It’s been 7 years since Ben Eller started his YouTube channel, and in that time he’s amassed over 150,000 subs watching his down to earth, funny, and easy to understand guitar lessons.
What really kicked “Uncle” Ben’s channel into high gear was the introduction of his This Is Why You Suck At Guitar series. In each video he focuses on different aspects of your playing, and how you can become a better player. The other series that’s been really helpful are his Weekend Wankshop vids where he breaks down famous riffs - which is currently at over 190 videos!
Whether he's swirling guitars, playing with his 80's band, talking horror or hanging with Andy Wood (another amazing guitarist, who’s band he plays bass in) it always seems like Ben's doing something awesome and musical.
Last year while I was working on the Song In September month I was lucky enough to take a lesson from Ben. It was awesome to learn from someone who loves guitar as much as he does. Everything was so easy to understand, and even after playing for 20 years I was picking up new stuff I hadn’t thought about before.
I’ve been wanting to start the 5 Questions series for a long time, in which I talk to different guitarists, educators, and more and ask them guitar related and music questions, and some bonus questions for fun. I've gotten SO much after watching Ben's videos over the years, which is why I’m so happy I was able to start the series off with him. Hope you enjoy!
What's the best thing you've learned on guitar, that's made the biggest impact on you as a player?
I think when my brother showed me how to play "Folsom Prison Blues" before I even made the decision to learn guitar was pretty huge because playing music was just something I had NEVER thought I would be able to do.
Who are 3 musicians (guitar, bass or otherwise) that have been on repeat for you lately, and why do you like them?
1: Ghost. I just cannot get tired of this band, especially their first record, "Opus Eponymous". Great songwriting, great melodies, and a hearty dash of Satan.
2: The Fearless Flyers. Super up-tempo instrumental funk that just makes me so happy to hear. Incredible grooves, nasty bass playing, and super funky guitar.
3: Knower. I love this band so much. It kinda sounds like if Berkelee grads were in charge of making pop/dance music. Give their album "Think Thoughts" a listen.
What do you wish you knew before you first started playing?
To not give up playing video games, because I would have a more lucrative future in gaming than shredding!!! But past that, learning how to improvise should have been a bigger priority in my early playing. And to save up and buy whatever gear I really wanted rather than buying stuff that was "close enough" 3 times over. Buy nice or buy twice!
If you have a practice routine, what does it look like? If you don't, what do you do in place of having one?
No, I don't. I've found most of my favorite players don't either. I find myself playing songs, improvising to tracks, transcribing, and playing mindless picking exercises while watching movies/youtube almost every day though. Nothing terribly structured.
Favorite horror movie and video game of all time, and why?
Favorite horror flick has got the be The Shining. The setting, the performances, the soundtrack, everything is perfect. It's not loaded with cheap jump scares, either, it relies on atmosphere and tension to build the mood. I've seen it a billion times and i love everything about it.
As for video game, it really is tough to choose one, since I like so many different genres of games. But the first 3 that come to mind are:
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Maybe the pinnacle of 2D gaming. Huge open world map, heavy RPG elements, TONS of weapons, items, and armor, and one of the most gorgeous soundtracks of any game. I have damn near every item drop from every candlestick in the game memorized. Obsessed with this one.
Final Fantasy VII. This one will always be one of my favorites! My best bud and I spent an entire summer playing this one when it came out. The pacing of the game, the environments, the cool mini games, the characters, and especially the soundtrack are amazing. This game was such a HUGE leap forward on the technological side of things at the time, too, everything about it was groundbreaking. I have a save file with EVERYTHING maxed out (including the game clock)!
The Katamari series (especially Damacy). I have the weirdest obsession with these strange Japanese games. There's something about rolling a ball and picking stuff up that just makes sense to me. I go through phases where I seriously can't put these games down. Just like the other games I've mentioned, this series always has an AWESOME soundtrack, too.
Bonus: Favorite paint job on a guitar (one you've done or seen)? Favorite lesson you've given on YouTube?
I think my favorite paint job I've done is on Zuul, my black/purple/lime green swirled RG7620 that i did years ago. I chose those colors to reflect the paint scheme of the Grave Digger monster truck, which was my favorite when I was only a young Uncle.
As for favorite lesson I’ve given, that's hard to say, but I really love the Halloween Horror lessons I've done on Weekend Wankshop the past couple Octobers; in these lessons, I've broken down my arrangements for some of my favorite horror movie soundtracks. "Laurie's Theme" from Halloween, "Tubular Bells" from the Exorcist, and "It Was Always You, Helen" from Candyman have been some of my favorites.