What was learning guitar like in the 60s and 70s?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Telephonist, Jun 6, 2020.

  1. Direwolf

    Direwolf Tele-Meister

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    I started playing in 1968. I used a Mel Bay book to learn chords. I learned songs from records. Scales were another thing altogether. I learned leads from records and had no idea what a scale was. Learned about them from music classes in school and other players. I remember the first time someone showed me the pentatonic scale he drew it in a notebook. And that was just the first position. I realized, from learning leads from records, that you could move up and down the neck. I just found the notes in different positions on the neck and wailed away. A few years later, when I saw it in a book, I realized I had it right. Good way to learn the neck. Just took a long time.
     
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  2. Direwolf

    Direwolf Tele-Meister

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    Man, that ain't no lie!
     
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  3. Maguchi

    Maguchi TDPRI Member

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    We learned from listening to and copying recordings, watching guitarist on TV, movies or videos (VHS tapes), guitar method books and magazine articles. Also playing with other guitarists and picking up their tricks as well as watching guitarists live from bar bands to major concerts.
     
  4. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    my biggest issue was I had questions I could not get answered, that through time became a realization and I had to study by myself. but I had lots of time in the yukon to do so. my brother and i tried the local music teachers from the high school but it turned out we knew more about guitar than she did , and mercifully we found out after our first encounter.

    I overwhelmed myself with details like I had to learn all keys and associated chords , it hadnt dawned on me that there are just a handful of first position chords that are movable forms, or that you can move more fluidly if you change your fingers to play chords this helps with voicings during the changes . a friend of mine studied very hard and one day he described the TTSTTTS for the major scales and modes , of course this was over my head , so I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote out all the scales that had 5 tones and 2 semi-tones in ascending order and found out how these formulas rotate through this pattern befor repeating . then how the modes all fit , this was an aha moment for me , next came the types of I,II,III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII notes there were to make up chords over a 2 octave range and it was another AHA moment because the lightbulb over my head got brighter, because I ws teaching my self keyboard as well and I could envision the chordal structure , the next kicker came when I could see how inversions were applied . now it all made sense

    Now i was ready to learn styles, techniques and chordal voicings of other people, I had resisted learning how to play others music because I could not do it justice and this was a slow process at best , and one I dont have fully down yet , things like cyclic picking I am lousy at , EG Us & them PF or From the beginning ELP I lose rhythm quickly sometimes other times I nail it , but Im working on that.
     
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  5. nrand

    nrand Friend of Leo's

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    Answer: Dave Brumble - For me the best thing that ever happened was finding an incredible teacher who was passionate about music, teaching, and people. When stationed at Ft Bragg in the 1970s I was really lucky to find him, and he inspired me to want to learn.
    I am sure some you from NC and elsewhere would have heard of Dave - a former studio player for MGM among other gigs, who studied at Berklee and counted Segovia as one of his teachers.
    A few years before I met him he discovered he had MS and could no longer play professionally.
    He then devoted his life to teaching as long as he could still play a bit and was very active doing things for others in other ways.
    Dave taught me more in a year than I could ever use in a life time. I heard from his wife a few years ago that he had finally succumbed to his illness.

    As note, Dave explained to me that he first began learning by listening to vinyl records and playing them til they were worn out.
     
  6. Telesaurous

    Telesaurous TDPRI Member

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    I started with lessons back in '65. Sat across from the teacher and learned chords and songs, but never learned any theory. So when it came to playing single strings or changing key I was totally lost. I did learn some surf songs like walk don't run and pipeline on single strings but had no idea what I was doing. Then I got a band together and I would tell the teacher what song we wanted to play and he would teach me and the bass player. We got a guy who could play lead and he was much better and could learn by ear. He would help arrange the songs and teach our parts. We actually got pretty good that way. We would also go to see live bands and stand at the front of the stage and take notes. We got shooed away more than once by people who didn't want us to copy what they were doing. Sometimes when the guitar player would see us writing down chords they would turn their guitars away so we couldn't see what they were doing.
     
  7. Mozak Player

    Mozak Player NEW MEMBER!

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    I learned as an early teen in the late 70s. The local music store had a good teacher who definitely would teach to Clapton, Hendrix, etc. But I couldn't afford it. I remember a lot of time spent hitting that rewind button on an old tape deck to try to figure out parts. Eruption (Van Halen) was a *****! And since you didn't have access to a wealth of material like you have today with youtube, what you did have was very influential. I remember I had this one book that I spent hours with. Can't remember the guys name, just recall he had an SG. But I can go back and still hear my playing in a lot of the stuff from that book.
     
  8. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have wondered this often, and also wondered how drummers in the 60's and 70's became so good at keeping tempo without click tracks.
     
  9. Cyrus19

    Cyrus19 TDPRI Member

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    Christmas 1968 got a Yahama steel string bottom of their line guitar. Also a Chet Atkins "More Guitar Country" album from the 99 cent bin, and Fun With The Guitar by Mel Bay. Learned the songs in that book, just to learn chords. Then I got a Peter Paul & Mary book, and a Sounds of Silence Anthology. Worked thru them cover to cover for a year. Saw a Moonlight in Vermont transcription in a Guitar magazine. Bought a Flamenco without Tears book - had a classical Aria by then. Took one lesson where he taught how chords were constructed. I figured things out on a piano. Transcribed 3 or 4 chord songs from a Baptist Hymn Book.

    Learned a syncopated finger picking pattern from a guy while in the navy.

    I could never figure out how to get the "blues sound" until 20 years later I offered to pay a kid to "show me how you do that". He did a data dump on me resulting in learning chord shapes up the neck. His dad was a big-band era Jazz player. He was a Clapton fan.

    The dial tone was B. Probably played out of tune for 20 years. Any time I played for others it was an embarrassment. It's better now by far.
     
  10. gitapik

    gitapik Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Lessons.
    Wear the grooves out on certain songs of albums (and
    after that, wear your cassette tapes out).
    Mel Bay books (followed by lots more...anyone remember Chord Chemistry?)
    Do it by ear and add your own.
    Guitar Player magazine.

    Might add that it saddens me whenever I hear “ Back in the day” when it’s applied to me. But I used to say the same thing, so what goes around...
     
  11. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    could we ever imagine how some one like Charlie christian , Les paul , or Chet Atkins became as advanced as they were to play in orchestras and studio proficencies? My Gawd!
     
  12. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Poster Extraordinaire

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    Putting a few quarters into a sock, letting the sock drag on the LP Record to slow it down...knowing what key z song was in and tuning down your guitar to match the dragging LP. I learned the whole "Johnny Winter And" LP this way.
    :confused::eek::twisted:;)
     
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  13. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    That's it! Thank you beagle!
     
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  14. dodona

    dodona Tele-Meister

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    In 1970 I found myself as one of two or three guitar players of the whole region knowing how a blues scale works. All the others played diatonic scales they learned in school, wondering that it doesn't sound like Koss.
    This advantage opened the door for playing with older, experienced musicians.
    To the mid of the 70ths some transcripts were offered in the few shops. One has to pay for it. Nothing was for free. Hence we studied seriously.
    We changed tubes of the amps only when broken. Nobody knew what biasing is.
    The music advanced very fast from beat, synphonic, british blues, rock, psychedelic, progressive, finally jazz rock. I gone through all of it.
    Finding drug-free appropriate musicians was as hard as finding a room to practice.
    As the discotheques became viral it became even harder to find jobs. To the end of the 70ths this all stopped. The great decline, the disaster of punk and new wave. A gorgeous decade had gone and I became much depressed.
     
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  15. padreraven

    padreraven TDPRI Member

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    A lot of the same stories as mine here but I might have been earlier. I took a basic folk guitar course (10 lessons) at the YMCA on my $10 Harmony that got me started at 16 (in 1962) after trying for years to figure it out from bad instruction books. A lot of us played in coffee houses. and we would sit outside or in the hall or wherever and try stuff together and compare notes when we weren't performing (none of us ever heard of a "green room"). We had magazines like "Sing Out" and a lot of artists put out books with their arrangements from their albums or set lists. But most important always was what others described above, drop the needle back into the groove, rinse and repeat. I came up with a few kind of comical misunderstandings of the lyrics on some songs in those days, and I wasn't the only one. There were some songs I just couldn't get the lyrics. It was easier to figure out the guitar parts.
     
  16. padreraven

    padreraven TDPRI Member

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    Clapton said he was self taught from listening to records. Hendrix learned from friends, and he was well-known at 14 or 15 for showing up with his guitar at a club near Seattle called "The Spanish Castle" and asking to sit in at the end of sets by the bands that played there (thus his song, "Spanish Castle Magic"). Some said no, some said yes.
     
  17. Lyle2010

    Lyle2010 TDPRI Member

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    I can say it was both exhilarating and terrifying.
    I didn't know it at the time, but I had the best teacher I could have asked for in the 70s. His name is Dave Whitehill. He lifted everything from vinyl and transcribed it right in the lesson room. He knew everything. All the Zeppelin open tunings, all the theory, everything. When I was 16, after 3 years of watching his craft and cutting my teeth in a garage band, he disappeared. So, I picked up where he left off. I put headphones on, dropped the needle on the vinyl and taught myself all of the music my band was into. I have to tell you that there's something strange that happens when you lay your hands on the fretboard and decode the sounds of your heros. It's like getting a window into their brain...like voyeurism. I was hooked and I couldn't put the instrument down.
    The guys playing clubs in my area of Western NY were like pro level. It was some scary competition. When I was 15, Billy Sheehan's band played at my HS. For me, playing live was nerve shattering. I nearly quit.
    Years later after I was gigging in clubs, my instructor resurfaced. He was transcribing for publishers and magazines. He invited me to get into transcribing. No thanks. I know my limits.
     
  18. niteman131

    niteman131 TDPRI Member

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    In 1965 (I was 12 years old), I started learning chords and songs from Beatles "Song Books", which helped build up my knowledge of basic chords and progressions (and some "not so basic" chords as well). I never learned to read sheet music very well, but some very basic music theory I learned in Jr. High School did help quite a bit.

    Then, I started learning lead guitar parts by ear off of vinyl records (one riff at a time until I could play through the whole song). Many times, I had to slow 33 RPM albums down to 16 RPM to really learn the riffs correctly, BUT, since 16 RPM is not exactly half speed, I would have to re-tune my guitar every time I changed speeds ! If I had a tape deck with variable speed control back then, it would have made things alot easier !

    In the early 70's there were some good guitar books for learning different scales and modes (one very good one I recall, was by Howard Roberts). Over time, my knowledge of scales and music theory, and lots of practice, made it easier to learn songs by ear.

    With the amazing technology available now, so many amazing players out there, and excellent lessons on YouTube, etc. I feel it's much easier to learn now than it was in the 60's and 70's. However, without the awesome foundation of so many innovative and creative players from the "Golden Age" (Clapton, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, just to name a few), we wouldn't be where we are today.
     
  19. telejnky

    telejnky Tele-Meister

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    This +1
     
  20. Joe Vervoordt

    Joe Vervoordt NEW MEMBER!

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    Bet you're sorry you asked old people about the old days!!!!

    LOL Got my first guitar 2 weeks before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan for the first time in 64.

    Took maybe 10 lessons in my life at different local music stores.

    Got 50 cents per week allowance for doing chores and spent 75 cents on sheet music for "Paperback Writer" (The Beatles) AND THERE WAS AN ERROR!!! That was the end of sheet music for me. Not happy, and then I found I could figure it out by ear pretty readily by just imitating the individual string notes I heard.

    From then on it was non-stop destruction of vinyl records learning to play entirely by ear. Trying to play along with the record EXACTLY over and over and over.

    I had to learn what the notes actually were (A,E,C, etc.) later on. So I wound up learning music theory backwards. I'd learned all the tonal and rhythmic principles by ear and experience, and then had to learn what music theory actually called it! Not too efficient! LOL There was zero music education in Catholic school.

    The arrival of single note "riff rock" in early 67 helped, and figuring out the melody to "In A Gadda Da Vida" and "Sunshine of Your Love", and "White Room" and starting to recognize the sound of note intervals and relating it to specific songs opened up the skies for me.

    For example, a 4th interval was the sound of "Street Fighting Man", a minor third was "Spoonful", a major third was the second note of "Oh Bla Di, O Bla Dah", and so on.

    It's how I understand music to this day. And so when someone plays something, I can pretty much play it back exactly, or very close to it, immediately, because it's a language you learn. It's all about the note intervals.

    It was actually the Nashville System, but no one had named it yet, I think. I certainly wasn't aware of it!

    Years of sitting on the edge of the bed just playing endlessly.

    And when you went out, all your friends were musicians. We all jammed, and I mean really JAMMED for hours on end. It's ALL we did. We lived, and breathed playing. And you went to lots and lots of live shows and studied the musicians.

    Playing out at municipal block dances or CYO dances and getting PAID!!!! For playing to your friends and peers!! Playing Battles of The Bands!

    A 3 piece power trio in NY/NJ Metro area typically made about $120 a gig in 1969, and man, you were a pretty happy 14 year old!!

    You were expected to learn to improvise and play off the other players in the band (musically "talk" with your other band members) and change keys on the fly. If you couldn't improvise readily you were turd.

    Then learned to create our own solos, rarely playing things exactly the same way twice, because that would be freaking BORING. Everything back then had to be brand new and fresh!

    There was always an expectation that you always had to be moving forward and becoming a better player.

    Hendrix showed up - MORE practicing!!!! Page and Zep showed up in 68. Prog rock showed up in 69 (King Crimson - Robert Fripp!!), and that was the beginning of the super guitarists.

    Mahavishnu Orchestra came along in 70, and that was the beginning of Fusion and the real monster guitarists like John McLoughlan (Mahavishnu Orchestra) , Tommy Bolan (Billy Cobham's "Spectrum" album), Jan Ackermann (Focus), Al DiMeola, Bill Connors (Dear Lord, check out the album "Step It") and the rest of them.

    It was purely time and obsession, and EVERYONE was TOTALLY into music back then! The first thing you would ask someone when you met them was "what bands are you into?". The entire culture was music-centric then; you can't begin to imagine it.

    Things had become super competitive musically, and by about '74, music with bands like Emerson Lake & Palmer, YES, and the '74 version of King Crimson, it just got tired and overdone. And then Disco came, followed shortly by Punk and New Wave, neither of which was about any kind of instrumental virtuosity.

    I almost feel guilty it was all so incredible. Every day something new and amazing was arriving on the scene. Wouldn't trade it for anything. But by '74, virtuosity had reached entropy for most folks, ya know???
     
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