Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007

How It Feels to Play a Distorted Guitar at Full Volume (for the Layperson)

It's a shame that most people have never played an electric guitar on full fuzz distortion through an amp that's turned so high that the cops come.

I'll try and convey what it's like to you, the layperson.

When you play a power cord at full volume -- especially the first time it actually sounds GOOD -- there's little else on Earth that feels similar.

I re-visited this phenomenon while listening to the Smashing Pumpkins' album, Gish, with my friend Pat. We both agreed that learning to play the songs from Gish on guitar for the first time was one of the best feelings from our earlier days.

It's a rare exhilaration and power you feel when all the strings are tuned right and you can make it sound half-rhythmic, then put the volume "to eleven", so to speak. I've been trying to figure out how best to describe that feeling to the non-guitar-playing public, and finally came up with a proper analogy.

The only comparable feeling I've experienced in my life was back in 2004 in Cambodia when I fired 30 rounds from a fully automatic AK-47 machine gun at a firing range. Not joking. That's the same feeling. It's a combination of wielding something very loud, very powerful, a tad dangerous, and very annoying to most people in your vicinity. In short, awesomely awesome awesomeness.

So if you're musically disinclined, get yourself to a firing range and go nuts. Either that, or just take some guitar lessons, lazy-ass.
Oh man I love to turn up the amp and pound out happens so little now that I've got kids and "responsibilities" you know. It is truly an energizing buzz you get from sheer volume. Now you're making me all nostalgic...
Great analogy - I think I will put it on my to do list.

I was watching this show where a lay person was permitted to squeeze off a few thousand rounds (no kidding) from one of those MIDI guns, where the barrels spin around and it sounds like a high pitched chain saw. Whatever he pointed it at turned into a cloud of sparks and dust.

I got a boner.
My experience doing that was so life changing I wrote a song about it:"My First Fuzzbox". Perhaps you're familiar with it?
Last Thanksgiving, my family was at a friend's home for dinner. He has a new AMP and allowed to jam on one of his guitars. Even though, I play an acoustic guitar, I never had an opportunity to play an electric.

It was great. My wife kept coming into the room and asking to turn it down. Hell no!

I felt something go through my bones I had not felt, since working as a bartender for a live music country-rock bar in the 1980's. Next purchase is an electric guitar and amp.
I remember myself and a friend blasting out Back in Black at ear-bleeding levels only to have a half the resident old biddies at the local old people's home call the cops. Who says old people are deaf??
Thirty years ago I had the experience of playing a power chord through a Marshall. I was amp shopping, and wanted anything but a Marshall, because they seemed so fashionable. At the shop I tried amp A, then amp B, and when I described that I was looking for a particular roar, they asked if I had ever. Truth was, I hadn't. They plugged me in and I hit an open A. It was smooth tuned thunder, a real jaw dropper.

I still own the amp.
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