One of many reasons for my starting to play the guitar was to impress girls. Yes, I know it’s shallow but I was 14, and most things I did involved attempts to impress girls in some way. However, it turns out just buying a Squier Strat and leaving it in your bedroom isn’t quite enough. And then if you do get to the point that someone’s actually watching you play, it’s not really enough to go through your stretching exercises and chord practice. So I’ve compiled these two handy lists to help you impress the guy or girl of your dreams.
How to Impress Girls
1. Make sure she knows
If you’re going to impress someone with your guitar, they have to know you play. Seems obvious, but this was a mistake I made for quite a while when I first started playing. I just assumed that it would come up in conversation, or that someone would ask. You have to be more proactive than that.
I suggest starting with something subtle – drumming your fretting hand fingers on the table to create the distinctive “click” that calluses make, or “accidentally” dropping some picks when you get some change from your pocket. If that doesn’t work, start moving up the scale until you get to the point where you’re basically carrying your guitar with you everywhere you go.
2. Don’t play an electric unplugged
Again, this is from personal experience. If you get out your gleaming, sexy Strat or Les Paul on a bus or in a bar and start playing it unplugged, you will soon find yourself alone. The disappointment is huge when you see an instrument you associate with rock and roll, and then the sound that comes from it is like an acoustic guitar three rooms away. A lot of people actually don’t realise how different electric guitars sound unplugged – they’re expecting perhaps a quiet version of the plugged-in sound. That anaemic plinking is NOT attractive and can be a permanent turn-off.
3. Be able to play a song
Other guitarists might be impressed with little riffs and solos you’ve learned (incidentally, if the girl in question is a guitarist, you’re on your own). But if you find yourself in the situation where you need to play something for a girl, it needs to be a song. You have to show the emotional connection between yourself and your instrument. Doesn’t need to be hard, you just need to be able to play it. If you can sing then even better, but be aware that if your singing is bad then your guitar playing will sound bad too. Ideally this will be a song that would sound good on unaccompanied acoustic – something like Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, or something by James Taylor.
4. Don’t let her watch you practice
Should be obvious really. You want to come across as an artist – not a weird nerd. No girl I have ever met would enjoy watching me play the same 30 notes, several hundred times, while my phone makes an annoyingly loud clicking sound that’s getting almost imperceptibly faster every few minutes. The results of this, however, are worth busting out.
5. Be on stage
This is pretty much the nuclear strike of lady-impressing tactics. Once you’re up there on a stage, it doesn’t matter if the guitar’s out of tune, if you can’t play, if you’re ugly, or if your dress sense sucks. I don’t know what it is, but once you’ve been on display in front of a room full of ladies, it seems that every single one wants to be “the one” who gets to buy you your first post-gig beer. If you can do this one, you probably don’t have to bother with any of the others.
Needless to say, in my years of playing, I have failed on almost all of the above counts. And in fact, my wife once said that if she’d known how good at guitar I was, it would have been much easier for me to convince her to go out with me. So please make better use of this wisdom than I have.
How to Impress Guys
Now to address the other side of the equation. Trying to impress a boy with your guitar requires a whole different set of rules – mainly due to the fact that guys’ brains are somewhat less sophisticated. So without further ado, here’s a list of ways to impress us with your guitar.
1. Have a guitar
Yeah, this is a good one. Just having a guitar is already enough to make most guys think you are pretty high up the cool scale. Doesn’t matter what it is, doesn’t matter if you can play it particularly well. It should have all its strings though and be pretty much in tune – without these two factors you look like you’ve got it to look cool – which might be true, but we don’t want him to know that, do we?
2. Know About Gear
This is a good one. If you can talk about your guitar, your amp, your pickups, your string gauge and so on, then you’ve shifted another level above everyone else. We all claim to be musicians, so how come every guitar-related forum on the internet has pages and pages of men talking about the minutiae of their gear, down to what kind of solder they use – but only one place where people talk about playing or upload clips – and it’s the quietest page on the forum? So get reading (perhaps start with the Guitar Wiring Diploma Course) and get ready to stun the gearheads with your knowledge of capacitor values and speaker types.
3. Have a Riff Repertoire
In the section on how to impress girls, I stressed the importance of being able to play an entire song. The opposite is true when you’re trying to impress guys. You want to be able to run through about 30 different intros, riffs and solos in 5 minutes, ideally. Try to touch on as many genres as you can, but keep it rock focused to be safe. I recommend starting with the main riff from Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” and finishing off with the solo from Beat It.
4. Know Nothing About Gear
Wait, what? That’s right, this one’s the opposite of number 2. It’s a risky maneuvre but when played well it can be extremely effective. The key thing is that you can only do this in conjunction with number 5. If you don’t know what guitar or amp you’ve got when asked, and you keep your guitar under the bed with no case, you can get immense respect by following up with…
5. Be Really Good
This is the one that’s most impressive to everyone, period – but to guys of a guitar-y persuasion it’s a massive turn-on. Actually knowing your way around the instrument and being able to bust out some intricate fingerpicking, or shredding, or a storming riff, is very, very cool. Unfortunately, this one requires quite a lot of work – but the work pays off to to you personally as well. There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to play something you couldn’t play a month ago. In fact, why bother trying to impress anyone at all when you can get that rush?
I hope this helps at least some of you towards either impressing someone or impressing yourself. What impresses you about a guitarist? Have you ever succeeded (or amusingly failed) in changing someone’s opinion of you in a positive way through your guitar playing? How did it go?