December 2007 Letters

Letter of the Month I got home from work today, and what did I see staring at me from the kitchen table? My next wildest dream answered. Now, I have the tools available at my fingertips to actually play like Danny Gatton! I thought I really had it made when I bought that magazine promising to teach me to golf like Tiger Woods (no such luck), or when I got my first pair of Air Jordans (brick!). I’m sure I’ve got a bat somewhere that will help me hit home runs like Hank Aaron. I know Danny is still dramatically unknown and under appreciated, but don’t tease me like this. I’m going to squint and stumble my way through this one just like I do every month, but now it will be at the hands of the Humbler. No one will ever play like Danny Gatton. Period. But thanks for trying.Jim Pion Chicopee, MA Every month, GP Managing Editor Kevin Owens will pick the most interesting, inspiring, humorous, snotty, honest, and/or confounding piece of feedback,
Publish date:
Updated on


The October issue’s Common Newbie Guitarist Mistakes were the truest words I have ever seen written. I am the only guitarist at my school that learns the entire song, doesn’t tune to dropped-D, and doesn’t play in just pentatonic scales. I am glad someone finally told new players that you can’t be good right when you start. It takes work and commitment. My favorite one of the 40 was forgetting that playing music is meant to be fun. It signifies that it is not about becoming famous or scoring chicks, but about the passion of playing, being yourself, and developing your own style.
Alex Rensch Via Internet

As I was tearing through the October issue, finding myself guilty of over half of the mistakes newbie guitarists make, I began to think, maybe I suck. Now, to give myself the benefit of the doubt, I do take care of my equipment, cleaning/changing strings and whatnot, and I do know how to play many songs note for note. I’ve even had a lot of people tell me I’m good. But in all honesty, I don’t know crap about the guitar—no music theory, no nothing. Sure I know a lot of songs, but like you pointed out, I also know a ton of intros only, too. I’m also guilty of pigeonholing myself in the blues/rock genre, protesting to anyone that anything else sucks. Well, no more. You guys embarrassed me enough. So even though your list shot my confidence down to an all-time low—it also got me wanting to learn more. As I write this, I’m searching the Internet tabs for a new song to play, and I’m looking for someone to teach me what the guitar is all about. But in the meantime, I’m going to sling my guitar down to my knees, crank my Marshall to 11, and rip into 20 minutes of repeated pentatonic scales while telling all within earshot that rhythm guitar is for pansies!
Chris Heinen Via Internet

I got quite a laugh from reading the list of newbie mistakes. However, I have to debate one of the “mistakes”: thinking that playing fast pentatonic-box patterns makes you a hot guitarist. Guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and Zakk Wylde show that this thinking is problematic. Their blistering solos are primarily within a pentatonic-box scale, but nobody would ever argue that they are not hot guitarists. Knowing how to solo 50 different ways in Dorian or Mixolydian mode does not make you hot; it’s what you do with that scale and the feeling you put into it that makes you a hot player.
David Ross Minneapolis, MN

Typically, your advice is spot-on with a little humor thrown in for good measure. But this time you may have gone a little too far for that inside snicker. Suggesting that “wearing the guitar way too low” and “bringing full stacks to tiny bar gigs” are mistakes borders on irresponsibility. Some impressionable young guitarist might not get the joke and really believe you!
Nino Gangi San Diego, CA


How much do I love your magazine? Last month’s Larry Carlton article was truly inspiring. In your own words, the content seemed simple, but to me it was all about a true love and expression of music. The Vox cover story: outstanding. Danny Gatton, George Lynch: outstanding. The new Sonic Essentials section about speaker cabinets, set-necks, etc., is super informative and well done, and the Gary Moore quote of Albert King—“play every other lick”—was life changing. I always feel inspired to create after reading your mag. I’d say don’t change, but every time you do, you get better!
Kevin Jackson Greenwood, IN

I would like to commend the GP brain trust on the new magazine format and the stellar summer feature lineup. The John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, and Alex Lifeson pieces definitely had me giddy walking home from my mailbox. Thanks to the inspiration from this summer’s cover artists, I find myself spending more time with my guitar in hand than ever before, and that’s what it’s all about.
Darren O’Driscoll Cambridge, Ontario


I was excited to receive my October issue and see, for once, that the cover did not have a picture of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, or Zakk Wylde—only to open it up and see a big feature on Vai in the Riffs section. Come on, are these guys paying you? Do you realize there are other guitarists out there? The 1980s have come and gone. As my friend’s mom used to tell me, “you can look backwards, just don’t stare.” You guys are staring. There are many guitarists out there who have actually done something in this decade. In fact, your interview with Brian Silverman was the most interesting piece in the magazine. Try to expand your horizons … please!
Tom Henell Via Internet