A Little Something New? - Part 2

So.. to refresh your memory - I was asking you.. What does a 37 year old man (with very little formal musical training, and several "hit & run" attempts to learn a musical instrument) do when he wants to express himself musically (and more than just listen)??

Well, first of all - My sister (who is very musically talented in the Piano, Clarinet, Accordian, Organ, and probably a few instruments I am forgetting) offered (out of the blue) to bring us a "family guitar" that she completely refurbished from a "dumpster dive".

This offer has caused me to do some thinking about what I want to accomplish from learning to play an instrument. I also made some realistic observations on my part. Here is some of my "inventory items"

  • I am not interested in music as a career.
  • I am WAY too old to worry about starting (or playing) in a band - although helping out in church (if I ever got good enough) may be fun!
  • I am WAY too old to worry about trying to "look cool" and pick up girls by learning an instrument.
  • I never have been great at playing any instrument.
  • I would like something that is "not too complicated"
  • I enjoyed playing the guitar (when I did do it).
  • I am not good at reading music, but had fun trying to figure out the guitar tablature.
  • I truly enjoy "feeling" the music, both physically and emotionally.
  • The last guitar I picked up (my son's) felt small to me. (I am a pretty big guy!)
  • I'd like to "try something new"
  • Although I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sound of the Sitar & Tabla, I believe that it may be way to complicated (and expensive) to learn.
  • I am more apt to "play along" with my own music (that I enjoy listening to) than I am to play "stand alone", or compose my own.
  • I want to find something I can play to help me relax and unwind.
  • I am interested in finding something that I can have fun playing with, and not get too upset, or frustrated with while trying to learn - After all, the whole idea is to relax and have fun, right?
  • I would like Something small enough to be "portable" but not so small that it feels uncomfortable.
  • It would be nice to have an instrument that can be played both (LOUD) and (quiet) as is appropriate for the situation at hand.
  • An instrument that can be fiddled with while watching TV or visiting (like I did with my son's guitar)
  • I want something I don't have break the bank to get into.
  • I would like to see something I can "teach myself", take some "online lessons" or pick up a PC CD, or DVD with some pre-recorded lessons.

------ So... Here is what I came up with... ----------

  • Piano? - Been there, done that. Too large a piece of furniture.
  • Brass instrument? - Been there, done that. No way to play quietly if kids / wife are asleep, or I am watching TV or visiting with Michele.
  • Drums? - Too big, takes up too much space, no real way to move it around realistically.
  • Sitar or Tabla? - Nahh.. too complicated - (but I still LOVE listening to them!)
  • Guitar? - I like the idea... fits most (if not all) the criteria. I have enjoyed it in the past, but never stuck to it.
  • Banjo? - Sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Starter sets are available. Seems a bit petite and delicate for a big monster like myself.
  • Bass Guitar? - Similar to the guitar, yet bigger than a banjo or the guitar, will fit my "monster" frame, portable, can be quiet at times yet also loud enough to "feel" when I would like it to, self teaching lessons are available, (I belive it to be) less complicated than the guitar, I can learn (or play along) to some of my favorite music (listen to "A Forest" by The Cure for an example).

I went back and looked at these things, and then (about two weeks ago) started surfing around the net.. "Bass Guitar", "Teach yourself Bass Guitar", "Electric Bass Guitar", "DVD lessons Bass guitar", "learning the bass guitar" and so on, and so on, and so on... I have come across many different sites dedicated to just that. The more and more I searched the more and more excited I have become.


I think I have finally reached a decision. I am going to look into the possibility of picking up a bass guitar.


Ebay is full of them. Starter sets that include a bass, practice amp, gig bag, cable, picks, tuner, etc, etc, etc...


Ok. I know I get weird ideas (pipe dreams) stuck in my head, and that are a "flash in the pan" ideas. They take up my thoughts until they come to fruition, and then I get "board" with them and move on. I honestly thought this Blog would be one of them. I am still blogging, and even though the "Deck Series" is finished, I am still finding things to blog about...


Maybe I'm rationalizing this to myself, but I believe that students who start school later in life do better in school - they take things a bit more seriously. By following this line of thinking, maybe I would take the Bass Guitar a little more seriously... Maybe I am telling myself this to help justify an "out of the blue" idea of taking up an new instrument at the ripe old age of 37... (can you teach "old dogs" "new tricks?) I hit some inspiration about taking on the bass guitar my age HERE. (This is a blog by a woman my same age, taking up the bass herself!) and while searching the activebass.com website, I found a whole thread about people taking up the bass later in life... ACTIVEBASS.COM "TOO OLD" THREAD. It would seem that I am not alone in this adventure. Perhaps this is not just a wild goose chase afterall....


Well, I tell you what... I don't have the answers to the above questions. What I will do (given our family budget, and my available leisure time) is take some time looking for a good deal. I don't want to run out and buy the first thing I find, but I don't want to spend forever chasing a pipe dream either. I have a few feelers out there. I have a cousin that plays in a band, and I have a brother-in-law that a very talented guitar player. He is very musically gifted, and perhaps will have some advise or direction for me...


I found a guitar style that I like - it's not a frightening "Death Metal" style (although I do listen to my share of it), outrageous color, or outlandishly priced guitar (Although it is still more than I would like to pay...) This one is called the Dean Edge 09 4-String Electric Bass Guitar - in the natural satin mahogony wood finish. It looks warm, inviting, and the wood tone with black accents fit the colors and styles that I like.


But for the price of (or less than the price of) this guitar (and JUST the guitar) I can pick up a "starter kit". Much of what I read about this guitar (in online reviews) say it makes a GREAT introductory guitar, but also is a great performer for the advanced user as well... Who knows.. Too early to say...


I now have to convince my wife that I am not crazy, that this is something I would like to do (or perhaps this may be this is just a "mid life crisis" and to be happy it's cheaper than a motorcycle!), and that the money is not going to be wasted by buying a guitar.


I also hope my sister does not feel that I do not appreciate her offer. Jonathan (our 11 year old son) has been hinting around a guitar for the past year. I have been watching a wholesale website that offers a 3/4 size drednaught acustic guitar on clearence about once a year for an outragously low price ($29.99). I saw the offer in July, and put one on order only to get an apology email from the company tne next day saying that they ran out of stock before my order could be filled. I know that Jonathan and Zachary would both be very intrested in the guitar from Denise, and how fun would it be to "jam" (Grateful Dead, or "A Forest" style) with your kid?


If you (dear reader) have any tips, suggestions, or recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!


Also, if you have any leads for me (or have an old bass guitar sitting around collecting dust) on a good introductory fretted electric bass guitar, and / or amp, I would also love to hear from you!


Thanks in advance for any comments, tips, suggestions, recommendations, or leads!


David - the Father-of-Five.


  1. Father of five,
    I think your decision to try the bass guitar is both bold and yet very intuitively obvious...bass guitar is most easily played by larger people with longer arms and fingers. Taking up playing an instrument such as bass guitar when you have a previous history of enjoying playing a regular guitar makes it practical also. I can tell you are keeping your expectations modest which is also equally important...aiming for being able to play at your church is indeed modest...when I played at my church at the age of 12 it was a great venue - older people with poor hearing and forgiving hearts...and my skills were better than the 80 year old standard musician anyways. The bass guitar you've pictured would be nice also in that you could bring that to church or any other place and it'd be perfectly acceptable...a bass guitar with skulls and Mr. Yuck stickers affixed may not be. I'm currently in the market to buy an electric guitar to replace the one I've had since high school (never let your cats near them - they'll chew up your volume knobs, flange bar, tuning pins..basically my cats trashed it..they also ate the rubber off the guitar stand...then puked on my carpet..insult to injury..but I digress). Funny that you should mention your like of THE CURE and "A Forest"...my band and I played that song during our performance at a high school dance - a very awesome song. As far as convincing your wife that it's OK or practical to purchase a guitar I'm sorry to say that I feel her opinion on the matter is entirely irrelevant...your mid-life crisis item is very inexpensive compared to what she could be faced with - but it's you that has to live with her so good luck with that. I'll be happy to jam with you when you get your gear...make sure to update your progress in this area.

  2. This post is from the musically "talented" sister...I guess I would say musically intersested rather than musically talented! Hats off to you bro for taking up the bass. I can most defintely see you playing this instrument. It really suits you well. What I really look forward to is a great jam session together!

    The reasons you mentioned for wanting to play this instrument will, indeed, make you play well. When you have a desire to play, and it becomes both a joy and an outlet, you will succeed. True, I can play many instruments, but I learned them for my own enjoyment and to bring happiness to family and friends. I don't read music well, but I get by pretty well anyway thanks to a good ear.

    I do play at church, and I agree with the police dispatcher. Oh, have I made many large piano errors...the joy is that nobody really cares! Most people are glad that somebody steps up to help. I have even had several people say that they like to hear mistakes in the music, because it makes them feel like the music they worship to is much like we are in life...not perfect! (I never thought of it that way, but that's kinda cool.)

    One of the reasons I picked up the accordion is because of what it represents... The accordion may not be the "coolest" instrument to play, but think about it...accordions represent happiness, family, joy, festivity. Can you think of a time that an accordion was playing, and a room was a silent, somber place? I have played the accordion at the local hospital, nursing home, and Parkinson's support group. Imagine an accordion, a group of carolers, and a bunch of children singing in the halls of a hospital at christmastime. The smiles I saw coming from those hospital beds were some of the biggest I have ever seen! I have even seen large smiles on the faces of people with Parkinson's Disease so severe that normal spontaneous facial expression is only a wish or a distant memory.

    Oh, yes, music is wonderful. Don't play to be the best, most technical player. Play to feed your soul, and the souls of others, and you have it down! How exciting!

    A word of advice. When you get your bass, with supervision, let your kids love your instrument. Let them hold it and start a love of music. I have been already seeing this in Z for quite sometime. Whenever he has been around me playing, he is so interested.

    Imagine if those two boys also learn the guitar?!?! We just may have the family Von Trapp all over again!

    p.s. Did I tell you that you can add one more to the list? Ukulele. Yep! (with a smile) I picked up a uke in Hawaii, and I have learned a few little chords. Since the uke is also 4 strings, maybe the chord structure is the same as the bass? A uke and an accordion! Tell me, who reading this is not smiling right now :) :) :) ...p.s. I brought the little uke with!


  3. Father-of-five,

    I think it is great that you want to learn to play the bass guitar! I have to play "devils advocate" and suggest the benfits of buying new shotgun, or slug gun for hunting. In buying a shotgun, you know that it will be able to be handed down for generations to come and doesn't require as much talent to use. Mayebe its just me, but since I have no music talent what-so-ever! The only music related talent I have is that I know all the words to any song I have heard after listening to it a couple times.... I don't know if this is even a talent or not, but I was also cursed without the ability to sing or play any music. 30 days till duck opener! Yee Haw!


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