Some subjects really get me fired up, but none so much as when I see people – especially celebrities – smashing guitars. Morons.
So, upon my soapbox I shall stand…at least for the next 400 words or so.
I know it’s been part of the Rock-n-Roll heritage for quite some time now with musicians like Pete Townsend (The Who) and Paul Stanley (KISS) destroying heaps of guitars throughout their careers. Guitar smashing even made it’s way into my childhood cartoon addiction with El Kabong, the masked alter ego of the Quick Draw McGraw (Hanna Barbara Cartoon) who used a guitar as a weapon of justice.
Or who could resist the comedic moment created when John Belushi smashed that guitar in Animal House? Classic!
Why do I feel so strongly about this?
Because I’ve been a guitar teacher for 24 years, and have unfortunately seen my share of motivated young players who desperately wish they had a guitar to play, but can’t afford one. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give that guitar away? Or donate a number of guitars to extracurricular music programs -- like the Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO) for every one guitar smashed?
It “gets my goat” when I see celebrities – especially those who preach how they help young people – smash guitars for the sake of comedy. I’m not laughing.
However – I can’t shift all the blame onto clueless celebrities. No matter how fun or deserving. Unfortunately, the blame does start with guitar players themselves. We teach the public how to respect our instruments.
Do you often see a performer smashing a trumpet, saxophone, French horn or oboe? Nope.
Part of the reason you don’t see these instruments smashed– even for comedic relief – is because the professional players aren’t modeling the behavior on stage. They model a behavior of respect for their instrument. Some even wear white gloves in order to preserve the finish.
I’m not saying guitarists should start to wear suits and white gloves to play (Slayer just wouldn’t be the same! Although a super funny concept!). What I’m proposing is demonstrating an overall attitude of reverence for the guitar with the idea of changing the perception that guitars don’t deserve respect and are even disposable.
Just because some guitars are available inexpensively, doesn’t mean the instrument isn’t valuable. The guitar is accessible.
We can also influence the perception of the guitar by giving no support for those that insist on disrespecting the instrument. Be vocal about what you see.
So please, guitar players I implore you. Be a model for the rest of the world and stop smashing your guitars on stage. …..And slug those who do.
Ok. Not really.