11 Annoying Things Guitarists Say

Amped columnist Richard Beech thinks it's time for a bit of self-deprecation   03-May-14

11 Annoying Things Guitarists Say
Photo by Kyrre Gjerstad

Admit it. Every now and again you say something so utterly cliche that you even surprise yourself when the words coming tumbling out of your mouth.

Guitarists are good at self-deprecation (most of the time), so very much in that spirit, I've compiled a list of the main offenders - the most annoying things we all say from time to time.

And if the main offenders offend you, then you must be guilty of these guitar-related aural crimes.

1) If you can play guitar you can play bass

Not true. Just so wrong on so many levels. If you can play guitar, then it gives you a decent starting point for bass. But like any instrument, it requires a specific set of techniques, and a hell of a lot of practice.

2) Dude, is that a Boss DS-1?

Yeah, it is a Boss DS-1... and I make it sound awe-some. It's not even an original Boss DS-1, its one of the new, Chinese, DS-1s and it sits on my pedal board because I've had it for 10 years and I can get a great sound out of it.

It's not my only distortion pedal, and I am under no illusions about its shortcomings in terms of flexibility, but if you can't get a good lead guitar sound out of a Boss DS-1 then you need to enter into a guitar tone boot camp for people who don't know how to use their ears.

3) I need a more transparent overdrive

Sigh. Just... sigh.

4) Which fret?

It's A#, if you don't know what fret that is, then we shouldn't be in a band together. It takes about two hours to learn where all the notes are on the fretboard.

5) (When a song is on) "I can play this on guitar."

Singers don't do it, trumpet players don't do it, keyboardists don't do it. Why guitarists? Why? We've all said it, though, admit it.

(Yeah we know you can play this song, it doesn't mean you have to play it at every party you go to, though).

6) He's just a shredder

No he isn't. He has worked hard for years to be able to play guitar in the way that he (or she!) wants to be able to play guitar, and just because you don't like it, it doesn't lessen that person's achievement.

In my experience, people who are the worst offenders for this sentence are often guitarists who would love to be able to play faster, who would love to be able to improve their picking technique, but simply haven't been able to.

I don't shred, because I can't physically do it. If I was good enough, would I? Damn right, it looks fun.

7) Just a guitar, a cable and an amp

People who say "all I need is just a guitar, a cable and an amp" use it as a badge of honor, usually referring to this combination of inanimate objects as if it is holy trinity of musical purity.

It's usually used as a veiled dig at people who use pedals, as if the use of pedals somehow lessens your ability as a guitar player.

It can sometimes be followed by the addendum "if it's good enough for Clapton, it's good enough for me", which is fair enough, if the only style of music you ever play is blues.

8) Can I get a bit more of me in my foldback?

The fine balancing act that is juggling monitor levels against squealing feedback isn't easy for sound guys in small venues, it isn't made any easier by the fact that guitarists (and vocalists) - without fail - always ask for more of themselves in their foldback.

Vocalists, fine, your foldback is the only way you can make sure your singing is on pitch.

Guitarists, just turn your amp up to a decent level in the first place so that it gives you natural foldback on stage, and remember that hearing the kick drum and bass player is far more important than being able to hear every single note of your solo with precise clarity.

And remember... the sound guy is always right.

EDIT: This one seems to have touched a few nerves. For the record, I'm not saying you don't need to be able to hear your guitar at all on stage, if you can't hear your guitar loud enough on stage to be able to hear the accuracy of a bend or slide, then you need to walk over to your amp, press the 'on' switch, a blue or red light will come on, and then you're in business.

9) Tone is in the fingers

So many aspects of guitar playing are 'in the fingers', but don't justify your inability to get a decent sound out of your guitar, pedals and amp as being down to the fact that you think "tone is in the fingers".

This is the sort of reverse argument to the "he's just a shredder" thing. I know plenty of people who are technically quite bad at playing their instrument, but still manage to create a beautiful tone.

Technique is in the fingers.

10) Less is more

No it isn't. More is more. Just playing a note and sustaining it for four bars with vibrato doesn't mean you are using a 'less is more' approach to guitar playing, it just means you need to play something more imaginative.

11) The Edge would have been nothing without his effects rack

Wait? You mean the guy who co-wrote numerous hit songs and has an incredible ear for harmony, arrangement and production? Nah, I'm pretty sure he still would have been 'a someone' without his effects rack.


Richard Beech is a former studio engineer, turned journalist, and is a guitar reviewer for SonicState. He spends much of his free time playing solos over terrible songs on the radio, thus making them even more terrible.

You can follow him on Twitter - @RichTheJourno

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