Gear as Inspiration

Sometimes, all you need to defeat writer’s block is a little push…
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While I was struggling through my early formative years as a guitarist and songwriter, battling writer’s block seemed to be a constant pain in the brain. I’d hit one of those plateaus in my technique and/or musical knowledge, and I’d just sit on my bed, holding a guitar and strumming through little nothings that never evolved into the foundations of songs. Super frustrating. Confidence completely tanked.

What saved me back then was a little green box—the BOSS PH-1 Phaser.

I didn’t have a lot of experience with effects around 1977-78, so plugging into this green machine unlocked all kinds of creative possibilities. New chord progressions and riffs suddenly started flowing from my imagination, and all because of the simple fact that the PH-1 made my basic creative fumbling sound more mysterious, unique, and really f**king cool. Sometimes, all you need to defeat writer’s block is a little push…

Waning inspiration can affect anyone from time to time—whatever your skill level—so if you’re bedeviled by stalled creativity, pick up an unfamiliar guitar (or other instrument), mess around with effects parameters instead of slavishly accepting factory presets, and dive fearlessly into processing you’d never consider as artful (that “flanged ping-ponging reverse delayed reverb from Venus” might actually trigger a great riff).

Almost every time that I’ve sat staring at my frozen hands on a fretboard, a piece of gear has shown me a path forward. Give it a try…