Saturday, October 29, 2005

You Might Be A Persnickety Fussbudget If…

Perhaps you are familiar with comic Jeff Foxworthy’s main comedy theme of “You May Be a Redneck if…” where he defines a number of behaviors of rednecks so that people can measure themselves against that (dubious) standard and see if they match up with those behaviors to determine if they are, in fact, rednecks.

Well, following in this fine traditional approach, the items listed below describe a series of behaviors of guitarists to help you discover if you are a relatively normal string-bender, or if you might actually be considered an anal-retentive, tight-assed, squinty-eyed, obsessive-compulsive “Persnickety Fussbudget”. To save time, this term is shortened to PFB.

There are all sorts of guitarists in the world. Some are intelligent, some are less intellectually-gifted, some egotistical, some humble, some are great, some have modest skill, some must always play lead, while others prefer to play rhythm, some are elitists, some are hard to please, some are easy-going and play anything, and then there are some who are picky picky picky, and they apply their perfectionist tendencies to all aspects of their guitar-playing world. These are the PFB’s, folks. The Persnickety Fussbudgets of the world.

Within the world of guitars, sometimes it’s hard to tell when you are being a little TOO picky, since very often, subtle things do made a noticeable difference. Whether a guitar amp has wheels or sits flat on the ground, may affect tone. The types of wood used in a solidbody guitar affects tone, the humidity and temperature of the air in a room does affect the sound of the music. The type of pick you use affects tone as well as playability. However, there are some that go far beyond these types of considerations. Some cross the line. To help you determine whether or not you may have crossed the line occasionally, or if you in fact live on the other side and don’t even come back to the real world for visits anymore, here are a few useful signposts to steer by.

1) If you have ever recorded more than 50 takes of a guitar solo, you just might be a PFB. If you have recorded more than 100 takes, you probably are.

2) If you have ever decided to try different batteries in your stompboxes because you truly believed you would get a significantly different tone, then you might be considered by some to be a PFB.

3) If you have ever tried disassembling your stompboxes and reassembling them with different screws , thinking this would improve your tone, you are possibly a PFB. If you label the screws to know which one went into which hole – fill out your membership card – you ARE a PFB.

4) If you have ever even seriously considered calculating the exact tuner loading position for loading new strings, that would in turn allow you to have all your tuners lined up on the guitar head when the strings are perfectly in tune, then you are very likely a PFB. If you have actually tried this, then you are a world-class PFB, and should seek therapy immediately.

5) If you have one bridge saddle different from the other five for any other reason than that the old one wore out and kept breaking strings, and you couldn’t find a matching replacement, then you may be a PFB.

6) If you have tried plugging in your guitar cables in the opposite direction because you were convinced that would give you a better tone, then you very well may be a PFB.

7) If you always mike the same speaker in your 4X12 cabinet merely because you are convinced you get a better tone from it than the others, and yet all the speakers are the same make, model, original equipment and none are blown or damaged, then you just might be a PFB.

8 ) If you spend three minutes re-tuning your guitar in front of your audience at the beginning of a show, even though the guitar was already just tuned using a thousand dollar oscilloscope by the professional guitar tech that you PAY to do it, then you might very well be a PFB.

9) If you have to tune your guitar in front of your audience so often during a show that you have a standard set of jokes to use while doing it, then you either need new tuners, or you might consider that you are a PFB.

10) If you really think the color of your guitar affects the tone, you might be a PFB.

11) If you have ever removed and remounted the knobs on your guitar amp such that all the numbers or markers line up when your settings are perfect, then it is possible you may be a PFB.

12) If you have ever been concerned that the coil positioning of a guitar cord could affect your tone, get out your pen and fill in the membership application. You are a PFB.

13) If you have ever tried changing the positions of your stompboxes in the signal path to experiment to get different tones, then you are normal. If, however, you tried merely changing the positions of the stompboxes on the floor without changing the plugging sequence, and still expected to get a different tone, then you are definitely a PFB.

14) If you do a soundcheck before every concert, you are normal. If you do a soundcheck before every song, you may be a PFB.

15) If you have to adjust your sound simply because you noticed 5 more people entering the club you’re playing in, you may well be a PFB.

16) If you think your tone will be different because one shoelace is tied tighter than the other, then you might be a PFB.

17) If you think you will hold a note longer on the guitar if you hold your breath while you are holding the note, you might be a PFB.

18 ) If you think that metal knobs make the guitar sound better than plastic knobs, you might be a PFB.

19) If you think having a carpet instead of a hardwood floor in your studio changes the sound attributes of the room, then breathe easy - you are normal. However, if you think you can hear the sound differences between nylon vs wool carpets, then you are a PFB AND delusional. Seek qualified help.

20) If you think your guitar sounds different once someone else has played it, then you might just be a PFB.

Well, there you have it. That’s the first 20 off the top of my head. If anyone has any more they would like to add, please feel free. I have deliberately left entire areas untouched (such as playing with other musicians, carrying the PFB guitar habits to other aspects of life like eating, sex, or household chores, etc.) in order to leave room for others to join in. Please note that this list does not imply anyone here is a PFB, including Eric (even though he is famous for having some similar behaviors). His idiosyncrasies did inspire me to write this, but this is not about him. If he reads this and draws any conclusions from it, that is his affair. Any relation or reflection toward real persons is entirely coincidental and unintentional. This is meant as good-natured light humor and not to be taken seriously. (I had to write that disclaimer – some people can’t tell when I’m kidding.)


Post a Comment

<< Home