How I learned to play guitar – How to play the blues
Chuck was a middle – aged studio musician with short light brown hair. His weathered face reflected years under gig stage lights and Marlboro cigarettes, which he kept in plain sight in his guitar case.
I was 15 and wanted to learn guitar the correct way, whatever that means. Local guys in the neighborhood could only teach me so much, as they only played by ear. I needed more and sought out a teacher. Lessons were once a week from a small music store 10 minutes from home. I wanted to play metal but Chuck insisted I learn the blues first, as rock and metal are derived from the blues.
Chuck’s road – worn starburst fender strat was beautifully – broken in. The warm melodic tones fell out of his amp easily and with grace. Between talks he would jot down scale patterns and chords on photocopied guitar fretboard paper for me to take home and practice. It was fun but very overwhelming.
Music theory is a science. For those not familiar, music is a lot of work figuring chord structures and scales out. It’s another language you must learn and learn well. There are those who simply play by ear, never knowing what they are doing and there is nothing wrong with this. I wrote most of my music that way. Some of the greats are the same, including the Beatles. Most, bands, at least 90%, you have seen at the local club (rock especially) play by ear. Ask them to play a B minor scale in 2nd position and they’ll freeze.
Lessons with Chuck didn’t last more than a few months, as I ran out of money, and wanted to pursue heavier music. I spent hours, daily, in my room, completely obsessed with guitar. My bedroom was wallpapered with inspirational photos of rock legends I listened to and read about, along with photos of guitars I could not afford.
It was a fun time, it was a great time, it was the late 80s.
Here’s a link to my first album on iTunes, circa 1995.
I still play guitar as time permits and record in my home studio but life gets in the way and I lost interest in trying to “make it” years ago.
I wish I knew where Chuck was now. I can only imagine how good he is.
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