Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Inferiority complex

I may have mentioned I took up the guitar in March?  Well I had made sufficient progress (I can clumsily limp through open chords), in my worthless opinion, to warrant an upgrade.

On the advice of the ever-helpful Planet Mondo, and with some extensive internet research I made the decision to buy a Martin DX-1, but as a sensible consumer I needed to see one with my own eyes, and touch one with my own hands, which presented me with something of a dilemma. 
Now this is probably part of my own psychological make-up, rather than reflection of the reality of shopping for musical instruments, but going into to a music shop and engaging an expert terrifies me.  I'm not a complete shrinking violet.  I can stand in front of a room of people, for example, and talk with authority and confidence about work related matters.  I can even point a laser thingy at a Powerpoint presentation with a certain amount of dexterity.

Put me in front of a ponytailed, acne infested, music shop employee, and I turn into Mavis Riley.  It's not just the employee either.  Guitar departments are ALWAYS full of fifteen year old Goth guitar virtuoso's picking out elaborate guitar parts from Metallica songs.  So when the inevitable "Would sir like to try it?" comes along, I pause for a second, eye the potential audience, think about ploughing through my clunky strummed version of 'Wish You Were Here", and conclude that sir would not.  Thanks.

I did try.  I did.  My first (and only) attempt, saw me in a music shop in the South West of England, eyeing up the Martin's on a thoughtfully hidden mezzanine, totally deserted of Goths. I thought my luck was in, when I was approached by the sales assistant.  He enquired after my health, I told him I was fine.  I enquired about the legality of his ponytail, he told me it was still legal for guitarists to have them, under Seaman's law, which the government passed in 1999.  He told me to feel free to browse around.  Then, he sauntered off to the corner of room, picked up cheap Yamaha and proceeded to play a piece of such devasting complexity that George Harrison would have struggled to keep up.  I didn't know whether to weep at the beauty of the music, or at my own English inadequacy. 

I fled instead.

I now have my sought after guitar.  Thanks to the anonymity of internet shopping.

(And thanks again to Planet Mondo)


Planet Mondo said...

Wahey! Well done VS waddya reckon can you feel the bass rumble against your ribs?

I've been playing for years but still feel like Mel Smith in this, every time I step into a guitar shop, (see also comic shops or anything to do with cars and DIY).

The trouble is whichever level you reach there's always be someone my technique has been to learn a practice piece which I can drop into in music shops.

Beatles Blackbird'' for acoustics/
(not as heard as you may think/ Pistols 'Pretty Vacant' for electrics.

Can't remember if I've mentioned this before but Will Hodgkinson's Guitar Man is really affirming if you're guitar player at any level.

And well done on joining the Martin Owners Club.

Five-Centres said...

It's difficult enough clothes shopping - I'm still intimidated by shop assistants. But thank God I don't play a musical instrument. I feel your pain, nonetheless.

PM's clip there was what immediately sprung to mind when I read this post.

Valentine Suicide said...

That Gram-o-phone clip is almost bang-on, except in a music shop you're expected to pick it up and demonstrate a degree of competence with the thing.

I've got Blackbird in my sights, PM, but hadn't attempted it. i just plucked the first two strings on that tab on the Martin and the sound made me feel all warm inside. Back to trying smooth changes on 'Ticket to Ride' for now though..