November 2018 – A Potted History of the Guitar: Epilogue

Hello again. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the studio, on stage or rehearsal room… some closure is required.

As before. if you wish to recap on any or all of the previous articles before starting here at the end, the whole ‘Potted History of the Guitar’ series, can be accessed here (each part opens in a new browser tab):

Note: For completists, I’ve updated Part VII (September 2018) to include some empirical data over the last decade to fill out the ‘recovery and rejuvenation’ section. It isn’t vital by any means. Just sayin’.

It was only after I completed the mammoth task of researching and documenting the history of the guitar, that I had another thought. All eight parts were written from scratch with little idea of where it would all end up. At the end of the 8th (and what I thought at the time was the final) part in the series, I mentioned that it had ended with “a bit more of a whimper than some almighty bang”.

After all the effort invested in telling the guitar’s epic journey, I felt a tad disappointed that something was missing but I wasn’t sure what it was. Even though the narrative needed to have a line drawn under it at some point, it wasn’t perhaps up to me to determine the last remaining thoughts about the topic.

As is my wont, and if you’ve read any of my articles before, you’ll know that I tend to have a lot of wonts, I thought about what might be a fitting coda to the outstanding ‘unfinished business’. That ‘missing link’ turned out to be something that isn’t actually part of the historical timeline or anything that I could add myself, but something else altogether.

Whereas the first eight parts were in my own words, I felt that it would benefit from, and indeed deserved, some independently derived anecdotes from some highly respected sources. So… I had this genius (!?) epiphany that I would select some imparted wisdom from people who have made a living either playing or being in the influential presence of the mighty guitar.

While working on social media over the last four years, I have compiled and posted many interesting quotes from musicians. Of the many hundreds of apt and often motivational quotes, quite a number of them make reference to the guitar in one way or another. It seems therefore appropriate to share them in order to give a sense of closure to the guitar’s long story. While I am not alone in my admiration for the instrument, I felt that readers shouldn’t just take my word (or many words as it turned out) for declaring the importance of the humble guitar within the context of music and cultural history. As a result, I will leave it to the professionals to have their say on the subject as they see it from their own perspective. You may recognise some of the names along the way, ranging from ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott to Frank Zappa – a veritable and literal A‑Z of guitar wisdom over the years.

What follows are some of my favourite guitar quotes for your consideration. You may well have others that complement these and which may add something to the overall picture. All in all, I think that they provide the appropriate concluding element that I was unwittingly looking for, bringing a bit of subjective coherency to the factual chronology.

So, from the horse’s mouth of music royalty, so to speak, take the opportunity to internalise what they say into your psyche. You never know, you may end up being a better guitarist (and perhaps a more rounded human being) by taking heed of a thing or two from the masters of their trade. After all, they can say it better – and way more succinctly – than I can, so perhaps it is best left to them to articulate the remainder of this article. Are you sitting comfortably?

Musicians’ quotes about the guitar

Just to mix it up a bit, the quotes are listed in alphabetical order of the quote, rather than by the artist. There are also quite a few pictures this month, so to save repetition, where an artist has more than one quote, their picture only appears next the first one. Enjoy…

A guitar is a very personal extension of the person playing it. You have to be emotionally and spiritually connected to your instrument. I’m very brutal on my instruments, but not all the time – Eddie Van Halen (1955-)

Eddie Van Halen

A guitar is like an old friend that is there with me – BB King (1925-2015)

BB King

A guitar is something you can hold and love and it’s never going to bug you. But here’s the secret about the guitar – it’s defiant. It will never let you conquer it. The more you get involved with it, the more you realize how little you know – Les Paul (1915-2009)

Les Paul

Ah, I could make it in the shape of a guitar, and it would a) be more affordable, and b) a guitar player could double on this instrument – Leo Fender (1909-1991)

Leo Fender

 

As far as I’m concerned, I’m just a guitar player, and my job is to go out there and play and entertain and do my thing – Les Paul (1915-2009)

 

Besides being a guitar player, I’m a big fan of the guitar. I love that damn instrument – Steve Vai (1960-)

Steve Vai

Describing certain sounds, there’s a common language that guitar players have – Joe Perry (1950-)

Joe Perry

 

Doesn’t matter what guitar you play, as long as you’ve got passion! – Eric Johnson (1954-)

Eric Johnson

Every time you pick up your guitar to play, play as if it’s the last time – Eric Clapton (1945-)

Eric Clapton

 

Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50 years to make sounds that no one has heard before is truly what gets me off – Jeff Beck (1944-)

Jeff Beck

For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument – Jerry Garcia (1942-1995)

Jerry Garcia

 

Guitar is the best form of self-expression I know. Everything else, and I’m just sort of tripping around, trying to figure my way through life – Slash (1965-)

Slash

 

Guitar playing is both extremely easy for me and extremely difficult for me at the same time – Kirk Hammett (1962-)

Kirk Hammett

Guitars are fun. There are plenty of different kinds to play. They look cool. They sound cool. Don’t you want to play guitar? – Joe Satriani (1956-)

Joe Satriani

 

Guitars have been the obsession of my life. I first picked one up at the age of four and I’ve been a guitar junkie ever since – Johnny Marr (1963-)

Johnny Marr

I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it – Jimmy Page (1944-)

Jimmy Page

I can’t even read notes. But I can teach someone how to make a guitar smoke – Ace Frehley (1951-)

Ace Frehley

I don’t know of a guitar player that has only one guitar. They’re never happy with one. I’m never happy with just one of them. I woke up and ended up with six, even if you can only play one at a time! – Les Paul (1915-2009)

 

I don’t play a lot of fancy guitar. I don’t want to play it. The kind of guitar I want to play is mean, mean licks – John Lee Hooker (1912-2001)

John Lee Hooker

 

I don’t want you to play me a riff that’s going to impress Joe Satriani; give me a riff that makes a kid want to go out and buy a guitar and learn to play – Ozzy Osbourne (1948-)

Ozzy Osbourne

I had no aspirations to be a musician, but I picked up a guitar for two seconds and haven’t put it down since – Slash (1965-)

I just go where the guitar takes me – Angus Young (1955-)

Angus Young

 

I loved playing the guitar and I knew I was pretty good at it, so that’s what I wanted to do with my life – Ace Frehley (1951-)

I never felt so close to a guitar as that silver one with mirrors that I used on stage all the time – Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

Syd Barrett

I never stop being amazed by all the different ways of playing the guitar and making it deliver a message – Les Paul (1915-2009)

 

I never wanted to sing. I just wanted to play rhythm guitar – hide in the back and just play – Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)

Kurt Cobain

 

I started out playing guitar because Jimi Hendrix was my hero, so my roots were really based on Jimi Hendrix and his style of playing – Joe Satriani (1956-)

 

I think people must wonder how a white girl like me became a blues guitarist. The truth is, I never intended to do this for a living – Bonnie Raitt (1949-)

Bonnie Raitt

 

I tried to make guitars that were close to what my heroes played. That’s the way it’s done. My experience is that you have to do it like a musician. You have to learn the language before you can learn to be a novelist – Paul Reed Smith (1956-)

Paul Reed Smith

 

I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming – Courtney Love (1964-)

Courtney Love

I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions – BB King (1925-2015)

 

I wonder if I could make an electric bass – Leo Fender (1909-1991)

 

I’m just a guitarist in a kick-ass rock and roll band. What more could I ask for? – Eddie Van Halen (1955-)

 

I’ve had three wives and three guitars. I still play the guitars – Andres Segovia (1893-1987)

Andres Segovia

If ever there’s an obscene noise to be made on an instrument, it’s going to come out of a guitar… Let’s be realistic about this, the guitar can be the single most blasphemous device on the face of the earth. That’s why I like it… The disgusting stink of a too‑loud electric guitar: now that’s my idea of good time – Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

Frank Zappa

If something is easy to repair, it is easy to construct – Leo Fender (1909-1991)

 

If you don’t know the blues… there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music – Keith Richards (1943-)

Keith Richards

Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart – Andres Segovia (1893-1987)

My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am – Joan Jett (1958‑)

Joan Jett

My guitar was a loyal person to me – Dave Mustaine (1961-)

 

Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, except, possibly two – Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

Frederic Chopin

Playing guitar was one of my childhood hobbies, and I had played a little at school and at camp. My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby – nothing more – Bonnie Raitt (1949-)

Running my hands really fast up and down the fretboard… I mean, anybody can do that. It’s the Guitar Olympics, and I can’t think of anything more pointless – The Edge (1961-)

The Edge

Sometimes the nicest thing to do with a guitar is just look at it – Thom Yorke (1968-)

Thom Yorke

That’s all I wanted to do as a kid. Play a guitar properly and jump around. But too many people got in the way – Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

The guitar has a kind of grit and excitement possessed by nothing else – Brian May (1947-)

Brian May

The guitar is a small orchestra. It is polyphonic. Every string is a different colour, a different voice – Andres Segovia (1893-1987)

The guitar is just a wonderful instrument. It’s everything: a bartender, a psychiatrist, a housewife. It’s everything, but it’s elusive – Les Paul (1915-2009)

 

The guitar is a wonderful instrument which is understood by few – Franz Schubert (1797-1827)

Franz Schubert

The guitar is the coolest instrument in the world – Steve Vai (1960-)

The guitar is the easiest instrument to play and the hardest to play well – Andres Segovia (1893-1987)

The guitar is your first wings. It’s assigned and designed to unfold your vision and imagination – Carlos Santana (1947-)

Carlos Santana

The guitar was my weapon, my shield to hide behind – Brian May (1947-)

The media says that equality for women has arrived, but if you look around, you still don’t see girls playing guitars and having success with it – Joan Jett (1958-)

The most important part of my religion is to play guitar – Lou Reed (1942-2013)

Lou Reed

The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar – Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Jimi Hendrix

The violin is my mistress, but the guitar is my master – Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)

Niccolo Paganini

 

There’s something about approaching universal truths with the simplicity of the acoustic guitar. You can take it anywhere, and it helps me reach listeners of all ages and walks of life – Jim Croce (1943-1973)

Jim Croce

 

To me a guitar is kind of like a woman. You don’t know why you like em but you do – Waylon Jennings (1937-2002)

Waylon Jennings

To stand up on a stage alone with an acoustic guitar requires bravery bordering on heroism, bordering on insanity – Richard Thompson (1949-)

Richard Thompson

When the intellectual part of guitar playing overrides the spiritual, you don’t get to extreme heights – John Frusciante (1970-)

John Frusciante

When you find yourself in the deepest rut you’ve ever known, don’t ever forget how f*ckin’ good the guitar sounds – ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbot (1966-2004)

Dimebag Darrell Abbott

When you just get mixed up and there’s too much going on, then it’s time to pick up your guitar – Les Paul (1915-2009)

 

When you think about where guitar playing is going today… it’s going everywhere at the same time – Joe Satriani (1956-)

 

With my Les Paul, I know I’m small. But I enjoy living anyway – Marc Bolan (1947-1977)

Marc Bolan

 

Why did they keep changing guitars and amplifiers when they were perfect? They did the same things with cars, if you ask me. They forgot how to make them right, because they focused on style and bells and whistles – Buddy Guy (1936-)

Buddy Guy

Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It is the way you pick and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or guitar you use – Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990)

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Conclusion

Well, there you go. A fascinating summary of the world in which the guitar exists from the real experts. Do I have a favourite quote from among that lot? Nope. How could one pick a single truism out and exclude the remainder? I think that the collective intelligence from these esteemed contributors is what makes the overall message so powerful. Given Fender’s 2018 research that suggests that half of all new guitarists in the U.S. and UK are women, perhaps in the future, it would be good to feature more memorable quotes from prominent female guitarists.

When you think that what they say relates to what is essentially just a bit of wood, metal and plastic (in most cases), the guitar truly stands out as something special. At its most basic, the guitar is an artefact that doesn’t do anything of and by itself, it requires a symbiotic attachment to the person playing it to make it work its magic. It hangs on a strap or sits on your lap and converts the emotional core of the musician’s expression into fantastic guitar music that has touched just about everyone on the planet and has become a global phenomenon like no other.

Whether from musicians or not and regardless of whether there is any profound insight or not, what people will say about the guitar in the future, one can only imagine. Whatever is divulged, ‘the guitar’ will undoubtedly be a topic that will be widely debated for as long as people pick up the instrument and play music on it.

What more can one possibly add? Well… you may have noticed that at the bottom of every monthly article is a ‘CRAVE Guitars’ Quote of the Month’. This is my own way of teasing some mental curiosity as a parting shot. So, while my humble ‘thoughts of the day’ are possibly not worthy of being considered in the company of the hallowed artists quoted above, below is my modest addition to the canon, just where it usually is, at the end of my regular monthly rant. The eagle‑eyed reader may actually recognise it because it appears at the bottom of every CRAVE Guitars’ web page and on all CRAVE Guitars’ related social media profiles. I admit that, when writing this epilogue, I tried to come up with something clever but the attempts were, unsurprisingly, contrived and derivative. So, I went back to where it all began and what I felt deeply when I founded CRAVE (Cool & Rare American Vintage Electric) Guitars over 10 years ago. I looked at it again and realised that it remains a heartfelt and very personal belief, so I reckon it fits the bill as a nice little sign‑off. Nuff said.

Now that really is, possibly, maybe, probably, perhaps the last‑ish part of ‘A Potted History of the Guitar’. Honest. Until next time…

CRAVE Guitars ‘Quote of the Month’: “Love Vintage Guitars. Music matters. Create. Play. Be inspired! Share the passion… Change lives for good”

CRAVE Guitars

© 2018 CRAVE Guitars – Love Vintage Guitars.

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