Is this post related to running?
No. But it does fit with last year’s Super Awesome Year of Me theme of general betterment.
I know, that’s not why you’re here. Actually, I’m not sure why anyone’s here…
And why am I posting this instead of just doing it?
So I’ll actually do it. I’ve talked about wanting to get a banjo almost as long as I’ve had my guitar (17 years now). I had aspirations of learning bass and banjo, and then I just never put in enough time on my guitar to justify moving on to new instruments.
But, I think I’m ready to make the jump, so I’m telling the world I’m going to annoy my neighbors in the coming year. This helps ensure I actually do it.
How did I get here?
Mostly it’s been a general dissatisfaction with where I’m at playing guitar and wanting to improve. I don’t progress quickly as a guitar player, mostly because I won’t put in the requisite time to achieve a new level of awesomeness but also partly because I’m self-taught and don’t know some fundamentals (music theory and reading sheet music, for starters).
I’ve been looking to stretch more. Last year, I upgraded to a new acoustic guitar. This year I got some long-overdue work done on my electric guitar. Both of these were done so I would enjoy playing. I’m not better than my first guitar, but my first guitar just has some issues that can’t really be fixed (at least not to justify the cost) that just made playing less fun. And I had neglected my electric in the process of living in dorms and apartments for more than a decade so it got its own set of issues.
So repairs and replacements in hand, I’ve been playing, and it’s a lot more fun to play when the sour notes that happen are your fault and not the inanimate objects.
But that’ s not quite all. I’ve got some of the green-eyed monster in me. I’ve been watching the subculture of YouTube guitar videos. I pay attention to the guitar subreddit, which funnels back to the YouTube culture. I don’t necessarily want to play the same music as these folks (and they are disproportionately metal heads, even though they also know more styles of playing), but even if I’m just going to be entertaining the pictures on the wall, it’s nice to get better.
A brief smattering of these folks for your entertainment:
Steve Terreberry (who might be insane or a genius):
The Music is Win channel:
And Jared Dines to end it:
Ok, you keep mentioning guitars… So why the banjo?
That’s a fantastic question. Really, why wouldn’t I just keep practicing with the equipment I have? I will, but I’m looking for something similar but new. A bass feels too similar to guitar (and really, I play guitar to impress the ladies [winks suggestively] and no one asks you to play bass at a party. No one asks you to play banjo either, but if you start, everyone will hear you whether they like to or not).
The banjo is close enough to use similar skills but different enough that it will force me into some new habits (hopefully).
The real area I’m looking to grow is in finger picking. It’s an area I’ve been wanting to improve on as a guitar player, and I’m hoping that being forced to play that style on one instrument will make me slightly more adept with the other.
There’s no guarantee this will work, but I know I can pick one up for a couple hundred bucks, which isn’t nothing, but I think the potential benefit outweighs the cost (and I spent WAY more in running-related costs in the Super Awesome Year of the 5K). And it’s not like it’s food that’ll spoil in a week or two. I’ll always have the banjo (which will make moving that much more interesting as I lug another stringed instrument around between homes; toting around two guitars last time convinced some people outside Little Rock I was a musician, and I did nothing to discourage that. I may have signed a couple of autographs under an assumed name).
But that’s all for now. The real point of the post was to tell people I was making a decision. You’ve been told. Look/listen out for some twang in the new year.