The worst was when I was in college. I knew this woman, who has since been diagnosed as having a terminal case of Narcissist Personality Disorder, so she thought she was far better on the guitar than she was. But she always insisted we try to play. The problem was, not only wasn't she any good, but her guitar was tuned to itself and not any real key. But she kept saying I was out of key. There was no explaining to her that harmonicas are made in the right key. Harmonicas are like fish, you can tune a guitar, you can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.
That's why I have a twenty harmonica case. The harmonicas are made in the keys of A, Ab, B, Bb, C, D, E, Eb F, F# and G. They are made in more obscure keys as well, but these are the main ones. (I will spare you the boring details of why the harmonica plays four keys up than the guitar to play in cross harp. If the guitar is in E, I play A, if it is in A, I play a D, and so on. My personal favorite is when the guitar is in C, and I play an F harp. This is also known as the second position. There is a third position as well to make things really confusing)
A few gigs ago, my band the Railheads - not my band, I am a member - had a great gig at a private party. A beautiful ranch house out in San Marcos, great party, amazing local Mexican food and awesome margaritas. The crowd was great and danced and applauded through sunset and into the night. (I am saying gig too much, shout out to my gal Tina Fey)
But I had to go and curse it by thinking; "This gig is too good to be true."
No sooner had I thought that then, during a break, this slacker/skateboarder/rocker dude just rolls up shuffling along with his guitar case and a huge amp on a trolly/gurney. Without so much as saying a word to any of us, he proceeds to set up on the stage.
The hostess ran over and apologetically said to our band founder, the multi-talented Bill;
"Oh, that's my neighbor's kid, Josh. He asked if he could sit in and I said I would ask. But I didn't tell him he could."
Luckily for this jamoke, the Railheads, Bill, Chris, Steve, Bob, Murray, Luke and me, are about as nice at letting people sit in as any band I've played with. I've been on both sides of this and 90% of bands just say no. This Josh dude clearly didn't know this. If he did, he didn't care.
So we tried to feel him out to see what was what.
"So, Josh, what kind of music do you play?" Bill asked nicely.
"I'm in a band." Josh said as if we were stupid not to have known that, "We play pretty hard core stuff. Heavy metal and punk, but I can play your stuff too."
Oh goody, I said under my breath.
We told him what key the next song was in, A, but Josh didn't seem to care. This was not a good sign. It turns out he was right not to care because, not only did he play in the wrong key, his guitar was totally out of tune. And besides being out of tune and not in key, he was totally out of rhythm. And he didn't play the same notes, out of tune, rhythm and key regardless. And he was turned up way too loud.
But besides that, he was awesome.
The best part was he looked and acted like Pete Townsend at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. If you've ever wondered where those clueless people on "American Idol" come from, this guy was it. Not that we are U2 but at least we can play a freaking song.
It soon became apparent what the problem was; this Josh goof didn't know how to play the guitar. We were crying we were laughing so hard and he could not have cared less. He just whaled away rocking out all the while sounding like he was electrocuting a cat.
Our awesome Irish lead guitarist, Luke, was as nice as he could be. He tuned the guy's guitar and tried to show him the fingering of the chords. How did Josh respond?
"Dude, like I got my own style of playing."
At that I leaned over to our awesome drummer Chris and murmered;
"And by style do you mean sucking horribly?"
Chris was laughing so hard he was doubled over.
We never said anything to Josh. There was no point. We didn't want to hurt his feelings - if in fact that was possible - and it wouldn't have done any good. He really thought he was Eric freaking Clapton.