Back in December 2014 I declared that “The Drums Are Back!” and waxed lyrical about how I was looking forward to my journey back behind the kit.
Well, fast forward fifteen months or so and I have to hold my hands up and admit I made a mistake. As great as the electronic drum kit was – and it was a superb tool to play along to tracks from my music collection – I found that as time passed I became frustrated by the relative restrictions of being a drummer. Sure, you can play drum solos and ad-lib to pre-recorded music rather than following the recording, but not having any way of playing alongside other real life musicians meant that after a while it all began to get rather boring.
The simple truth is that although I am a far better drummer than I ever was as a guitarist I realised that I actually got more pleasure from playing the guitar, no matter how limited my skill may have been.
Son number two has a natural affinity for the guitar, and his progress has been superb to hear (even if I’d rather not hear it at times, such as when I can’t hear the TV over his playing!) and that, combined with the above and the usual mooch around the local music shop when my mate comes over meant that I knew what had to be done.
So, it was a case of goodbye electronic drums – sold to an enthusiastic returning player (after a decade away from drumming) from near London who wasn’t able to have an acoustic kit in his new home – and hello new guitar.
Much thought and research went into my chosen instrument. Having had a Strat copy, Epiphone Les Paul and, most recently, a Squier Telecaster what make and model should I go for?
In the end the tones and simple good looks of the Les Paul won out, and this week I took delivery of my Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro, finished in cherry sunburst – and what a beautiful instrument it is! It came with a very nice hard case at no extra cost too.
Alongside the guitar I have invested in a nice little practice amp, the Vox VXI, which is a programmable modelling amp with eleven amp models and eight effects built-in. Some really good sounds come out of the fairly small package, that’s for sure.
This time around, though, I am determined to actually learn to play the thing to the best of my ability – whatever level that may be. I’m not expecting to hit the levels of some of my favourite Les Paul players, such as Joe Bonamassa, Gary Moore, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Page etc. etc., but want to be able to play bluesy rock to a reasonable standard, and be able to jam with other musicians too!
So, alongside my usual leisure diet of music listening, book reading and film watching (not to mention getting back into the saddle MTB-wise once I get my fitness levels back after a long lay-off through illness) will be a concerted effort to learn the guitar. The guitar may not bleed in my arms, but I suspect my fingertips will bleed before too long! Time to start building up those calluses…