He Speaks a Different Language

I’ve been married to my husband for fourteen years.

About 50% of the time, I’ve had no clue what he’s been saying to me.

You see, he’s a musician—a guitarist, to be exact—and I’m convinced that Guitar-Speak is really another language.

The indigenous peoples of Guitar Center spoke the native tongue when they settled in strip malls and shopping centers years ago. The language has evolved as the musical genres have dictated unique terms for the sound a guitar makes.

Um, I just call it, music.

Chris can spew all sorts of words as he describes his ideal tone: dirt, grit, hair, boost, compress—to name a few.

Last week, my husband traded all his gear (not sure exactly what, although I think it was an amp, two pedals, a telecaster and some other guitar that he called using initials—I think) and came home with a Fender stratocaster* and a new amp.

And that’s about as far as my comprehension goes.

He proceeded to tell me all about the impressive features of his new set-up.

I tried. I tried. I tried to listen intently and display the enthusiasm that I realize I should have had at this one-of-a-kind, never-before-possessed, and will-never-find-again veritable expression of musical perfection and excellence.

Unfortunately, his soliloquy sounded more like Charlie Brown’s teacher (“wah-wah-wah wah-wah-wah”) to my gear-illiterate ears.

And then he played it for me.

Strum. Click, switch, strum, strum. Turn knob once. Strum. Click. Strum. Turn other knob.

“You hear that?” [Mumble, “grit,” mumble, mumble, “hair,” mumble, mumble, “dirt.”] “It’s so different from anything I’ve had before! And this is it! Mary, this is the tone that I’ve been searching all my life for. I’ve reached the pinnacle, the zenith of all that is musical goodness with this new set-up.”

As he finished speaking, angels began singing and beams of light burst through our windows. A soft white glow outlined his body, as he struck a pose similar to Scarlett’s in the “I’ll never be hungry again” scene from Gone With the Wind.

“Uh-hum.” I nodded. “Honey, it’s just wonderful.”

And I really did mean it in my ignorant I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-talking-about kind of way.

Things would be a lot easier if my husband had come with subtitles.

*Photo disclaimer: I have no idea if this is a picture of the actual guitar he got or not. I just found a picture of a white Fender strat, and it looks close enough to me, so I posted it.