Worthless Guide to Playing Guitar

Guitar Kid
Ever since I was a small child I’ve dreamt of being a rock star. One of my fondest childhood memories is dancing in front of our television, rocking out with a broken broom to a Whitesnake music video my father was watching. “Boy,” he said to me, taking a drag from one of his brown paper (and likely PCP laced) Sherman cigarettes, “Getthefug outta the way and stop mincing around like a goddamn fa**ot.” Then he threw a half-empty beer can at my head and I ran off crying. From that moment I knew I was destined for greatness. Sure enough, soon I was swaying back under the white hot lights of the stage, noodling at a cheap guitar and barely able to stand because my blood was almost pure heroin. So now that you’re aware of my own rock credentials, let’s see about helping you get started with your own.



Win Friends and Charm Snakes


Cool Old Man

Most people don’t buy a guitar because they have a terrifying lust to create music. Most people buy a guitar because they think it will make them seem cooler. And honestly, it can’t really hurt. How many times have you seen someone playing a guitar and said aloud "Wow! Awesome!" Maybe it's none, I don't know. But guitars aren’t miracle workers; sometimes a loser who picks up a guitar just becomes a weirdo with a guitar.

For example, if you’re an average guy walking down the street with a guitar slung over his back, people are probably going to be more likely to think “Woowee, he’s probably a pretty cool guy!” But if you happen to be a morbidly obese albino dwarf with a ponytail scooting around the streets on a board with wheels, a guitar isn’t exactly going to make you into Steve McQueen.  

If you still don’t believe me, here are a few examples of people who were most definitely not made cooler by learning to play the guitar:

Not Cool

So Not Cool





(What) Kinds?


What many non-guitar players don’t realize is that there are many different types of stringed instruments available to the budding musician. Here’s a beginner’s overview of the main types to help you decide which one is right for you.


Bass Guitar
Bass Guitar
Honestly I don’t think you want to play the bass guitar. It’s big and heavy and it really hurts your shoulder. Also you’re probably just going to cripple your hand trying to stretch your fingers to reach the frets. So now you have a sore hand from playing an instrument nobody even notices. What’s the point? It just isn’t worth the trouble.


Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
If you’re a shaggy-haired guy who might want to recline under a tree somewhere and mildly interest underage girls others by playing some jingly-jangly pop or folk songs, you should probably pick up one of these guitars. But I’d warn you that playing most acoustic guitars is much harder than playing an electric. You have likely not experienced such finger-based pain in your life (unless you’ve played Diablo 2). But if you don’t mind the feeling of razor sharp razor wire digging into the tips of your fingers as you press down as hard as you can upon them with what will soon be a gnarled arthritic claw, it might be alright. And hey, you can always learn to play "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band on it. It’s a great song to perform, especially if you don’t mind being beaten to death in the middle of it by me.  


Electric Guitar
Electric Guitar
If you don’t really want to play guitar, this is the type to buy. Perhaps you’re a wealthy celebrity or a college football player who craves that disinterested half-smile that people might give as they walk past it, or maybe you’re just insecure. Either way it’s well documented that 98% of guitars which are purchased are never even played more than once or twice, so don’t be ashamed. Just make sure you get one with gaudy stripes and colors and lots of pointy edges or nobody is going to be impressed when they push aside the dress pants in your closet and see it sitting there.


Weird Crap
Odd stuff
These are just a bunch of strange instruments that nobody popular plays. Who the hell do you think you are with that ukulele; Tiny Tim? Get rid of it.




Help! Nevermind. Let’s go Shopping!


Ravenous Shoppers

So you’ve decided which type of guitar is right for you, now all that’s left to do is go and buy one. But where should you begin? If you live in America, you might want to check the Guitar Center chain of stores. Visiting one of these stores is usually quite a wonderful experience. Imagine squirming your way through a throng of cackling adolescent boys and sullen, marble-eyed suburban dope fiends in search of a twitchy 19-year-old clerk who just snorted 80 milligrams of Adderall XR off a nine thousand dollar Les Paul in the back. He may know something about guitars; he may not. Hope you like to gamble.

 If a chain store doesn’t sound appealing to you, you might consider checking in with a quieter boutique type store. It might cost you a few more bucks, but hey, sometimes that’s the price you pay for not having to avoid stepping on syringes in the parking lot.

Here are some tips to help you get through the sales process:

  • Be afraid to try it. You don’t know anything about buying a guitar. If the salesperson asks you if you want to try one out, refuse. If you tried it, everyone in the store is going to look at you and laugh smugly because you don’t know anything. Demand that the salesperson play a ‘bluegrass lick”. If they refuse or claim not to know a bluegrass lick. Knock the guitar out of their hands and walk out.

  • Futilely attempt to barter. Most stores these days have set prices, so bartering is almost always out of the question. But don’t let that stop you from trying! For example, if a particular guitar has a price tag on it which reads “$800” simply rip the tag off and say “That’s highway robbery, I won’t pay it!” When the salesman shrugs, say “I’ll give you 600 for it, and not a shilling more!” When the salesperson looks confused and says “Shilling; what?” Knock over the guitar and walk out.

  • Attempt trickery. After storming out, come back into the store a few minutes later and claim you “Just needed to blow off some steam.” Then ask to see the most expensive guitar in the store. When they show it to you, immediately say “I’ll take it!” When they bring it to the register to ring it up, they’ll ask how you’ll be paying, knock the guitar off the counter and walk out.




Now you’re well on your way to becoming a guitar playing… uh… person. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask someone else you know to answer them. I just can’t be bothered.