Angle Of The Dangle
PEEK AND POKE: dubious guitar history/strap height/input overstrain??? CLEAR SCREEN
Since it first crawled out of the primordial swamps and flopped helplessly across a shattered beach in search of a plectrum, the guitar has known the meaning of the word struggle.
It has fought long and hard to reach the pinnacle of evolution on which it aimlessly squats today. This is the story of the Ascent of Man or more accurately the Ascent of Man by a Guitar using only ropes, pitons and a year's supply of Bovril sandwiches. It starts now.
This was perhaps the darkest period in the guitar's history — a time of anguish, courage and incredibly painful wrist sprains. Many six strings settled here, eking out a living from barren outcrops of denim, telling their children of the brighter days to come when musicians would be much taller and they could travel to the fertile valleys around the belt and flies.
This precipitous existence drove many instruments mad, and in the early seventies a cult religion sprang up, convinced a promised land existed just over the caps. The predominant 'Brotherhood of the Flat Guitarist' pooh-poohed the theory, insisting the world ended at the patella and anyone foolish enough to lumber over the horizon would drop off the edge into what they called 'the Abyss of the Shin'.
Undeterred a party of guitars set out, stocked with enough strings to last them a Status Quo gig. They were never heard from again. But sometimes at night an eerie moan could be heard and strange lights appeared in the sky, though this was mostly put down to indigestion.
At the dawn of time, Guitarus Erectus roamed wild across the body of the musician. Days were long, hot and filled with solos. Tribes such as the Gibsonites and Fendericans lived together in peace until they noticed a terrible change in their environment.
It was the beginning of the dry ice age. Strange, wispy clouds rose across the knees, bringing with them a touch as cold as a booking agent's handshake. An exodus began as vast caravans of guitars trekked towards the warmer equatorial belts and the shifting tundra of the thigh.
During this time there were fierce battles between the clans, each desperate to survive. Evolution has shown that one hardy breed made it through — Guitarus Strummericus — but it is believed that several sub species died in the cold. Even now this still prompts players to go in search of the Missing Lead.
Many call this the Golden Age of the Guitar, an era of prosperity and creativity the like of which we may never again witness.
There were, of course, the occasional squabbles; complaints that the machine heads played their radios too loud at night or that the knobs never emptied their dustbins, but generally six strings lived their days in peace and tranquillity. Alas, as with all comfortable existences, the guitars began to question the meaning of it all. 'Why A flat minor,' they could be heard to say, 'why not the square root of F'. Eventually in an attempt to solve the question 'why are we here' a group of renegades took the only possible action — they went somewhere else.
This brave experiment would have worked but for two problems: a) this region of the body is very difficult to reach, and b) it's easy to fall off when you get there. After a long night on the neck juice one group became completely turned around and marched off towards the body's LEFT hip, a thoroughly inhospitable area rewarded only by views of the rear of the stage and the chance of discovering some loose change in a pocket.
Realising their error they elected to continue the journey, right across the back, so becoming the first guitars ever to circumnavigate the musician. Years later when returning home they amazed the authorities with tales of great amplifiers in the sky and were, much to their surprise, promptly locked up. After a brisk trial they were all found guilty of causing '48 months of bloody feedback' and ceremoniously dismantled.
Disillusioned, the guitars spurned materialism which actually has a quite different meaning in their language. The material they rejected was denim. They'd spent a complete history rubbing against Levi jeans, were frankly brassed off with the entire idea and yearned for the feel of a crisp poplin shirt under their backs.
The necessary rise in altitude sparked another Darwinian burst of evolution and as can be seen in this picture, the airholes expanded and the lungs grew in capacity to cope with the rarified atmosphere.
The unfortunate side effect was that they were at last able to see the musician had 'a Head'. Previously this had only been a wild theory as there was no positive evidence for its existence or, in many cases, it's purpose. This revelation traumatised the guitars and they became fatally fascinated with haircuts.
Surely there can be no question that the guitar must go on to the stars. Low orbits have already been achieved and full space exploration will follow.
Unhappily, it is true that the guitar will be going blind into the universe. No six-string has ever been able to peer through a telescope because it invariably trips over its strap while reaching for the focus. Radio Astronomy was abandoned at an early stage because of the slender likelihood of finding a planet actually inhabited by radios. As scientists, guitars have always been somewhat hampered by over literal thinking.
Yet it will happen. The only technical problem still remaining is the construction of a half million mile-long curly lead. Easy.