Wanting to be perceived to be a "guitarist" without putting in the work to be one

AQ808

Member
Messages
560
I have a bit of a situation going on and I really don't know how to take care of it amicably. I have a friend who is very excited about guitars, especially building them, but he wants to be seen as a "guitarist" without putting in the work to actually be a "guitarist".

Whenever we hang out, he wants to jam, so I say ok (seemingly at gunpoint), and through some herculean efforts on my part to listen in real time and embellish whatever non-harmonic atonal tempo free nail scratching chalkboard stuff he plays, he has come to the conclusion that we sound good together and should play out/get a band together.

I'm relatively young in TGP years (31), so wanted to ask people who had this situation before what they did in this situation, and if they were able to remain friends afterwards.

Now, I know I'll get some editorializing to, but keep in mind that this person really doesn't want to put in the work to actually learn the instrument, as they see it as some sort of performance art where the movements they make on the instrument are what matters, that they are perceived as a guitarist even though they haven't developed the skills that would clearly prove they are a guitarist and would warrant them to be perceived as one.

Also, I've continuously tried to teach this person a few basics, but he doesn't seem to trust my opinion enough to actually follow them, even though he clearly sees me as an accomplished guitarist that he wants to jam with.

It's almost as if he thinks that actually learning to play the instrument will somehow destroy his "musical voice", mojo, or whatever.

Unfortunately, I am probably the only person he can jam with who has the patience and ability to listen and respond musically to make his attempts sound musical, but that's not what I play music for as I'd rather have an intelligent musical conversation through my guitar than spend my time trying to make a train-wreck sound harmonically viable.

This is starting to drag on me a bit, is effecting my playing negatively, and is just a bad situation.

So, as I said, if others have been down this path, was there a way to end it amicably, and did it work out?

And if anyone else has a similar situation currently, feel free to share so we can commiserate.
 

HHB

Member
Messages
6,641
it's like tennis, if one player isn't advanced enough the other player doesn't have fun, I would tell him I wanted something different than he did musically, no offense
 

Lennox Lewis

Member
Messages
130
I have a bit of a situation going on and I really don't know how to take care of it amicably. I have a friend who is very excited about guitars, especially building them, but he wants to be seen as a "guitarist" without putting in the work to actually be a "guitarist".

Whenever we hang out, he wants to jam, so I say ok (seemingly at gunpoint), and through some herculean efforts on my part to listen in real time and embellish whatever non-harmonic atonal tempo free nail scratching chalkboard stuff he plays, he has come to the conclusion that we sound good together and should play out/get a band together.

I'm relatively young in TGP years (31), so wanted to ask people who had this situation before what they did in this situation, and if they were able to remain friends afterwards.

Now, I know I'll get some editorializing to, but keep in mind that this person really doesn't want to put in the work to actually learn the instrument, as they see it as some sort of performance art where the movements they make on the instrument are what matters, that they are perceived as a guitarist even though they haven't developed the skills that would clearly prove they are a guitarist and would warrant them to be perceived as one.

Also, I've continuously tried to teach this person a few basics, but he doesn't seem to trust my opinion enough to actually follow them, even though he clearly sees me as an accomplished guitarist that he wants to jam with.

It's almost as if he thinks that actually learning to play the instrument will somehow destroy his "musical voice", mojo, or whatever.

Unfortunately, I am probably the only person he can jam with who has the patience and ability to listen and respond musically to make his attempts sound musical, but that's not what I play music for.

This is starting to drag on me a bit, is effecting my playing negatively, and is just a bad situation.

So, as I said, if others have been down this path, was there a way to end it amicably, and did it work out?

And if anyone else has a similar situation currently, feel free to share so we can commiserate.
I have a similar friend who is incredibly hard to play with. He's "played" guitar for 15 + years, but never really learned a good foundation. He's always wanting to play together when he's in town, and it almost seems like a job to play along with him. It's a lot of work, because you have to constantly be on your toes. When you finally find a place thats working, he will totally change things up mid-song to where I am scrambling to find out where he's going. When we play, I feel as if I'm literally donating my time and ultimately getting nothing out of it personally.
 

ripoffriffs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,143
I have a friend who is very excited about guitars, especially building them, but he wants to be seen as a "guitarist" without putting in the work to actually be a "guitarist".
You've just described what likely is 80% of the people who keep Fender, Gibson, PRS, Marshall, Mesa (as well as a host of asian manufacturers) in business selling guitars.
 

bluesmeanie

Member
Messages
426
Maybe the most effective way to deal with it would be to say something like, "OK -- in a band, each member is responsible for learning their parts. Let's pick a few songs and agree to each have our parts down for the next time we jam."

Then, next time you jam and he hasn't got his parts down, use that fact as leverage in the "you're not ready for a band" conversation. Hopefully he'll see the point: that he needs to put some work into it to get anywhere (like anything).

It's not easy having these types of conversations with a friend, but better to have it now than later, in a band situation, because other members in any band you might start up will not have the prior friendship to mitigate their reactions. Meaning, they won't (necessarily) have a concern to spare his feelings.
 

RRfireblade

Member
Messages
3,039
Record one of your practices , let him hear it back.

That usually snaps them back to reality in a hurry.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,113
Maybe the most effective way to deal with it would be to say something like, "OK -- in a band, each member is responsible for learning their parts. Let's pick a few songs and agree to each have our parts down for the next time we jam."

Then, next time you jam and he hasn't got his parts down, use that fact as leverage in the "you're not ready for a band" conversation. Hopefully he'll see the point: that he needs to put some work into it to get anywhere (like anything).

It's not easy having these types of conversations with a friend, but better to have it now than later, in a band situation, because other members in any band you might start up will not have the prior friendship to mitigate their reactions. Meaning, they won't (necessarily) have a concern to spare his feelings.
Record one of your practices , let him hear it back.

That usually snaps them back to reality in a hurry.
A combination of the two of these will work very well.
 

AQ808

Member
Messages
560
Record one of your practices , let him hear it back.

That usually snaps them back to reality in a hurry.
So this was actually a tragic occurrence which happened 6 months ago. I actually recorded our first session and burned discs for him of that session so he could listen to it in his car.

He thought it sounded good enough for us to play out the next week!

Maybe 3 months ago, I decided that maybe I could just record backing chord tracks, tell him what the chord changes were (as if he cared), and send it to him by email so he could record his own solo over them since of course for some reason he has a high-end recording device.

The tracks he sent back sounded ridiculously bad, but he didn't even seem to notice! I was in shock at the time because I thought he would clearly realize this was not even close to being vaguely described as music, except for the chords running underneath it.

The thing is, I don't really think he's a person who actually loves music, as he only seems to want to listen to a classic rock radio station. I'm thinking that his idea of that creative process from the late 60s was that a bunch of random people were pulled off the street, put in a room full of instruments, and told to "play" while the tape ran.
 

indravayu

Senior Member
Messages
1,715
Whenever my beginner-level musician friends get drunk/high and start bugging me about forming a band with them, I just smile, nod and say "totally man", because I know they always forget about the conversation later. If they really get adament, I tell them that I am busy recording my own tunes and don't have much time for jamming with others.
 

sinner

Member
Messages
3,903
Just say it's not your kind of music and be done with it. Tell him he will find the right mates to play with that are into that "raw mojo music", but you dig something else altogether. Apples and Oranges kind of thing, don't knock his view of "music" like you would like him not to knock yours.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,113
Like The Rocco said. What's wrong with just being gently and calmly truthful. A real friend is one that you can say anything to and the two of you will work it out.
 

DC1

Member
Messages
15,384
You've just described what likely is 80% of the people who keep Fender, Gibson, PRS, Marshall, Mesa (as well as a host of asian manufacturers) in business selling guitars.
Really? That's pretty cold. It has not been my experience that the average player is that unmusical. Did you read the description in the OP? I rarely hear people who play that poorly.


dc
 

AQ808

Member
Messages
560
Maybe the most effective way to deal with it would be to say something like, "OK -- in a band, each member is responsible for learning their parts. Let's pick a few songs and agree to each have our parts down for the next time we jam."

Then, next time you jam and he hasn't got his parts down, use that fact as leverage in the "you're not ready for a band" conversation. Hopefully he'll see the point: that he needs to put some work into it to get anywhere (like anything).

It's not easy having these types of conversations with a friend, but better to have it now than later, in a band situation, because other members in any band you might start up will not have the prior friendship to mitigate their reactions. Meaning, they won't (necessarily) have a concern to spare his feelings.
This is right on, as an event happened this week which brought me to write this thread in the first place.

He has been looking for a drummer, in a location somewhere between the different cities we live in, to hold the "groove" together. Well, he finally found one, but when we got there, it turns out this drummer is actually also a guitarist at a church and is also in college for music theory!

So me and this guy hit it off very well and are setting up chord progressions and improvising melodic solo's while my friend tortured the drum kit. So after that fairly amazing communicative event between me and the theory guy, my friend headed for a guitar, and I was invited to play the drums.

So the theory student starts laying out these chord changes to my friend, assuming that my friend would have to be close to my ability in order to play with me... so for the next 5 minutes, I had a front row seat to the situation that I had dealt with for the past couple of months. Well, the theory guy then realizes that he is talking to a brick wall and says, "well, I'll play the chords and you can just do whatever you do".

Somewhat brutal, but factual. So we start playing, with sour note after sour note hurtling through like a wrecking ball, and what happens is that the theory guitarist and me get into a musical conversation again as I lay out my hard-earned swing beats and he puts down these nice chord-melody jazz changes, and we both played as if my friend wasn't even in the room!

So afterwards, I'm quite stoked that I've met someone who can musically communicate, but my friend is saying "I can't believe that guy wasted so much time talking about theory, if I wanted to talk about theory I'd be in school for it... I just want to jam... I just don't like when it's all about the theory".

But of course, it wasn't all about the theory, it was just basic chords and soloing concepts.

So, unfortunately, my friend has the contact info for this guy, which I can't extract from him because he thinks I'm joking by asking for it! Of course, the theory guy might think I'm clearly out of my mind to have been entertaining the idea of jamming with my friend in the first place!
 
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drive-south

Member
Messages
2,274
I used to work with a guy that wanted to play guitar in the worst way. He spent thousands of dollars on guitars, efx, even had a full Marshall Stack, but never bothered to take a single lesson. I'm convinced he was tone-deaf. At least he didn't insist on "jamming". He just kept on spending, hoping somehow music would just click into his brain. It took a long time for him to finally cry uncle. Then came the fire sale. Most of his guitars were pointy-headstock Ibanez, Jackson, etc so I wasn't interested in buying any of his gear.
 

AQ808

Member
Messages
560
Really? That's pretty cold. It has not been my experience that the average player is that unmusical. Did you read the description in the OP? I rarely hear people who play that poorly.


dc
He's been playing for about a year and a half, had no musical experience before that, somehow became addicted to building guitars, but has an ego as if he is a complete musician with a complete musical voice that shouldn't be messed with because of its purity.

I'm not kidding if I tell you he sounds like the Shaggs but less melodic.

He pulls down tabs/chords from those types of sites, but can't recognize when a chord is obviously wrong compared to the original... that he is playing along with!

And to top it off, this guy is an intelligent person doing well in college, and intelligent enough to have a good abstract conversation with.

Now, from my view, the poor musical communication has poured over and is effecting our regular conversation, so I am no longer able to be as creative and energetic in our conversations anymore.

I think I'm finally at the breaking point on the whole thing and needed to share it before I make it final.
 

DC1

Member
Messages
15,384
He's been playing for about a year and a half, had no musical experience before that, somehow became addicted to building guitars, but has an ego as if he is a complete musician with a complete musical voice that shouldn't be messed with because of its purity.

I'm not kidding if I tell you he sounds like the Shaggs but less melodic.

He pulls down tabs/chords from those types of sites, but can't recognize when a chord is obviously wrong compared to the original... that he is playing along with!

And to top it off, this guy is an intelligent person doing well in college, and intelligent enough to have a good abstract conversation with.

Now, from my view, the poor musical communication has poured over and is effecting our regular conversation, so I am no longer able to be as creative and energetic in our conversations anymore.

I think I'm finally at the breaking point on the whole thing and needed to share it before I make it final.
Oh I understand how bad he is. He clearly has little musical gifting at all. My point is that, no the average "non-pro with nice gear" is not like this guy at all. In fact, I think the "guy with nice gear who can't play" is mostly a myth and most people who buy nice gear learn to play decently enough.

That's been my experience at least.


dc
 




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