I am the Vice President of operations at Guitar Player Magazine. I taught myself to play guitar twenty years ago while I was living in San Francisco, but I've neglected my playing for at least a dozen years. This is a blog documenting my experiences learning to play guitar again, working at Guitar Player, experiencing guitar culture, and whatever else I frick'n feel like writing about.
I bought my first guitar at a pawn shop in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. It's a Gibson Epiphone Acoustic that I technically bought from one of those rich-kid hippies one meets while living in San Francisco. I can't remember his name, but he was a tall, thin, white guy with shoulder length dreadlocks. He was the best juggler I ever knew, able to easily juggle five oranges in the produce section of the supermarket at the end of Haight Street. His parents bought him the Gibson, he pawned it, and I bought the pawn ticket and turned it in a day or two before it expired.
I learned chords from song books, and could soon strum and sing a bunch of Dylan, Grateful Dead, and Van Morrison songs. I remember my New Year's resolution in 1990 was to be a musician. I told my friend Annamarie, and she responded by placing a hand on my shoulder and saying, "you're a musician." It was as easy as that.
For a long time I played everyday from the edge of my bed overlooking the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. Sometimes on Saturday mornings I would climb up to the roof of our victorian and play really hard and loud. I was only ever good enough to impress people who never played before, but I know what it feels like to get completely lost in the playing. It's a great stress reliever and mood transistor. I could use that now.
I once played in front of a live audience upstairs at the old Paradise Lounge. I played the Beatles "Act Naturally" with my friend Jeff Hansen's band the Lava Magnates. It didn't come naturally however, I was too nervous to really enjoy it until it was over.
I actually worked for Guitar Player way back then. In 1989, shortly after packing up my VW and moving to SF, I got a job at a prepress company who's customer was Guitar Player. I soon left that job to work at Miller Freeman who owned Guitar Player. And believe it or not, I've been working at the company that publishes Guitar Player ever since.
This time around I want to do more than strum chords. I am committed to learning to play riffs and leads. Stay tuned see how I progress, or let me know you best advice for beginner getting back into it.