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My name is Dave Smith. I’ve been playing guitar for over 10 years now. I’m 56 and I got back to guitar playing as a way to relieve stress. This is probably one of the most cringe-inducing stories you will ever read related to guitar. I know many people will relate as guitar stores can be very intimidating. Here’s my story…
I wanted a new guitar amp. My little 5 watt practice amp just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So I went to my local guitar store.
It was hot.
I live in Georgia, so the heat in the summer time is almost unbearable. Anyway, as I walked into the store, I noticed a couple employees gathered around another customer. What happened next would leave most guitar players shaken.
Before I tell you this story, let me back up a little.
I used to HATE going to music shops to try out gear. I couldn’t shake this feeling that the staff and other customers are highly skilled, judgemental virtuosos.
If you ask to play anything over $500, they just stand there and watch, scrutinizing everything you play.
Last time I had that feeling was when I was a teenager! Learning to drive with dad in the passenger seat.
When people watch you that closely, you end up making mistakes you normally wouldn’t. Do you know that feeling?
The underlying vibe is “you suck at guitar”. Yeah, not a great confidence booster lemme tell ya.
I don’t have this angst about my playing anymore. And I’ll tell you how I conquered it in a little bit.
But back to my story…
So I’m in the guitar shop, notice the employees gathered around another customer. He’s playing a tele through an Orange combo 2×12. His back is to them so he can’t see or hear them. And they are just laughing and making fun of him.
Every sour bend.
Every attempt at a riff…
…would give them a laugh.
I don’t think they even cared that other customers in the store could see them.
But here’s the kicker. After a few minutes of this, one of them reaches over, taps the customer on the shoulder and says…
“Sorry, I need you to turn down. You are annoying everyone with your playing.”
I could see this guy’s spirit crushed right then.
He sat the guitar down and walked out in shame.
I ended up leaving the store without buying anything that day.
On the way home I thought hard about what just happened. I realized guitar playing is in my soul. I’m never going to stop playing.
But it really bothered me that I was so embarrassed to play in front of people.
That’s When I Decided To Fix My Guitar Playing
I started a journey that day.
I read every book I could find on learning. Many not even related to music. I watched countless videos, bought “learn guitar” DVDs and online courses, and immersed myself.
About a year later, I’d had some pretty major breakthroughs in my playing. I was no longer ashamed to play in front of people. If I played a riff or a song, people would recognize it.
Then, I started playing at open mic nights and eventually started a band with some of people I met.
I even started teaching guitar to quite a few people.
After much prodding from them (and my wife), I decided to write a short book. A book about learning guitar later in life. And since most people are learning guitar online these days, I approach things from that avenue.
My goal was to distill down the major things to look out for. What to do and what NOT to do.
Things that are often overlooked by most guitar teachers.
I often wonder about the guy in the store that day. Whatever happened to him. Did he decide to do something about his playing, or did he quit? I guess I’ll never know. I hope he took action and used the experience to improve his playing.
What will you do?