The guitar is an amazing instrument. For me, no other instrument provides the expressive capabilities of the guitar. With the twist of a few knobs, the guitar can provide beautiful melodies or crushing riffs.
I started playing guitar around 1992 because of Metallica’s Master of Puppets album. Nothing I’d heard up to that point had prepared me for the sounds in that album. From the acoustic intro of Battery to the brutal riffs of Master of Puppets, I was hooked. That album really spoke to me as I was going through my teenage years and had the typical teenage angst. Additionally, that album introduced me to the wide range of sounds that could come from an electric guitar. One of the first riffs I ever learned was the intro to Welcome Home (Sanitarium). I finally convinced my parents to buy me a guitar, a Washburn strat-clone that served me well for many years.
Shortly thereafter, I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of The Sky is Crying for the first time. It had such an impact on me, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I’d never before heard the kind of passion that Stevie Ray poured into his guitar and vocals. I began expanding my listening and looking into Stevie’s influences and followed the path back to B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Son House, and Robert Johnson. As part of the same discovery process, I started learning more about jazz and some of the great jazz guitarists, such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, and, of course, Charlie Christian.
I’ve also always enjoyed and admired the works of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. It’s hard to deny their impact on the electric guitar over the past 20 years. Essentially, I began expanding my listening to include pretty much any guitarist, regardless of style or genre. I also began trying to expand my playing to include aspects of each of these styles, although, truth be told, I’ve never really come close to mastering any of these styles. During these times, I was playing around with friends and teaching myself as much as I could.
By the time I got into college, I wanted to try something new and hopefully expand my playing further. I went the practical route and majored in business, but kept my passion for the guitar with me and began taking classes towards a minor in music performance. This involved my taking classical guitar lessons. Looking back, I probably learned more about myself in that small room during those lessons than I did in any other single class in college. Those lessons were intense! It was during those lessons that I learned how to push through difficult tasks and see the positive result on the other side. I really learned what I was made of because it was only me, my guitar, and my teacher there to correct me and help me. Another great outcome of these lessons is that I learned to read music during this time and also focused on improving my technique. I ended up graduating before finishing all of the hours needed to get the music minor, but I still learned quite a bit about music during that time.
Like most guitarists I know, I’ve owned quite a few guitars during the past 15 years. I’ve mostly stuck with Strats, but I’ve also owned a Martin, several Takamines, the aforementioned Washburn, a Yamaha, an Ibanez, an Alhambra, more Strats, and most recently, a Paul Reed Smith. However, it was during college that I received the guitar that means the most to me: a Stevie Ray Vaughan Signature Series Stratocaster. I received this guitar as a surprise gift from my parents, so in addition to being an awesome guitar, it has a lot of sentimental value. And, it really is a fantastic guitar. I’m hoping to one day have a house full of guitars, kind of like Geoff Knapp who runs RockandRollWeekend.com.
After graduating college, I actually put the guitar aside for awhile as I began my career in information technology. I focused more on learning everything I could about computers, networking and programming. I actually ended up moving to Nashville shortly after college and it’s said that everyone comes to Nashville with a guitar and a dream. However, I was focused on my career as a technologist, not as a guitarist. As a result, my guitars sat idle for the better part of several years. Every once in a while, I’d still grab one of my guitars and noodle around on it, but those times became less frequent as time went on. However, I never stopped listening to primarily guitar-oriented music and always kept my eye on what was happening in guitar-related news.
Several years ago, I decided to make the guitar a priority again in my life. One of the things that I really enjoy doing is reading about and devouring guitar-related news and information. I had started a technology-focused blog in 2004, and decided in 2005 to start a guitar-related blog, as well. That’s how TheGuitarBlog.com (which has now morphed into GuitarLifestyle.com) was conceived and came into being. I make my living writing about technology, and it only makes sense that I have an outlet for writing about the guitar as well.
Although there has been quite a bit of time over the past 15 years where I wasn’t playing the guitar daily, I’ve never lost my love for the guitar and, in fact, I’m just now truly starting to see how important the guitar and guitar music is to me. Unfortunately, I currently don’t work around many musicians, and although I’d like to get involved more in my local musical community, it’s hard to stay connected musically to what’s going on, which is why it’s great to see such a vibrant community online surrounding the guitar and guitarists. It’s great to be able to listen to so many great guitarists online.
For all of these reasons, the guitar has had a special place in my life for the past 15 years. Few things have kept my interest for that amount of time, and the funny thing is, I’m probably more interested in learning and expanding my knowledge of the guitar now than at any other time in my life.
What’s your guitar story?