Tune It or Die
Yesterday morning, sometime before the dog stole half of our lunch fixins off of the counter while I wasn’t looking, I sat in the living room and played my guitar – something I do when my wife leaves early for work, and I have some time on my hands.
I have an acoustic guitar I received as a Christmas present when I was 14. I had started playing guitar when I was 8, but had been limited to a student-sized acoustic guitar right out of the Sears catalog. Santa upgraded me to a full-sized electric guitar when I was 12 or so, and as much as I wanted it then, it was huge and heavy (not to mention an unflattering off-white), and I was terrible at playing it. I mastered “Wipeout” and called it a day. But this full-sized Yamaha acoustic guitar (with an electric pick-up built in) was my go-to guitar for many years, throughout high school and college, as I started writing my own songs. It was, and still is, my primary songwriting guitar. It’s used to being abused, as its home is on a stand in the corner – it collects dusts some inactive weeks, it gets banged and knocked over, and the strings are changed maybe once a year, at best. For perspective, my other five(!) guitars are kept securely in their custom cases, awaiting a new string change every time I take them out and give them a quick microfiber cloth polish. Those spoiled brats.
It’s no surprise that the thing is hard to keep in tune. It’s been years since it’s had any kind of hardware tune-up, and has been at least two years since the last string change. It endures the in-house climate changes, and probably sits in the sun during the morning hours. I’m surprised someone hasn’t called social services. The low E string is the most moody, and if I put a capo on the damn thing, I might as well give up. But regardless, it’s the guitar I pick up the most often – either to play through a full song or tinker with some songwriting when I’m home alone, or play for an audience of my wife and dog, who both find it soothing. I always assume that if a song I’ve written sounds good on that guitar, imagine what it will sound like in tune!
I started strumming through some songs yesterday, and then I turned into some psycho pregnant lady when I panicked, wondering if I was damaging Vegas somehow by playing such obvious out of tune chords in such close proximity to his developing (developed?) ears. What if he comes out tone-deaf? What if he thinks THAT is what a G-chord is supposed to sound like. Oh no. Not to say that his direct relation to me will immediately give him the upper hand music-wise (case in point, my mother can’t even play the triangle), but I don’t want to set a bad example already. See? Now I’m THAT psycho pregnant lady. Regardless, I tuned-up the best I could, and continued on. Sorry kid, in advance.