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23 August 2011

Can a Guitar Player Own Too Many Guitars?

I am a singer. Kent is a guitar player and a singer.

I used to give Kent a lot of grief about how many guitars he owned. I did not understand nor appreciate why it was necessary for one person, with only 2 hands, to own so many guitars. All guitars basically provide the same function, don’t they?!

Although still not completely convinced of the necessity for so much variety, after recording our debut album I have more of an appreciation for what variety can provide to the listener. When you listen to the music on our first album, you will notice that many of the songs are very “full”. That fullness comes from multi-layered guitar tracks. One of the songs has 9 individual guitar tracks, played on two different guitars, layered on top of one another in such a way as to provide richness and fullness of the sound. Each guitar used brought a unique tonality and individual sound to the mix.

I can now acknowledge that needing that many guitars is akin to having a variety of food at a summer picnic. You could just serve fried chicken, but that would be a tad boring and uninspired. It is so much better if your meat entrees are all a little different. Including meatballs, lasagna, enchiladas and other entrees alongside the fried chicken on the buffet is more appealing to the palate. And although chocolate cake is great, the dessert tray is more exciting if choices also include fruit and custard pies, cookies, berry cobblers, angel food cake and fresh fruit.

During our recording sessions, I began to fractionally understand why the use of multiple instruments was necessary. A Les Paul really does sound different than a Stratocaster. Granted, I can’t tell the difference in a blind sound test, but I can hear that there are two different guitars, so I guess progress has been made.

Don’t even get me started on the impact of amplifiers. I’ll just rely on Kent’s perspective that there is a difference between a Marshall half-stack and a Fender Combo. Since he didn’t lead me astray on the guitars, he probably knows what he’s talking about with the amps.

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