Saturday, May 11, 2013

What we didn't know already: girls dig guys with guitars

Tony Montana got it all wrong. "You gotta make the money first, then you get the power. And when you get the power, then you get the women," he opines in Scarface

Had he been better informed he could have gone straight to the home plate by acquiring a guitar (though a ukulele would better serve the line "Say hello to my little friend", hem hem...).

Anyway, a team of researchers at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in Brittany have discovered that ownership of a guitar seriously boosts a chap's chances with the ladies. The team sent a plucky 20-year-old actor into a Brittany shopping centre to chat up 300 women aged between 18 and 22. Nice work if you can get it.

The actor approached the first 100 targets holding a sports bag, the second 100 with a guitar case, and went up to the third 100 without any prop at all, just a line about how pretty they looked and would they fancy a date.

All of the women he approached with the case gave up phone numbers, 14% responded positively to charm alone, and only 9% took any interest from the sports bag. In your face, Fit Billy. One qualifying detail, however, is that the actor was, and I quote directly, "previously evaluated as having a high level of physical attractiveness".

This is where my 45-year-old carcass, coupled with my Eric Clapton-signature Fender Stratocaster, may not generate quite the same results. Even wearing a T-shirt with ROCK GOD emblazoned across the stretched chest.

Between the ages of 11 and 13, I lugged a Spanish guitar to and from school every Wednesday. At lunchtime I would put up with my guitar tutor, a useless tool who spent each lesson noisily consuming the nutritious school lunch of sausage, baked beans and chips, while my stubby fingers tried to appropriate something which would, eventually, sound like Segovia on a bad day.

With alarming clarity, I recall that on no particular Wednesday did any women throw themselves at me out of carnal lust. Which is just as well, as it would have been illegal, and we'd have all ended up in in the Daily Mail.

In fact, in 36 years of unblemished guitar ownership, neither guitar or even guitar case have generated anything resembling frisky intent. I've walked through airports carrying guitars and the most recognition ever received was either a request for directions or the look of someone clearly thinking - and on one occasion, actually saying - "Who does that twat think he is?".

David Brent - the exception to the rule
It is clearly me. Because the Brittany research, which was led by a Professor Nicholas Guegen, (whose previous work includes discovering that waitresses can earn better tips if they wear red) and published in Psychology of Music, is borne out by at least five decades of plank-spanking rock gods who - bar a few weirdos interested in learning obscure finger-picking techniques - have routinely declared that they took up the guitar to meet women.

The author, photographed in Israel.
Included in this post by pure coincidence.
A magazine cuttings library could have spared Guegen's team the effort. In fact, his research comes just a year after the Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv universities in Israel jointly conducted a similarly indicative study, in which 100 single women were sent friend requests for Facebook along with the slightly creepy message "Hey, what's up? I like your photo".

Quite why it took two universities to do this is beyond me, but the salient outcome was that three times more women responded to Guitar Dude than Mr. Hands Free.

So now we know what we already suspected: girls dig guys with guitars. What we didn't, perhaps, fully appreciate, is that - according to the Brittany research team - playing a musical instrument is regarded as an indication of intelligence, the ability to learn new skills, and a sign of independent interests. Furthermore, say the researchers, years of rock stars prancing about with guitars have led women to associate a guitar with wealth, status and success.

I would, however, challenge anyone to put this to the test with a kazoo, violin and - sorry, Mumford boys - a banjo. On the other hand, show up with a guitar, saxophone or blues harmonica, or a flute if you're Ron Burgundy, and, well, fill-yer-boots.

So, while there are clearly more valuable academic interests to pursue - like curing cancer for a start - the research does at least put some quantification on what has sent decades of horny teenage boys to guitar shops on a Saturday to hammer out the opening riff of Smoke On The Water or the jangly bit from Stairway To Heaven.

Again, though, it didn't really require such exhaustive studying, though hats off to the mall actor for a job well done. As Cosmopolitan blogger Rose Surnow pointed out this week: "Why do you think all these amazing babes date John Mayer? Because he’s super nice? It’s because he strums an instrument and literally sings, 'Your body is a wonderland'." Surnow's thesis was that guitar-girl attraction had nothing to do with brains but that "we associate guitars with hot bodies, long hair, and a bad attitude."

So, if you don't already own a guitar, it being a Saturday, why not visit your local axe shop, push all those pimply specks out of the way, and audition your own Les Paul, Telecaster or Strat. Once you've found something you like, you will be able to learn one of the ten songs below which, according to Guitar World, will make an instant impression on the opposite sex*.
  1. More Than Words - Extreme
  2. Crash - Dave Matthews Band
  3. Melissa - Allman Brothers Band (you'll know it as the Top Gear theme tune)
  4. Just Like Heaven - The Cure
  5. Name - Goo Goo Dolls
  6. Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
  7. You And Me - Lifehouse
  8. Baby I Love Your Way - Peter Frampton
  9. Your Body Is A Wonderland - John Mayer
  10. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You - Led Zeppelin
*This author, the publishers and editorial staff of Guitar World, and the artists listed cannot be held responsible for any failure in the use of aforementioned songs in the procurement of female company.

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