Thinking back, I can vividly remember how bad I wanted to learn electric guitar skills. You know – probably just your average teenager at the time, with a deep passion and burning desire to become a great rock star and chick magnet… And who knows, have I had access to the remarkable tools available today, like the web based Jamorama guitar course or the superb, free Beginner Video Lessons shown to your right, then perhaps the dream would have become a reality?
My parents, bless them, tried more than once to convince me it was for my on good to learn classical music and study piano or violin (ouch). “Proper music”, that’s what I do tend to remember they called it back then.
I did in fact try that “un-cool” piano for quite some time – more to please my folks than anything else. However, all I really wanted was to grow my hair long, buy a Gibson Les Paul guitar and play loud riffs all day and all night long. Soaring lead guitar – oh, yeah! Naturally, just the kind of stuff parents didn’t approve of at all.
That ol’ beat-up six string
Without telling anyone but my closest friends, I borrowed an old German Hofner guitar – from where, I can’t quite recall – and began to teach myself guitar whenever my parents were not at home. In the beginning, I tried to pick up songs from the radio or from records.
I could sit for hours just trying to figure out simple songs, basic chords and licks on that beat-up, old guitar wreck. Actually, like the song goes, I literally “played it till my fingers bled”. Small wonder when you combine an untrained wanna-be rock star going for hours on end, real heavy strings and a guitar with an action that would make a classical guitar player green with envy. I suppose it was just sheer luck I managed to avoid getting tendinitis…
After a while I hooked up with a couple of guys who were a little more experienced than me, and I was in “advanced guitar lessons” heaven. Thinking back, it was still basic stuff. But hey, these dudes played lead guitar! At the time, I thought this was way cooler than playing your average rhythm, chords and riffs stuff, and I tried to suck up those lead guitar lessons like there was no tomorrow.
Getting my first proper electric guitar – a Japanese Gibson copy – helped getting things up to speed. With that old Hofner wreck I probably never would have managed to learn electric guitar properly.
Eventually, we (myself and one my guitar allied) formed a band. My parents had eventually, and very reluctantly, accepted my stubborn vision of becoming the next Jimmy Page (yeah, right…) and from that moment on, Chopin and Brahms was a lost case. A guitar case on the other hand… I could see myself getting a handle on that.
The leading man
As luck would have it, my friend was a better guitar player than me (he taught me stuff, remember). Consequently, I was delegated to keeping the rhythm going, while he took those enviable lead playing chores. At the time, I didn’t fancy that much, so how can I talk about luck?
Well, years later I found that my friend never quite had mastered the basic – and really needed – skill of playing songs. So he gave up and drifted along to other things, while I kept plugging away; perhaps not your bona fide riff master, but quite capable as years went by.
Many years later, I even managed to save up money for a real Gibson Les Paul custom, and I haven’t looked back since. Shoot, I even grew to love classical music through the guitar. It was said I managed to make my old man proud in the end.
The moral of the story
If you intend to teach yourself guitar, then I strongly suggest you A. learn the art of playing songs … even if the riffs and solos is what you urge, and B. that you play with other people in a duo, group, ensemble or band – what ever tickles your fancy.
With all the brilliant tools available today you can save years on your learning curve. You have any number of DVDs in all styles and a host of web solutions. The earlier mentioned Crash Course Muso (Beginner Video Lessons), or Jamorama is perfect for beginners and intermediates (I would probably been able to kill for something like those two…), or the way cool Guitar Superstars, which is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced player alike. I have tested and used all three of these programs extensively, and they are all worth their weight in gold. Great time savers! The first one has the added benefit of offering free lessons.
Needless to say, your best option would be to pay for private tuition. This can be costly, however, and you would need to find someone who “talks your language” as well. Not all teachers are created equal!
What ever you choose to learn to play electric or acoustic guitar, do seek qualified advice and tuition! It will save you both time and (consequently) money.
Who knows, if I had laid my hands some of the tools you guys have at your fingertips these days, maybe I would have become a chick magnet and rock guitar hero? Probably not quite. Becoming a better guitar player in far less time, on the other hand? Definitely!