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Starting ... again and how I got started

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

It has been many years since I had a website with any form of articles so whilst I build a new library of content and get over those previously lost into the digital ether, where better to begin than paying homage to the start of my guitar playing journey.

Despite being classically trained on the piano and cello, I took a very different route for the guitar, being predominantly self-taught. In those days it presented its own challenges. Gaining access today to great learning content for playing the guitar has never been easier through a quick Google search on your favourite artist or song to find a lifetime supply of tutorials.

So how did we find out things before the internet? Back then the internet didn't exist like today, no YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Tik Tok, Instagram. AOL search with Netscape web browsing was cutting edge over dial up internet (the one which beep away to connect) and I remember waiting 5 minutes just for a single image to appear! Instead we had magazines, books, CDs and VHS video cassette tapes.

As my first post, I wanted to give credit to three items which started and crafted my entire approach to the guitar. I am fortunate that technical prowess style of rock was popular to provide the young teenager that I was the inspiration of what seemed impossible, to be possible. And yes I believe that was once the opening line from Grant Gustin's Barry Allen in The Flash, CW TV show, before Crisis on Infinite Earths and they killed off Oliver Queen.

My first ever guitar magazine was Guitar Techniques April 1995 bought in July 1995. It had a transcription by Guthrie Govan (Hans Zimmer, Aristocrats) of Under A Glass Moon by Dream Theater, a band I hadn't heard of back then (which quickly changed from that day believe you me), a transcription of Classical Gas and so many other fantastic tutorials. Later that year, I managed to get my hands on video cassettes Rock Discipline by John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Paul Gilbert's Terrific Guitar Trip (Mr Big), all shown together next to my book (yeah like I can really stand up next to these talented guys in real life!) And with little to no pocket money, these were big investments but what a line up of teachers to have in my first year!

I can't help to wonder perhaps having less access to content meant I spent more time to study these, to really appreciate their contents since I'd have to wait months before the next guitar magazine issue or build up enough cash to buy another tuition tape. I spent many hours every day after school blasting away all in the spirit of practice and yes my little practice guitar amp didn't need to be cranked up to maximum (to the annoyance of my parents and neighbours).

As awesome as all this content was, it didn't occur to me till I started writing my original full length manuscript, which would be dramatically cut down to the book Beat Strum Acoustic Guitar many years later, as a physical skill very few tutorials really described in any real detail what we are actually doing with our limbs. So I started my book with an induction and picking hand rudiments. And taking a lead from classical kungfu training, I found using equivalent names helped to anchor the movement into the minds of the few students I once had over Skype calls and in person. Hence the birth of the Wrist Dip, the Bounce, the Sweep, Rolling Wrist, Flick and the Pinch.

The cool thing is that having found this magazine and videos in my storage (I spent a fortune on them back then although know the videos can be found them on YouTube for free) I get to rediscover and learn the lessons all over again, reliving my early days of playing the guitar, albeit now on acoustic (I may need to buy more picks).

So I pay tribute to all the sources of tuition out there today and whilst I've lost the same level of shredding technical proficiency I once had, still encourage everyone that no matter which source of information we use, to really appreciate it and to trust in getting these core movements nailed to ensure that we understand what we are doing and can ultimately play whatever we want to.

Till next time, have fun exploring, recording and performing.

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