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Smashing a guitar is a really stupid idea
This is never, repeat, never a good idea. You have alternatives.
Ever since I started playing guitar I've always run into that guy who "wants a guitar just to smash" at some local show because he thinks it will be cool.
Nope. Not cool. Never was and never will be. You can't smash a guitar at a gig for two reasons. First, the owner of the place will want to have a nice little chat with you about how you're going to pay for his damaged floor. Second, the owner will want to have a chat with you about fixing the ceiling too, because you forgot how high a guitar goes in the air when raised above your head.
But let's just say you were at a place where the ceiling was high and you could damage the floor and not care. This is what could potentially happen:
- Strings upon breaking will snap back right in your face. You've heard the joke "Don't do that, you can poke an eye out." Well, guess what? Not a joke here. A steel wire flung toward your face really can do that.
- Piece of wood can break off, tear right through your shirt or jeans and lacerate you.
- Piece of wood can break off, go flying and injure anyone near you.
- Your shoulder and/or back will get thrown out. Even if you're 18 and in the best shape of your life, doesn't matter. Once you swing that guitar over your head, you suddenly realize that uh-oh, gravity exists. And it's pulling your arms and twisting your back the wrong way. Bet you didn't think 8 pounds could mess you up that bad, right? Well, it can.
There's more bad stuff that can happen, but you get the idea.
Since some of you would ask, this is how to set up a electric prop guitar to break:
- Must have a bolt-on neck so you can purposely have the neck slightly loose for a cleaner break on impact.
- Two strings installed only. Low E and A. That's it.
- Two tuners installed only, E and A.
- One pickup installed.
- No potentiometers installed at all, meaning no volume or tone controls. Wire the guitar's pickup to be direct-to-output.
- Hardtail only. No vibrato/tremolo system because those springs will go flying, which would be bad.
- Back of the guitar has finish shaved off so you can see where the body pieces connect.
- Cut break points halfway deep into the body at the back of the guitar where the body connect areas are.
If all goes well, that prop guitar will make for a clean smash on the first hit.
What happens if you don't prep a guitar as a prop to smash? Any one of the bad things I mentioned above.
But there's one other bad thing that can happen:
It won't break.
Attempting to smash a guitar only to have it not come apart no matter how hard you drive it into the floor is really embarrassing. Oh sure, you'll drive it to the ground maybe 4 or 5 times before you get too tired to do it again. Everyone is looking at you waiting for that big finish, but it's just not happening.
If you want that guitar to break the right way the first time, you must prep it to do so, else you roll the dice and lose.
Safer alternative to guitar smashing
The easiest of the easy to get people's attention without smashing a guitar is to simply make stuff light up. You can do this without any modifications whatsoever.
Here are a few stupidly easy ways to light up the guitar and/or yourself.
Above is a 6-pack of light-up bracelets. They can stay on with a solid light, slow flash or fast flash. Wrap some of these around your wrist and/or the headstock of the guitar and/or your guitar strap and it will get attention. Cheap, easy and effective.
There's also one that's a bit more expensive (not by much) that claims ultra-bright luminosity and has an 80-hour battery life.
This is a flexible light strip. It's really cheap and you can do a lot with it. Outline the body of your guitar, outline your amplifier cabinet, line the inside of a bass drum, wrap it around a microphone stand, etc. Like I said, you can do a lot with this cheap and very bright light strip.
The really nice part is that it barely generates any heat and is safe to the touch when in use. It can also be cut to length too! There are points along the strip where every 3 lights has a cutting mark (you can see it in the image above) that allows for safe shortening of the strip without having to solder/resolder.
Another nice part: It's self-adhesive. As in the peel-and-stick kind. Doesn't get any easier.
The only downside is that is does require this power adapter as it can't run on batteries. But even so, the adapter is cheap and worth it.
This 7-pack of LED lanyards is similar to the bracelets. Then can illuminate solid, slow flash or fast flash.
For some of you, these may be easier to deal with. Easy to put around the neck, on the headstock of any guitar or guitar strap, and so on.
What's the best part about lighting stuff up over smashing?
Easy answer: Reusable.
Once a guitar is smashed, it's not like you can put it back together again. Or even if you could, the guitar will never play correctly.
Light-up stuff however can be used again and again and again. It's cheap, easy to use, easy to install.. it's really a no-brainer.
Do dopey lights work to get attention? Yes. They always have, and always will.
Published 2018 Aug 13
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