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How and when did you learn?


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My defining moment was at 13 years of age, while attending a Blind Faith concert in Phoenix, Az. Still dunno how or why my folks allowed my younger brother and myself to go, as they were normally strict and oppressive. Maybe they wanted to get rid of us for a few hours.


Prior to the concert, I wanted to be a drummer. Ginger was my idol, and I still regard him as the best ever. But a drum set wasn't gonna happen, and a cheap P.O.S. acoustic was already there.


Ginger actually stole the show, looking like a blurry octopus behind that kit. EC stood like a wooden statue most of the time, seeming distracted and not really into being there, like he still does in a lot of shows, but the crowd went insane. Amazing how an icon can hit 2 notes of a solo, pause, and bask in a swell of cheers and applause from adoring fans. Happens all the time. Some will even take a bow after those 2 notes!


Anyway, what EC was doing looked a lot easier to learn to emulate than what Ginger was doing, and the crowd made a much bigger fuss over him. Not that his playing wasn't amazing to a 13 year old - it was, but there was no otherworldly showmanship like Ginger's. I watched EC and thought - that looks do-able. I watched Ginger and thought - no f*ckin' way I'll ever do that!


They naturally closed the show with "Sunshine of your Love", which I went home and figured out the bass line for that night, in about 5 minutes, all on one string.

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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I grew up seeing my dads bands but wasn't really interested in playing guitar. That was his thing. People respected my dad and I could understand why, hes very talented. I picked up the guitar at 14. I had a teacher I respected, he was legally blind and a jazz drummer. He asked if I would help him with his bands gear for the school talent show. I watched from behind the curtain as he aand his band played some really diverse music and was very apreciative of thier talent. The crowd was indifferent. Next a longhaird student band cranked out some really basic grunge rock and every girl in school went ape shit. I began sneaking my dad's guitar out every chance I got and signed up for a guitar class at school the next semester. I gave the instructor 2 weeks of rapt attention but she wasn't interested in guitar students, most of the time she talked on the phone. I began teaching myself, ignoring the silly book and squigly musical notation, and found that I really enjoyed it. I began going to school early each day to play before classes began. I failed the class but became a guitar player.
Live long and prosper unless it is a good day to die.
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I always liked music and went through piano lessons as a kid. As a young teenager I started playing the drums and a year later decided that I'd rather be in the front of the band playing guitar.


There were the older guys on my block who played guitars, etc and had various bands going on. Of course they were cool and I wanted to be also, so I hung around with them.


I started playing guitar on my own, learning a little from the older guys but most from a couple of beginner books. My Pop saw that I had a genuine interest and offered to send me for lessons at the local music store. The lessons lasted for about a year. During my High School days I jammed with lots of other players and was in a couple of bands. Everything was hard rock at the time... Deep Purple, Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Stones, etc. My fuzz and wah pedals got a big workout!!!

"Spend all day doing nothing

But we sure do it well" - Huck Johns from 'Oh Yeah'

Click to Listen to Oh yeah

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When I was in middle school I started playing the drums. My dad took me and bought me a Ludwig snare drum and I joined band. My mother almost divorced him over it. Apparently I was a pretty obnoxious drummer. Then I decided I wanted to play guitar instead because I figured my mother would let me practice more if she couldn't actually hear it if I was in my bedroom. So, my dad took me and traded the Ludwig snare drum for a used acoustic steel string guitar. I don't remember the brand name...maybe a Stella or something like that. It was actually a halfway decent guitar. Then, when I was in junior high school...about 14 years old or so, we moved into a house where our next door neighbors were classical musicians. The wife was a concert cellist and the husband was a classical guitarist (a pretty accomplished one, too). So, he had an extra student model classical guitar laying around and one day he gave it to me and offered me free lessons...which I READILY accepted. That lasted about a year IIRC. Then unfortunately, the police caught him driving around town in his brand, spanking new Corvair naked as a jaybird, so they took him to jail. Then they found out that he was involved in several burglaries where he stole women's underwear or broke in and stood over their bed and did things that normal people probably wouldn't usually do, and various other deviant things...so I never saw him again. I did find out that his wife is still playing cello for the same Symphony Orchestra...she has to be 85 years old by now.


Anyhooo...back to the subject...my dad decided that I was pretty serious about learning so he paid for lessons for me for a while and that got me started.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton




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I thought it would be cool to learn, ever since watching Elvis movies as a real young kid...but when I saw the Beatles, I knew I had to learn some instrument, guitar, bass, or drums. I took some piano lessons as a kid, but, as they were the usual structured lessons, I did okay, but didn't tear it up. I got a little 1/2 sized acoustic for like my 8th birthday...but I didn't know how to tune it, so I'd just play on one string. I'd put pieces of scotch tape on the strings over the fret where it was so I could remember how to play something. My cousin Ann finally showed me the 5th fret tuning method...but being under 10 years old, forgot about it, couldn't remember "was it the third fret? One with a dot on it?"


Finally, when I was about 13...I went to a picnic at Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ontario...there was a guy with a guitar there. I bugged the crap out of him 'til he showed me how to tune it and a couple of chords.


Primarily self-taught after that.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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I grew up in a musical environment. My mother played several instruments & came from a family with long country/folk traditions & my father played some keyboards & had, interestingly, completly different musical background, seated in claasical, etc.

I grew up with the expectation that music was just a natural part of daily life & cannot even remember when I first held a stringed instrument.

That said, R&B & early rock were really influential on my Mum (though my Dad found it laughable) & I heard doowop bands, 50s rockers, etc., from before I went to school.


My real education came later, however, when I began to try to figure out what made music tick, mostly influenced by Beach Boys & Beatles, who both really did some new stuff as far as the harmonic treatment of pop music (well, if you ignore the history of jazz ;) ).


FWIW, I can offer a direct list of my greatest musical influences, which interestingly enough directly lead to one another & seemed to peak as creators just as the next came along:

Beatles > Hendrix > Captain Beefheart > Parliament/Funkadelic/George Clinton&Bootsy Collins...by which time my "hero" days were over.

At a certain point I began to examine the "schooled" elements of music & backtrack, learning theory & older musics, both classical (somewhat) & jazz (while everyone else was screaming over fusion I was listening to Lang & Armstrong---to me a 7-string guitar means George Van Eps)), as well as expanding into areas of other cultures (I love gamelan music!).

I think a mark of real musicianship is the realization that one is never done learning.


[edited for typos, only]

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My Mom taught piano, and of course I took lessons, but it never took. I still don't like piano to this day. I gave guitar a go in my teens but grew up on a farm and there wasn't any instructors or like minded kids in the vicinty so it died a slow death.


I've been working like a hound ever since, and my job had me living in bush camps and travelling the four corners of the earth so all those normal things like hobbies and friends were lost on me. Finally in my thirties I landed a job that provides a normal home life and alot of free time, or time at home on call, so I took up the guitar again. Settled with a good salary, I was able to get myself some good equipment, a good instructor, and buy all the blues I can get my hands on. Hoooked up with some like minded guys, got some regular jams going...all is right with the world. :)

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I used to listen to rap/hip-hop that my cousins had gotten me on to until I was 13 and someone introduced me to Linkin Park. I had no interest in their guitar work whatsoever. Then, in high school I saw tons of guys out at lunch with guitars. It was actually the first time I'd seen a guitar played that I can remember. At the same time, my younger sister was learning violin. I played off her violin book for two weeks until I decided I wanted to play something different to complement her violin playing. I called my uncles and it turned out three of them had guitars in the attic (all acoustic). I borrowed on, got on the internet, checked out "Guitar for Dummies" and tore into the thing without knowing what the word "chord" meant and the desire to play something kickass.


That was four years ago I think and... This is where I am now. No formal lessons. I'm taking a basic piano class now which at least teaches how to read music. And eventually I plan to learn as many instruments as I can before I die...

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In the fifth grade i joined the school band playing saxophone, alto. I think the only reason i picked that was because my cousin played it. I think i hung on to that for 2.5 to 3 years and just lost interest. Another thing i picked up from my cousin was the smashing pumpkins. They were my favorite band and on one of there cd's they have a piano piece call "mellon collie and the infinite sadness"(cd name as well). So maybe it was that, that leaned me towards learning piano. Or trying to anyhow, never had any lessons but i can usually play whatver i need to, have trouble gettin past playin anything more than chords for the bass hand though. SO after piano died down i got into guitar. The same cousin had gotten one before me and i played his alot so i figured why not. This was probably around 7 or 8th grade (about 5 years ago) and from there thats what ive been doin. Still play piano though. I picked up reading music from band with the saxophone, but other than that im self taught.
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Originally posted by Tedster:

How old they were.

10. Originally, got the Gibson Guitar Method (with cassette) by mail after getting a cheap acoustic guitar in 1972, I think. But it wasn't until I was 13 (in 1975) that I started to take guitar lessons.



Originally posted by Tedster:

What made them want to learn.

After a period of forgetting the guitar, I saw Johnny Winter on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and was the first time I *saw* a guitarist really rip.

Then, I saw Ritchie Blackmore on California Jam.

Deep Purple's "Machine Head" (the song Lazy) was when I got serious about really learning to play.



Originally posted by Tedster:

Who taught them.

This guy....probably the greatest guitarist I've ever heard. Grew up with Pat Martino and hung out with Joe Pass every now and then.


Robert Conti

A Jazz/Chord Melody Master-my former instructor www.robertconti.com


(FKA GuitarPlayerSoCal)

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My dad had a guitar. He made a bet with a guy at work that he could learn to play a song on the guitar faster than the other guy, who was taking lessons, had an expensive guitar, etc. My dad bought a $30 guitar from Sears (this was in 1973), tuned it to an open C chord, learned some cowboy songs and won the bet. Anyway, in 1974, after several tries at piano lessons, I gave up and started plunking on my dad's guitar, got a Mel Bay book and started learning chords. I was primarily inspired by Pete Townshend at first, after getting some Who albums and seeing the "Tommy" movie. My dad got tired of my tuning his guitar to standard tuning and got me my own for Christmas.


I'm pretty much self-taught, unfortunately. Where I grew up there were two guitar teachers, and one was an alcoholic jazzer who hated rock. I got a lot of what I learned from Guitar Player Magazine and from hanging out with other guitarists and asking "How'd you do that?"


It was a really sloppy way of learning. If I had it to do all over again, I would learn to read music fluently, but otherwise I think I have no regrets.

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I saw a movie featuring The Animals, and they played "House Of The Rising Sun". I was mesmerized by the guitar part from the first note. I just had to learn how to make that noise. I talked my parents into buying me a $17 Sears Silvertone acoustic, whihc sat around my house for a few years. Then I found a kid who knew how to play "House of The Rising Sun", and 3 months later, I culd play it right without having to stop after every chord to move my fingers. Then I learned another song, and after that another, and another, etc and so on. Then I started learning songs from records, and began learning lead breaks and such. From there, I just kept going.

I never learned to read notation very much. By the time I felt a need, I had already formed a concept of music based more on my ear than my eyes, and learning notation was like starting over at the beginning. Besides, none of the people I worked with knew how to read either, so there wasn't any real need to do it. It has been more important to be able to play music than read it, for me anyway. Nothing against those who can, but it has been a different path for me.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.




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My step-father introduced me to guitar when I was 9. He had an Espana (made in Finland) nylon string acoustic, and taught me and my older brother basic notes and open chords. He also taught me my first song, "Under the Double Eagle". (Everything was thumb plucked, hahaha!)


The Espana has a wide neck and really far string spacing, so he bought my brother and I our own acoustics. Mine was 3/4-sized, or at least smaller than normal. Fit my hands better at the time.


My brother taught me barre chords that he learned from taking lessons. I've never had private lessons for guitar (although I've had some for bass). I learned to read from the school band (trombone & tuba), and from self-study.


What made me want to learn? I was always copying whatever my brother did. Sometimes this annoyed him to no end, although I think he really did like teaching me new things. I didn't like competing with him, though (he was 4 years older), so when I was introduced to bass at 11 I took that up instead.


I had a second defining moment more recently, partly from these forums. For the longest time I didn't have a 6-string, and now I have 5. I bought my Ovation a year or two ago but the other 4 were gifts, including the Espana and my brother's acoustic and Magnum LP copy. In order to make more interesting song demos, I've gotten more serious about guitar and am learning all the tricks now beyond the basics. Of course, I find myself sounding a lot like the guitar player I played bass with from '85-'04; a lot of Zep and blues/rock influence.

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My first stab at learning to play guitar happened when I was six, the Beatle/British invasion was in full swing. Because I was so little, the instructor started me on a bass ukelele. It wasn't long before I gave it up.


Then, at 45 years old, (two years ago), my wife had had enough of me saying how I would really like to learn to play and did something about it, getting me a guitar and amp for Christmas. I haven't stopped playing since, learning on my own, and having a great time.

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When I was 8, I began group folk guitar lessons given by our city's parks and recreations organization.


About a year later, I began working through Mel Bay's 7 part guitar method series.


A few years of doing this (all on the acoustic), I discovered Led Zeppelin. I was hooked on electric guitar from that point.


In my high school years, I butchered Van Halen tunes along with the rest of my peers. In addition to that though, I was learning theory, sight-reading, and jazz guitar whether by myself or with the guidance of teachers.

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Originally posted by Tedster:

Everyone has a defining moment when they began to learn guitar. How old they were, what made them want to learn, who taught them, that sort of stuff.


So, tell it!

I was 6 years old and my dad bought a Kay acoustic from a coworker for $5. He played a little and he taught me Wildwood Flower and Steel Guitar Rag and some others. I played with the guitar on my lap like a dobro and fretted the notes the the thumb on my left hand. Fortunately, I gave up that technique. I don't play enough for my dad. The last time he heard me really play was 25 years ago. Time is short.
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Let me say that this is a great thread, the posts on it are all great!


When I was about four, I was fascinated by a scene in a Western on TV that showed this guy by a campfire in Mexican cowboy get-up playing moody faux-flamenco guitar. I was very into the speedy way he played so fast; I wanted to be the fastest guitar player in the world after that! Think "Speedy Gonzales" going through my young mind, not the typical fast rock guitar-hero think, I was completely unaware of that sort of thing! (It was '69 or '70, though, afterall.)


Unfortuneately, the first time I got my hands on a "real" guitar a few years later, it was an incredibly bad warped-war-club-necked Kay with cheese-cutter action and black-and-green corroded heavy-gauge strings and tiny, rough, sharp-edged frets, and a HUGE sheet-metal logo badge covering much of the headstock, that rattled and buzzed... I was so utterly discouraged, I had no idea that this wasn't an example of how most good guitars were, I just thought that I'd NEVER, EVER be able to play guitar...


I didn't get back to it until I was about thirteen, when, as I was a very hyperactive hard-rock and metal loving skinny little headbanger with the longest hair for three or four grades and a love of ripped-out denim, a friend of mine (who fit a similar description) decided that it was a simple fact that I WAS to be the lead-guitarist in our semi-imaginary band that was undoubtedly going to take over the world before we could legally drink; it didn't matter that I didn't know how to play yet... :D:cool: He loaned me a nameless, old cheapo Asian-made electric guitar (like you see in "ugly guitar"-threads) that his folks had bought him, thinking they were getting him the bass that he wanted; later, I bought an even worse used piece of driftwood with a whammy onnitt for myself, to the tune of $27.85 (it was what I had on me, mostly begged from my Mom)...


I took three lessons from a guy in the back-room of a record store, and learned exactly four chords and a few vague fakes that sort of reminded one of famous guitar riffs... sort of...


I wound up sticking with guitar over the years, though I never took any real lessons (big mistake looking back, but, hey, I also might not have developed some of the better, if quirky, points of my personal playing "style"). It's been a long, @$$-backwards way of fumbling along in the dark for me! :D


My friend, that got me into playing guitar when we were kids, has got little kids now; they're my buds and a light in my life, and love to play on my guitars and an electronic drumset that their Dad has scored for 'em. His little girl wants to one day have a black and pink Flying-V bass, and her older brother wants to play drums and guitar, and they've got big plans to form bands with their cousins- a girl's band, a boy's band, and a big all of 'em band, so's to speak... :cool:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?


~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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OH MY GOD - Play Guitar with the VENTURES! Me too!


I was fortunate that I had musical parents. I got a couple of years of piano lessons when I was 6 or so. Then in 5th grade, I started cello lessons at school (1962 I think). I then switched to viola and continued to play the classical strings all the way through college.


However, 1964 brought the Beatles, The Beach Boys, etc. and I began to realize that viola players were not going to get the girls, so I talked my dad into buying me a POS Kay electric at a Montgomery Wards closeout sale for $20. I got to run it through the hifi. I learned 3 chords and was suddenly in my 1st band at 12. We played all three of the Play Guitar with the Ventures tunes!


I didn't get any girls from playing guitar (until I was 44!), but found out that I could play better than my friends and maybe more importantly, I understood what I was doing.

"It's better to wear out than to rust out!"
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I started piano at eight years old if I remember right. My mom was a classically trained pianist at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, University of Chicago. My mom didn't help me until I was older though, I had a regular teacher until about eleven years old. I also played B flat Cornet,French Horn, Field Horn. At about age thirteen I heard a blues guitar player named Louisiana Red on a station out of Chicago, we could pick up a clear channel station in the Detroit area. When I heard Red I knew I had to try to play blues. I started fretted instruments on the uke and graduated to guitar shortly after. I took guitr lessons and used my training on the other instruments to help me along on guitar.
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This is an interesting topic. Intriguing to know how you all got yourselves started, some very young. I'm an older starter. I worked on keyboard when I was in high school and started to minor in music in college and took all the theory I could suck up, but piano just didn't grab me enough and I let life move me off playing a musical instrument. Then a few short years ago, I bought my daughter a starter guitar/amp set and a Hal Leonard method book. She worked through it but got bored and put her guitar in the corner. I started fiddling around with it and just got hooked. I needed a healthy habit anyway. Now I can't stand to go a day without picking up a guitar for a least a few minutes. My love of theory has not left me. I really get into how theory relates to the fretboard and can't seem to learn a song without dissecting it and playing it in different inversions and changing up the intervals and messing around with it. I wonder if I'll ever learn a song the way that it was actually transcribed. It's an endless and vast realm of learning. What fun! :thu:



Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Back in '84 My friend, Conan Green, lived in the neighborhood and I would watch him play power chords along w/AC-DC, Iron Maiden. This was when I was about 13 before playing, but I wound up getting an acoustic from somewhere(?), and I would just tune the thing however and pick any note or string arbitrarily (maybe I should revisit this).


A few months leading up to when I would start really playing, there was a dude just about to graduate highschool named Carl Wagoner (still gigs in Key West) who was wailing all the angus stuff, Schenker, EVH, Frank Marino, etc . . .


He was listening to SRV's Tin Pan Alley, and I was absolutely floored and said "That's it, I've gotta start playing". Other stuff he listened to which was really inspiring was Al Di Meola's Tour De Force Live (ouch !!).


Any way, a guy named Jeff Baker wound up showing me open chords, Power Chords and tunes with them.

He showed me pentatonic lix, pull off/legato playing , chromatics w/pents, string bends, the tap riff to Eruption and the tune structure to Crazy Train.

After some months, I copped the Crazy Train solo by ear off of the tape, and he said "You scare me".


Another Guy, Glenn Whitehead showed me some funk riffs advocated alternate picking style.


This was all when i was going on 14 years old. After that, I just played on my own for about three years and wound up going to Five Towns College in LI, New York to study Jazz in

'88 after highschool

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All my life, I wanted to play the drums. Unfortunately (and, to some people, understandably), my parents were against my choice of a musical instrument, so it wasn't until I could afford to buy a kit myself when I was around 21 that I start playing; my brother started on guitar about the same time. As I slooooooowly started to improve on drums, I decided that, after I reached a certain amount of competency on drums, I would also take up guitar.


I eventually drummed in a few half-assed bands and, while I had fun, much of the time I was thinking, "I wish I could make more musically specific suggestions for chord changes and arrangements than 'I think it should be higher and go weedly-weedly.'"


Sometime in my early 30s, when I had a little cash coming in I decided it was time and, with my brother's guidance, I plunked down $200 for a used Alvarez acoustic, which collected more than a little dust until my wife asked, "Are you ever going to learn how to play that thing?"


Well, 10 years further down the road, I don't know if I've learned yet, but I play somewhat better than I did. I'll never be the second coming of Hendrix, but I don't care. If I can beat on my guitar, have fun doing it, and produce a sound that somebody actually recognizes as at least part of a song, I'm happy.


And I still love playing the drums.

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I started as a trumpet player at 10 and played it through high school. Never was very good at it, but I learned how to read music and follow a conductor, sort of....


My parents were always playing jazz and classical records, so that sound was in my ear from the start. And I still remember an orchestral concert from age 9 or so where they played Sibelius "Swan of Tuonela" with the cello and English horn - an epiphany of sorts - I still love the sound of those instruments!


At 15 I took up guitar, took some lessons and jammed with other kids starting out - blues scale stuff and simple tunes off records. Later took jazz lessons.


One year I went to UTEP in El Paso and took jazz and classical guitar classes. I miss those days!


For years it was mostly strumming guitar at home Bible fellowships, but in recent years have played in bands with good musicians. Right now I'm between bands and crawling the walls.. like a young widow!


At least mandolin lessons give me SOME relief!


How do spell relief......? (No dirty jokes, please!)


Do you guys think "Young Widows" would be a good name for a band?

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