Why is there always some goon with a guitar?

I’m in the middle of a round-the-world trip at the moment, and feel compelled to ask… WHY at any given “budget” hostel is there always some dickhead with a guitar, playing Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix appallingly badly?

This puzzles me for a number of reasons:

  1. It must be a royal PITA lugging a guitar round with you for weeks or months. I get annoyed enough with one smallish rucksack and a small daybag.

  2. Do they think people will say to themselves, “Wow, that guy can almost play ‘Layla’. There’s a fellow I’d really like to get to know better.”

  3. Do they think it will help them, uh huh huh, pick up chicks?

  4. Do they realise the extent to which it annoys people that are sitting in the same public area as them, trying to have a conversation or listen to other music that might be playing, or, heaven forbid, enjoy the f^cking silence that lured them out of the big city to the opposite side of the world in the first place?

  5. Should this be in the BBQ Pit?

Can anyone shed any light on this please? Has anyone here actually been guilty of this? Did they regret it? And if by the remotest chance the guy who was murdering ‘Californication’ last night here in Kaikoura NZ ever reads this, I hope your G-string snaps and hits you in the eye.

And I bet they are from Vermont or Colorado.

  1. yeah, seems that way.

  2. ever think that th other people’s music/conversation/requests for silence inconvenience them? it is a *public[/] space and as long as they are not plugged into an amp screeching loudly, then suck it up. Staying in a hostel is all about community, not 5 star Ritz accomodation. If you expect to be respected, then give some back.

  3. They may. Or they may really enjoy playing guitar no matter what their proficiency. Whatever their reasoning, it is their choice to make. Because you do not wish to play is no reason to generalize and insult them all.

  4. See 3. Again there is a COMMUNITY aspect to hostels. I’m sure that playing a guitar is jsut as effective as saying hello in alot of situations. Playing might annoy you, but I think you are being a bit anal here, IMHO.

  5. YOU might consider it a PITA, but they do not since it is obviously a passion for them to be willing to carry one with them. Sometimes when you cant afford to go out all the time and are on a shoestring budget it is nice to have something to enjoy as a backup. A lot of great times were had by myself and countless others when there was a serendipitous jam session.

IMHO (for now, this will go to the Pit I am sure) you need to re-assess how you like to travel. Want peace, privacy, different social surroundings when you travel, then pony up the bucks and leave these free spirits alone. It sounds to me like YOU are the one out of polace in a hostel. Not the other way around.

#3 , #3 aaaaaand #3. It would seem to work, from what I’ve seen.

There were always those guitar goons in the stairwells of the college dorms too. Made fun of by Animal House and Matt Groening.

" Do they think it will help them, uh huh huh, pick up chicks?"

Yup. According to Jimmy Buffett’s book A Pirate Looks At Fifty, Jimmy had never tried to play a guitar or sing. Then when he started college at Auburn University, he want to a frat party and an ugly guy with bad complexion was getting all the girls because he was playing a guitar.

Jimmy taught himself to play in order to get chicks and the rest, as they say, is history.

Hey, I’m all for community spirit and meeting people… it’s just that the guitar-wielders seem to be screaming out “Hey, look at me, aren’t I just so artistic and spiritual?”

Not to mention the fact that many of them can’t play. (No, neither can I, in fact I play the drums, but I don’t feel the need to inflict it on others.)

Dreadlocks and “ethnic” clothing have the same effect on me, I’m afraid. Off-the-peg individualism.

May I ask why? Because without an explanation all I can see is unsubstantiated intolerance on your part to those that do not conform to the White collar societal norms. And I am sure that you don’t mean to come off sounding so bigoted and closeminded.

I’ve no experience with hostels, but at high school there were always at least three (out of a pool of five or so) guys who brought their guitars to school constantly. They would usually play them in the hallway during lunchtime, or in the actual commons area. Many gave impromptu performances as a result, and a couple even went as far as to busk, laying their open case in front of them in the usual manner. They were just about average in ability, making for a rather checkered record as far as “aural aesthetics”, for want of a better phrase. I can’t really speak badly, however, because I was the guy who brought his drumsticks and practice pad. My reasons weren’t for any of the above motives (although I would give “demos” upon request); I just wanted more practice, and the dull periods in between class and lunch were a great opportunity. Perhaps some may have the same idea, but I feel your pain as far as wanting silence.

Oh YEAH! I did that - two months through Europe with an ancient guitar back in high school. A passing truck knocked it down while I was hitchhiking and broke the neck…fortunately for me (hahahah) I was able to reglue it and continued to murder Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead songs on the rest of the trip. Too bad you weren’t in the hostel, I carried pennywhistles too.

Not all musicians are born perfect, some have to actually practice. Some even become famous and still sound terrible. But you have to practice, and sometimes that means taking your act on the road, and seeing what others think of your sound. Yes, not only does it help with chicks, but all kinds of interesting people enroute, some who wouldn’t even give you the time of day if you only had a small rucksack.

So your time at the “hostile” was marred by cacophonics, what will you think in a few years if that musician becomes famous?..that “I remember when I saw him play back in 2002…”

PS…Connecticut. Get over it.

Wow. Overreaction on my part. Sorry. I need coffee I think. So scratch the “bigoted” inferences. My bad and I apologize. However, I stand by the closeminded comment.

It’s not just hostels either. A friend of mine has a teenage son who thinks he’s some kind of virtuoso. He’s not. (Hint: There are other ways to play the guitar besides strumming the same four chords over and over again, in the same rhythm for every measure, and LOUD.) But he feels that any space that he occupies will be much improved if he’s playing. It’s not. He either slaughters other people’s songs or (the horror) plays original stuff that reeks. He’s at the age where he thinks every emotion he has is brand-new, never experienced by anyone else, and oh-so-profound.

Last summer a mutual friend had a birthday party for her daughter in the park. I came early to help set up and brought, among other things, a CD player and some discs I’d promised to play for her. We were putting out food, yakking, and enjoying the music, when Putz and his friend showed up, BOTH with guitars. They parked their butts on the picnic table and started playing their horrid crap* over the top of the music we had been listening to, right in the middle of the group. Unfortunately, since this kid is Other Friend’s son, and Birthday Friend thinks this kid is great, it would have been even more disruptive for me to say anything. ARRRRGH Thank God they eventually gave it up so the grownups could enjoy some REAL music.

  • Yes, I know the difference between a style of music I just don’t care for, but played well, and musical garbage. Trust me, it was that second one.

OK, I know you took back the bigoted part, and reading this maybe I do come across as a bit of an asshole… but what gets my goat is the people that, as soon as they go off travelling, get their hair braided, grow a goatee, chuck out their clothes and buy some kind of - usually inappropriate - rip-off ethnic clothing, just cos it’s “what you do when you’re travelling”.

I know, I know, they’re not doing me any harm… just one of those things.

I have a friend who is a very accomplished guitarist. He had a Martin acoustic worth several thousand dollars stolen from his home. What most infuriated him was the thought that one of these guys had his guitar. On Saturday nights he’d look wistfully off in the distance and mutter “At a party somewhere, someone is butchering songs on my guitar.”

OK… fair enough that you feel that way. I myself see some people and wonder “What are you THINKING by wearing that?” But I catch myself. Because I was one of those travellers at one point. And I became the fantastic person I am today because of my journey of self discovery. (insert masterbation joke here) Everyone has a different path to follow, and this is a big reason why alot of young people travel, let their hair down so to speak and live for the first time in their lives without any constraints.

Now back to the OP… A musical instrument opens alot of doors for some people too shy to open them in other ways.

Oh… the fantastic person comment refers to the life changing metamorphisis I went through while travelling. I wasn’t the most socially adjusted kid before I left, and I came back self confident, aware of who I was, and a better person for it. If only I had a guitar then I might even be famous now :wink:

As I think back on it, I can’t remember ever once bumping into a guitar player in a hostel. Kinda odd I suppose. At any rate, I’ve found that beer tends to make the little annoyances of the road a lot easier to deal with (which may explain my spotty memories of hostel life). Have a few pints and move on to a new country.

Also, for what it’s worth, try a different travel guide (or better yet abandonithe guide altogether). I’ve found that when travelling, the social circle you see is in some part determined by where you get your recommendations from.

Good advice, Coileán. Hell, after a few pints I’ll probably be grabbing that there geetar and having a strum myself (I’m feeling a lot less grouchy now…)

I just want to complement you on your Beavis and Butthead laugh; I’ve never seen it typed so precisely!

When I was travelling the hostels in Italy, I didn’t lug a guitar around, but I did pull out my cards just about every night to do a magic show. It was always a great icebreaker, and people remembered me. (I ran into some of them in other cities, and they’d say, “Hey, it’s the doctor who does magic!”)

I have been known to inflict my beer-fueled guitar renderings on unsuspecting partygoers in the past, but I’ve had few complaints; when I’ve shown up to parties without my acoustic, I’m often asked where it is, and more than once I’ve been taken to retrieve it.

Like nearly every endeavor undertaken by men, the primary purpose is, in fact, to meet women.

Well, I can’t speak for hostels, but there’s one in our coffee lounge! He’s not even a physicist, so what he was doing there is anyone’s guess, apart from playing the guitar really really badly. Until our senior tutor came along and told him to shut the heck up!