You’ve been there. A glaring moment when you’ve sucked so badly that you hoped no one was listening. But guess what? They were.
In fact, I witnessed an example of this the other day at the local guitar shop. A gentleman was shopping for a new axe and blissfully showing the store how well he could play “Smoke on the Water” with every model they had in stock. Things were going rather well until he attempted the solo. This caused no small amount of pain to everyone’s earholes. But what made it unforgivable was that he had no excuse prepared. He willingly suffered the ridicule of everyone (even if it was behind his back), a pain that could easily have been avoided had he been privy to the following ideas.
The Guitarist’s Trick Bag
From the first day that you decide to pick up a guitar, you must swear that you will always have an excuse prepared for any unremarkable playing that you may be the source of. What follows are my most potent face savers of all time. These are so effective that people will think you are a guitar god without you actually having to play a note.
1. Always Use the Lightest Possible Pick
This is foolproof for avoiding the expectation that you’ll play anything difficult. “Huh? You want me to shred? Unfortunately I only have this extremely light pick. See? I can barely strum this G chord without it bending back over my thumb.”
2. Never Change Strings so They are Easy to Break and Knock Out of Tune
This is an amazing technique for those unavoidable moments of extreme sucking. When you inevitably hit a poor note or twelve, it’s a simple matter to turn and yank really hard on a string resulting in massive tuning problems or better yet, a clean break. Of course you hit some feeble notes. Look what you have to work with.
3. Keep Fingernails a Healthy Length
This just about goes without saying. If you’re actually cutting your fingernails, you’re simply inviting mistakes and laughter. Keep those puppies long and healthy. This is one of the easiest and greatest tricks in a guitarists bag. Just remember to have a meticulously edited demo on hand so that everyone can hear what you really play like when your nails are trimmed.
4. Never Return Bandmates Texts or Messages Until the Last Possible Moment
Always keep people in the dark as to what you are up to. Then when you show up to rehearsal and begin the inexorable journey to suckville, it’s an effortless matter to say, “I didn’t know we had practice today. Nobody told me and I had no chance to go over this.” Just remember to never take responsibility or it will be perceived as weakness and greatly hurt your image.
5. Blame the Bass Player
This is constantly overlooked by players that actually think their playing needs improvement. All of those calculated “color” notes that you hit would have been breathtaking if only the bass player had played the right root note. Of course your exotic scales are going to sound substandard as long as the bass player insists on sabotaging you. You desperately need a bass player with the ear to keep up with your advanced improvisational faculties.
These are 5 of the most irrefutable stratagems to ever grace the guitar playing community. Ignoring them will cause deep shame and mortification. Trust me, I have used all of these to great effect. In fact, no one ever asks me to play anymore because they know I’ll outshine everyone with my perfect combination of elusiveness and precision ranting and blaming. I know these tips will do the same for you.