choice but to feel his pain.  The songwriting of Frank Black is so amazing that
Santiago sat over top of the melody and filled the gaps with amazing sounds.  Heck, even East Bay Ray of Dead Kennedys took a shitty surf sound and found the filth and crass in it enough to become one of the most distinct players of his genre.  Noodling is not, in any way, for the stage, but it can be the best damn thing in your bedroom working on ideas.

If you think you love the guitar, and you feel the need for it like many of us do, then get something cheap from the local shop (find the one all the local musicians work in), get an equally cheap practice amp and a few “loud” pedals, lock yourself in your room for a bit, slap on the headphones, and just make as much ugly noise as you can.  Yes, learn a few scales and chords, you need those, but also explore the fuzz and tones – you just never know what filth you might find. – FATS