It was a big errand day. Lots of running around. But, there are only two stops that matter for the purpose of this blog.

1. Barnes and Noble

The purpose of the B&N trip was to find something good to get my feet wet on music theory, as I mentioned in last night’s post.  I was hoping to really be able to dig through a handful of books, pick something that I felt good about.  That’s not exactly what happened.

First of all, I couldn’t even FIND the music section. When I went up to the information desk to ask, I foolishly asked, “Music?” and the woman told me “No, we don’t have any.”

Naturally, I looked at her, aghast. “You have NO books on music?”

“Oh, BOOKS about music.”

Inner me: ‘Yes, books about music, you dimwit, this IS a bookstore.’

Outer me: “Yes, books.”

Her: “Like biographies?”

Me: “Like books about the study of music.”

Well, this was going AWESOME so far.  The music section of the store was one shelf against the far wall, 80% of which was filled up with musician biographies.  The bottom 2 shelves were all the study books they had to cover the ENTIRE SPAN OF MUSIC LEARNING. Ugh.  I should have taken a picture. The music section has apparently dwindled away to a size as pitiable as the poetry section in Barnes and Noble, which makes me wonder what the heck they’re even selling there. It can’t ALL be Twilight, 50 Shades, and self-help! It just CAN’T. As a certified bookworm, I refuse to believe it.

In any case, that really made my choice pretty easy. I plunked myself down on the floor where I could see the titles more clearly, and the only two that seemed to be in the right direction were “Bass Guitar for Dummies” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory”.  I flipped through both a bit, but in the end decided on the latter (for now).  My choice was pretty straight-forward, really.  While I may very well want to pick up the Bass for Dummies book later, it looks like there’s a good amount of overlap with Guitar for Dummies, which I already have.  Flipping through the ‘Complete Idiot’s Guide…’ the first thing I saw was a nice guide to reading music, which was really high on my list of requirements, and very nearly the first thing the book discusses.  It was also $5 cheaper, and lacking any STRONG inclinations to one over the other, knowing that I’d seen both books high on a list of best books on music theory for beginner bassists that I’d read online a few days earlier, I figured it would be hard to go wrong either way.  So I saved my $5 for now and got the latter.

IMAG1189
With any luck, I’ll be able to follow it all.

I’m happy with what I ended up with and think it was probably the right choice for me right now, but I’m really not happy about the lack of selection.  I don’t really expect a massive Music section in the bookstore, but I thought I would have 4 or 5 books to flip through, at least, not two.  And the woman, who works in a bookstore, but automatically assumed I was looking for CDs or something needs to get her brain checked. 😦

2.  Sam Ash Music

I honestly thought, when I decided to have some father/daughter time on errand day, that we’d end up at Guitar Center. I knew there was one somewhere near his house, but he decided instead to take a trip into Edison, where he had to go anyway.  Apparently, Sam Ash is next door to his favorite vape shop. So, we went our separate ways in the parking lot, and I was told to ‘take my time’.

I chose not to, because I feel like it would be a special kind of torture to browse a lot of stuff I can’t have. That’s what the internet is for, anyway. 😀

Man, going into a music superstore has a totally different feel than a small music shop. I’ve never been in a larger store. In my area, there is only one small shop, slightly larger than a closet. I like it, but walking into Sam Ash and finding the guitar strings left me totally overwhelmed. I think my eyes may have glazed over a bit, because one of the clerks came over to help me right away.

I got so used to my little shop, where all the strings are behind the counter, and he asks you what kind of guitar you have, and makes a recommendation out of the three or four varieties of strings he carries for that sort of instrument. But, of course, a superstore has way more options than that, so I stood in front of that wall, reading all the brands and going ‘hmm…’ for a minute before someone came over and helped talk me through it.

It was a pretty good experience overall. I don’t remember half of what different strings he pointed out, but I did get some good information that I didn’t know about acoustic string gauges.  Again, I don’t remember the details really, but he told me what was average, what most guitars were set up with, and while I can’t grab that information to tell to someone else, I think (see: hope) that next time I go string shopping, I’ll remember it when it’s right in front of my face.

I told the guy that I was a newbie. That I knew my acoustic had martin strings on it, but that I had no idea which ones, but that whatever they were sounded good. So, in the end he suggested the Martin Lifespan SP strings.  They weren’t the one’s he recommended initially – he was gearing me toward a multi-pack of the regular sort (that apparently come with a tshirt), but somewhere in the conversation I said, ‘whatever it was set up with, I like them – they sound good’, at which point he pulled the Lifespan’s off the rack and said “well, that’s what matters.”

Next up, I told him I also needed bass strings, “because I’m learning both at the same time, like a crazy person,” I joked. He answered, “well, that’s the path we choose.” I like this guy.

He geared me straight to D’Addario Regular Lights, which are what I go for on the guitar most of the time. I told him a little bit about what I liked on the guitar, and mentioned I liked the D’Addario and the Ernie Ball, but the latter only once worn in.  He explained why he preferred D’Addario briefly (and I forget…because I admit my newbie brain was spinning a little, just trying to process how many options there were), and pointed out a few others that were also good. I forget which ones, but I know he said “My bassist likes these (something in an orange or yellow box that I forget the name of, but remember he called “66’s”.), but he’s a HUGE Who fan. They’re pretty good, but have that sort of vibe.”

All good on strings for now. Yay!
All good on strings for now. Yay!

So, now I get to learn how to change my bass strings for the first time.  The acoustic I’ll wait on. The strings it’s got on it are still fine, but with guitar I’m finding it’s important to have a spare on hand. Maybe I’ll try the non-lifespan sort next time, when I’m good and ready to buy a multi-pack.

Another thing I learned from my trip to Sam Ash: wearing a band hoodie is like having a secret handshake.  I have what my friends and family lovingly refer to as “bitch resting face”. We’ll call it BRF for short. My features are naturally turned slightly down, so my neutral expression tends to come off as grumpy. When I’m walking around casually thinking, or not particularly thinking anything at all, people tend to tell me to smile, or tell me ‘it’s not that bad!’  I’m weirdly unapproachable because of it. Bad genes, I guess. BUT, my Alkaline Trio hoodie apparently trumps that. The other store clerk took one look at me and went, “I love that band! Alkaline Trio is great!”  My BRF no longer mattered for that one moment of my life, and it was kind of awesome. Clearly, I need to wear band gear more often.  It gives you something to bond over with perfect strangers. I told him that I saw them live last year, and they were awesome. (Was it longer than that? I don’t remember! I have to check my tour tee for the date! lol. Either way, they WERE awesome.)

In any case, as much as I love my local shop, the better selection means that I might, potentially, make the special trip (about a 30 minute drive) to shop there from time to time.  I’m sure if I don’t buy that bass amp I need to get soon(ish) online, they’re going to have some selection, where my local shop may only have one that will be appropriate for my needs. Even if they don’t have selection, as a chain, they’re almost bound to offer store pickup on online orders.

It was a good trip, overall.  I haven’t had the chance yet to dip into the theory book, but I’m sure it’ll give me something to talk about when I do.

In a vaguely guitar-related purchase (and I DO mean vaguely), I also got a new computer chair. Mine was falling to tatters, with the “leather” (see: plastic), peeling off the seat, the padding so exposed I was sitting on a pillow, and the arms beat to hell from banging against the desk in my very small computing space.  We needed to stop at Office Depot for a dad errand, and it turns out they were having a going out of business sale, so I got the floor model on a new chair -without arms (yay!).  Why was I set on my next computer chair not having arms? I should think that would be obvious: more space for a guitar. 😀

This is going to be so much more comfortable than practicing sitting on the bed, and better for my posture.

As far as the pillow I was sitting on, I’m apparently not allowed to get rid of it – my cat has claimed it as his new bed.

Until Next Time, have some reading to do, that will hopefully take the ‘complete’ off of my idiot status. 

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