I don’t play enough air guitar. I don’t play enough guitar, period, but I play more real guitar than air guitar. And I should play more air guitar because I can, of course, play anything on air guitar, and because playing air guitar is so damn freeing.
I probably spent more hours from the age of 13 to my early 20’s playing more air guitar than playing…anything else. As a music lover and frustrated musician with a very vivid imagination, air guitar (and on many occasions, air drums) was a must! And I did more than play air guitar. I often used a t-square in place of an air guitar (I always preferred the t-square more than that tried and true standby, the tennis racket. The t-square has a wider neck), often played bass air guitar, sometimes sang lead (the t-square, with t facing up, mimics a mic stand nicely) and expressed my frustration at on-stage sound and technical difficulties by mouthing complaints to my imaginary roadies, guitar tech and yes, imaginary band mates. I even did air sound checks – how else could you make sure your sound was dialed in for the imaginary songs you were about to play?
Later, my actual guitar teacher told me that I would make a really good rhythm guitar player as my right hand technique and rhythm was awesome. Hold on, that doesn’t sound right…but you get the idea. It was also important to have the stance and how you held the air guitar correct. You didn’t want to hold it too high, and slung real low, Joe Perry style, didn’t feel right to me. It all brings to mind a great quote from Paul Stanley: “I might not know how to play that song, but I know how I’d look if I could!” Exactly!
My air guitar playing wasn’t too far-fetched – I often only played rhythm guitar, and very rarely attempted songs by Van Halen or bands with real virtuoso guitar players. Naturally, there were a lot of Cheap Trick songs played through the years. Naturally, given my attention span, my record collection, and foreshadowing an aversion to jam bands in general, long solos and endless noodling was not my forte, or interest, either.
Besides playing out my musical on-stage fantasies, playing air guitar was a release, a distraction from the trials and travails of the teen and young adult years. Didn’t matter whether it was heartbreak, anxiety about money or my mom, or whatever other dramas that came up, I’d “pick up my (air) guitar and play,” to paraphrase The Who and just feel better. When you get older it’s easy to forget those things that have helped, and you can’t help but wonder if it will still work. So I’m going to give it a try…
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