What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My dad had a 12 string Yamaha and enjoyed singing funny songs (Ray Stevens, Roger Miller, making up lyrics to popular tunes) and good old Gospel tunes. Also, where I lived in Ohio there was a LOT of bluegrass. I would ride my bike down the road to my neighbors house on Friday and Saturday night. They would just sit in the front yard pickin’ and singin’ all night.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Dad taught me the basics when I was around 11-12 years old on his 12 string. I got my own guitar, banjo, and mandolin and kept playing for about 10 years. My parents made me start taking piano when I was 5, so I had a good foundation of music. I was finally able to convince them I was too cool for piano at 13. Haha! When I moved to Georgia in 1988 I never really unpacked the instruments and ended up selling them. So, after my wife and I raised our two beautiful daughters I decided to get back to playing since I always missed not playing the guitar. Music has always been a part of my life mainly in Church. Singing in the Choir and eventually leading Worship. (though I HATE being in front of people). Much of my motivation I think is to keep my dad with me in spirit. He loved playing the guitar and singing. I also want to pass it down to my grandsons. One of my grandsons just loves the “Dee-tar”. He asks to get the guitar out and he gets his picky-pick and strums while I chord for him. Music is good for the soul. If you can make music, you can bring someone happiness. Hopefully, you first.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Currently, I am working on Blessed Assurance. I like the swingy arrangement. It has helped me improve simply by having the correct way to play explained.
What’s your goal when playing?
Make music that people would enjoy. I want to get to the point where I can play and sing without having to ‘think’ my way through a song. Play through an entire song without any mistakes! Breaking the bad habits I have from when I taught myself 35 years ago. Learning to relax shoulders and arm so I can get faster with my flatpicking. (loose muscles move faster) Hit the correct string IN the right direction. Get the fingering correct. Quit thinking so much!
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I would like to get another Mandolin and Banjo to start re-learning them again. I love Worship Music.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I have only been a Gold Pick member for about 3 weeks! Loving it so far. So much to learn. I did not realize it has only been 3 weeks. Now, I don’t feel so bad with the improvement during that time. Thanks, Ben!!!
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Yes. The one that hits all of the correct strings. I have not found it yet.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Kentucky Thunder with Ricky Skaggs. Just to play with a bluegrass legend.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
So far, Dunlop Prime Tone Grip picks for flatpicking. I really like the tone, very warm. With the texture, I am able to relax my grip more. I still haven’t broke down for the BC picks. If I ever get to where I can saw a guitar like Billy Strings…maybe I’ll try them. Strings - I have been changing strings on my guitars like…well, you know. I always keep coming back to Martin MA545 Light/Medium Strings. They seem to be the just right for me.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
- 1965 Martin D-28 (figure that one out!) 2) Thompson Timeless Series – Custom D-14TMA - made from “The Tree”. How cool would that be to pass down?
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If it didn’t wake up the wife, I would definitely love to practice, practice, practice crosspicking. I would love to be able to just sit for hours and work on learning songs.
Thanks for letting us feature you @rtgregory