Nearly 20 years ago, I’ll never forget sitting in front of a Zenith TV with my Sunburst Squier Strat trying to learn how to play guitar. I was sitting in this dark brown rocking chair that my mother got when I was first born, and that she still has ‘til this day.
I had played piano, trumpet and saxophone before that, and my folks sold my piano to buy me a Strat at Sam Ash Music in Paramus, NJ. It’s funny, because for 6 years I’d end up working there building studios and selling recording equipment. It was some of the most fun and formative years of my life.
But back to that rocking chair and looking at the TV. I remember the great amount of frustration I had as I watched a rented VHS tape of god knows what awful guitar lesson. My parents had to return the tape soon, and I wasn’t making any headway with learning how to play open chords.
My grandmother was over the house that day and she saw how frustrated I was. Her simple “just keep going, you’ll get it” might have been the difference between me playing or not playing guitar ever again.
These simple words of encouragement helped tremendously. From there I started trying to learn some of my favorite alternative songs, and in turn learned what chords I was playing. I tried to put on Metallica songs to learn how to solo, and try to figure out what the heck Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield were doing in “One”, and tons of other songs.
It might sound cliche, but almost 20 years later those words are still knocking around in my head. From time to time certain riffs or techniques seem downright daunting. Sweep picking for example was something I thought I could never tackle. Lately I’ve been incorporating that into my every day practice routine, “just keep going” and I’ve been able to nail some fun 2 and 3 string sweeps.
If you’re just starting out on guitar, or if you’ve played for years and you’re struggling with something, remember, just keep going, and you’re bound to get it. Start slow, break things down into manageable pieces, and you have the ability to play anything.
Oh, and for fun, here’s a super embarrassing picture of myself during those early Squier Strat years - look at that mustache and that terrible denim shirt.