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Revolting Resolutions

What’s more annoying than obligatory New Year’s resolutions lists everywhere you look for the entire bloody month of January?

Who am I kidding with New Year’s resolution No. 10? Nothing spruces up a guitar like rad zombie stickers like these ones from The Garden Weasel? You’ll just have to read the rest of this damn page, my friend.

What’s more annoying than obligatory New Year’s resolutions lists everywhere you look for the entire bloody month of January?

Nothing. Seriously—nothing.

Personally, I think we should all give out lists of things everybody else should resolve to do/stop doing so we don’t go medieval on their asses. (In an enlightened, pacifistic sense, of course.) I mean, it’s just metaphorical ipecac to jump on Facebook (or maybe that blog that three people read out of sheer guilt/boredom whenever they’re too lazy to download the latest version of Angry Birds Star Wars) and glurg out self-congratulatory/ delusional putrescence that implies we’re going to finally do something about things we identified long ago as problem areas/shortcomings/potentially lethal/sheer stupidity.

For those of us who’d like to continue breathing and pumping a full tank of blood for a while longer, however, perhaps the better option—especially within earshot of anyone we care to remain on good terms with—is to admit that the only thing more annoying than inane resolutions is dealing with another year of not working on stuff we know sucks about ourselves. (The question of why we’re under the collective delusion that important life changes must coincide with the beginning of our new cute-kitty calendar will be tabled to another column.)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of lameness to work on for approximately 350 more days and some change:

1. Use no more than five slash marks to colloquially imply “and” or “or” in Premier Guitar Tuning Up columns. Seriously—that’s really annoying/lazy/incorrect.

2. Finally jettison the lame pedalboard I’ve been using for 15 freaking years. Even the manufacturer of this relic would scoff that I haven’t used it to board up a broken window or build a bike jump. What gives? How could I put up with this creaky piece of ergonomic mediocrity for that long? It's simple: Every time I scrape together enough money for recreational spending, I want new tones and toys—not just a less ugly, more useable chunk of metal and Velcro at my feet.

3. improve my flatpicking articulation … at least when I’m not trying to be a punk. To set the record straight, this is mainly a problem because I use the broad side of my picks rather than the pointed tip. I dig how it rounds off the attack a bit even as the textured gripping surface comes into contact with the strings and adds a little grit. Try it—you might like it. If not, don’t be an idiot and wait till January 2014 to take corrective measures.

4. Buy a new friggin’ guitar strap. Don’t ask me how this happened, but somehow I’ve either had straps kicking around from guitar to guitar for years, or I’ve gotten freebies someone didn’t want. Until I recently expanded my meager-but- totally-cool-by-me guitar collection, I hadn’t needed to purchase one since the mid ’90s. The problem? I’m a cheap ass (see pedalboard entry above). My eyes bulge out at 90 percent of the straps at the guitar shop—half because they're fugly, and half because they cost a fifth of what I usually spend on an actual guitar.

5. Tame the reverb addiction— but just a tad. Yeah, I like it. A lot. Deal with it— because, chances are, I probably won’t … at least not to the degree you so-called “rational” players think I should. Send your complaints to Dick Dale.

6. Perfect my two-pedal stomp so I don’t hit the damn mute switch on the tuner that’s too close to my compressor and overdrive. Stupid tuner. I need a new pedalboard....

7. Polish a guitar once in a while … like, other than when I’m restringing it. Yeah, that’s about as likely as kicking the ’verb habit.

8. Find more ways to play unpredictably without resorting to the easy out of just buying a new pedal. After all, anyone can buy another stomp—but what are the odds they’ve got a pocket-sized Garden Weasel (the chrome one, not that tonesucking tin-alloy POS!)?

9. Write a song that’s actually in a major key once in a while. Sure, I throw major chords in here and there, but these are serious times, man— how can you write a happy song when Twinkies are extinct?

10. Cool it with the zombie stickers on all my guitars. The fact that I was a Shaun of the Dead freak before the current zombie bandwagon doesn’t mean it looks any less trendy. (Or, do I stick to my cricket bat till everyone moves from that and the sparkly vampire craze and on to the metrosexual minotaur craze?)

How about you—got a list of inexcusably procrastinated, guitar-/ bass-related lameness to share?

Oh yeah, happy freakin’ New Year.

Shawn Hammond

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