would always look for on a Strat was a maple neck that had been worn out. It
was like a restaurant: if it has lots of people in there, it’s got to be good
food”- Eric Clapton
The word is round, just like the well-played notes on a fine guitar. The world is round and paradoxical, full of nooks and crannies where different truths and points of view hide away. The same goes for guitarists; no one is the same as the other.
There are religions, cultures, customs, histories ... just as there are moods, reasons for being and languages. There are different heroes and legends who inspire, lead, or comfort us. Around every campfire, someone takes out a hollow, resonant box of wood with strings from a case, with a hymn to sing, accompanying its notes, a melody uniting everyone gathered round; a memory that makes them crackle just like the flames. Same case applies. No one fire is the same as another.
For some people the guitar is an instrument, but not just a musical instrument, it’s an instrument for expression too. It’s the path through which they can find their way of interrelating with the world, of making art, or simply ingratiating themselves with their fellow man. However, others use it as a crutch, a support to combat loneliness in the world, a companion to ease the weariness and the disappointments.
Six well-tuned strings can also serve to cement lifelong friendships, providing the bridge for the most unlikely camaraderie, and bring together opposing paths. Two hands that stroke, pluck, strum or pick can become four, then, six, who knows how many hands the gods may sometimes summon for their liturgies. And they draw smiles on them as expressions of goodwill. The sound waves to be found in such harmony make the world a much more beautiful place.
And yet each has its own frequency. The same guitar acts differently on the feelings of the people listening to it than it does on the musician playing. The same chord sounds different on some amplifiers than it does on others. There are those who interrupt its discourse, out of respect, while others accompany its voice in a perfect symbiosis. There are players who squeeze the notes out impatiently while others extend the sound until it becomes almost dreamlike. And then there’s us.
We, who shamelessly commit to loving it without daring to desecrate its body. We as voyeurs of orgies and acts of love. Whatever it takes. Gourmets of the sleight of hand of these heavenly chefs cooking up musical glory. Compulsive consumers, critics with frustrated souls, scribes jammed three to a room, crazed fans, and groupies, all in need of the completeness of a great solo. Each of us different, with our own religion, history and culture, marital status and mood swings. Providing the ears and hearts without which they wouldn't make any sense, offering the doors that they ultimately open to our soul.
There is no instrument that, being so simple, has evolved so much (and prompted others to evolve). But no matter the technologies, cords and plugs, the woods from this place or that, whether produced on an assembly line or hand-made in a workshop, it has never ceased to be a simple body, with six strings and a neck. That primeval base, simple maybe, contrasts with the infinite shadings that open up an unlimited range of textures, interpretations of sound, techniques, and effects.
The guitar has the capacity to love, to entertain, to evoke, to reminisce, to help, and provide companionship. Its sounds hold all the feelings and make us wonder if the music emanating from the vibration of its strings is a creation or a consequence, a cause or an idea. If those combined notes were already there waiting on some genius to pull them out of the air or if the genius was inside waiting for a certain touch to satisfy our never-ending desire to feel alive.
Today, guitar riffs are the foundation of our culture. Just as hunting and gathering, agriculture and raising livestock, the deities and philosophy, reason and industry were back in the day. Like the wheel was once.
Round. Like the world.
Like the roundness of Gibbons' tone, or the etched sound box of Knopfler's National steel, like the section of a worn-out string used by the cheapskate Chuck Berry…
Round like the Royal Albert Hall, where Clapton triumphed so many times, or like his Tears in Heaven for his son. And the great B.B. King, sitting down in his formal dress, smiling each time 'Lucille' gave him one more solo. Or Hendrix's mop of hair tying distortions together onstage at Monterey.
Townshend's windmills were round. And it could be that Gary Moore's comings and goings from the blues were nothing more than that, a passage through the circle of life. The pressure on the medicinal bottleneck that Allman applied to give us the keys of the slide was round... Music is round, and the guitar is our world.
Sit down. The food here’s really good. But the menu isn't round. It’s missing you.
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