Hi, my name is Deck and I am a bad guitar player. Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest.
If the title of this series hasn’t clued you in, this is not a guitar blog that will be full of helpful advice, pro tips or keen musical insights. If I were capable of such things, I probably wouldn’t be a bad guitar player. Yet, here we are. I have been playing guitar now for close to three decades and I don’t sound much better than I did two or three years into it. It was clear early on that I was not a natural talent on the instrument or in music in general. But I have now been doing this thing and doing it badly for the majority of my life and as I continue to play the instrument and play it poorly I am more and more conscious of the place that it stand in my life.
I will never be a professional musician. My family tolerates my playing but doesn’t enjoy it. I have been called tone deaf by classically trained professionals and bewildered better players with my erratic rhythm. Yet, I am still going to play the guitar. I will be playing it for the rest of my life. Maybe, some day I won’t be as terrible as I am now, but at some level I will always be a bad guitar player. I am not so sure that is such a bad thing to be.
I should be clear though, I am not wholly incompetent. I can play some. I can do many basic things just fine and a few things that might even temporarily create the impression that I am actually a good guitar player. If you are a beginner, still building those callouses and learning your cowboy chords, you would probably not classify me as a “bad guitar.” If you are a professional with a kind heart and patience, you might take the charitable view of my playing and describe it as “not bad.” That is very kind of you. I have worked hard to achieve this level of mediocrity, but not hard enough to actually be good at playing this damn thing.
I decided to keep this running log of my ineptitude here in public view for two reasons. First, I am hoping that this running feature will be a kind of motivational tool to focus my playing around some series of goals or milestones. I don’t have gigs to practice for or any other organizing principle to my playing. I can continue to be just as bad as ever at playing the guitar and no one is likely to ever even notice. If playing here and occasionally posting videos of said playing helps me be slightly less terrible, it will be worth it. The second reason for creating this running diary of something that I don’t do well at all is that I have recently come around to a certain fascination about why I continue to pursue something I am not at all likely to be good at, to which I have no natural inclination and to which I have no discernable reason for doing at all. My working theory is that trying to play music has been one of the few things that has continued to challenge me, to teach me and to inspire me throughout my life, even in spite of the fact that I have never achieved anything worth noting in pursuing it. All of the “wins” that come from playing are completely personal; they are mine alone. That feels like something worth exploring and something that music can give us that very few other pursuits can. If can explore that, I think it will be worth the effort.
I hope this journal will be entertaining for players and non-players alike. I will do my best to be honest and unflinching. I will post videos of my struggles and (hopefully) of my few successes. I hope I might find a purpose to playing music that is wholly separate from chasing fame or musical achievement. I hope my struggles help someone else struggling to play or struggling to understand why they play. I hope it won’t be all bad, but I am a bad guitar player, so that might be hoping for too much.