Let There Be Guitar!
There was guitar. (Or there will be, very soon.)
Earlier this year — March or April, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a guitar instructor who had posted a few videos of himself teaching his wife how to play several rock riffs. I blipped through a couple of them and they gave me the brilliant idea that I could learn how to play rock riffs, too.
I am turning 60 years old this fall and I’m going to celebrate this milestone by learning how to play guitar.
After confirming that it wasn’t odd to start out on an electric guitar, as opposed to an acoustic (the best advice was variations on “Choose the type of guitar you are excited about playing”) — I typed in search strings like “best guitar for beginner” and watched maybe a dozen YT videos.
A consensus on the best starter guitar formed rather quickly. A lot of commentors, including people who have played for decades and own numerous guitars, recommended one of the Squier stratocasters or telecasters. Squier is Fender’s more affordable brand. A few said their Squier was still one of their favorite guitars to play. Here are three typical comments:
it is still remarkable to me how good the Affinity sounds, and how much value it represents for the money. . . .
played one in store yesterday and was floored at the quality of the playability and how great the stock pick ups sound, Squire have seriously upped their game over the last few years . . .
I have a lot of expensive guitars and needed a simple tele-guitar. I bought one of these Affinity Lake Placid Blue. I can say — it sounds fantastic, I really love this guitar. The sound, build quality and look are amazing!
This was getting exciting. I learned that Canada’s largest music store is in Victoria, which is at the other end of Vancouver Island. And it turns out that my partner Laura and I are driving to Victoria in mid-September to spend a few days with Laura’s brother and his wife, who are driving up from southern Oregon. I could order the guitar or otherwise make sure it was in stock and get it when during our trip. Bonus: The trip is roughly one month before my actual birthday.
I was doing all of this video-watching — and musing about whether I might have an innate but heretofore-untapped talent for playing guitar* — for at least two months without mentioning anything to Laura.
*: I took violin lessons when I was eight or nine years old. As I dimly recall, learning to read music was an early part of the lessons (which was not exciting) and I don’t think I practiced as much as I should have. Saying I stayed with it for a year is probably generous.
In June, I happened to see the words “A gift” on one of Laura’s many to-do lists. I realized I should tell her my wonderful idea before she spent any time or money on some other gift. She was more excited than I expected. (Our house’s previous owners left an old piano (1910?) for us and Laura has been re-learning how to play; she took lessons as a young child.) As soon as my secret was out, I suddenly wanted the guitar. Like right now. Mid-September was nearly three months away.
I decided on the Affinity, the middle guitar in Squier’s price range. As far as colour, I considered red for a while, but ended up going with Lake Placid Blue. The “Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS Pack” also comes with a Fender amp, and some other items. I called the store on July 10, explained my situation, and put down a deposit. I got a call on July 22, saying it had arrived (fairly quickly, I thought) at the store. I would also need a pair of headphones, but I could get those when I was at the store.
Time speeds up as you age, but I’ve inadvertently discovered how to make time slow down. Plan something you’re super excited about for a day a few months (or more) in the future. Time will crawl until that date. In the meantime, I’ve been watching various “How to play [song]” videos online and making notes.
While I can see myself practicing and fumbling around, I cannot imagine how much I’ll have learned after six months or a year or two years. The idea of playing songs by bands I’ve loved from my late teens and early 20s seems like literal magic. I’m not sure why this idea never occurred to me before. Better late than never, though.
September 13 is circled on the calendar. Nineteen days to go.