Rediscovering an Old Friend

Yesterday evening, I broke out my bass guitar to record an audition video for my church’s worship band. When they asked me which instruments I played, I said bass and guitar—and they said I could try out for both. It actually sounded like they wanted me to try out for both roles.

I found a Christian song with a kick-butt bass riff that was praise-ish (“What This World Needs” by Casting Crowns), played through the song a half-dozen times, then plugged in to record my part. I stitched together the audio and video and uploaded the video to YouTube.

I thought that was good, and I’d call it a day having just done the bass. Guitar was a lower priority for me because I hadn’t played seriously in months, and the last time I did, the intonation seemed off.

But, I’d listened to this song a dozen times now, and had a pretty good idea what the guitar part looked like… so I picked up my trusty axe and kept at it.

The first thing that surprised me was that my guitar didn’t have the intonation problem I thought it did (being in tune does help). The second thing that surprised me was how good it sounded through my audio interface (it’s notoriously been too shrill or muddy). The third thing that surprised me was how fun it was to play again.

After recording the rhythm part, I took a supper break and then returned to record lead. Having not played seriously in a year, my fingers protested to the string bends I subjected them to. (You know how guitarists have that “hurts so good” look on their faces during intense solos? I had that look because it actually hurt!)

At the end of the day, I sent in three two-minute videos, one for bass, one for rhythm, and one for lead. Funny enough, lead guitar (which was hardest for me technically, and always has been) seems like it could be the role they want someone to fill in. I’m hoping I can rotate in on bass every couple Sundays, because I like setting the groove that helps drive the song. But if they need guitar, I can certainly step in, rusty as I may be.

God knows I’m a perfectionist precisionist and I’ll get myself sharp again.

In just this little exercise, I rediscovered my friend: the guitar. Since junior high, we have been friends, and like any good friends, sometimes we have disagreements. I’d reach a “plateau” with my skills or get bored with guitar for a while, then take breaks for months on end. But each time, I’d come back and pick it up again, refreshed and approaching the instrument with fresh ideas. I might pick up a variation on the theme, such as focusing on acoustic or classical (as I did in college). That eventually led me to pick up bass, which may have been my “soul instrument” all along.

But the guitar will always hold a special place in my heart, and will always be a good friend, someone I can celebrate with and someone I can mourn with. It’ll be there to serenade others and to help myself unwind. It’ll always help me keep things in perspective—to not take life too seriously, to always have an “outlet,” to always have a hobby just for the sake of having a hobby.

And, now, it reminds me that I have God-given talents that I should be sharing with others for His glory.

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