Singer songwriter Hardy Hum (And We Should Die Of That Roar) from Norrköping, Sweden has shared some of his experience, tips and knowledge on achieving that great guitar tone.
1. Read a book!
More often than not, we all benefit by shifting our focus to life and the world with all their subject matters instead of submitting to the urge of playing and practising in order to become ”better” players. Good ol’ practising will give you some skills so that you can express yourself (although the skills can outgrow and eclipse your sense for the art of music so proceed with caution!).
Good ol’ noodling around will stimulate your creativity and help embody music through playing – also an inevitable element of being able to express yourself. But if you’ve got all this covered and you still don’t have anything to express – now that’s a bummer, innit? Reading is an efficient way of nurturing your sense of being human in the world.
Get in touch with your reflexive self and the holy grail of that impeccable and mesmerising guitar tone heaven will wait for you just around the bend.
2. Go see a live show!
More often than not, we all benefit by putting the guitar down and go indulge in live music where the real speaker cones vibrate a plenty, the tubes are glowing silly hot and the smell of heated wiring embraces our souls in a ritual of collective effervescence where the time stops and the music is all that is.
You can never be an artist if you are not familiar with ways other artists do their thing. Each concert is a celebration – but it is also an indispensable field study. Mark! My ! Words!
3. Walk a mile under the bridge!
Now while a deliberate search for an experience of cotton-field labour in the pre-50s deep south, ethnic cleansing, exploitation, drug addiction and/or a serious soul-tearing heartbreak are hardly possible and even less so desirable, playing it safe and politically correctly will most probably give no experience at all. Like an avalanche, you have to fall sometimes in order to grow some.
The most interesting things in us are often built upon the ruins of other things shattered. So be courageous enough to step outside your cocoon, take the leap and enjoy the life and the world and all the people and cultures and music. If hurt overwhelms you, you hang in there… you hold on… coz hurt is just as normal part of the human emotional register as joy or love etc… and it would, therefore, be foolish to not let your soul be nourished by its great powers. Remember, night divides the day – true love is defined by severe heartbreak – joy by pain etc… its the way things work. No! Doubt! About! That!
4. Get laid!
Yes, get laid, get drunk, get into a fist-fight, fall in and out of love, save a drowning cat, travel around the world, build your own boat and sail it across the river Nile, do anything you can to get your own ya ya’s out! And anything goes really – as long as you’re not hurting anyone!
Creating a locomotion and turbulence in your life, taking a risk and doing the undoable will help tease out that inner adventurer and explorer in you that can help you to even begin to conceive of exciting guitar tones, chord shapes etc. If the excitement is wiped out from your life than it can’t exist in your music either! That! Is! The! Only! Truth! You! Will! Ever! Need!
5. Listen to a truckload of 7” singles!
OK, any vinyl will do really but what we all need to do every once in a blue moon is to ditch those streaming tools like Spotify and Deezer and such. Great as they are the vast abundance of songs – that immense availability – destroys the value of it all! Everything is elevator music nowadays!
The thing is that the very listening experience differs depending on the format you are using – and I am not talking about sound quality here! But you don’t leave everything else to walk over to your shelf to chose a 7” vinyl single that you’ve gone through blood, sweat and tears to acquire (or you’ve queued for hours on a release day to get a copy, or you got it as a birthday gift from a friend or it was a suggestion from a friendly guy behind the counter in a local record store… yeah, you see where I’m going with this, it’s not f*cking quantum physics or rocket science!), to pull it out of the cover to place it on the turntable to give it a spin and to gently put a needle on it just to make your vacuum-cleaning experience less boring!
No, once that needle starts riding those groves you f*cking sit down, preferably at the center of that stereo image, at a good distance, you turn up the volume, close your eyes – and you listen! LISTEN! If you’ve never learned to appreciate music this way, how can you ever expect your music to be appreciable! Great! Guitar! Tone! And! Artistry! Is! In! Your! Heart! Not! Your! Virtuosity! Or! Your! Gear!
Over and out!
Love, Play, Live! By Hardy Hum