Fuzzy distortion and fat clean channels. Think of a Fender 40 watt amp cranked just enough to where the sound barely starts to crackle.

Guitar players can spend a ridiculous amount of time with their “sound”. It’s admittedly obnoxious at times: a new dual channel amp, a couple of pedals with the phrase “true bypass” slathered throughout their promotional materials. I’ve been just as guilty of it as anyone else; at one point I had the equivalent of $3,000 worth of equipment when I was in a band. Consider the fact that we played fucking instrumental music (or post-rock, if you wanna call it that) and you can see how much of a wise investment that was. But chasing that tone was therapeutic in a lot of ways. We were deep into Dubya’s second term in office, I was two years away from graduating with a BA working two part-time jobs, and had seen my family life and my own long term relationship fall apart at the same time. Personally my life was shit, but the one thing that I had going for me was this music thing that I’d always done. We played local shows and were part of the “indie” scene, I guess, but everyone in the band genuinely liked each other.

I was breaking out of my shell: for years I’d have trouble talking to anyone outside of my circle of 8 friends. Suddenly my chubby ass was on a stage with 5 other greasy motherfuckers swinging sticks, guitars, bows, keys, and other shit around. I had pedals. I had amps. I had another guitar player who was as obsessed as me about tone. Late nights post practice at his place: sitting at a table listening to music and not saying a word to each other for an hour. All you’d hear was the occasional lighter, a beer opening, and whatever was blasting through his speakers. There were louder friend nights too, and this is where I would go to get some relief from the shittiness that was my early/mid twenties (or the “quarter-life crisis”, as my friend Micajah called it). They were all great nights: I made new friends, we drank and drank. Camaraderie filtered through liquor bottles, beer cans, and cigarette smoke. But even when the house was packed with friends and strangers, we’d still make time to go to the back room and search for sound. Twisting those knobs, flicking those switches from 50 watts to 10. Forever chasing tone.

That search has since been put on temporary hiatus, but I still posses vestiges of that time: I’ve got one pedal, one guitar, and a small amp. I’m holding on for the day that I can reclaim that feeling andthat tone.

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