Learning Guitar early days to now

When I started learning guitar the only real reference and exposure to guitar for me was Appetite for Destruction by Guns n Roses. Paradise City was on the radio a lot and kids at school were singing it, I had no idea who or what they were going on about. I remember going into a music shop and asking for the tape of this album and the guy said because I was too young as it was parental advisory lol. I managed to get a copy, I can’t remember how now but it happened. I’ve always had a musical inclination but didn’t really find out where my destiny lied until much later. I wasn’t playing guitar when I heard that album but when I did pick up the guitar I’d already set my sights on what I wanted to play and what style. I’d had early exposure to Satriani but I guess I wasn’t ready to deal with that yet.

In my old school they had music rooms with old acoustic guitars in that anyone could go in and play. Also pianos which I played a lot, but the guitar at the time was a guilty pleasure no one knew about. So day one, I learned all of Don’t Cry (by this time I’d heard more g’n’r) minus the lead in the first day of playing. I’d seen some other kid play the chords and they were in my head, and just somehow understood where to put my fingers. I can’t remember how it sounded lol, but I do remember thinking guitar in its basic form wasn’t too difficult. So I would find myself everyday in those music rooms just playing what I could figure out by ear, bit by bit, determined to play the music that excited me so much. And that has pretty much been my approach ever since, just sit and play until I could hear what I wanted to hear then playing to records to get them to sound virtually identical. Didn’t always get it bang on, but through my mistakes I made discoveries.

I’ve never been a studying type, regimented learning and all that. I just enjoyed playing so much there was never time goals, just ear goals. Playing until it satisfied my ear, which until this day is my biggest critic in terms of what my ears like to hear (I.e me I guess lol). If I think it sounds shit, then to me it was/is, so striving to get the sound I was hearing other guys do was the goal for me, not so much about how much technique I could learn or theory. That stuff came later when I felt I needed new challenges and obviously my music taste progressed and changed with age and discovery. Back then it was a lot harder to find new stuff, it was only by word of mouth or magazines, there was no internet or free downloading of music or YouTube or texting or any of that stuff, we had to actively seek this stuff out. Having said that I’m not a studying type, why am I doing an academy to get people to do just that?. Well, in short I believe that with guitar a little bit of knowledge can help and go a long way, and I felt my playing really took shape when I discovered REH videos and the lessons (which I’d only had one of, the pentatonic scale), especially the Paul Gilbert ones. They were so simple to follow to pave the way for scary playing, I just totally got it. So when I teach I want to do two things 1) give people inspiration to try more difficult stuff delivered simply and 2) Show people you don’t have to have a huge musical or theoretical study background to achieve big things on the guitar.

I’ve always thought that working on your strengths and less on your weaknesses breeds more confidence on the guitar which I’ve always had and worked at it. The other thing I’ve always done is play what excites me musically, rather than focus on things just for the sake of it, like styles of music I don’t like. Reason for me is because music is meant to be fun, guitar is meant to be almost anti-establishment, like “I’m gonna do what I want and to hell with the rest” which is kinda my attitude. That’s not to say I or anybody shouldn’t work hard because it is hard to reach certain goals, but never get disheartened or be so ready to quit, just stick with it and enjoy it. If I couldn’t play something, I’d find another way of doing it, and if wasn’t exactly the same, who cares? as long it was a sound I thought was cool and well played, that’s how you start to build your own voice on the guitar. Success always finds a way if you just trust yourself and your own judgment and the work you put in, and do the best you can do, that’s all anyone can hope for and if I can help people achieve that along the way, I’ve done my job \m/.

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