Stuff People Say When You Carry Around a Guitar

Since high school, I’ve toted a guitar around. All four years of high school, I played in my school’s jazz band, so brought my electric to school every other day for practice. Sometimes I carried it from class to class if I couldn’t lock it up, or if I had to leave for a competition.

More recently, I’ve been playing in my church’s worship band. After Sunday service, I sometimes join the young adult crowd for lunch, and that means carrying my guitar into restaurants with me. It’s the best alternative to leaving my guitar in a hot vehicle or driving home, dropping it off, and doubling back.

Carrying a guitar case elicits a response from most people. The majority just look at me and the case (mainly the case) with confusion. “Why is he carrying a guitar around?” they’re probably thinking. “Is he trying to show off?”

But a few people stop and ask me about it. That happened today in a rather awkward way, and it prompted me to write down a few of the more memorable “conversations” I’ve had while axe-toting.


After jazz band, waiting for school to let out so I can go home:
High school kid: “Is that a guitar?”
Me, freshman in high school standing with my guitar case: “Yes.”
Kid: “Can I see it?”
Me: “Sure.”
I pull my Epiphone SG G-400 Custom out of my zip case.
Kid: “Wow, that’s cool. Can I play it?”
Me, not knowing any better: “Sure.”
Kid proceeds to finger and pick my guitar badly and I feel like I’ve done the equivalent of letting him sleep with my wife.
Me, taking it back from him: “I’m going to put it up now, thanks.”
I proceed to feel guilty the rest of the day.

Slow day in geometry class after a jazz band competition:
High school friend: “Hey, can we see your guitar?”
Me: “Sure.”
I pull my Epiphone SG G-400 Custom out of my zip case.
Friend: “Can you play something for us?”
Me: “Sure.”
I start to play something, probably Led Zeppelin.
Friend: “Do you know how to play Hotel California?”
Me: “Yes, but I need a twelve-string acoustic guitar and a capo.”
Friend looks at me like I just spoke Chinese to him.

Carrying my guitar down the hall to jazz band practice:
School police officer: “Hey, what’s in the bag?”
Me: “It’s an electric guitar. I’m in the jazz band.”
Officer: “Can I see it?”
Me: “Sure.” (I’m not sure if he suspects it’s not a guitar or he’s genuinely curious, and I’m about to be late to class. But what’s he going to do if I say no?)
I pull my Epiphone SG G-400 Custom out of my zip case.
Officer: “Oh, nice! You know, Jimmy Page used to play one like just like this.”
Me, a big Led Zeppelin/Jimmy Page fan at the time: “Really?”
Officer: “Yeah, look it up!”
I go home and find images of Jimmy Page-branded SGs that look like mine, but no pictures of him playing one.
But, I become “friends” with the officer after that, and all my other friends think that’s cool.

In college, outside the classroom before playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 for a class project:
Classmate who brought his guitar to class to play “Für Elise”: “Hey, can I play your guitar?”
Me: “No, you have your own guitar.”
Classmate: “I’ll let you play my guitar.”
Me: “I don’t want to play your guitar.”
Classmate: “So, you won’t let me play your guitar?”
Me: “No.”

At church, first night of practice:
Bandmate, pointing to my guitar case: “Is that your guitar?”
Me: “Yep.”
Bandmate: “Can I see it?”
Me: “Sure.”
I open the hard case, revealing my varnished quilted maple Yamaha Pacifica that I rewired.
Bandmate: “Wow, that’s neat!”
Bandmate proceeds to grab my guitar without asking and starts picking out notes on it.
Bandmate, pointing at the bridge pickup: “What kind of pickup is this?”
Me, indicating that I would like him to hand my guitar back over: “It’s a Bill Lawrence USA L500XL.”
Bandmate, catching the hint: “Why’d you pick that one?”
Me: “Because the guitarist for Rush [Alex Lifeson] used one similar to this in the 80’s, and I like his tone.”
Bandmate, again: “So, why’d you pick that one?”
Me: “…”
(Note to fellow guitar nerds: I know Alex Lifeson actually used a Bill Lawrence L500L, and that there is a difference between Bill Lawrence (Wylde Pickups) and Bill Lawrence USA. I didn’t know this when I put together the build.)

Going into a restaurant after church:
Guy coming out of the restaurant, stopping dead in his tracks and looking me over with my guitar case: “Hey, what’s this, is that a guitar?”
Me, already a little annoyed: “Yeah.”
Guy: “Are you like a musician or something? Are you famous?”
Me: “I just play at church.”
Guy: “Why are you carrying your guitar around? Are you about to play somewhere?”
Me: “I just got done playing, and I’m about to eat lunch. I can’t leave my guitar in a hot car.”
Guy: “Oh man, well, can I see the guitar?”
Me, now more annoyed and hoping to get rid of him as fast as possible: “Sure.”
Guy: “Aw, sweet.”
Guy to his buddies: “Hey, come here, this dude’s going to show us his guitar!”
Me, now frustrated at the small audience and suspicious that this guy and his buddies are going to try to steal my guitar, thinking to myself: “Why am I doing this?”
I lay the hard case down on a patio railing and open it up, revealing my black Fender Blacktop Strat with gold pickguard.
Guy: “Oh, wow, that’s cool! Is that electric?”
Me: “Yes.”
Guy: “Can I play it?”
Me, snapping the case shut immediately: “No.”
Guy: “Oh, well, that’s cool man. Have a great day. Don’t die!”
Me, to myself: “What?”


The stereotypical guitar player loves to bask in the attention of others and takes every opportunity to brag about his instrument and his skills. He carries a guitar around just to get attention and “get girls”.

I don’t like being the center of attention, and don’t like toting a guitar around for that reason. I don’t have a big ego or a need to prove myself to others. I’d prefer it if people would just smile and pay a compliment if they say anything at all.

But, since they won’t, at least I can get some mileage out of the guitar-toting tales.

At least no one’s ever asked me to play “Wonderwall”.


One Response

  1. I got similar reactions at church when I had my Martin D35 in my office. I couldn’t keep the praise band guitar players away from it, but they showed it a lot of LTC, restringing it, jamming with it, and otherwise breaking it out when they wanted (always asking first, of course). I wouldn’t trust many but I do trust them, and it was nice hearing the Martin sing a different tune other than my old repertoire.

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