Here is my story. I grew up playing through the schools from about 2nd grade through high school. I always wanted to play guitar. When I was small dad said start on violin until your hands get bigger. Well I did violin tell half way through 7th grade. I switched to string bass. My heart was never in it. As kids are I did not realize the value of the opportunity. My heart was always with guitar. Well dad never thought my hands were big enough (they are, it’s more of a dad thing) but I decided at 14 I was going to learn and teach myself. I used a lot of what I knew about music from my classical violin/bass. I could read a little and that type stuff. I taught myself.
I played and practiced for hours a day every day. You couldn’t get me to practice the violin/bass but guitar I loved. Hours a day every day. I spent a couple years just on dads nylon string. I finally got myself an electric. I played some classical stuff I could get my hands on the sheet music. But I mostly did popular music, hard rock. I thought Jimmy Page was the “cats meow” and in some ways he does have a little bit of variety in his playing. I picked and chose many songs from many artists that seemed too demonstrate a very high level of skill and talent and most important, sounded pleasing. I was practicing as much as 5 hours a day up until about 22 years old. But sadly remember I was teaching myself. So while practicing is never really bad other than maybe you get in a rut and not always as productive as it could be. Also I have heard said you can practice so much you perfect playing badly. Well I guess I did tech myself lots of bad habits.
I had no great musical gift. What I had was love and determination. Well I did get pretty far with that. I still do not have any great gift, like for example pitch/hearing and I am no rhythm master. I still have determination. While I wish I had great gifts I must say determination can really go a very long way.
So back to the story. With no great support from my family. I do not mean to say they did not support me but not knowing music. At 22 I needed to be a self supporting productive member of the world. I did it but I left guitar behind. Not all at first but as time went and the job demanded guitar was lost. For what ever it is worth even in those years of working and improving and advancing I still knew I was a guitar player.
So now go from 22 to today. About a year and three months ago a friend asks me to help him pick out a bass for his son. Well I do that but I see a very inexpensive Ibanez. $250. When I was a kid this would of cost $800 maybe $2000? So I get and buy a Line 6 amp for $100. Once again back when I was a kid an amp like that (fuzz) would of been far beyond my reach. I know have 10 guitars and a bass. 1 year and maybe 3 months later.
I have built a home recording studio. By that I mean I have the DAW the Near Field Monitors several mic’s, mic stands and all. It really is still just a room. Oh I also have a few more amps than that first one. I am so fortunate that I can buy quality instruments at great prices. Not greater than any of you can. Just much better cost than when I was that poor kid with no money and dreams. It is nice to now have money and the ability to live this now.
Do I regret having stopped playing for 20+ years? I guess of course I do in some ways. I think what if I stuck with it. But the real in my heart answer is no I don’t. I had to do what I did. Funny thing is I really lost very little as far as ability to play. Maybe all those years of playing/practicing 5 hours a day paid off. There are many times where I find I let my fingers lead. Songs I knew 20 years ago come out.
I have 4 acoustics, 2, 6 strings,1 12 string and a classical. I am so enjoying them. We did not have You Tube. We had teachers that knew less than we did. Like I said I am not overly gifted I am hard working. I do not dwell on if I had back then what we have now what could I have done. I am trying to enjoy the now. And I am so very thankful I have the recording ability and many instruments I now have.
I don’t know why but I play my acoustics mostly. I have 2 Les Pauls a Fender Standard Telicaster a PRS 24 Custum and more. But I keep playing the acoustics I don’t know why. That said I wanted to learn “real” acoustic not just taking my “rock” songs and playing them on acoustic. Make no mistake I have some very cool acoustic versions of many but…
So I knew “Bluegrass” is the “premier” or at least one of the. So I searched and found “Banjo Ben” (not so sure about that name Ben) and his lessons. I was looking for instruction even more so in bluegrass which I really know little about. Well tie me up and tickle my nose with a pickle. Banjo Ben had John Hardy. My dad used to play version of that. Then there were so many others. I am not sure how to say but I am so advanced in some ways and so weak in others. I credit that to having taught myself. I am having such fun learning this stuff. It makes my acoustic come alive. I have really done well and having fun with the rhythm guitar. I am actually playing and doing my own chords. The leads? OK well I am self taught so I have so many bad habits. One of my worst is “sweep” picking even just with two strings. That really makes the up/down hard. But I am working very hard on it. It really is a joy for me to play these tunes. They are wonderful and acoustic, I really had never explored this. I guess I like this Hill Billie music. Before anyone gets offended about “Hill Billie” I was born in North Carolina and raised in Michigan. If that is not enough I am also of Irish heritage so I mean no disrespect.
Thanks BanjoBen (change that name brother) You have got me sounding all new and having fun doing things I never did. Not to make talking about dads to make you feel bad but my dad will be so happy hearing me play some of these songs. Like me I think he stopped playing to raise a family he just never got the chance to go back.
To all thanks for reading if you did if you did not sorry it was so long.
Take care and love for all of us.