I have a 1962 Harmony Stratotone electric guitar. And I found out — at the worst possible time — that it sounds terrible.
This is a guitar that my dad found in the trash — it was in a foreclosed house his realty company had just bought. When I plugged it into my amp, I was shocked that it actually worked.
I use the term “worked” lightly.
Last year, some friends and I played a bunch of shows to raise money for my wife’s and my adoption fund (we’ve since adopted!).
But during one of those shows, I play this electric guitar, plugged into a Fender amp.
We started playing my song “Lunch Money,” but after a few bars, it was obvious something was way out of tune.
Something was terribly off.
That’s when, in the middle of the chorus, I realized the problem was my trash-to-treasure guitar. Apparently, it was still trash.
I stopped the song, quickly switched to my acoustic guitar, and started the song over. If I couldn’t bear to listen to it, neither could the audience.
(Fortunately, it was in a bar where not many people were paying much attention).
But my mistake started much earlier than this concert. It started during rehearsal.
You see, if I had practiced the right way, I would’ve realized, “Oh, crap, this guitar’s intonation is awful and I should borrow someone else’s.”
I learned that I should practice exactly the way I plan to play the concert. This means I should use the exact instruments, the same stage setup, and a similar amount of energy that I will during the show.
(I’ve read how many artists even plan out what they’ll say in between songs — the friendly banter they’ll have with the crowd or what they’ll say about their merch table).
So this is the lesson to take from this story: always practice exactly how you will play the concert.