I’m not a particularly amazing guitarist. I’m not horrible, but I was never going to be a virtuoso. But that never stopped me from shredding until my fingers bled.
I’ve picked up and put down numerous guitars over the years, and even a bass guitar every now and then. I knew I was never going to be the next Eddie Van Halen or Slash, but I still loved the feeling of a guitar slung over my shoulder. Just an artist’s comfort zone, I suppose.
I’ve indeed had nights where I play a riff over and over until I can’t feel my fingers anymore—just the tingle of what it feels like when you can feel the numbness coming on. Many days I’d find the tops of my strumming-hand fingers rubbed raw from hitting the strings on the downstroke. Some nights the skin was so raw and red that they bled a bit.
Perhaps some could say that my technique is faulty and that I’m doing myself a disservice, but in the end I love the feeling of that tingle when I put the guitar down. I love the struggle—the battle—to come out on top, even if I take some hits along the way. In some pseudo-masochistic way, I consider those raw fingers and numb hands the cost of being a part of the music fold. That’s the cost of being so drawn to something, you couldn’t walk away if you wanted to. Like a moth to a flame, those little cuts are the burnt edges of my wings.
I love the feeling of the calluses and the slightly metallic scent on my fingers after. Sometimes it’s not the worst thing in the world when your fingers bleed. On some nights, after you’ve struggled and fought through a song until you hear it right, it just feels right.