10 Bad Guitar Habits I Need To BreakPedals At Dawn
#1 String experiments with new guitars
I always replace the strings when I get a new guitar because I hate non-coated strings, however, I often think this is a good time to try a different string brand to ensure I’m not missing anything by blindly putting my favourite strings (Elixir Nanowebs) on every single guitar I own. When I bought my Ibanez RGAIX6FM, I wanted to try BlackSmith strings because they’re another coated brand and have a 10-49 set that I thought would be perfect for Drop C. I really need to stop doing this as I just end up hating the guitar before I even give it chance. I often hate how different strings feel, so that means I won’t play a new guitar as much as I should. Or I’ll wonder if the pickups need replacing when in reality it’s the strings the I hate. This is a super toxic way to not form an immediate bond with a new axe, and I need to cut it out. Long story short, this guitar is ace with Elixirs on it.
#2 Buying online without trying in store
If I’m honest, I’m good at shopping online because I pay attention and put in the research beforehand. However, there are some things you just can’t anticipate by reading specs online. I recently picked up my Schecter KM-7 (which normally never leaves its case) and immediately I HATED how the neck felt (too wide and flat). This was the wake-up call I needed to realise I need to sell this guitar. So if you’re thinking about branching out into the realm of extended-range guitars, go play one in-store first – even if it’s not the brand you’re looking at. It will save you from making an expensive mistake as I did.
#3 Endlessly debating “to mod or not to mod”
I like my guitars being stock as it makes them easy to sell down the line. However, the guitar I’ve owned the longest, a PRS SE Singlecut (end 2012), I’ve been toying with upgrading the pickups to Seymour Duncan since 2016. I picked that guitar up recently as well and was shocked at how horrible the thick poly finish feels, but I love the thin body, stoptail bridge, and McCarty control layout, so I should stop wasting time and replace the pickups already because I don’t think I will ever sell it.
#4 Playing all guitars with the same pick
I have a lot of guitar picks and have spent quite a lot of time and money discovering my favourite. Randomly, I picked up an old pick from one of my previous pick experiments (rather than my usual go-to favourite) and was amazed how different (in a good way) my Fender FSR Black Paisley Telecaster sounded – a guitar where I love everything about it except the way it sounds. I should just replace the pickups in this one too.
#5 Fearing chips and dings
Music is not what pays my bills, but my 9-5 office job has enabled me to buy some nice guitars in recent years. However, I am still terrified of getting chips and dings in my PRS core models to the point where I rarely play them. This is pointless, I know this and I need to get over it. Especially since I did ding one of them and surprise, it didn’t kill me. There is one inherent benefit of this though, it has crushed any desire to purchase any more high-end guitars – which is fortuitous as with exchange rates, etc the price increase of PRS in the UK is astronomical, and I’d have to pay an extra £1k for essentially the same guitars than when I got mine 6-7 yrs ago and still watch their used price tank immediately after delivery.
#6 Looking at Les Pauls
Maybe its because my first guitar was a no-name brand LP style (that many years later I learned is plywood!), or because back in 1997, my dad bought me a Gibson Les Paul Studio that had terrible QC issues, which I didn’t realise until years after selling it (and learning about gear) how truly disappointing it was. Not to mention a few Epiphone Les Pauls that I’ve always ended up selling for the same reasons over and over again. So why do I still look longingly at pictures of Gibson Les Paul Standards even though everything I hate about them hasn’t changed and probably never will? I own a PRS SC245, which is the perfect modern Les Paul because it fixes all the issues I have with Gibson’s refusal to break from tradition in any useful and aesthetically pleasing way. And why do they hold their value better than PRS? I don’t know how feasible this point is, to be honest – there is just something about iced tea Les Pauls… like a moth to a flame.
#7 Owning guitars that I don’t count as “part of my collection”
I tell people I have 10 guitars, these are the ones I consider “part of my collection”. I actually own 14 guitars, the 4 extra ones are:
- my 1st electric guitar (which is a cheap PoS) but I can’t get rid of it for sentimental reasons
- a Peavey bass that I also can’t get rid of for sentimental reasons
- a Samick CD-2 that lives near my other guitars and could be mine if I wanted, but I’m just not keen on it as it’s not really “me”
- a travel acoustic I bought recently
So obviously the bass and the acoustic don’t count as they are peripheral instruments. The other 2 are white elephants I guess – I know, such a first-world problem. Still at a stalemate with this point then.
#8 Wishing electrical issues magically repaired themselves
I have a Vox Night Train 15H that blew up at the start of 2019 and I’ve been meaning to take it in to be looked at ever since. I don’t think it helped that I bought a Marshall Origin 20 4 months after the Vox died, thus the Marshall became my pedal amp and took the urgency out of needing to repair the Vox. Plus amp techs are harder to find than bricks and mortar music shops within driving distance that also has parking. Still, it’s totally on my list of stuff to do. Eventually.
#9 Holding onto pedals I never use
I guess I’m self-aware enough to know that my tastes have changed significantly as I’ve gotten older, so logically they will probably keep evolving over time, right? Sadly I still haven’t found an overdrive pedal I love (or like to any discernible degree), so I have several overdrive pedals in my cupboard that get hauled out when I get a new amp or guitar to see if my opinion has changed, and then they inevitably go back into said cupboard to suffer in darkness with the other rejects. Two pedals that rarely get a chance at redemption are the Mesa Grid Slammer & Mesa Flux-Drive – I’ve never liked either with any combination of gear. This annoys me because I LOVE the Mesa Throttle Box and I simply don’t understand why I cant appreciate the other two. When is it time to call it a day on such things? I’m content for now blaming my Mesa Mini Rec for the possibility that overdrive (from a pedal) simply isn’t for me, and never will be.
#10 Learning songs from memory
This one is starting to bug me. Before the internet, I used to learn songs by ear, which meant playing along until you got it right and then memorising it. (And weirdly these are the songs that I can still play 15 years later without thinking too hard about it). Then online tabs became abundant, but for efficiency, they only document the sections that were different, thus the expectation being “listen to the song for how it goes”. I think that’s where things started to fall over for me. And to add insult to injury, my guitar was never in the right tuning for any heavier song so the temptation to read the tab and play in the wrong key from memory became a habit. To this day I still only know the intro riff to Soul to Squeeze as I’ve never bothered to learn the rest. And there are some Smashing Pumpkins songs I know the parts for, but not in which order and especially not how it ends, so I get stuck in an endless loop (you know how 90s songs are). I no longer have the excuse of only having 1 guitar or not having an accurate tuner, yet the habit remains. Can I blame those pesky iPhones for my short attention span? Yep, ok great.