OK, this is ABOUT!
Here is the short version of my guitar and musical personal history. I received my first guitar around the age of 5 or 6, it was a real guitar from memory but just smaller than a normal sized acoustic. I didn’t show any interest in it and had nothing musical going on at that point. My Dad was a Muso playing for a local, nationally competitive brass band at the time so music was gonna come at me one way or another.
I received another acoustic guitar a few years later and showed a little more interest. I actually got my hands on it this time and figured out some very basic stuff like a couple of chords, but it didn’t last long and once again I let it go.
I went through primary school and high school learning other instruments like piano, trumpet, baritone, and saxophone, not because I actually wanted to but because it was part of the music program at my schools. You couldn’t learn music without applying it to an instrument so I had a few different options over the years.
It wasn’t until I was out of high school and visiting with a cousin when I was bitten by the “I have to play that” bug. He had a very nice Sunburst Fender Strat and a cheaper Les Paul copy for me to play with. He had a 2×12 valve combo amp in the 50-watt vicinity (it may have been a half-stack) and a few effect pedals like distortion or Overdrive, Delay, and a Chorus. It was absolutely glorious to experience first hand- I just marveled at the sounds coming out of that amp and how easy my cousin made it look. I was inspired, and I had to learn how to play that very night.
Like all newbs, that night I learnt the infamous minor pentatonic scale. My cousin taught me a riff – one of his originals that I still remember today – and I was killing it. No, really, I was absolutely killing it dead, like most beginners do when they don’t know what they’re doing.
I was able to grasp a few chord shapes while thinking to myself – “I need a guitar so I can make my playing sound like what my cousin is doing.” I may not have continued if my cousin didn’t offer to lend me his Les Paul copy. So with no more than a billionth of second spent on deciding, I grabbed it and left with it.
Shortly after borrowing my cousins guitar I moved interstate. Once I had settled in, I got to know one of the guys who worked at the local music store because I had been making regular visits to get things like picks, leads, strings, effect pedals, and oh, an amplifier. He had a couple of friends that were a guitarist and a drummer so we used to hang out and jam a lot.
I bought my first electric guitar from that music shop, a Black Stratocaster Squire with a maple fretboard. I thought it sounded great but in reality it sounded at best – average. I never named it like some people do, but it was my first electric guitar and it served me well.
I don’t have any working photo’s of it but I decided to pull it apart a couple of years ago to see if I could salvage it. There was considerable fret ware and it had already received one re-fret in its lifetime, but I think it needs another one. The nut was in bad shape, and the middle and bridge pickups were still originals. It didn’t seem worth the cost ($500+) to get it re-fretted just for the sake of prosperity.
Anyway, when I was stripping it down I got a pic of the body and the fret ware. Notice how rusted the bridge was, the frets were also that colour before I rubbed them down with 0000 steel wool.
I moved back to my home state and returned my cousins Les Paul copy to him and jammed with him like I wanted to the first night he introduced me to his rig. I used that black Squier for years and years, it was a great 1st guitar.
I continued to find other guitar players in every job I had. We’d catch up and jam and it became an enjoyable hobby and a way to relax. I did take some lessons from some memorable teachers, and some not so memorable ones. The tuition kind of kept me going but I didn’t have any real goal in mind, I honestly hadn’t given it that much thought.
I auditioned at TAFE for a Certificate IV in Commercial Music Performance course but was declined. Shortly before the new year started someone on their list pulled out and I was next on the list so I got a spot. That was a great course, I learnt a lot of theory, a lot of jazz standards, and had to remember a lot of scales and chords. I was still flying by the seat of my pants in terms of soloing and although some stuff was specifically structured for key changes and scale changes, I was mostly navigating scales by ear rather than thinking about chord tones or strong resolution points.
You might expect I’d come out of a course like that with ample knowledge to control and manipulate musical theory and extend that to an audience through the practical application of my chosen instrument, right? Umm, no, that’s not what happened.
Instead I spent most of my years stuck in the rut of pentatonic scales and not really advancing past that. With so many YouTube instructors out there now days, I found one that kept reinforcing what I thought were good ideas over and over again and I signed up for access to his course material. That guys name was David Walliman. He opened up a lot of what I already knew but presented it in a way that made me truly get it. His explanation of intervals and how their interaction with one another makes us feel something as human beings was a huge eye opener for me, and I’ll never forget it.
From that point on I found myself trying new adaptations of improvising. Going outside the pentatonic rut finding new ways to communicate with the musical language. I’m pretty much still there now.
I did however find TrueFire.com through David. And they are a resource I wish I had as a beginner. They have great content and great prices considering what you get, and I’d recommend checking them out to any guitarist if they haven’t already. I actually had to stop Davids course after getting onto TrueFire because at my practice rate, buying a few courses means I’ll have enough material to last for the rest of my life.
That pretty much sums up where I’m at now. I have an appreciation for melody and my goal is to communicate an emotive feeling through vocal-like expression on guitar. Sometimes being a guitarist gets in the way of that, but my goal is to find a balance between exquisite melodic lines and psychotic guitarist note-chunder.
Welcome to my world.
It is what it is.