Remember that music video from that ‘kind of edgy-cool but their comfort level with their own bodies frightens me a bit’ band The Darkness? The video for “I Believe in a Thing Called Love?” Ya, that’s the one. With the lead singer’s shirt zipped down below his navel. Makes you laugh, but not without a smidge of nervousness in said laughter.

Anyway, there’s a scene in the video right before the solo where the singer yells “Guitar!” And as the guitar solo progresses, the camera pans farther and farther back, revealing with each cut a larger and larger stack of Marshall amps. Very awesome, and some good tongue-in-cheekness…….but I laugh with a bit of the same nervousness that is in my laughter when I almost see more, shall we say ‘anatomy’ of their lead singer than I care to.

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(Ah, the wall of Marshalls. And look at his face……see? No drugs whatsoever.)

Because I wonder how many times I cover up my own insecurities about my playing with another pedal, or guitar, or amp, just like some of those guys in glam rock bands from the ’80′s covered up their lack of musicianship or soulful-playing with some hammer-on’s from a huge wall of amps. Now, there were some good guitarists in the ’80′s, but I’m talking about the ones where you’re like, “I’ve heard that exact same finger tap solo 800 times before…..and that’s in the same song…..but, oh wait, look how many amps he has! Never mind….he’s awesome!”

See, sometimes I do that with gear, too. I have the latest handmade, boutique amp so that if someone ever says, “Hey, your tone wasn’t that great tonight”, I can respond with, “Oh ya? This amp was handmade with transistors from ancient Egypt and laquered with real horse flesh.” (Not really, but you get the picture.) Sometimes it makes us (or maybe just me) feel like we have a security blanket in our gear. We may suck that night, but at least our gear is respected. And that’s cool, we all have our insecurities (me probably most of all), but it would be nice to get back to how the music is sounding, not our gear……or even our playing. Many times, the best tone ever will actually not sit as well in the mix as tone that’s a little ‘less good’ or whatever you want to call it. And many times one note will sit better in the mix than the 18 we’d rather play.

This is especially true in worship music. It’s about one sound coming out from the whole band, to create an atmosphere that helps people get in the mindset of singing, feeling, and ultimately giving heartfelt worship to God through this music.

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(Those of you who know me, don’t laugh! That’s not me!…………..Okay, it’s me.)

Here’s a couple really cool quotes from some new-found fellow guitar bloggers (go check out their sites on my blogroll):

“I’ve learned to trust what the people love, not what I KNOW is more ‘transparent’ and toneful….Basically we need to focus on our end product more than what we play through….I want my end sound to sound good.” –Les Paul Player Doctor

“We also forget that 99.99% of congregants can’t tell the difference between digital and analog delay!” –Blogsology

Does that mean we shouldn’t chase tone, and skill, and musicianship, and gear? Absolutely not! That stuff is invaluable. But they’re all tools for what we’re trying to accomplish…..if they become the focus, what the true focus should be will suffer.

And sometimes (I know this is crazy!) but tone, skill, and even a Toneczar-on-the-waiting-list-for-two-years pedal can actually get in the way of worship, if our minds aren’t on using all that tone, skill, and gear for the purpose of the music and worship as a whole.

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See? Sometimes we can take some hints from ’80′s glam rock bands like The Darkness. And please note, I’m talking about their spot-on, satirical spoofing of us as guitarists; not the sequened, one-piece jumpsuits showing things no one wants to see. Ever.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. And after saying all that, I’m off to gearpage to go buy the next boutique pedal and review it here! Woohuu!