Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to Be A Guitarist on the Internet who's not an Asshole: Part 7 of 7

7. We Can't All Attend Berklee 

Ladies, please. Don't smudge the Carvin.

Oh right, I was supposed to finish this.

You can play through a solid state amp, or maybe I'll secede the modesty of a Peavey Valveking. Your favorite guitar could be a Korean Schecter or an Indonesian Ibanez. An instrument, that you throw a little cash at your buddy to set up proper for you with some fresh strings every five or six months. Your bridge could be as fixed as God ever intended, and maybe you might just sorta like the idea of some low-end riffing on a seven or eight string. Or you know, whatever, might not be your thing, but to each his own and all. You never spend too much on gear, because you know that any sort of solid guitar tone is always gonna be 90% the player, and 10% the stuff he shelled out the bucks for. You could have all the makings of the coolest, most laid-back, approachable, raddest guitar player ever.

But all of that goes down the shitter the second you rag on somebody else's ability to play. You my friend, are a next level cocksucker.

We're talking from "sloppy playing" comment numero uno; you automatically transcend all other dukes of assholedom as the Grand Messiah King Alpha First Coming of Quadricentennial Ultra Octa Douche Crimson Elite God Mode fucking asshole.

I'm well aware that this is incredibly hypocritical of me to state as a music critic, and just by being a music critic, I am already aware of my inescapable jerk dick status. I do hate music critics, all of them. Therefore, another solid reason to hate myself.  I am, and always have been my biggest critic. (As well as Sonic Syndicate's.) I'm a terrible person for being rude about how predictable the guitar playing is on any given Asking Alexandria song. Those little twats worked really hard to put those albums together, okay? Who am I to just step and in be all "shit sucks" and say it's derivative and boring and played out and simple and cookie cutter? That was like, their art, you know?

True art is played above the belly button.

But to my credit, Asking Alexandria's members are paid musicians. They're musical professionals. Their instrument is their job. We can hold up musicians of their status to a certain expectation, just as one can freely criticize a Hollywood movie or a primetime television show. Just because I'm not critical from the position of a creator, doesn't mean I can't recognize something of poor quality as a consumer. I don't have a single cross word for the playing technique of a guy such as Lee Malia of BMTH or Jake Pitts from BVB. It's the final product that raises my ire, not the manner of how said product was produced.

With that said, do you know who doesn't play guitar for a profession? The kid in his upstairs bedroom practicing tabs on his Dean ML in his t-shirt with his Gundam Wing posters proudly on display. This fella was excited that he learned how to recreate some classic riff from your entry-level fare like Slayer or Iron Maiden, and wanted to show his buds on YouTube how close he's got it. He doesn't need to hear from anybody about his misplaced string-muting, his sloppy lead playing, or maybe...

How he might have...


The one.



"Not bad, but then that pitch harmonic at 1:48... ouch bro. Ouch."

Suck a gun.

I don't know what it is about guitar players of the internet, but there is this brutal culture of perfection among the realm of guitar cover video uploads. It's actually become quite difficult to find a sloppy one these days because of it. People have just become too self-conscious to share, for fear of receiving negative feedback, unless they're sure they played it perfect. I know for a fact this wasn't always the case. In the days before high definition streaming and 5 minute uploads, many a cheap Ibanez was haphazardly strummed upon by young men and women who were clearly just starting out with the instrument, yet felt compelled to share their progress via webcam anyway. Any of you remember all the fun we had with RockstarBass100? If you do, I'm glad, because your memory is all you'll have. He took down all his videos, and as a result, I took down the articles where I made a spectacle of him. There clearly wasn't a moment of practice with this guy's bass playing before he just jumped right on YouTube to show it to us, but hey. He shared his learning process with us, and I have to commend him for that. If he did that sort of thing these days then... well... he would have to deal with... sort of... exactly what we did to him.

Okay. Further evidence I'm not a good person.
(See: Grand Messiah King Alpha First Coming of Quadricentennial Ultra...)

Anyway, we're not just talking about just the power-chord chugging newbies here. I'm also speaking of the seasoned guitar hobbyists with thousands of dollars of much-deserved equipment; playing these near perfect, totally live, raw, one take, note-for-note renditions of popular metal songs. Yet still, these internet-dwelling tight asses pick them apart one second at a time, as if they were expecting some perfect digital remastering of the fucking original tune. They just start happily mashing their jizz-drenched fingers upon their keyboard the second a single playing misstep makes itself apparent.

Do you know how many live performances where I've witnessed guitar playing mistakes made by the original artist themselves, on their very own songs? If you give me just a second to thi--all of them. That's live music for you, fucko. You can't always play an entire song in one take and expect everything to go 100% smoothly.

If Kerry King stood up on YouTube and just Angel of Death'd his own band's song for 5 minutes straight, as he's been doing for countless nights through several decades, and you really honed in on his playing, you'd hear him fuck up somehow somewhere in there. Or just maybe fuck it up all the time; depending on his Jagermeister intake any given evening. Slayer songs are fast, and he's always head banging his nobby dome while he's playing them. If an overly-endorsed stooge like Kerry King can't always get his own songs exactly spot on every night in front of thousands of people after a lifetime of rehearsal; what chance does Johnny Pubescence have?

Probably equal chance of getting some dome of his own.

Plenty of these YouTube pit-vipers conceal their venom in a "good job but..." prefacing their shitty, pointless remark with a half-hearted positive one. It's some pseudo-psychology management technique every McJob white shirt in the universe falls back on when trying to soften the blow of delivering "constructive" criticism to someone who works harder than they do. Good job but what, Chachi? In what way did the guitarist wrong you so that now you aren't just entirely satisfied with your listening experience? "You just need to work on the solo a bit." Oh, no shit, it needs some work? Some polish? He needs to add some finer touches to the blistering guitar solo he performed after 3 and a half minutes of perfect live playing, which was then followed by a minute and a half of additional flawless performing? Eat a dick, pissant. Eat all of the dicks.

The most glaring issue I have with all of these anonymous commentators is that they never, EVER, have any means to back up their superior, ivory tower talk. I have literally not seen one instance of a YouTuber who trashes other people's playing actually have videos uploaded of themselves playing shit. I'm sure he's out there, he has to be, the one guy with the big mouth, who has perfect video performances available for viewing. But I've yet to witness it. This leads me to believe that these people out there taking the piss, probably aren't actually guitarists at all, and are totally ignorant to the difficulty of playing the instrument. Or, more likely, they aren't anywhere near a solid enough player to be belittling anyone else's skill, but they know just barely enough to rub it in someone's face when they hear something done wrong. Look at the comments section of any Dragonforce guitar cover if you want to see what I mean.

Through the fire and thFUCK...

If you ever run into one of these big-talking shit takers in your travels online, telling you or someone else how they're playing isn't up to snuff, the best way to get them to take a hike is to tell them to put up or shut up: "Where's your video? Show me how you would play it perfect for everyone, Paul Gilbert." This is 99.9% effective in putting out their tribal-tattoo-style douche flame like a spit-soaked pinch. 

The way I see it, perfect reproduction of the original material shouldn't be the norm for any sort of cover anyway. Honestly, it shouldn't even be an option. Perfection when replaying the original material is about as rock n' roll as NPR. The very best metal covers, (even of other metal/rock songs) are a completely different take on the original material:

The very artform of covering becomes bastardized and trivialized by these critical perfectionists. Those out there wanting for pitch-perfect, tonal reproductions of the original song, as well as the players that are out there accommodating these dick snots, are boring the rest of us with their redundancy. Yes, there's certainly something impressive about the ability to replicate a tone so accurately. Paying out the nose for exactly the right gear, and fine-dialing your shit day and night to get your signal chain sounding like a carbon copy of a particular guitarist's signature sound is no simple feat. However, there's always an immense opportunity for creativity that becomes sorely missed with this sort of playing philosophy. Why try your very hardest to sound exactly like Dimebag Darrell when playing a Pantera song or some other basic MTV metal shit, when you have the chance to make a Pantera song your very own? Not that I'm condoning covering Pantera at all, but kids Dimebagging it up with Razorbacks, MXR overdrives, and Randall amps are a dime a dozen all over YouTube. No pun intended.

Breaking Newsflash Douchebag Daniel: somebody else already played groove on a pointy guitar with a Confederate flag paint job. He was shot in the face. You are not, nor will you ever be that fucking guy.

With that out of the way, if it's not the one-trick phonies desperately trying to match the original artist tone with overpriced signature garbage gear, then surely, the music theory geeks are ruining the fun for the rest of us.

Do you know how a lot of kids "learn" guitar? They buy one and start noodling. Maybe they get a local shop lesson or two to get their bearings. They look up online, fan-made tabs, or find them in the back of magazines. They play the songs to the best of their ability as the tabs map it out, and sometimes, that's enough for a lot of people. They might look up techniques to clean up their playing, or buy a tutorial DVD from some big shot guitarist. Most guys who own a guitar were never once "classically" trained, nor did they take any formal lessons. Look, I don't know for dick what an A major seventh chord is, alright? I don't have a right fucking clue. I know what all those words mean separately, but you put them together, it's like I'm suddenly dyslexic. I don't wish to talk about it. Or make anymore Metalocalypse references. (Fucking ever.)


I'm not going to hide behind the "Jimi Hendrix" argument either, because that's such a lame cop-out. You all know the one: "Don't you know that like, the greatest guitarist of all time couldn't even read music and taught himself?" Yeah, well, I'm not Hendrix. Neither are you, white boy. You and I are just a couple stiff-fingered dimwits squinting at fan-made Hendrix tabs on Ultimate Guitar and mashing our fretboards until we build up more finesse, like that's how any of this works. But hey, that's fine. I'd rather sloppily power chord my way through another set of Black Sabbath tabs, or just replicate them by ear, than have some cunt try to break them down to me with their piano key ABCs. Fuck off. Nerd.

Obviously, I used to be a big sucker for the virtuosos. They made me wrought as a budding player with black, poisonous envy. I used to revel in the mastery of the fast-fingered musical juggernauts who lit their fretboards aflame with blazing sweep arpeggios and lightning-fast licks with Malmsteen-esque precision and flair. I even many times allowed this entitled crybaby egomaniac trick me into still giving a shit about what he's trying to accomplish. I used to worship these men as the truest guitar gods; that is, until they slowly became the yawn-inducing standard. Until they stifled a genre that's becoming more derivative and boring every passing Bandcamp upload.

Nowadays, it seems, if you can't sweep with the the best of them, or if you don't have some time shattering mathematical equation to progressively present to everyone in song, your band just won't make the cut in a culture where relevancy has become directly measured by your instrumental athleticism and training.

About 4 years ago, Metal Sucks was counting down the top 25 modern metal guitarists. Dave Davidson of Revocation came out on top as numero uno. obviously to much comment section controversy at the time. Nevertheless, I was pleased by the outcome. As a fellow Masshole, I have and will always be a proud member of the Revocation camp. Dave Davidson is one hell of player, and deserved the title of best metal guitarist more so than anyone else who ended up on what was ultimately, a pretty bullshitty list. However, Davidson is as classically trained as it gets. He's a graduate from the Berklee College of Music, where he invested his time extensively studying jazz guitar with some of music's finest professors in order to broaden his musical horizons. We're talking about a guy who took out college loans for his metal mastery. Just listen to how this dude teaches licks:

Did you get any of that? I mean, okay, cool, good for you. Now don't be a dick about it.

Back when I wrote that whiny "goodbye" article (that I have since removed to continue writing, because I have the integrity and stalwart resolve of a teenage girl) it was maybe a week or two after I heard a few advance release songs from the Revocation album "Deathless". I'd like to think that it was totally unrelated, but looking back now, I don't really think that's true.

2014 was the year I was actively listening to three phenomenal metal albums that made me throw up my hands and quit the genre. Not even just phenomenal, but three perfect fucking metal albums. One of which was Deathless, the other two were Demons by Bloodshot Dawn and Earthbound Evolution by the band Beyond Creation. These are the ones that stand out at the top of my head as I write this, but they were just a few of very many. Some of the very best modern metal albums were all put out in an overwhelmingly great year for solid metal in 2014. I listened to all of the major releases, but ultimately, none of them got me to give a shit. So precise, so well produced, so perfectly shredded and wankriffic and numbingly aggro. I heard what was meant to be heavy metal at its absolute greatest, and all I got was depressed. I probably listened to more Black Metal and Grindcore in the last 6 months than I ever have in my entire life because these underground DIY genres are the only few where I'm finding a fucking passion in the artform anymore. Death metal and Thrash are now dominated by shredders with a background in jazz theory. Skippidy boo bop wow everybody.

This is the state of heavy metal that we're in. We have well-rounded jazz artists playing all our music for us now, because we all set the bar for everyone in our genre to be these robotic instrumental idiot-savants. This sort of music is the only that sells because we're growing up in a culture where we don't know how to be fucking touched by anything anymore. Only impressed. Impressed and wowed like a bunch of clickbait-craving turd brains. We have transformed traditional heavy metal guitar into a circus act. Music in our genre with a sense of depth and soul is outshined by mad shredtacular riffage skillz, because the latter traditionally gets a metal artist more clicks on YouTube. That, or a fucking cover of Frozen

Is this really what we want out of heavy metal? Is the spirit of rock and roll acquired with paid lessons and professors? Can it be so simply broken down and performed with well-practiced theory? Why is the only joy I find left in my genre produced by grindcore kids in their dad's garage? Look how much fucking fun these buzzcutters and jorts are having without me:

Oh surprise, I'm rambling again. Long story jorts, not everyone who plays and cares about music has the privilege of mommy and daddy sending them to some 4-credit course regarding Mozart's powdered dick wig for a semester; or getting carted off to expensive hourly music lessons where you sit across from some sour-breathed hasbeen who doesn't give a shit about anything you like or want to play. So don't act like a chode hammer about other music players not playing with orchestra-approved mastery or recognizing the exact note of someone's low-pitched fart by ear.

Smelled like an F#.
If you have openly expressed your dismay in how a band or a player only performs music strictly within the "pentatonic scale", I shouldn't have to explain to you the reason why you don't get invited to any fucking parties. Go find a new hobby where you won't bother anyone, like heroin. Some of metal's best new music is being performed at the hands of scrappy gear heads in their basements with their beardy, intoxicated buddies. I see these types as the genre's much needed saviors, injecting a rawness and brutality in their music that is sorely missed in the by-the-book fretboard masters with their top-budget audio mixes. Look, if you are well versed in music theory and classically trained, hey, that's great, more power to you. I'm sure you have the ability to produce and recognize great music. Just don't be a guitarist on the internet who's an asshole about it. 

-- Brenocide \,,/


I scored a mint condition Ernie Ball Music Man Axis Super Sport for a high, but comparably measly $800 at Guitar Center. You can find them going for double that or more on sites like eBay and Reverb, but the perfection of this beauty is truly priceless. Unlike the one pictured, mine is equipped with a vintage Ernie Ball hardtail bridge as opposed to the vintage trem or Floyd Rose you'll often find them set up (cursed) with. The thing sounds like how orgasming feels, and is without a doubt the best playing piece of musical equipment I have ever laid hands on. I didn't buy it for looks exactly, because it's the one and only dad guitar. I bought it because there is no better neck on all the instruments crafted in the history of electric guitar. Ever. If you buy anything other than a Music Man, you are a cheapskate fucking amateur hack dumbass who doesn't recognize good quality from so many years of sucking with your Schecter. I like your Ibanez, it's so cute how you upgraded the pickups to Dimarzios to see if you could make it sound somewhat fair. My guitar came with them. Solder away all you want, kid, you know what they say: you can't polish a turd. I currently have this professional-grade piece of equipment sitting in a sealed glass case because it's majesty is too great to be plugged into my Peavey Vypyr. It, much like all Peaveys, is an amp for a child.. I am waiting for my credit to improve so that I can take out a bank loan for the Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier I require to truly make this model shine with the crystal, angelic tone it is truly capable of. Don't think for a moment that your Sterling model could be anything like this. Silly young fool. Guitars of greatness are not built of chopsticks. Only with American ingenuity can one truly achieve proper tone. Well, proper American ingenuity... No one knows where that sort of thing goes when Carvin. Gibson or Fender tosses together their cheap toys. You'll just have to take my word for it that this is the best sounding guitar on all of the planet, and I am its very best player. I'm just not the sort of goofball who publicly flaunts my supreme skills on the internet like some kind of attention craving floozy. I prefer to practice my fretboard mastery in the privacy of my home. Well, practice isn't exactly the right word. I guess you could more accurately describe it as showcasing it to myself. Nevertheless, if your next guitar purchase isn't a true blue American made Music Man then your guitar purchase wasn't really much a guitar purchase at all.

Yes, face all the other guitars in the shop in my direction. I play better when I can feel their envy.

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