How good did you want to be one day, when you first started playing? Did/Will you get there?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Jazzandmore, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. Kenny Blue

    Kenny Blue Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2012
    Chicago Northern Burbs
    When I began guitar The Beatles had just emerged and they and then the Yardbirds were my favorite bands. I just learned what I could, through lessons and playing along with records, and doing the neighborhood garage band scene.

    A few years later Jimi was like a muse for me. I listened again and again to Electric Ladyland and in some indescribable way some part of me inside KNEW where his music and where his expression through the guitar was coming from. It felt like a language that something inside of me was so familiar with. Then there were several other players like Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman... all who I felt like sometime inside of me could so, somehow, understand and relate to what their playing was saying... in music... in sound... in expression. Around that time, 1970-71 I immersed myself in music and ended up feeling very drawn to dedicating myself to bringing out in myself, the ability to delve deeply into that same place that these players, who I felt such a kinship with, were playing from. I somehow had the inner understanding that I could play on this level myself as well. But then getting there turned out to be more of a challenge than my idealistic young self had realized early on.

    I did work at it. But also, as years go by, other personal challenges come up along with one's/ my goals. I worked at it but also struggle, at times, with a lack of confidence (substantial) and lack of determination and focus as well. I kept playing but my growth was slower than I had desired, anticipated... mostly because of my fractured focus. I was kind of on several life paths at one time. As I approached my 30s I began to feel that I really needed to ground myself and develop some way of making a living doing more than playing in a bar band and working as a bar tender, or a janitor, or a gas station attendant, or a nursing home attendant.. etc.

    in a few short years I went to a Nursing program... got a degree. Got a steady job in a hospital, ended up married with a child on the way and a new practical "career" by age 30. THAT was that for a number of years. I continued to study and play at home... when time permitted. But my initial goal of getting a degree and a steady job, to then support my musician "self" and my real love of playing, then morphed into married life and raising a child and two step children. Years passed.

    Along the way, starting in my 20s I also became more interested in Jazz. My father was an avid Jazz fan and growing up I heard lots of Jazz... lots of Miles, Stan Kenton, Oscar Peterson, and many others. From that I came away with a strong respect for Jazz. And in my 20s and 30s there emerged in me this feeling that I should study Jazz and try to become a Jazz player, like other great Jazz guitarists whom I had grown to so admire... John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola, Pat Metheny, John Scofield...

    So I began studying Jazz and tried for quite a few years to internalize it and become that. But for some reason(s) I always fell way short. I greatly admired and loved that music and those players. But it seemed like I did not have that "type" of expression, that type of voice in my playing. That itself was pretty discouraging for me because I think that somehow, in my mind... and probably due to my upbringing and having some kind of inner desire to please my father who so revered Jazz players, I had some kind of subtle idea in my head that Jazz was a more "developed", a more serious, a more admirable form of music to master than, for example (my first love) blues and blues based rock guitar playing. But I was failing being able to embody that type of expression myself.

    As years went by there were periods of being inspired and working hard at growing as a guitar player, and then other periods of giving in to being depressed about my lack of growth, and feeling like a failure... and then getting distracted for a time. But I have always, in some manner or other, kept playing.

    Over the last 10 years or so I have become more inspired and spent more time playing than I had for some years previous to that. I am at a point now that I have felt my ability emerge stronger than it has ever been in the past. It seems that the 10,000 hours thing (or however many hours...the accumulative time spend playing) effect happens even if it is over a large span of years as well as if it is over just a few years of VERY concentrated, focused hard work. I really have to admit that I REALLY WISH that I had spent a few years of doing that VERY concentrated hard work and was able to live and play at a high level for most of my life, rather than it taking 50 years. But what is... is.

    I still cannot mentally analyze everything musical and understand complex things the way that I can see many can here... in threads about advanced music theory. I have studied theory plenty, since my early days in music school. And I have some very solid understanding of music theory. But it is not my strong suit. But what I have felt emerge in the last number of years, is a natural ability to feel creative improvised lines, melodies come out. And more of an effortless ability to create balanced lines that say something, make musical sense, and build towards something. To be able to tell a story, or express something, rather than just run scales and feel like I am reaching for something and not knowing exactly what.

    I feel, just in the last few years, that I am experiencing, within myself and within my playing, what I felt such a kinship with in the expression, the playing of those magical players that I first fell under the spell of in my teens and early 20s. I feel, at times, I am feeling those musical spaces myself. And that feels good. I am glad that I never stopped playing.

    Obviously I now never expect to play with a band in a great concert hall. Practically, now, the "opportunities" that are available to me are MUCH fewer than potentially they were when I started aspiring to be an accomplished player. But along the way I have also realized something that I feel is very important for me to have come to understand. And that is something that I also realize I have had an inner awareness of since my earliest days with the guitar and with music. I have come to realize that playing the guitar, for me, and absorbing myself in music that moves me is part of, for a lack of a better way to put it, a part of my inner self's life work.... if you will, it is a strong part of my spiritual work, my journey if inner discovery and experience.

    Music and playing has and does allow me, assist me with experiencing a very important part of myself. It allows me experience a part of my inner self that is very, very dear to me. And I also realize that I am really very, humbly grateful for this ability, and this ongoing experience in my life, even if I never "became" the great performing musician that, in my heart, I dreamed of becoming, so many years ago.

    And it occurs to me that maybe what we discover inside of ourself, and experience within, in the end, is more substantial than what we accomplish outside.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
    ckyrost likes this.
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

    Jan 10, 2016
    14 Megameters from Groong Tehp
    Does anyone have the tab for Vai's performance in Crossroads?
    That's basically it for me, I dream of being there:

    shaking my guitar at Ralph
    I met Ralph a couple of years ago & I think he sold his soul to the Devil instead of Vai, dude still looks like he did back when he filmed Karate Kid.

    Crossroads killed Telecasters for me, can't stand them.
  3. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

    Jun 15, 2011
    I don't think I ever had a specific level of accomplishment in mind.
    My main thing was I would hear something , or an artist, and think "damn, how do they do that?" and the goal was to learn how they got the sound they got, and then how to do the licks they did. Before CCR it was the typical stuff, 50s and 60s, then CCR came along and I would spend hours trying to do that stuff.
    Leslie West was a big one for me, I wanted to learn the more than 3 chord complexities of Felix Pappalardi and Jack Bruce progressions along with Mr Wests wonderful and very lyrical guitar playing over those progressions.
    Then I became enchanted with the idea of actually taking the time and using the effort to find out exactly what the language , mathematics, and mechanics of what I was doing so i studied theory. Which again, I delved into and became obsessed with.
    So it really isn't a situation of a specific accomplishment, it is a long decades old situation of hearing something I like and being obsessed with figuring it out.
    I suppose I always thought "once I learn THAT, i will be satisfied". But never was.
    I never had the burden of feeling like I had to reach any certain level of ability or of it being a competition with other guitarists.
    And i still study, even things I already know but might learn more from.
    Right now I am into a couple of books that teach faux steel guitar, which I am already pretty good at, and chicken pickin stuff, which I already am adept at but haven't really gotten deeply into.
    I suppose I will continue to learn until I am using diapers again or dead.
    Also, never was i under any pressure about it, from others or myself. Other than having to learn set lists in a couple weeks for bands I have joined, I have always learned at my own pace.
    Sometimes it has been with blind obsession of locking myself away for entire weekends , at other times at a snails pace. But I mostly have always, for the past 53 or so years, consistently made some progress.
    As a result, I have become accomplished far beyond my wildest imagination and expectations.
    Thank God for the ambition and passion to have done it.
    I have never considered myself so much being gifted at music as being gifted with being too damn stubborn to NOT learn something I want to know. The only real thing I think I was gifted with is determination.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  4. General_Specific

    General_Specific Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    My initial goal was to be able to play Black Sabbath songs like NIB and Into the Void. I can do that, so I hit my goal.

    I felt that if I could play this, I would be a great guitarist. I was very wrong. Not just because of the limited scope of those songs, but that I am simply not as creative as Iommi.

    I got heavily into learning Led Zeppelin after that. At one point, I could play many songs. There again, learning all of that did not lead to me creating anything original.

    Jimmy Page hears Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolf and Burt Jansch and creates Led Zep I.

    I learned that just learning the moves makes me a player at best. I can ape some things and people like it. To me it feels like a parlour trick.

    I can listen to songs in my preferred riff based hard rock style and play it easily. Stuff like Clutch. In that way, I am accomplished and surpassed my dreams. The other night I put on an album by Leogun that I never heard, and played along with it. I'm sure that takes a type of talent. I just feel like I fall short when it comes to creativity.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  5. WordMan

    WordMan Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Ha. Last night I sat down and played slide for over an hour on my old acoustic archtop. If someone had used the phrases “play slide for over an hour” and “acoustic archtop” with me when I was a teen forming my dreams of playing guitar, I would’ve looked at ‘em like they were an alien. I barely knew what slide was or how it worked. Open tunings?

    Yet here I am, and having over an hour’s worth of places to explore on slide at one go before moving to Standard and playing more is a wonderful place to be. So it goes.
  6. Radius

    Radius Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2018
    Home of Les Paul, Lambeau Field , Harley Davidson
    I honestly don't think I had a goal as far as some tangible level of skill.

    I just have music in me and it needs to get out.
  7. PBGas

    PBGas Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    As a kid, I practiced for hours upon hours listening back to records and cassettes and learning parts/songs. In a way, it kind of trained my ear for the particular type of music that I loved and still love today. I am at a point where I am very comfortable with the way I play. I have some theory and knowledge of how things work and where they fit.

    In the end, the thing that would be most beneficial to me would be to listen to some other types/styles of music/guitar playing to expand my own style.
  8. sergv

    sergv Member

    May 14, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    For me it was a dream to play guitar, literally. I had a dream in which I was playing guitar and making music. After I woke, I was inspired to go out and buy a guitar ... and I've been playing ever since. I made it real, and I've been living the dream ever since.
  9. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Northern Gulf Coast
    I just fell in love with the guitar. An auntie was part of the Early Sixties Folk Scare and she let me fumble on her brown Epi. She taught me chords, Rising Sun Blues in Dm was my first ditty so cursed from jump.

    Beatles, et. al. just intensified it. I only sang so I could get in a neighborhood garage band.

    School dances, parties, teen center, bars, quit full timing at age 31. A couple of fun bands since.

    Still practice every day. Do lessons, go to clinics. I can do jammy rock OK and study jazz lessons to feed that direction.

    I just love guitars. The way they look, smell, sound. I would play regardless of my perceived skill level.
  10. Defendant

    Defendant Member

    Jul 8, 2007
    I started playing in the mid 80s, and totally got sucked into the shredder thing -a pretty high bar.

    After a couple of years fumbling around I discovered instructional videos and took some lessons, and about four years in I was playing stuff by Vai, Yng, Edward and the shrapnel guys accurately.

    But in terms of genuine musicality I was years off being a well rounded player. My playing really came together to the point where my time was good and I could make appropriate musical decisions in my 30s.

    In many ways I'm very happy with where I got to as a player, have been for years. And in other ways, I'll never be happy with where I'm at and what I'm not naturally able to do.

    When I was young I was fearless -about the only time I saw another player and thought Í'll never get to that point was Holdsworth. These days I have a much fuller understanding of the strengths of other players and of my own limitations.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Nov 9, 2017
    Well, considering I started out playing guitar because I wanted to play music just like Manowar, let's just say my priorities since has changed considerably.

    I have become a quite decent guitarist and a fairly adept bass player, good enough for the applications I use it for.

    Plays a few other instruments too on a more utility tire kind of level, like I can play some simple melodies and accompany tracks with chords on a keyboard if I need to, also I have actually become even really skilled, dare I say great, with programming sampled instruments using Reason 5 for when I need a more electronic sound and a DAW's midi grid with various VST instruments for more realistically sounding sampled instruments, also utilizing and programming effects like it was second nature to me.

    Still believe I have some progress in wait as a player, but nothing I really worry much about, as things turned out I guess I have evolved to more of a composer/songwriter and producer than I am really an instrumentalist.

    I am actually really satisfied with the skill level I possess currently, but improvements are always welcome, though I progress much faster as a composer/songwriter and producer than I do on any of the physical instruments I play, and that I am actually perfectly fine with.

    I guess I never got quite as good at playing guitar, or bass for that matter, as I initially dreamed about, on the other hand I am no where near bad at it, slightly better bass player than guitarist, but that is no mystery since all in all I have practiced more bass than guitar, and my skill level is perfectly fine for the applications I use it for, also it's never too late to get better, as for my skills as a composer/songwriter I honestly think I am currently better, and still improving, than I ever wished for and am actually really grateful for that unexpected gift, even if it came in the backdoor while I was just kind of fooling around.

    Honestly never saw that coming until one day I suddenly realized "Wauh, I am actually really good at this", after I had done my solo stuff for a while utilizing various music creation software on my computer as an integrated part of the songwriting/recording process and fairly unnoticeable by me gradually had become better and better, both at writing my own songs, programming music and integrating that aspect into my compositions.

    (Edit!!: Forgot to mention that I also sing, sang in the local church choir from I was like 9 to I was around 18, first in their children choir, then was transferred to their real choir when I was around 14 and my voice had shifted, which by the way happened surprisingly smoothly, never had those weird breakups in my voice. Taught me a lot about harmonies, beside singing of course. Till this day I can make vocal harmonies on the spot like it was second nature to me. Though my voice is not quite as good as it used to be from lack of keeping up with training it.)
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  12. Laurence

    Laurence Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2006
    OK in the CA
    I got better than I ever thought I could, and have played things (solos, licks, shows, recordings, etc.) I never thought I'd play. Yet, I never fully realized my "technical" prowess; I still hear things in my head that I cannot play, and will probably never to able to play.

    I peaked at around age 50, and have been slowly losing command, dexterity, since. I still gig fairly regularly, but I need to play more often (It's my own fault, treat me the way you wanna do). I've also found that I've left some "tricks" behind (stuff I used to play/pull out but no longer do). That's a mistake as an entertaining musician.

    It's been great and I've been fortunate to play with great players my entire life. I've meet a few of my heroes, and opened for some as well. I can't complain.
  13. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    Wanted to be Van Halen. Not even close. Will likely never get there.
    amstrtatnut likes this.
  14. NorCal_Val

    NorCal_Val Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Woodpile, CA
    Well, I sound like me, no matter what guitar/amp/pedal combination I use. So, I got that going for me.
    amstrtatnut likes this.
  15. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

    Oct 16, 2013
    Northern CA
    I wanted to be the best guitarist in the world. At that time, I thought Jimmy Page was the best. I can do many things Page could do but there are a few I havent worked out yet.

    From a technical point of view I dont consider him the greatest anymore. He is still one of my top 5 faves though.
  16. Old Guy

    Old Guy Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    This is a really great topic and discussion.

    I started playing to learn to express myself musically in a way other people would appreciate. I practiced and played a lot, and where I grew up, there was a very rich music scene. Within a couple of years, I had achieved my first goal. I was also asked to gig and potentially tour with a band, so I figured other people appreciated what I was doing. I was a kid then.

    As with life in general, my goals changed with time. Eventually I got to the point where my goal was to just be able to jam with others, but also wanted to push myself to have something a little different to say when I did that. I never quite got there because...

    ...Life took over, and all my musical aspirations took a huge back seat. Now, my goals are to make music that inspires me to make more music. So far so good.
  17. EarleG

    EarleG ® Silver Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    Nashville TN Area
    I don't think I had a real goal. I mainly wanted to learn how to do things that sounded good or
    interesting. Understanding the why it works and how was in there a lot. In some ways am there,
    in other ways still have interest in learning or discovering things. On top of that, remembering
    all that stuff at a moments or so notice. It reminds me of studio guitarist that was asked 30 or so
    years later to play live with the artist on a song that was a big hit. He couldn't remember what he
    played so went out and bought the LP. He sat down several times with it until he finally relearned
    all the parts of the song.
  18. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Exit row seat
    I grew up in a family full of musicians (my mother's side, anyway) and I was basically obsessed with music from the get-go. When I heard "Over Under Sideways Down" -- I was about 6 when it came out and my uncle had a great record collection which lived at my house -- something in me clicked. Electric guitar, yeah!!! I took piano lessons (it was basically a requirement in my family :)) and played trumpet & French horn as well as singing in the choir/chorus. Guitar was the one thing I did for my ownself, and I didn't have any agenda other than playing whatever I thought sounded good. I always wrote as well, songs with lyrics for years until I got weird about my voice and the lyrics I was writing, and besides if Jeff Beck could sell a song by "singing it" on the guitar, why couldn't I? That said, I was good at enough different things, and not so great at guitar that it seemed like a viable career option, so I did other things for a living. Always kept at it with the guitar, though, kept learning new things, and playing in whatever situation I could. Met and hung out with "real" musicians whenever I could. And writing, always writing. Did a record 15 years ago and finally have a new record in process. I'm listening to the rough mixes as I type this and I have to say it sounds like a record I'd really want to hear. (the bass player actually said something to that effect on the last day of the sessions: You know, so much of the time I do a session and I never want to hear the music again. I really want to hear this record when it's finished!) There's plenty of work left to do (actually shockingly little on my part!), but if I end up with a record I really want to hear, I'd consider that success in terms of what drives me, guitar-and-music-wise.
    Jazzandmore likes this.
  19. stratus

    stratus Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    I heard Creams "Wheels of Fire" in 1970 on my friends brothers stereo.....First song he put on was Crossroads! Wow!.....and then "Deserted Cities of the Heart"!....thrn Spoonful!.....What is this?!....That's when it was no turning was in my head. Thing is, I didnt even start playing guitar till 1975! on 40yrs now......I can't believe it.....thank you EC & Cream.....don't know where I would be if I didnt have this moment.....
  20. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

    Jan 13, 2016

    When I was a kid I wanted to learn guitar and be a rock star. No money for a guitar nor money for lessons then.
    Life got in the way after that.
    Nearing 50, I bought a guitar and started learning to play a bit.
    I'm not a rock star but sixteen year old me would think my playing is pretty darn cool.

    ellis dee likes this.

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