How did you learn to play?


I started by walking through our living room one day in Jan. 1968. I saw my Dad sitting there playing. I'd seen him playing many times before but for some reason I stopped and asked him if he could teach me how to do that. He said "sure" and taught me some basic chords and a few old country songs. After that, I sat in front of an old turntable trying to figure out CCR (and later Santana) solos. I'll always be grateful to my dear late Dad for being so patient and encouraging yet pushing me (made me learn to tune a guitar, learn barre chords, etc.). He knew how to push me when I needed it yet somehow I never felt "pushed" by him. He was such a strong yet gentle man with the sweetest spirit I've ever known. He was the smallest giant I ever knew and I miss him terribly. Thanks so much for asking this question, Adam! So sorry for the long answer but you've brought back so many wonderful memories for me and I really appreciate that! I'm so grateful that God gave me such a wonderful father (and a Mom who put up with my endless practicing... much to the detriment of my grades!!) who gave me the gift of music! Now, I love to share some of the joy that music has brought me with anyone who's interested. Thanks again and I wish you all the best!

No problem, thanks for the memory!


Tabs in Guitar for the Practicing Musician. Hanging out with other Guitar Players. Instructional videos (you had to actually buy or rent them back in the day). Learning by ear.

I also took some formal lessons in finger picking from the Guitar & Banjo Studio in Beaumont, TX for a while.


Gold Supporting Member
My mom had an acoustic; she taught me my first few chords, and then she would let me dig through her sheet music and play her guitar.

I taught myself a bit more from the chord diagrams in a few of her charts (mostly John Denver)

After that I started searching everywhere for more learning resources. My local library had 2 books - The Complete Guitarist by Richard Chapman, and a collection of tabs for some random old blues songs. I used to check both out as often as they'd let me and poured over every single page till I almost had them memorized.

In high school, I discovered a convenience store on my way to school carried Guitar World. Every month I bought the new issue and learned every song in the tab section and read every lesson. I also used to sneak the guitar music binder for the school jazz band out of the band room and make copies of all the songs so I could go learn them at home :)

In college I got hired to play in a country band and I had a week to learn 50 songs. Since i didn't have tab, I had no choice but to listen to the recordings and figure out all my parts by ear.

Today I still use combinations of all these things I learned in the past. Except I don't steal music from schools anymore :D


Member 995

Tab books and guitar mags. Early lessons that taught me the basics (and that I hated). Once I fell in love with music, I've been self-directed.


Silver Supporting Member
I bought the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College tab book, and between that and online tabs I taught myself that entire album. Well, at least Dave's parts. For years I knew how to play every DMB song. Great thing was I learned a lot about rhythm and odd chord shapes learning those songs.

From there lots of books, guitar magazines and a couple teachers. Studied Jazz with one for about a year, and the other was one of Ted Greene's students for years (despite being an amazing guitarist himself). That was great, I was going through a lot of Ted's lessons on his site, and being able to pick my friends brain on those was great. It always brought out a story about Ted also.
A music teacher offered anyone in my study hall period in eight grade free guitar lessons. All you needed was a working guitar. A friend used his father's electric with no amp (and that was as stupid as it sounds). She was teaching some student piano, and he was teaching her guitar at the same time, so she offered for free what she was learning to anyone who wanted to get out of study hall.

That was all it took for me. I struggled for years trying to develop my ear. It takes time. I tried learning theory, and sight-reading, but it just never clicked. I learned more theory relationships from learning entire complete songs by ear. Those parts "you don't want to work on because they are too hard" are the theory examples that you should be learning. Can I describe in notation what I know? No way, but I have had friends who also play who say I know a lot more than I could write out on notation staff paper...

Not to mention an actual guitar where the strings weren't slicing through my tender fingertips, and the action wasn't half an inch above the neck.

If you learn songs you WANT to play - you might continue to play.


It was and is a looong process.

Ive taken tons of lessons with great players.

The concept of keeping time was probably my biggest problem. It was not natural for me. I could hear beats (not at first) but not subdivision. I had to break it down. For the longest time I didnt understand why my recordings didnt sound quite right. I still dont have the best time/feel when I improvise solo.



Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Repeat was/is the most important part.


Basically, any chance I had to study, listen, take lessons, ask questions, and play, etc. I took it, and still do (I went back to school earlier this year to do a Masters in classical guitar, which should be done next summer)

It'll be 50 years with the instrument for me next year
I started when my Dad said the snare drum they got me for Christmas had to go. My Mom took me to the music store in Wheaton(Chuck's), Maryland and got me a D-28 knockoff. Then, she drove me to a half hour lesson every Thursday for about a year. Then I met the musical kids in high school and learned where the notes were, and some of the theory I never learned. I also learned some piano to go along with all the guitar technique I was thieving on a daily basis.

That was where it started, Rockville.


Gold Supporting Member
Tabs in Guitar for the Practicing Musician. Hanging out with other Guitar Players. Instructional videos (you had to actually buy or rent them back in the day). Learning by ear.

I also took some formal lessons in finger picking from the Guitar & Banjo Studio in Beaumont, TX for a while.
+1 on GFTPM. Although I was fairly proficient at geetar by the late 80's, the discovery of that mag really helped to accerate my abilities. One of the things I liked about GFTPM (besides the accuracy of the tabs) was the columnists' (?) explaintions of what was going w/ songs' chord progressions, licks, solos, etc. For someone whose knowledge of music theory was next to nothing at the time I found the colomnists' brief breakdowns of some (rudimentary) theory very helpful.


The seeds -
dad had a guitar.
heard him play it now and again - loved it.
heard great music from his collection as well.
neighborhood kids also had music

The execution:
saved up and bought a guitar.
took lessons from a local store which taught me a little.
more time and guitar mag lessons.
then I found a great teacher - game changer.
... but, I really wouldn't get going well enough until I matured and was more disciplined in getting things done. :)

Still learning still every day; learning.

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