The 10 worst things about being a guitarist

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You love guitars. That's why you're on MusicRadar, reading reviews of guitars you are quite certain you need, indulging your passion.

But sometime love and hate are two sides of the same coin. And when it comes to life as a guitarist, there are many, many annoyances and petty grievances that can ruin our day.

As we all know, keeping these sorts of things bottled up is never good. In fact, if you don't vent your frustrations, there's every chance you'll garrotte your way into the record books with a set of Super Slinkys.

And so, with that in mind, here are our thoughts on the 10 worst things about being a guitarist. This is a safe place. Give in to your anger. You'll feel better for it, honest…

1. The cost

Do you like money? Then don't bother learning the guitar. Like high-performance cars or class A drugs, guitars are an addiction that is practically impossible to shake.

GAS* is a very real, very troubling part of being a guitarist. It dictates that no matter how many guitars, amps, pedals and assorted straps, picks, and God knows what else you have, there is always the itch to buy more.

It is frighteningly easy to sink thousands upon thousands of your currency of choice into guitars. It's never-ending, it's expensive, and we absolutely bloody love it. Our wallets, on the other hand, aren't so keen…

*Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It's a thing.

2. The constant feeling of inferiority

Are you the best guitarist on your street? You might think you are, but that dentist that lives at number 42? He'll shred your face off. And the little girl you see dragging a case to school that's bigger that she is? An actual classical genius who has been playing since she was three weeks old.

You see, no matter how much you practice, or how good you think you are, there's always someone faster, flashier or simply more talented. It's bloody infuriating, and enough to make you go all Return Of The Jedi and burn your gear on a pyre while Ewoks dance around chanting.

3. Being asked to play the same songs all. The. Damn. Time.

Do you know Wonderwall? Of course you do. Everybody does. People who accidentally rubbed up against a guitar once and then never saw one again know how to play Wonderwall. And yet, people at parties, at jam sessions, at gigs, even in your own damn home, will ask you to play it for the rest of your life.

The repeated requests of the same dozen songs are a burden that all guitarists must carry, and boy if it doesn't make our blood boil away until we're nothing but a screaming skin-bag of bone clutching a G chord capoed at the second fret.

4. Practising until you are nothing but hate

It's drilled into every guitarist that the only way to get good is practice, practice, practice. And that's fine - really, it is - because you learn all sorts of valuable life lessons from applying yourself to something. But in reality, there's no quicker way to obliterate your favourite solo that to listen to it for weeks, in .005 second increments, until you've learned it.

You'll encounter frustration, boredom, anger, and finally a deep and burning hatred. The thing you love will destroy you, leaving you nothing but a shell of the guitarist you were - albeit a guitarist that can play Little Wing absolutely flawlessly.

5. Everybody thinks they're a guitarist

If you've ever bought a guitar along to any sort of social gathering, you'll be familiar with the three-chord wonder. They're the other guitarist at the party, and they cannot wait to get their weirdly sweaty hands on your guitar. They learned two songs 15 years ago and cannot wait to show them off.

And because it's a party and you don't want to be a total dick, you'll let them have a go on your guitar, and they'll get the same amount of applause that you got - you, an actual guitarist who plays every day and is in bands and everything, and they'll give your guitar back and it feels all clammy and wrong and somehow evil, and oh God, why does everybody think they're a guitarist?

6. The endless competition

Secretly, every guitarist is in a fight to the death with every other guitarist. It may only go on in our minds, but the struggle is real and it is violent.

You'll recognise this affliction: every time you see another guitarist play, you look for flaws: you ridicule their gear (in your head only, of course - you're not an animal); you mock their musical taste; you find faults with their technique, their tone, their style.

Go on, admit it. You'll feel better. And it's okay, because every other guitarist you know goes through the exact same thing when they watch you play. It's exhausting, it really is.

7. Awful guitar shops

There's nothing quite as infuriating as being patronised by Guitar Shop Man. If you're over 30 and gainfully employed, you are basically dead to these shark-eyed examples of anti-customer service.

Do they care that you've been playing guitar longer than they've been alive? That you know more about pre-war Gibson archtops than anyone else on the planet? That you were into the bands they think are cool the first time that was the case? They do not.

Throw in crippling anxiety about playing in a shop full of people very obviously judging you, and the complete lack of accurate information about gear and pricing, and you've got a perfectly hellish experience. Thanks, terrible guitar shops.

8. Forming a band

Where on God's green earth are all the drummers? Because we are swimming in guitarists. They're everywhere, and they are trying to form bands, just like you.

Getting a band together is a torturous process at the best of times, but for a guitarist it means endlessly telling other similarly frustrated guitarists that no, you don't need a third six-stringer in your band.

And even if, by some miracle, you do end up assembling a ragtag bunch of musical desperados, you will spend most rehearsals arguing with the other guitarist about who plays the solos, while surreptitiously turning yourself up in a volume war that can only end in tinnitus for all.

9. The need for speed

Over the years, the ability to play flurries of notes at blinding speed has become a defining measurement of a guitarist's ability. We're not sure why - BB King could do more with one note than most of us can do with a thousand - but still, the myth that speed equals excellence persists.

We can admit that shredding is impressive, in the same way that, say, a ridiculously over-powered car is impressive. But like the super-car, shredding is rarely of any practical use in the real world - and yet the tyranny of uber-fast fretting remains. When will the madness stop?

10. Bad guitars

For anyone who has invested a decent amount of their life lusting after, buying and then lovingly maintaining guitars, an encounter with a GSO* is like a slap in the face. Badly finished frets, dodgy electrics, a neck shaped like a question mark - these are but a fraction of the issues that will invoke biblical anger in any guitar aficionado.

We're not sure what's worse: the cheap, poorly built guitar doomed from birth, or the decent-but-abused instrument with its ancient rusty strings, buzzing frets and thick layer of finger-sludge on the fretboard. Either way, it's the stuff of actual nightmares.

*Guitar Shaped Object

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