Saturday, January 3, 2009

Forget all about that macho shit, learn how to play guitar.

As the title suggests, thank you John Mellencamp, at the age of 50 I decided to learn how to play guitar. I have always wanted to play and decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, that is nothing but my sanity and self confidence.

The torture began with a basic instruction book and has progressed to taking lessons from a good friend who has been playing for over 40 years. More on that later. My first attempts at forming chords were humbling and painful. Fretting a guitar places your hand and arm in positions that nature did not intend for them to be placed. Also pressing on steel guitar strings to form the chord is very hard on your fingertips. After a while you build up callouses but until then it is a painful experience. Along with the fretting you also need to get used to an 8 pound slab of wood hanging from your shoulder. Electric solid body guitars are heavy! It looks very easy to play when you are watching an accomplished guitarist, I assure you it is not. As I attempted to fret basic open chords like C and G my frustration would mount as I continued to touch strings not part of the chord or not press hard enough on the proper strings. You feel like you will never be able to make the chord. Finally after much pain and anguish I began to see progress.

I think that learning to play at 50 is more difficult than learning to play as a child. I think children learn easier and your hands and fingers are more flexible and easily trained. I hope this is true because when I go to Guitar Center and see all these little ten year old bastards playing so much better than me it really pisses me off! I guess the moral of that story is stay out of Guitar Center.

As I said earlier I began taking lessons from my friend Mike. Mike has been playing since the age of ten which means he has played for over 40 years now. He has the advantages of learning at a young age and experience. He also has something else I do not have...talent. Mike is an extremely accomplished guitar player who spent his early twenties playing on the road in a traveling band. I feel he could play in any big name band you can think of and more than hold his own. I would bet he is better than 75% of the guitar players currently playing and making a great living from it. Some people are lucky and get their break and others do not. Mike has been a great help with the mechanics of playing and he tells me I can become a decent guitar player in time with the proper mechanics and practice. I am not so sure about that but I do like playing for my own enjoyment.

The downside of taking lessons from Mike is he is so good that it is sometimes very frustrating trying to emulate what he is doing. He makes it look so damn easy. The other thing that sucks is what I play never quite sounds the same as what he plays. Then of course he has to throw in some impossible lick and then just sit there and grin at me knowing there is no way in hell I can possibly repeat it. He is a string bending, bar chording, finger picking bastard and I hate him!!! Okay, I don't really hate him but I would give a great deal to play anywhere near as well as he plays. I have seen slow but steady improvement and I will keep on plugging away.

Until next time take care and keep on rocking.



  2. Love your blog and I wish you well with the guitar! Don't get frustrated, no matter how good you get there will always be someone better, focus on enjoying yourself and learning the chords and the scales!

    I'm going to link to this blog from mine, hope that's ok!