The Ménage

I have been playing the guitar for about 6 years now. It’s been a hell of a journey because I had never really imagined I would be where I am right now. So I feel like looking back at the “times that were” leading up to the “times that are”. The real joy of learning an instrument is that no matter who you learn from its still “you” who has to discover it. A teacher is just someone who gives you a nudge when you are stuck or brings you back to earth when you are wandering away at the speed of light.

Six months into this voyage laid my hand upon what would be my first guitar. It is a beautiful blue coloured Signature (cost me Rs1600), which I guess is a very popular startup guitar here in India. Now the guitar is clinging to its life by a strand of hair but I just can’t seem to let go. It would probably fall apart if one sneezed anywhere near it!! It has seen me play Metallica and it has seen me play “Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai” (he he... never again...). My first stage performance was with this guitar where I played “Nothing Else Matters” at Town Hall. The song went well until I was building up to the solo and SNAP! The first string snapped and I realized what is meant by the butterfly effect!

Soon I was in college. By this time I was able to play major, minor chords and basically manage to badly cover a few songs. I figured it was time to pick up an electric guitar and start playing a lot more gigs. I just wanted to be in a band. So it was then that I met the next member of my “family”. The Givson G.S1000 is actually quite a nice guitar for its price. Then Rs 4200 for a peculiarly shaped guitar seemed great! It made me feel like I was Dave Mustaine with his Flying V. I couldn’t really think too much in terms of a good sound output because I didn’t have any reference. It was better than the Signature. Turned out that the sharp shoulder of the guitar jabbing into your thigh is not a very desirable feeling every time I sat down to play! Along with the Givson electric guitar I also bought a Zoom 707 and a Stranger Cube 20 amplifier, both of which I am still using. I think that the 707 is a wonderful effects processor if you spend a little time to understand all that it has to offer, which I have come to realise only now!

This was about the time when I tried my hand at making fusion music. What I really did was just play three chords while a flautist played a Carnatic song. Now I understand that the chords weren’t even right! But people seemed to like it. I began to find out where Western and Carnatic music come together. Instead of looking at how different they were I started looking at how they were similar. I am “still trying” to create fusion music with my band Hamsadhwani.

After a while I began to feel the drawbacks of the Givson electric. It was time to upgrade! This time it was an Ibanez 250DX that joined the family. Unfortunately I had to sell the Givson in order to get my hands on the Ibanez. At Rs 17,000, I believe that this guitar is worth every single penny I paid. Two years and thirty gigs later I still love this guitar as much as I did when I first laid my hands on its “softer than silk” fret board. I credit most of my learning to my Ibanez and Signature.

The latest addition to my family is a Takamine EG-400C. This is by far the best guitar I have ever owned. I have had it for 5 months now and its sound only gets better. Ageing like fine wine? No, something much better. Versatility is the word to describe this guitar. Any genre, any style. It works very well with the processor too. The inbuilt tuner makes life much easier along with making me “lazier”.

So here I am a little less benighted and a little more cognizant. “The Family” has sculpted me into who I am today. As a guitarist one learns that every guitar is an experience and understands that it’s not a just journey but a quest. A quest of learning, discovery and clairvoyance. It is, in short, a spiritual journey.

Suchin Ravi