Its all in the fingers, or is it?

Moderators: Slowy, Capt. Black

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BY Molly
How did you get your guitar playing underway? Just interested. Here's mine.

In '75 I heard Bohemian Rhapsody and decided that being a guitar hero was for me. This roughly coincided with my brother giving me an acoustic (which I painted white with a red devil and flames). He taught me the opening melody to Nana Mouskouri's 'Never on a Sunday' (odd first thing to learn, eh?). My dad used to keep it in tune for me. He'd sit in the kitchen at night playing country songs though I don't think he ever taught me anything. He just strummed open chords without ever really knowing their names.

I bought two sets of books. One called something like Learn Rock Guitar and the other The Complete Guitarist. I got more from the latter and learned some fingerpicking etc. from that. The library helped with the rest until I hooked up with mates in my mid-teens and started picking up stuff from them. One particular mate had a great ear and he taught me, to my utter disbelief, how easy stuff like 'Country Girl' by Sabbath was. Same mate introduced me to Van Halen (who I thought was sloppy... LOL). Heard Randy Rhoads in my first factory job from the tape player of the guy working next to me. Crazy Train. It wasn't long after Randy had died. I thought he was much more precise. Like a Swiss watch with his precise picking on Diary of a Madman and triple tracking etc. That and subsequently Vai served as main influences until I heard SRV when I was about 19.

A few bands playing originals and the seemingly inevitable rock-cabaret bollocks was about as far as it got. Anyway, I'm technically no better (possibly worse) today than I was then. Pretty limited repertoire if I'm honest but still think I need a back-up guitar for when I break a string at my next big gig...
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BY Single coil
Hassled mum for an acoustic. Somehow it worked.
Managed to get through a super beginner spec book whilst learning chords.
Eventually discovered green day and blink 182 and played most of their basic repertoire for 800 years - learned a fair sense of rhythm and notes on E and A from that.
It all just got outta control from there really, as I started with the rhythm part and added flasher shit as I got on.
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BY codedog
When my bro and I were little'uns... I think around 12ish... mum got us classical guitars and lessons. In my vague memory it was short lived (less than a dozen lessons) and the tutor was pretty useless. All in all it was a waste of time. I recall being sad when I accidentally dropped the guitar and broke the neck.

Fast forward to '95... I was in the US to visit my sister and stayed with my cousins. Saw an ad in the paper that their neighbour a couple of doors down had an Ibanez with Floyd going for a good price. I can't even recall what model it was, let alone features other than having FR trem, hard case, and cheap. It didn't cost me anything to fly it back to NZ. Can't recall playing it much either... sold it when I needed money to fix the car.

For my 40th, around 4.5 years ago, I suddenly had the urge to pick up the guitar. I really can't recall why or what inspired me. No drive from music style, musician, or anything else. It was just a spur of the moment. Had that Cort dreadnought for a while until I became active in this group. The number of gear that went through my hands went a bit crazy after that... not surprising I guess.

EDIT: Wait... I lied about the inspiration. Mum wanted us to play classical. My brother couldn't be arsed playing at all, but I recall wanting to learn Beatles stuff! We were both listening to Beatles a lot, despite (because?) mum's old fashioned view that rock'n'roll is devil music. That was how I learned my first few chords.
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BY Danger Mouse
I've played music since I was 5, worked through a few instruments and took classical guitar lessons from 11 to 12 years old.

A couple of years later, after a long story about a Christian camp and a video about the evils of heavy metal, I discovered rock and metal. A bit later again a wee band called Guns N Roses released Appetite for Destruction and I decided I wanted to be Slash. One cheap Korina guitar and a 10W Ross practice amp later, I'd taught myself the intro to Sweet Child 'o Mine and got lessons off the local shredder hero in Nelson (Anthony Su, he must still be around somewhere).

Spent my teens playing metal covers, won the Nelson/Tasman High School Battle of the Bands, eventually went off to the UK with my brother and had a go at being a professional guitarist in a death metal band, in London. Unfortunately we sucked and the scene was on it's way out, so didn't go well... but I at least gave it a go.

I'm so much better a player than I was back then, I don't think it would have made any difference to our success (songs might have been better, I guess), but I haven't ever stopped improving.
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BY Reg18
I wasn’t interested in playing music until my mid teens when I started listening to Nivana and Alice In Chains etc.
a few friends formed a school band and I wanted in bad! I played drums but wasn’t great so I got demoted to backup drummer. There was a spot for a second guitarist so I literally learnt 4 chords to Poly by Nivarna and went to Cash Converters on Manchester Street Chch and bought a Peavey Rage 158 and Vester Strat copy!
I skipped the whole acoustic thing and music lessons (which I now wish I had done)
Within a year we had learnt a good 20 or so song set and had started playing a handfull of gigs, even played at the local ‘Blue Pub’ in Methven a few times.
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BY calling card
I learnt trumpet at about 13yrs age because that was what instrument dad had, it was that or the accordion. Seemed so uncool for school so only did it a year or so. Did learn to sight read though, forgotten mostly now. Music playing intro.
Spent next few years burning petrol & making exhaust music :)
Sold a car at age 22 (1985) got a Hondo bass guitar as part payment. Discovered smoke on the water in E haha! Knowing absolutely nothing friends & I built a band, we sucked. I started coaxing noises from a six string in '86. Fairly intense burst of this till about '90, collapsed in heap (add fire). Acoustic from then on in fits & farts and much dust collecting. 2007 reactivated and inspired by Rory Gallagher and a few others, been here ever since though waning somewhat. It never goes away though...
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BY Shimmer
Dad had an acoustic which he hardly ever played - but he sounded great and I wanted a bit of that magic. I wanted lessons but wasn't allowed them until I worked through a beginner book of folk type songs myself - it started off with three string chords on the EBG strings only.
After that I had lessons for a bit from Jon Hooker - a ChCh blues/folk guy who was awesome - such a great player and so patient and calm. I had started listening to AC/DC a lot however. But he was cool and helped me learn some of their stuff, but would also guide me back to a range of blues and fingerpicking styles as well. Great times.
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BY sty
Started acoustic guitar lessons at primary school borrowing my fathers guitar, which thinking back was possibly some sort of Gibson Hummingbird!! That lasted a couple of weeks and I just couldn't get my fingers around the neck etc. It was also the time that my parents split up so hat was the end of that.

From age 11 I started playing Trumpet at school and was in the school bands and orchestra and played until I finished high school at the age of 16. At the same time I was discovering rock/metal music.

All through high school I really wanted to play guitar and managed to get some crappy catalog plywood strat copy and got nowhere. Friends tried to form bands, some succeeded better than others (Xentrix, Thrash metal of Ghostbusters fame came out of my friends group). Gave up and discovered computers. Looking back I just had no help, teacher or idea when it came to guitar, let alone reasonable kit.

In my 30s decided to give it another go, bought a Pacifica 112 and practice amp, tried to teach myself some stuff from books. Wife got me some lessons for Christmas and really enjoyed them, think I learned GnR version of Knocking on Heavens door eventually. Work got in the way and I parked that somewhat as I started learning the tech behind the internet and everything from the mid 90s and that was my business for ages.

Moved to NZ, bought a Marshall TSL as a 40th present from Rockshop. Discovered this place, talked Ed into giving me some guitar lessons, discovered GAS, upgraded to an Epiphone Zakk Wylde imported from Ishibashi. Thrashed along and enjoying it.

I think the best move I ever made was buying a decent acoustic to play with my kids as they learned and talking Rockshop Dave into giving me lessons for a while. I actually learned proper chords, played full songs, and even played in public a few times.

I'm not much better really but I'm still enjoying playing guitar. Really need to find some like minded people and try and play in a group setting one day...
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BY Molly
This has reminded me I did have lessons for a few weeks. The guy was a great guitar player but a terrible teacher. I used to pay him in cigarettes. I recall him putting his head in his hands and telling me to take up golf...
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BY jvpp
Interesting stories here. Mine is much the same although i cannot remember where and how i learned the firts few cowboy chords. But i do remember playing HOTRS with 3 other classmates at high school when 15 yrs old in front of a large audience. The drummer was so scared he never hit a beat! Glad we didn't have cell phones and cheap cameras in those days...
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BY JHorner
I was young, and wanted to be Mark Knopfler. Borrowed a terrible steel string acoustic off parents friends. Played that until I wanted to be Dave Murray.

Parents bought me a terrible hondo strat. Got a few lessons and a lot of guitar tab books. Played that until I wanted to be Marty Friedman.

Worked a summer cutting timber and hitting nails and digging holes and sweeping. So much sweeping. Bought a Jackson. Played that until I wanted a car.

Have since spent a quarter century toiling for material possessions and getting worse at guitar.
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BY Capt. Black
As a teenager in the 70s I wanted to be a typical guitar hero. Tall, skinny, long straight hair, great cheekbones and really high platform boots.

That's what the girls I fancied all swooned over.

I got the tall bit. The rest was beyond me.

Asked dad to buy me a guitar. Dad didn't know any better but he bought me the shittest diplomat 6 string and some tiny tube amp that turned up full, was still quieter than the guitar.

I went plink plunk on that for a couple years. Notes seemed to bear no relationship to each other. I watched whatever I could on tv and tried to copy what I saw. Somehow pressing the bottom E string didn't seem to result in growling power chords or searing solos.
It was only in later years I figured out that in those days, tv crews filming Cream or any of the great guitar groups would without fail zoom in on the right hand of the bass player whenever the guitarist launched into a searing lead break. If we had video back then, I could have been the original Clapton Shreds guy.

Undaunted I started to write songs which contained notes and accidental chords which bore little relationship to each other.

One day three momentous things happened.
1. My cousin came over and showed me what he had just learned... Barre chords!
2. I took my hard earned school holiday job savings, sold my fancy cassette deck and bought an Ibanez PF300 (Les Paulish style) and a Jansen bass 50 and refrigerator sized duo box!
3. Punk Rock!!!!

Suddenly, I could play anything I wanted. Which wasn't much, but it was plenty to get on with.

Someone showed me a scale. No idea which. Notes started to reveal their connectedness.

I discovered that a decent guitar could really help you advance quicker. Even though I had no idea what I was doing.

The Jansen could go really loud. But I still couldn't get anything resembling a growling power chord. But I could play along to all my favourite records from Bowie, Roxy Music, T-Rex and that one punk compilation that came out in the 70s which had Whole Wide World, Another Girl, Another Planet, Refugee, Spanish Stroll and a bunch of other new wave hits. Oh and AK79!

I started to get invited to jam with proper musicians. I got told to turn down A LOT!

I formed a band with some guys I knew. We were awful.

I formed another band with some guys I liked. We were even more awful.

Then I met my mate Eddie. We decided to form a punk/new wave band together. We found a drummer and a bass player who had a really nice old villa in ponsonby behind 3-lamps. About $100 a week for 4 bedrooms. Value today in the millions.
We were a punk/new wave band and we played blues.... poorly.
We auditioned a singer. We had no PA. She was so powerful she stood in the next room and sung her heart out and we could hear her clear as anything over our shitty blues cacophony.... or Caca-phony...

We started to write songs. We started to get fairly good. We lost the bass player. I decided to fire the drummer. Met him for a beer to do the deed but before I could say anything he resigned.... whew!

During this period I made 3 momentous discoveries.
1. An early 70s strat!
2. A Rockit 100 amp!
3. A hotcake!!!

Now I could make growling power chords and lightly seared guitar solos!

We got a new drummer, (he's still with me after all these years) Eddie switched to bass. We got a sax player. We got a following out west Auckland way. We entered the battle of the bands (our first ever inner city gig) We lost our heat. The judges had an argument over it and we were asked to come back to the next week heats. We came third overall. The Clean won. We recorded a couple songs. One made it onto a BFM/Ripper records compilation. The sax player left. We didn't.
We lasted another couple years and then I broke up the band and started to do more esoteric, experimental projects. An ambient sound track for an art exhibition. Music for a futuristic stage show about music. Some art/funk/punk anarchic pop for a one off show. Mostly it was awful. But fuck it was good!

During this time I made 3 monumental discoveries.
1. A mid 60s Black Face Fender Twin Reverb Amp.
2. The MXR Distortion + (1st Gen)
3. The MXR Pitch Transposer.

Suddenly I had everything I needed to be anything from punk to metal to funk and experimental prog.
Fuck that shit sounded good.
The Pitch Transposer was an eye wateringly expensive rack mounted pitch shifting device using bucket brigade tech to stretch or shorten notes. It was as artifacty as hell but could generate the most insane effects. Especially when coupled with a delay in its effects loop. Mostly I used it as a stupidly expensive chorus effect.

Somewhere in that period of the 80s one of my project tracks made high rotate on BFM. That was kinda cool.

My band the Mysterons formed in 1983 for one gig only and for the next 35 years we continued to have one off gigs on a regularly erratic basis.

Some of NZG will know us and what we're about. Our 21st Century incarnations have been pretty closely tied to the forum in one way or another.

Oh yeah, and per the actual topic, How did I begin to learn the guitar? Pretty much every time someone asks us to gig, I have to begin to learn the guitar... again!!!
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BY Slowy
I have begun to learn guitar 3 times.

1: In 1973, having strummed an EKO 12 string for a few years, I walked past Zettwitz's shop on K Road. In the window, was a 1950's Brazilian Martin D28. It cost every cent I had ever saved but it became mine. It taught me how to fingerpick. It taught me about picking dynamics. It was two years before it told me I played something well.

2: In the 1990s I bought a Tokai Telecaster. It took a year to learn that with an amp, you don't need to punch the guitar. It taught me that often, one or two notes is better.

3: 3 months ago I bought a Lowden S26. My first ever small bodied acoustic. It is incredibly sensitive and demands a delicate touch but it's encouraging me to explore new techniques and more complex arrangements and rewarding me for doing so. I'm definitely playing more new stuff now than I have in years.
I had violin lessons at school when I was about 8 yrs old, but it didn't last long. Then I got an electric guitar for Christmas when I was about 16, it was red with a Floyd style whammy. I don't remember the make but it was pretty cheap. I picked up an SG copy a bit later on and then bought a Gibson Les Paul Standard in '89. I also picked up an old Orange 100W power amp head, which I drove with a RAT. Then I was given an early AC30 that wasn't working and I managed to fix it up at work. I sold and traded them all within a couple of years and never really learned to play anything properly.

Then in my 40's I decided to try again, and I have bought and sold so many amps and guitars its embarrassing, I still can't play for shit but I have managed to calm the GAS in the recent year or so. I have one electric and one acoustic at present. I'm now working on a Radian LP Special which should be ready very shortly.
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BY calling card
There was something very liberating & often awful not knowing harmony but totally creative. Lack of rhythm though inexcusable. I learned rhythm structure a lot from drums. Scales etc... for harmony, getting to a place where thinking - am I allowed to do this like that?
Creative progress being if it sounds good it is good, subjective though.

Just thinking about the early years and the 3 note power chord haha! turned up loud & no shame. I shunned that part of me for years til older & realized it something never to lose.