Say hello to my little friend…

At the recent men’s retreat for our church, our speaker exhorted the guys to follow some dreams.  Do something.  Get out there.  Don’t just sit around.

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but I took his words to heart.  It’s easy for folks like you and me to fall into a rut and rarely (if ever) get out of it.  The challenge was inherently spiritual, though the results don’t necessarily have an overtly spiritual look to them.  In my case, the “dream” was to get better at playing the guitar.

Some background.

Having been in a band for quite some time, you might’ve thought that guitar playing just “came with the territory”.  It didn’t.  In fact, during our “band days” I only contributed a guitar part to one song that I can remember.  Try as I might, guitar-playing just never “clicked” for me over all those years.

It was some time later, though, that I was leading our youth group – which invariably includes worship time.  Thankfully we had a guy who was fairly gifted in that area, ‘cause I couldn’t do it.  I knew the songs, of course, but I couldn’t play.  I wanted to, though.  I really did.  So I prayed about it.  It went something like… “Lord, help me to learn how to play the guitar.  I don’t have to be awesome, just good enough to lead worship songs.”  Shortly thereafter – like within a month or two – I began playing guitar.  I vividly remember being out at a retreat, guitar in my hand, playing a worship song that I knew fairly well.  All of a sudden, the strum pattern *clicked* for me.  I got it.  I understood.  It was like the door had been shut for years and years, and all of a sudden it was opened for me.


After that day, I began playing better and better – and eventually took over with the worship for our youth group.  That was a number of years ago, and I’ve since become one of the worship leaders for our church.  The Lord has certainly been faithful.

Sad to say, I haven’t done a whole lot to “grow these gifts” over the years.  Although I’m a better guitar player than I was a year ago, for instance, I lack a lot of the basic know-how. 

Enter the “dream”, as mentioned in the beginning of this post.

The challenge from our men’s retreat struck a chord with me – no pun intended.  I want to learn to play better, to play correctly, and to fill in the many gaps in my know-how.  Part of the “dream” for me also includes the bass guitar, since I really do like it a lot.  Not that I’ve played much, mind you, but I do enjoy it.  Perhaps learning the bass guitar could help me get from here to there?  It’s possible.

IbanezJetKingBass Valentine’s Day passed just a couple of weeks ago.  Although my wife and I don’t normally go too crazy with Valentine’s stuff, my wife (bless her heart!) gave me a blank check to help “meet this dream”.  After some discussion with her, I was off and running to find a bass guitar.  It didn’t take long before I found a couple of bass models that appealed to me, but eventually I settled on the Ibanez Jet King Bass in ‘vintage sunburst’.  This isn’t a top-of-the-line model, by any stretch, but it gets the job done and it looks *very* cool, if you ask me.  I ended up getting a great deal on a floor model from our local Guitar Center.  I took it home, plugged it in to my late-70s vintage Fender Twin amp, and away I go!  Now I’m working through a “bass for beginners” book as if I’ve never played before!  It’s quite humbling, actually, but good for me to learn “why you play what you play”.  It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure, but it’s a lot of fun. 🙂

Assuming that I don’t drive my family crazy, I’m hoping to be a better guitar player (and half-way decent bass player) later this year.

Thanks for reading.


8 Responses to “Say hello to my little friend…”

  1. 1 Matt Swann February 27, 2009 at 3:07 am

    Gorgeous! I’m still learning to play acoustic, but I’ve got my eyes on a Les Paul someday…

  2. 2 yipcanjo February 27, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Knowing you, Matt, you’ll be playing wonderfully in no time at all 🙂

  3. 3 Chris Cardenas February 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I’m so used to seeing you with an acoustic guitar, it seems strange to think of you with any other kind. Especially learning the basics. And while the guitar you got does look pretty sweet from the picture, you should have got a flying v bass and started growing a mullet. That way whenever you walk into a room you can throw the horns up and scream, “are you ready to rock”.

  4. 4 yipcanjo February 27, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    To be honest, Chris, I think you hit the nail on the head: I was a bit embarassed to have to be “learning the basics”. Alas… it is what it is, and now I get to learn another instrument too!

    I’m steering clear of the mullet for now, but my favorite phrase is still in full swing: “Let’s rock the flock, the devil’s horns to lock”! Especially right before Sunday morning worship!

    It doesn’t get any better than that… 🙂

  5. 5 Marcus Taylor February 27, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I’m a music major and I’ve been playing guitar for 7 years, yet I still don’t think I’m that good at it. Ah well, I’m probably better than I think.

    Here’s my guitar:

  6. 6 yipcanjo February 27, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Great guitar, Marcus! 🙂 Is it any good as an “acoustic”? I know that’s not the primary aim, but still…

    I really like a lot of Epiphone’s stuff. Great value for what you pay. I almost grabbed the Epiphone Thunderbird Bass (antique sunburst), but finally decided that it was too “rocker” for me 🙂

  7. 7 Marcus Taylor February 28, 2009 at 5:55 am

    It’s maybe slightly louder than, say, a Fender Strat… but only slightly, so I would say no on whether it’s good as an acoustic or not. Fortunately, I have my Johnson acoustic for that whole thing.

    That’s the closest I could find to a picture of it, except that the center is red and not that color.

    I like my Epiphone though, for sure. I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but so far it seems like a guitar better used for playing jazz or blues, but I guess with the right pedal, I can do what I want with it! 🙂

    Speaking of pedals, I need to get one and a better amp… ’cause I dunno about you, but the tiny First Act amp that I bought at Best Buy for $20… won’t really cut it for anything other than as a practice amp.

  8. 8 albumdujour March 10, 2009 at 3:11 am

    You know, it’s quite ironic I should be reading this, because one of the first bass-lines I ever learned was “Do I?” from Mindsize, about 13 years ago, and now I’m an “in demand” bass player I guess (I’m in 3 different groups at the moment playing bass).

    The only advice I can offer (besides the fact that your friend Nick Barber has an excellent playing style that replicates well in other areas) is to learn the “boogie” scale (think Elvis type songs) and the pentatonic scale, and learn to play with your fingers, because you may find it easier to get the “rhythm” down with that than with a pick, though many bassists operate splendidly with only a plectrum.

    Also don’t turn that Fender up too high! Guitar amps HATE bass guitars and you could do some damage at higher volumes.

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