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What Got You Playing and What Keeps You Playing Guitar?

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Posts: 4
New Member

I am 47 and my parents bought me my first guitar for Christmas when I was 5 years old. It was a cheap acoustic with a picture of Roy Rogers on it and I have no idea why they bought it as I had no interest in music at that age. To me it was just a toy that I played around with, but never learned to play anything on it. I only mention it as perhaps it somehow created an interest in guitars at an early age.

Then in my late teens I decided that I wanted to be a rock star and soon found out that I could not afford anything that was for sale at a music store. I ended up at a pawn shop and bought a cheap Les Paul copy and a small amp. I took it home, plugged everything in, and came to the abrupt realization that I did not even know how to tune the guitar, let alone play it

I went to a music store and bought a pitch pipe and a Mel Bay beginners book. I never did figure out how to properly tune a guitar using a pitch pipe and ended up guessing at it. The Mel Bay book was boring to me as I wanted to play Led Zeppelin, not what was in that book. It was probably a good beginners book, I was just too impatient to be bothered with it.

The strings on the guitar were way too high, but I didn't know anything about setups back then. Between that, my not being able to properly tune it, and that Mel Bay book, my interest in guitars lasted about a month until my frustration level reached the boiling point and I gave it up and sold everything.

Then in my early twenties I decided to try it again. I worked at a CB radio store and one of my regular customers owned a music store a block away. He sold me a decent guitar, an amp, an electronic tuner, and I took lessons once a week on my lunch break. I stuck with it for about six months, learned several chords, and how to play a couple of songs.

Unfortunately friends, girls, partying, and a growing interest in handgun target shooting got in the way of playing a guitar. Shooting guns and playing guitar both cost money and I was much better at target shooting, so the guitar was sold. At the time I was a reserve police officer and figured that being able to shoot well was more beneficial.

The next twenty five years was basically full of not enough time or money for hobbies like playing the guitar, but the thought was always in the back of my mind. In 1986 my main hobby became working on computers, which in 1991 lead to my current career as a computer technician. Computer equipment was expensive and there was no money left over for guitars. I even had to sell a few guns to help pay for the computer equipment.

In the past I either did not have the time, the patience, or the money to learn how to play the guitar. Then about four months ago I was sitting on the couch one Saturday afternoon, flipping through the TV channels with the remote, and stumbled across a Home Shopping Network segment where Esteban was selling some guitar that he was endorsing. I was not impressed with the guitar that he was selling, but it got me to thinking about taking up the guitar again.

I am divorced with no kids, and I have a whole lot more time, money, and patience then I had in the past. I thought about it for a few days, asked some questions in the alt.guitar.beginner Usenet newsgroup, and then went to Guitar Center just to see what was available. I ended up coming home with a Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus, a Marshall MG15DFX practice amp, an amp cable, an LCD guitar tuner, and a few beginner books. I also saw that darn Mel Bay book and decided against it.

I have spent the last three months teaching myself how to play chords, without muting the strings. So far I have learned about twenty, and just having fun learning how to play the guitar. I'm in no hurry and I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I spend 30 to 60 minutes a day practicing chords and when I get tired of that I just experiment to see what kind of sounds I can get out of the guitar and amp.

I have gone through eight guitars and four amps as I like to try out different ones at home. I kept the first guitar and amp and added a Gibson Les Paul Studio Vintage Mahogany with the worn brown finish, a Gibson Les Paul Special with the worn cherry finish, and a Line 6 Spider II 15 amp to my collection. I have only been at this for a little over three months and this GAS thing is already starting to become a problem. :D

Oh yeah, a month ago I bought another copy of that Mel Bay beginners book. It was a major contributor to my loosing the battle 25 years ago, but this time I am going to give it a chance.

Posted : 23/09/2005 4:01 am
Posts: 7833
Illustrious Member

All right, Esteban inspired somebody to play! :D

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Posted : 23/09/2005 1:04 pm
Posts: 4
New Member

All right, Esteban inspired somebody to play! :D

There is no way that I am giving Esteban credit for that. :shock:

Jimmy Page was the one who inspired me to play. Esteban just had an infomercial that motivated me to buy a guitar. :D

Posted : 23/09/2005 1:35 pm
Posts: 7833
Illustrious Member

So, it was a team effort between Jimmy Page and Esteban. :D

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Posted : 23/09/2005 5:39 pm
Posts: 110
Estimable Member

Thats a serious collection of guitars, for someone who isn't proficient. I felt bad buying myself a MIM strat after 1.5 years. Althought im sure they do make nice furniture.Good luck, and like all of us, i bet you wish u started sooner.

Posted : 23/09/2005 6:18 pm
Posts: 84
Estimable Member

I've been lurking for a couple of weeks posting only in the trivia forum so now I guess it's time to introduce myself.

My name is Raphael. Back in 1972 at age 11 I begged my mother to let me take guitar lessons. She agreed, but only if I did a year of piano first. I did and didn't enjoy it that much and quit after the year. But I had started playing the oboe in school and took 7 years of lessons and played through high school enjoying it very much. Except the making your own reeds part.

I stopped making music in college.

Then at 27 or 28 I decided to finally start playing the guitar. I got a Guild and found a teacher and played for a couple of years picking up a 1979 Fender Strat in the process.

But then came marriage, a child, a house in the suburbs and I stopped playing.

Last year I took up the banjo, but a lack of instructors in the area has made it something I pick up occasionally, but don't do too seriously.

Fast forward to 4 months ago and my daughter, at 11 no less, started guitar lessons. So I decided to start up again as well. Although I consider myself a beginner I am pleased at how much is coming back to me.

When I was growing up Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Pete Seeger, the Guthries, and Phil Ochs were on the phonograph quit a bit. Folk is my main influence as far as making music is concerned and the prime reason I wanted to play.

I'm working through Lou Manzi's Fingerstyle method books (still with the beginner book). I'm having an incredible blast with it. I'd recommend these books as they cover the technique in a very understandable way and also cover a variety of styles. I'm also doing flatpicking exercises and like to play some bluegrass, the sort of music in Richard Lieberson's Old-Time Fiddle Tunes for Guitar (the only book from my 80s lessons that I didn't give away).

Aside from the pure pleasure of making music again one of the things that I'm getting a huge kick out of is the way one's fingers (particularly on the left hand) learn to move into position for the next chord when at first it seemed an impossible or awkward stretch or lunge.

So I'm enjoying reading posts here and look forward to asking a question or, gasp, even having some input at some point.

(Sadly, my daughter didn't take to the guitar, but is continuing with the clarinet.)

Cheers all!

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. - A.J. Muste

Posted : 23/09/2005 7:37 pm
Posts: 686
Prominent Member

Wow, what great posts! Some of these could be screenplays!
I come from a musical family. My dad was a frustrated singer his entire life. He used to sing in church and in a glee club at work. One of my earliest memories is the club practising in our basement. Two of my older sisters played piano, so we would all gather round the piano and sing. When I was six or seven I took lessons for probably less than a year , but my parents didn't think I was serious enough so those stopped. At the time I thought it was quite unfair, but now at the ripe old age of 47, I have enough wisdom to see that with 9 kids, luxuries such as music lessons werent to be taken lightly. Fast forward to age 11. With the influence of my older sister's Beatle hysteria, and the heyday of the Monkees on TV( yeah, go ahead and laugh) all I wanted to do was play guitar. My friends and I used to play "band" in out basement with buckets for drums and tennis rackets for guitars. But everytime it was brought up, my parents kept going back to the wasted piano lessons. Then, miracle of miracles, they brought guitars into church! this would have been around 68 or 69 when all hell broke loose(pardon the pun) in the catholic church. But I convinced my dad that if I learned I sould play at the guitar mass. I remember my first guitar came from this warehouse store in town, and my mom bought it for about 15 bucks. I couldn't even tell you what brand it was, but I remember the action was high, but it came with a little "how to play" pamphlet that has one or 2 string chords to learn with. Basically g, c and d. By the time my dad came home from work that night, I was on my way through "she'll be comin round the mountain". I still never convinced them to pop for lessons, but over the years I just found chord books, and by the time I got to high school, found some friends to teach me a chord or two. I started writing songs almost immediately.
Playing, singing and writing is like therapy to me. It probably saved my sanity through a 15 year long bad marriage. Along the way, I met a friend of mine Michael, who happened to own the building we lived in. He has had a band for the last 25 years, and although he's a piano player, he plays a little gutiar and we would sit outside in the summer and jam. I always felt very self concious playing with him and others I considered "Professionals". He's also a bit of a perfectionist and was there with helpful advice that was not always appreciated.
Fast forward to 1999, when I met my current husband. He loves music of all kinds, and encouraged me right form the start. His mom told me recently that the first time she saw me play and watched John, and saw the way he looked at me , she knew he was seriously hooked.(Awww, aint that sweet?)My wedding gift was a Taylor 12 string.
Well after being married a year or two and settling into our home, I finally decidied it was time to take those lessons. To say the least I was terrified. I found some site called "find a" or something or other, and found a teacher just 3 or 4 blocks from my house. His profile indicated that he had a lot of older students either picking up the guitar for the first time, or who had played before and were starting again. I thought this might work, but was still afraid that he's tell my everything I had taught myself over the past 20 years was wrong. Turns out that teacher was GN's own David Hodge.
I only had 9 months or so with David before he left town, but I made some great new friends and Jam buddies from going to jams at his house. I also got to participate in the Riverside Jam the last 3 years which has been a blast.
As a side note, somthing I shared with David a year or so ago.
A year or so after I started taking lessons, I was with my friend Micheal, and I palyed a couple of tunes, and he turned to me and said" You have improved so much! You're doing fills, playing basslines, it's fantastic! I wouldn't want to follow you at an open mike". Thanks David! and for any of you that post asking "should I get a teacher?" There's your answer.

Falling in love is like learning to play the guitar; first you learn to follow the rules, then you learn to play with your heart.

Posted : 23/09/2005 9:47 pm
Posts: 596
Honorable Member

Thanks David! and for any of you that post asking "should I get a teacher?" There's your answer.

Now if we could just get David to let us clone him :twisted: :D

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- "WOW--What a Ride!"

Posted : 23/09/2005 10:28 pm
Posts: 4
New Member

So, it was a team effort between Jimmy Page and Esteban. :D

I had a feeling that I would live to regret mentioning Esteban. :oops:

Oh well what can I say, the guy sells guitars and he convinced me to buy one, just not one of his guitars. :lol:

Posted : 24/09/2005 2:38 am
Posts: 4
New Member

Thats a serious collection of guitars, for someone who isn't proficient. I felt bad buying myself a MIM strat after 1.5 years. Althought im sure they do make nice furniture.Good luck, and like all of us, i bet you wish u started sooner.

I'm not sure if you are replying to my post, but if so....

It's not that big of a collection, only three guitars and two amps, and none of them are furniture as they all get played every day. I will agree that it may be a bit much for someone who is not proficient, but I just happened to find a few guitars and amps that I really liked, at a good price, so I bought them.

No offense intended, but I spent many years living from paycheck to paycheck and not being able to afford alot of the things that I wanted. It took me a long time to get where I am and now that I can finally afford to indulge myself in something that I enjoy, I am not going to feel bad about it. I did start playing the guitar sooner, I just did not stick with it, and that is what I regret.

Posted : 24/09/2005 4:11 am
Posts: 4
Active Member

A certain lady got me to start, she doesn't even know I play right now o_O

Posted : 26/09/2005 2:23 am
Posts: 14
Active Member

It's great to read all these stories.

My dad has always been into music. When he was a young man he was a singer in a number of bands, though he stopped when he met my mom and started a family. But from the day I was born he would always have music playing in the house, and we would always listen to it together.

This was mid to late 80's, so we're talking bands like Journey, Chicago, Glass Tiger, Boston, Van Halen, all those guys. When I was like 5 years old he would bring me into record stores and ask me 'Hey Jason, what's playing on those speakers?'. "That's Journey dad!" And so forth, the people who worked there always got a kick out of it :)

And when I was that age my favorite was probably Bryan Adams. Growing up in Canada, he was the guy and I worshipped him. I had his poster up, I had a little toy guitar with his album cover taped over the soundhole (no wonder I sounded bad, lol) and I would just go nuts with it. To this day there are pictures in this house of me on halloween dressed as Bryan Adams, rocking out :)

Then for some reason or another, I went to school and became interested in other stuff, sports, and my interest in music kinda fell away.... I was listening to it of course but never really considering I could make it myself. Cut to me in college, with not much of a social life to speak of and plenty of free time :). My best friend who I'd known for years was really into music, plays guitar and drums, and his step dad has tons of guitars so I'd fool around with some of them, and a buddy from school had an acoustic he'd always play when our group would go to his dorm room to chill in between classes.

One day he went out and bought an electric, I came with, and I kinda just made my decision that I was gonna get involved too. I'd had enough of watching! I wanted in.

But not having a whole lot of money (being a student and all) I was gonna wait till I could afford one, but my parents knew I wanted to get into it so they surprised me on the morning of my graduation ceremy with a Fender Acoustic.

While I have the dream of getting onstage with a band and entertaining a bunch of people (and hope to do that someday), even just sitting in my room strumming an acoustic is an amazing feeling. Picking it up and playing, it just feels like something I'm supposed to be doing. Not in an obligatory sense, in a 'yep, this feels right' sense.

Kinda makes me wonder what it would have been like had my interest never waned as a tyke. Where would I be now? But whatever, in the present I stand as a 21 year old kid who knows a few chords and has dreams of musical collaborations dancing in his head.

Onward and upward!

Willow- Don't you have any ambitions?
Oz- Sure. E-flat diminish 9th.
Willow- Huh?
Oz- The E-flat, it's doable, but that diminish's a man's chord. You could lose a finger.
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Posted : 04/10/2005 7:04 pm
Posts: 5480
Illustrious Member

There's been a common theme in many of these wonderful stories. It seems many people waited and waited before they picked up the guitar. Some even regret it. Sports family raising, survival in this world and other interests all seem to get in the way. I had the same thing happen to me. Many things got in the way.

To be honest though, if I had picked one up 20 years ago, it would have been long gone by now. I would have lasted about a week before getting fed-up. It's a good thing I waited. I'm older, more patient and more willing to put in the time needed to learn this stuff. I'm just glad I do it now.

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

Posted : 04/10/2005 11:46 pm
Posts: 18
Eminent Member

I started playing guitar after I felt the connection between deep emotional states and chords. I guess when i started to "feel" music. Its then i knew i wanted to create it. Its just so easy to get lost in it and dwell in deep states of conciousness so focused on the task at hand...zen zen :twisted:

Live to play
Love to live
love to play 8p

Posted : 05/10/2005 12:02 am
Posts: 7833
Illustrious Member

That was zen. This is tao.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Posted : 05/10/2005 12:38 am
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