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Hey, You Can't Do That: Getting the Fire Back

Getting back to what made us love the guitar

Sometimes things come up in life that take us away from our instrument for a little or a long while. It could be anything from becoming too busy with work or family life to an injury that prevents us from being able to play to just a lack of drive or newness. In this age of over stimulation it’s easy for us to get lost in the minutia of the gear or online rants—and many of us gearheads turn to G.A.S. to fuel our interest—but even that can end up feeling like we’re just throwing money at the problem. Whatever the root of the conundrum, there are many ways to get the fire back. Let’s take a look at some scenarios and various approaches to tackling the problem so we can get back on the road to happiness with the guitar.

Time waits for nobody...ain’t that the truth! When I was younger it seemed that my parents or anyone who looked like an adult always talked about how they had no time. As I got older it amazed me to find out that this is a truth you just can’t escape. Not only does it seem we all live busy lives, it’s those busy lives that can sap the energy out of our musical life. Oddly enough, it’s music that can reenergize us when we’re feeling the most depleted. Much like exercise or eating better, you have to decide to make more time.

Obviously we all only have 24 hours each day so I’ll be realistic here, but would it be that hard to get up a half hour earlier to get in a little guitar time? Maybe mornings aren’t your preferred time so staying up a little later could be a better bet. What about those wasted hours watching TV as your zone out after a busy day? Couldn’t you take a little bit of that time and sneak away to jam for a bit?

One thing I learned fairly early in life was that making the decision and taking action in the moment is one of the most powerful ways to get what you want. Sure you’re tired. Sure you’ve been busy all day and it would be nice to just rest a little bit, but you’ll be going to bed soon enough just to wake up and start it all over again do it! It’s amazing what making up your mind can do to get you back on track. Soon enough you’ll be digging in and you’ll forget it’s way past your bedtime. There will be plenty of time to rest when you’re dead!

A friend of mine recently had an injury that stopped him from being able to play for several months. Wrist problems, tendinitis, and back problemGs can all get in the way or literally stop us dead in our tracks.

What do you do when you can’t actually play your instrument at all? Maybe this is the time to sit back and watch some great concert footage. Do you remember your first favorite band? For me it was KISS (so many others that grew up in the ‘70s remember this glorious time!). I had also been sick recently and when I didn’t have the strength to pick up the guitar I ended up catching up on some killer vintage KISS concert footage from their seemingly endless supply of recorded material. It brought back great memories and made me understand why I originally fell in love with the guitar. It was Ace Frehley and that Les Paul/Marshall tone coupled with his killer vibrato. Add to it the excitement of the KISS show and I was really dying to get well (maybe not the best choice of words) so I could go back and try to tackle that left hand rhythmic vibrato that Ace dominated his solos with.

In the case of an actual injury, it’s obvious that you need to fully heal before getting back to the guitar because you don’t want to make things worse by going back early. That said, along with rehabilitating yourself maybe now would be a good time to study music theory, or if you’re a rebel, go back and crank up some of your favorite records. And before you put your iPod earbuds in and get all private about it, maybe it’s time to clear the house and crank up your do remember this device don’t you? Thing is, we tend to internalize a lot more than we used to with music. Sitting on the train, bus, in the car, etc. it seems that everyone has their headsets on and they keep to themselves. If you’re a rock fan, nothing beats cranking up the stereo and getting that feeling of the air moving. Probably why we all like our amps to be loud too!

Boredom is the worst offender by far because it sneaks up on us over time and that feeling of everything being stale shuts our energy down. Boredom can come from playing the same type of music too much, talking about instead of experiencing music, or just falling into a rut. Again, the seemingly easy way out is to buy a new guitar, amp, or pedal (which can be great) but that isn’t always an option and it doesn’t always address the bigger picture.

Try going to a concert. There’s a novel idea. Anyone for live music these days? For the older crowd, instead of going to another of the excessive reunion shows where there’s only one member left from the original lineup, try checking out something more current. Personally I’d like to check out Muse and Lady Gaga. Yes, I said it! Then again, I like KISS, so the show is half the reason I go. Maybe I need to break out of my rut! Seriously though, there is nothing wrong with trying out something new. Before you knew what you liked you hadn’t heard it before, so go out on a limb and give it a shot.

If it’s just the fact that you are playing the same thing over and over, now is the time to invest in some lessons. You’ve got the internet, so dig in! Doesn’t cost anything to watch a YouTube video or check out some of the many lessons right here at Premier Guitar online. Or, if you have the magazine at home, take the guitar outside with you or to a new environment and learn there. It’s a great way to open doors by changing your surroundings.

Here’s another tip for the gear hounds. Since you’ve already played through all your guitars and amps and still want to try something new, how about trading gear for a week with a buddy? Nothing beats free when it comes to expensive stuff like guitars and amps. Maybe you don’t want your friend’s dirty fingers all over your guitar. Not a problem, how about swapping amps, cabinets, pedals, etc.? I’m fortunate in that every month something new arrives here for me to review so I have that ability to always have a fresh bit of inspiration. You can do the same without spending any money. It’s a great way to open up new doors and do the same for your fellow guitar buddy.

That’s it for me. How do you get the fire back? I’m all ears!