Friday 20 April 2018

Why do I keep playing the guitar?

I've been playing the guitar for a long time. Here at April 2018 means I'm celebrating 40 years since being presented a 3/4 size Yamaha classical guitar on my 7th birthday. Out of the 40 years there would be maybe 2 years total gap, where I hadn't touched the guitar for months on end, mostly around the very early teens. But since around 16, non stop. Ask my wife, she's known me for 29 years of those 40 years...

I've spoken to a lot of people who played musical instruments to a high level when they were kids, but stopped a long time ago. So why have I kept playing guitar for so long, and why do I keep playing?

I think one of the clues is that, as an engineer, I have a teensy bit of OCD. Other engineers are nodding with me right now. So the obsession and the compulsion are a driver. But if I was to sit a test with a psych I doubt I would be diagnosed with "official" OCD, I'm more "high functioning OCD" - so it's not just about OCD.

I suspect that playing the guitar is a coping mechanism. Let me put it this way - when I'm playing guitar I'm using up a lot of brain CPU power, and thus my brain isn't able to spend any time ruminating about the woes and stresses of life. While I'm playing, it's all good, and that makes me feel good. So I play.

...which leads into addiction, I guess. My brain knows that when I play, I get feel good feelings. So to keep getting that hit I want to play guitar. Like any other psychological dependence I guess.

Interesting. There's also my personality traits of stubbornness ("No way will I stop playing guitar, not for any reason!"), competitiveness ("I *will* conquer this song, the next song, and the next!"), pride ("Look at meee! Wheee!").

So is it a bunch of "bad" things the reason why I have played guitar for so long, and why I continue to play?  Yikes!



  1. Hey Jaw,
    I started playing 30 years ago, playing at a high level in rock bands. With kids mortgage, job etc I had a 8 year hiatus. I just lost all inspiration to play. Picked up the axe recently looking for something new to play and came across your site. Your Tabs and blog have certainly helped me get my mojo back. Thanks Mark. Keep doing what your doing Jaw its great !!

  2. Ha, thanks Mark, glad to help out! I reckon once the guitar is in your blood you can never truly get rid of it. Once your life had started to calm down you were always going to resume playing. Sounds like you might be playing a different style now? Post a youtube video of you playing a song!

  3. I had a crack recording on my phone. Audio was terrible, started picking harder and making mistakes. Just read your recording blog. Some good ideas there (especially the mirror!). Looking at upgrading my guitar. I purchased a Yamaha G220A for $200 to see if i liked this new direction of playing. I like the sound but the action is high, hard to get string slap and the playability is a little difficult higher up the fret board. Thinking about an electric/classical/flamenco cutaway type. Plenty of time to procrastinate about a new guitar.

    Finally found some time to be relaxed enough to record.... Or maybe should have chosen an easier song for the first recording