Relearning Guitar

Learning how to play guitar…again


Out of curiousity, I had been watching craigslist for guitars just to see what popped. One day an ad for an Epiphone Les Paul Jr showed up. The guy was asking $70. I went out and read reviews, and surprisingly it actually got pretty good reviews for a cheap guitar. It only had the one humbucker in the bridge position. I figured I could buy it, if I didn’t like it, I could turn around and sell it for about $70, or maybe even slightly more. I thought have a cheap guitar that I didn’t have to worry about scratching or dinging could be fun. Maybe I would enjoy playing again.
I emailed the guy and arranged to meet him in the evening at his work. I noticed the ad had been modified to say $80, but when I originally saw it, it said $70. So in my email, I mentioned the $70 price, and he didn’t say anything about it being raised to $80.
I met him at his work at about 7:30, and we went out to his car. I checked out the guitar and it looked to be in very good shape. I checked the neck for warpage, but didn’t see any. The guy had brought a small practice amp. I had told guy I wasn’t any Yngwie Malmsteen. I played a few power chords, and a couple scales. That was about all I actually remembered how to play. EVerything seemed good, so I paid the guy the $70 and took the guitar home.
I plugged the guitar into my Peavey Backstage Plus amp, and goofed around a little bit. I played along with Ween’s Ocean Man which is an incredibly simple song and only has three chords. It was fun. The guitar actually seemed to fit me much better than the Fender Strat. And it had a good sound. It did seem to got out of tune frequently.

Well, I guess I can’t say that I was ever really in love with playing guitar, but I used to like it lot. I wasn’t one of these guys that played for hours a day. And I was never very good. I had people tell me I was pretty good, but I don’t think I was.
But now I had this beautiful new expensive Fender Stratocaster American Standard with Dimazio HS3 pickups just like Yngwie Malmsteen used. But the guitar just wasn’t as fun to play as the Peavey Horizon II or the Peavey Falcon Custom. This guitar just didn’t fit me as well. The harmonics sucked, and I just couldn’t get the sounds out of it that I enjoyed. And I was always a little afraid of scratching it or dinging it. It just wasn’t as much fun.
When I got married and moved, the guitar just sort of sat packed away. Every now and then, I would pull it out play it a bit, or least the bits and scraps that I could remember, and then I would put it away again. It just wasn’t any fun. Eventually I wouldn’t pull it out anymore.

Now that I had my Fender Stratocaster American Standard, one of the things I noticed was that it fit me differently than the Peaveys did. With the Peaveys, my right hand rested nicely on the bridge. I was able to pick the strings, palm mute them, etc. But the Fender felt awkward. But I thought I would get used to it.
The sound of the Fender Strat was thin. It just didn’t have the harmonics of the cheap Peaveys, especially the Falcon Custom with the Jeff Beck pickup in it. I knew that Yngwie Malmsteen installed Dimarzio HS-3′s in the bridge and neck positions on his Strat, so I bought a couple, and installed them. They sounded better than the stock Fender pickups, but still no where near as good as the Jeff Beck pickup did. And I certainly wasn’t about to have my new Fender Strat bored out and fitted with a Jeff Beck pickup. Again, I figured I would get used to it.
One of the plusses of the the Fender Strat was that it stayed in tune a little better when I used the whammy bar. But with the lousy harmonics, I couldn’t do the Van Halen like howls and growls very well.

After I had been playing guitar for a while, I decided I wanted a better guitar. I had been playing a couple strat copies (Peavey Horizon II, Peavey Falcon Custom). I decided I wanted a real Strat. And if I was going to get a strat, I wanted an Fender Stratocaster American Standard. I visited a local music store and saw a really pretty red Fender Stratocaster American Standard witha natural maple fretboard. It was like $700 or something like that. I decided to check out the pawn shops. I hit my favorite pawn shop, but nothing there. I mapped out all the pawn shops down in Tacoma. I figured I would find lots of pawn shops down by military bases. I thought I would have a good chance of finding a Fender Strat. I went out on a Saturday and hit every single pawn shop in Tacoma. It was a fun afternoon driving around the city in my 1967 Ford Mustang. I saw only a couple actual Fender Strats. I saw a ton of electric guitars, but they were mostly cheap junk. One of the strats was a lefty. I thought about buying and and stringing right-handed, but decided that might be a bad idea for my primary guitar. Another Fender Strat had been butchered and I could tell what was original and what wasn’t. So I had no luck in the pawn shops.
I did however stop at a music store in downtown Tacoma, and saw some nice guitars. They had an Yngwie Malmsteen signature model strat. But it cost more than I wanted to spend. They also had a Fender Strat Am Std in this ugly bergundy color. But it was on sale for $550 or something around that. I went back to the first music store where I saw the pretty red Strat. I told the guy there that I saw another Fender Strat on sale down in Tacoma for $550, but that I had been to their store first. And if they would match the $550 price, I would but their strat. The matched the price, and bought the pretty red Fender Stratocaster American Standard along with a hard case.
I sold my Peavey Falcon Custom with the Seymour Duncan Jeff Beck pickup back to my brother for what he sold it to me for. He also wanted the Rockman Soloist back, so I sold that back to him too. I really miss the Rockman Soloist.

After I stopped taking lessons from George, I mostly played on my own, or sometimes with a friend of mine. I had also bought a used classical guitar and attempted to learn some classical guitar. I even took a couple lessons from a co-worker. But it was just too hard, and I was more interested in hard rock/heavy metal stuff. I learned some songs out of various guitar magazines. Guitar Player, and Guitar for the Practicing Musician. I also bought a few tab books, and learned some songs out of them.
Up at the local community college, I saw a 1 credit electric guitar class being offered. I thought it could be fun. It was a beginning class, but I was going to be coming in with some chops already. I still wasn’t very good, but I certainly wasn’t a beginner. And I could use the college credit. Alot of the class was learning how site read. I worked on it, but never got very good at it. It was pain lugging around my electric guitar and amp. Often I would just bring my classical guitar. No one said anything about it though. I remember in an early class, the instructor was playing rythym and having students solo over it. When my turn came, he let play for a while. I threw everything I knew into it. I was hammer-ons, pulloffs, bending, different modes, finger tapping, whammy bar stuff, howls and growls. It was fun. But I pretty much hit my limit, and the instructor knew it. But it was fun anyway.
The intermediate class students were supposed to play a song as a quarter end project. Some of them were pretty good. I remember a couple guys playing a duet of Yesterday by the Beatles. I was in the beginner class so wasn’t required to play a song as a project, but I thought what the heck. I played Battery by Metallica. I put a lot of work into learning it. I did an okay job of it. I hit a couple bad notes in the song. At one point when I hit a couple bad notes into a row, I stopped screamed a loud ARRGGGHH!!!, and continued playing. It’s funny, but everyone thought that was part of the song! LOL! I passed the class (it was pass/fail) and got my credit.

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