Five tips from a Valentine’s Day veteran

You love all things guitar. Your significant other, not so much. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’d thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned from years of marriage on how to make life with a musician tolerable for your significant other.

1. Sound travels.
Yeah, this is obvious. But there’s another thing to remember: when you’re practicing, the sound isn’t so pleasant, especially to the non-musical. If you are practicing, try to do so in a manner in which no one can hear you. Wear headphones or save your practice time for when the house is empty.

2. Play songs that please
You are only be interested in learning music you like. After all, it is your hobby, right? Why should you learn to play anything else? Because your better half wants to enjoy your hobby too. The way to get them involved is to learn a song that they love and play it for them. But remember tip #1. Do not let them hear you practice it. When you’ve learned it, then perform it for them. This is especially true for songs that are near and dear to your significant other’s heart. The last thing you want to do is ruin the song for them forever because you played it terribly 1,000 times in a row while you were working out the kinks. Don’t let them hear you practice. When you are ready, invite them to listen to the finished product.

3. Stay tidy
Guitars and their gear are beautiful things, am I right? Wrong. It is likely that your significant other is not a fan of black tolex boxes or oddly shaped pieces of wood with wires strung across them. To us, they are amps and guitars. To them, they are eyesores. And don’t get me started on guitar cables. Keep your guitar, amp and gear out of sight as much as possible. If they must be on display, treat them that way: a display. Hang your guitar on a nice wall hanger above your amp. Put your cables away after you are done with them. Or best yet, designate a room to be the music room and do whatever you want, knowing that your better half doesn’t have to look at it.

4. Avoid getting gas
No, we’re not talking about what happens to your lower intestine the day after eating Mexican food. We’re talking about G.A.S.: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Every couple handles their money differently, so I won’t give advice on that here. But trust me, if you come home with a $3,5oo Paul Reed Smith guitar without talking to your significant other first, you’ll be in trouble.

5. Guitar stores = worst place in the world
Never, ever utter this sentence: “Hey sweetie. Can we stop by the guitar store on our way home?” If you want to find a place on Earth that has multiple simultaneous examples of all of the sins listed above, it would be the guitar store. Brain melting sound from all directions? Check. Five people playing five different songs, none of which are your significant other’s personal favorites? Check. Guitar, amp and cable clutter as far as the eye can see? Check. Lot’s of temptations to buy that $2,000 Marshall amp you’ve always wanted. Check. You might as well say “Hey sweetie, can we hang out in a hoarder’s home and listen to five different radio stations at the same time.” ‘Cause that’s what it’s like if you’re not a guitar player.

Instead, just drive on past the guitar store, go to your significant other’s favorite restaurant, have a nice meal and pretend the thought never occurred to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Rather, the sentence you should say is “Hey sweetie. Can we drive past the guitar store and straight home so that we may keep our relationship intact?” That’ll be much safer.

For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit

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