So this is my story on how I got into guitar. Everybody has their story, so I thought I’d share mine.
I was never very musical as a child. Sure, I had music lessons in school but that mainly consisted of pissing around on a keyboard, tambourine or the triangle (my school didn’t have very much) – nothing more than that really.
But my love for music started to thrive when I was in school.
At about the age of 10 onwards, you couldn’t find me without my CD player. Basically, from the second I woke up to just before bed, I was plugged into my CD player listening to Metallica, Foo Fighters, Britney Spears (don’t judge) and more.
I must have spent literally every bit of spare change I had on new CDs. I would venture into HMV, pick up a CD that I liked the look of and buy it. By doing this, I was exposed to a huge amount of different genres of music – and figured out the type of music I liked… basically anything with an electric guitar!
As I entered my teens, I got big into gaming. One of my first Xbox games was Guitar Hero 3. I was HOOKED.
To put it bluntly, I played the SHIT out of that game. I got 5* on every song on expert (still slightly proud of this!) just to put it in perspective.
My parents would say “imagine if you were spending that much time on a real instrument instead of playing that silly game”. And then one day, on my 14th birthday, they bought me an acoustic guitar.
Now I loved the way the guitar looked and felt, but I had no idea where to start. We didn’t have a computer then and we didn’t have the money to send me to guitar lessons, so the guitar just stood there… gathering dust.
The guitar stood there for a couple months, with me picking it up and literally just hitting strings in no real fashion just a handful of times until one day, my step-dad says “I’m going seeing a friend, he can teach you guitar”.
I got to see his friend, he teaches me the very basics such as how to hold the guitar, gives me an Em and shows me how to strum. I loved every minute of it. Plus, I’m being told that I’m a natural, so I’m extremely eager to keep going.
When it’s time to finish, I go home and practise everything he’s shown me and beg my step-dad to take me around to his again.
I begged him for weeks, months even. Until it became apparent that I wasn’t going back. So once again, my guitar gathered dust.
This was until one day a year later when I sold it to a Cash Converters. I can’t remember the exact amount I got for it, but it was a low amount. I resigned to the fact that I was never going to learn guitar.
Years pass. My love for music grows. I’m going to whatever gigs I can afford to go to. To this day, if I have the opportunity to listen to music, I will be!
Life goes on.
So when I’m 21, I’m in my first year of university, living in halls. I was hanging out with the guys from my floor in the kitchen when Louis brings in their guitar and starts playing. My friend Alex goes “Oh sweet you play guitar too? I’ll go get mine!”.
They’re playing away, Alex singing. It was really good fun! But I’m sat there thinking, I wish I could play guitar – getting rather envious.
Then to rub salt into the wounds, my other friend Mark walks in. “I’ll get my uke!”. So everybody has some musical ability but me. Yay…
Although I had a great time chilling out with my friends whilst they made music, all I could think was “I want to do that”. So I decided, I’m getting a guitar!
I went online and found a cheap but reasonable acoustic guitar for about £115 and said to myself, “While I’m at home during the summer, I WILL learn guitar”. It arrives and I instantly set out to learn how to play guitar via YouTube (Justin Guitar was a godsend!).
I would literally practise until my fingers bleed and within a couple weeks, I could play all open chords! I felt on top of the world, I could actually make some noise that slightly resembled music.
Within two months, I was playing barre chords with reasonable fluidity. I advanced so quickly simply due to pouring every bit of spare time into learning.
At this point I felt reasonable happy with my playing ability and was extremely happy with the progress I had made.
Now it was time to go back to university…
I came back to university to live in a flat with Alex and Mark (the guitarist and uke player).
“I didn’t know you could play guitar” said Alex. “I only started during the summer”.
Alex then offers to help me learn and said that we should play together lately. I was down for this, eager to impress with my new gained skills until I realised… I’d only ever played in my bedroom beforehand – this will be the first time actually playing in front of anybody!
So I gave him a bit of background on how long I’d been playing and some of the stuff I’d learnt and tried to learn. Alex then shows me a progression of chords, I think it was G, C, A and Em – nothing particularly musical, I think he just wanted to see if I could switch chords.
I did the progression and then broke into a song that I had learnt over the summer. He was majorly impressed!
As time went on, we would practise, I would learn new skills and very quickly surpassed his ability, even though he had been playing for years. I was soon listening to him play a song that I had never tried before, and was then playing it back to him after 2 or 3 listens.
It was at this point that I decided it was time to get an electric guitar…
I went to my local music shop and spent hours deciding what I wanted (within my budget). I bought a red Epiphone Les Paul which I still have to this day and this god awful line 6 amp. It was very cheap and it showed. In hindsight, I would have definitely just saved up more initially to get a better amp.
This is where my skills really advanced. I was learning new scales every couple days, riffs and solos that I loved.
I was loving every minute of it. I felt like a proper musician!
The continual improvements happened over about a year until final year exams. That’s when I hit a plateau…
Life got busy.
I was busy in university, I got a girlfriend, I then went on to get a masters degree and work full time at the same time.
My guitar playing suffered.
There stood my guitar, gathering dust. Occasionally I would pick it back up again, play for an hour or so but then that would be it for a month or two.
I wouldn’t really say I lost much playing ability, it would just take a couple hours to get back up to scratch, but by then I’d already put the guitar away to just reset the cycle.
This all changed when I realised, now I have a job, I can buy all the gear that I want!
From the Ashes…
So, I instantly went to my nearest guitar store to buy my first “big-boy” amp. I decided to go for a tube amp – so I went for an orange dark terror head and orange cab.
Somehow I carry it all home, excited to plug in my guitar and play.
It sounded AWESOME.
I honestly felt like I could play guitar better. Until I realised that it was because my previous amp was so shitty, all sounds were getting distorted and muddled. My new amp was loud, clear and had such a range of tones.
From there on, my skills and passion for guitar have flourished – and will continue to for the coming years!
Well there we have it, a ramble on how I started guitar. If you found it interesting, drop me a message – or tell me how you got into guitar, I’d find that quite interesting!