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

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

  1. berkleegrad

    berkleegrad TDPRI Member

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    As many have said, learning to play ‘back-in-the-day’ (Late '60s early '70s) involved a Mel Bay chord book and mine came with a record to tune the guitar . Which turned out to be okay because my record player The turntable turned too fast; but, because I tuned to record with the book I was able to play along with the my fav records at the time. It took a few times to realize that the turntable was fast when I tuned to an A 440 tuning fork - the records were sharp.

    not long after, I got a better turntable and discovered I could record the songs on a tape player, then slow the tape player down and it made coping Jimmy Page licks (then others) easier.

    As archaic as all that sounds when compared to today’s technology, we were light years ahead of the cats from the '20, '30s and ‘40s. Because we had easier access to prerecorded music. Which meant we could learn to play by copying music at home. We didn’t have to rely solely on seeing (hearing) other musicians perform live, or listening to the radio or (God forbid ) learning how to read music. Until records came along music was still (mostly) a live performance art. This meant learning to play most instruments involved much more formalized instruction.
     
  2. cob666

    cob666 TDPRI Member

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    It was pretty easy to learn guitar from records, most record players had 4 different speeds, 16, 33, 45 and 78. LPs play at 33 so if you switched the speed to 16, it would play at close enough to half speed that you could hear all the notes and play along in standard tuning, it was just an octave lower.
     
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  3. bluesmanmt

    bluesmanmt NEW MEMBER!

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    I first learned ukelele in the 5th grade. That was really the foundation Then I got a guitar for my 14th birthday in 1966. I'd had some piano lessons. After a few months I got in a band. Then I switched schools and musicians. New bands. I was happy playing Turtles and Beach Boys but then Hendrix came out. And Clapton became popular. After playing a couple years I discovered Mike Bloomfield. And the Beano Album. And BB King. And Abbey Road. So I did a lot of listening. And copying solos and rhythm parts right from the vinyl. Resetting the needle. Lots of scratches. But that was it, man. I took like 3 lessons from a guy that didn't teach me anything. I played in high school bands. The first ones we played pop stuff like The Faces and The Zombies. then I got in band where the organ player had a Hammond M2. We played Vanilla Fudge and The Rascals. Then the fall after I graduated, 1970, I went on the road, well we'd get booked in clubs for like 2 weeks 6 or 7 nights a week, throughout the Northeast...New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, with an 8 piece horn band. We played Chicago, BS&T, Santana. Well it started out 8 pieces and evolved down to 4 pieces including a Hammond C3....always had a Hammond. After a few years of that, 1974, I went to Berklee, learned theory and disciplined technique and got a 2 year diploma. Anyway, I first learned with what I had because I really wanted to play. That's all it takes is the desire....and you'll figure it out.
     
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  4. muudcat

    muudcat Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I started officially playing in '64 and during the summer months we did nearly 60 dates. While school was in session, it was Fri- Sun. but we had to learn songs just by listening to them over and over. Me being the lead singer I had to try to understand the lyrics but figuring out the music was fairly easy with 3 musicians comparing notes. After college started we kept going with even more dates for 10 years. One gets to know the guitar pretty well although I wasn't much of a lead player, I played mostly rhythm but I think I had a good understanding of back beat and worked my strumming with the bass and drums.
     
  5. Henning

    Henning TDPRI Member

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    As a very young boy I had aguitar and learned a few chords by looking at other guitar players. I lived in the country far from guitar teachers so I had to find it out by myself. We are back in the early sixties with no computers, no video recorders and tape recorders economically out of reach, there was a turntable and some records of Jörgen Ingmann I bought. My main and early source of learning was occasionally guitarists showing up on our B/W television. I noticed when they played tunes they played “across the neck” ! I tried to find out how it worked - - voila : I found out how to play a major scale, first over two octaves, later a couples of other usable scales with “tonal space” to both sides of the main major scale. Furthermore I found the parallel to minor scales too. It was great. I started playing tunes and achieved a playing routine being able to play almost everything in any key. As the routine improved I was able to play really fast tunes as latin styles sambas. I had it so that thinking on a tone it was immediately in the fingers, and I could in fact play anything - if I could remember !
    Om the way I found out the rules of how to build chords, and I developed the circle og fifths.
    My skills led to joining a band, and I joined several bands during some years and had a professional carriere though 6-1/2 year. During this carrer I learned the note system and learned a lot by notation.
    I am happy I learned it this way, it saves a lot of time by avoiding waste of time by excersice.
    Later in my carriere I played a lot of bass, and even later I play the piano. My tonal experience and my theoritical skills had helped me ever since.
     
  6. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I used to hang out with a local kid who had a 335 type semi acoustic copy with no amp in his back shed..

    somehow he worked out the riff for this song off the record. I just couldn't get it even after he showed me many times... thought it was really complicated..:rolleyes:

    cut to a few years back when I looked up the tab and realised it was just a scale run down with a big drippy Em chord... oh, how I loved that sound...

    picked up my guitar and played it.... and there it was.... oh yeah... is that all it was...:lol:

    showed it to a gr6 girl in my guitar class one time..... a few weeks later I see her busking outside a local coffee shop. I went and said hello got a coffee and listened to her play some tunes.... the cafe lady was at the door listening and asked her to play one song she played earlier....

    She busted out the shakin all over riff and played the song as best she could and grinned over at me....

    told me later she looked it up on the net listened to it a few times got the tab and learned it...

    you can't buy moments like that....:cry::oops::D:cool:

     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
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  7. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    that guys guitar sounds so good... nice bass,,, :)
     
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  8. rjmachin

    rjmachin TDPRI Member

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    Beatles Complete songbook from which I learned loads of chords, but not how to use them. Could never play the songs or get them to sound anything like the records. It was only years later that I realised they were all in terrible piano keys and would have made a lot more sense if I'd known anything about transposition. Listening to records, back and forth with the needle, trying to work out riffs. Playing 45s at 33, 33s at 16 to slow them down - didn't help a lot to be honest. Nothing helped like eventually playing with other people - looking, listening and learning. Did all that make me a better player? I don't think so - I wasn't learning anything very useful as I struggled along. Learning songs and pieces now is SO much quicker and easier but you still need to put your own stamp on things. YouTube will make you competent much faster, but it won't give you musicality.
     
  9. The Angry Possum

    The Angry Possum Tele-Meister

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    It was boring and it was like driving rusty nails into your head with a hammer, it was so sucky. If I had the internet in the 70s I'd be an amazing f... g player.
     
  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    So, the same as a 3 piece power trio in 2020.
     
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  11. deeval

    deeval TDPRI Member

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    For me learning in the Old Days of the '60s
    I started on an acoustic guitar that was given to me and it only had 3 strings on it, all the E, A, D bass strings, and learned the bass to Louie, Louie. I tried to learn more as I went on with the practice, and then I was taken over by all the Cream and Hendrix and just loved the blues music because it was the easiest to play, and so as time went on and hanging with friends that wanted to also play we started a band around 1967, and that was fun, we even had High school girl groupies hanging around us first paid gig was a Moose Hall and the 5 of us got 25.00 to play, that was for the whole band, and we pulled off with about a 15 song list, and the rest of the time we just jammed, those days will always stay in my memory.
     
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  12. offsideref

    offsideref TDPRI Member

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    Started learning about 1973. Lived out in the sticks, about a 5 hour drive to the nearest city, and the nearest decent guitar shop, luthiers or techs... Also didn’t have much money!
    So, my first guitar was a £8 acoustic. My first electric was second-hand, bought off a mate who was trading up. My first instruction book was Play In A Day by Bert Weedon, or similar. Like most people have said, if there was no guitar teacher around, or none that taught the music you liked, or you couldn’t afford lessons, you worked out stuff by ear, and mainly I learned technique from friends who were better players than I was.
    You could buy sheet music in record shops, if someone brought out an album, they might publish a book of the music. This was in standard musical notation (piano music!) and it showed where the guitar chord changes were, but usually nothing about the strumming pattern. And the chords were “simplified”. I honestly don’t remember seeing Tab notation until the Internet got going. I’d love to know when Tabs actually got started! Tabs don’t teach technique, as loads of people have said, but they are a better starting point than the sheet music that was available when I started, and a bit quicker than doing it all by ear.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
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  13. JBaum

    JBaum TDPRI Member

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  14. JBaum

    JBaum TDPRI Member

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    I remember Louie, Louie. I started about 1967 at 12. I like everyone else went through the British Invasion with the Beetles and the famous "Beetle Song Book". I grew up in Temple , Texas just north of Austin. By about 1968-69 we had a little three piece block band. Mainly instrumental with light amount of vocals (me). In 69 we played parties and USO's (Nam was thick in our psychies). We could play only where ever food sales were 50% I do not think we also knew over 12 -15 songs. However, that opened the door early for me to play in Austin. I met older girls and many other super talented musicians. I learned everything other than basic chords from everyone kind enough to show me in the neighborhood. In a three block radious there were at least 4 great garage bands with front men a couple of years older than myself. They all took me under their wing. They were very kind now that I am looking back. I think that is what kept me ignited as much as the welcome change from strictly "Pop and Country music which dominated Texas until Elvis and others came along. There was something in the water in 67 -69 . Musicians were writing killer stuff and it was melodic with a groove. If you could not hit the groove you could not compete with the competition to work a stage. Battle of the bands were either a lot of fun or a nerve wrecking, ass kicking learning experience. I had good nights playing and then occasionally you just wanted to survive the night. I remember a USO dance were a soldier on his way to Nam in two days asked me to turn my guitar over. He pointed to about 4-5 songs he wanted repeated. I thought we sucked at those particular songs. We played them all two more times to jar heads dancing with their dates like their lives depended on it. I stopped playing after that and played again five years later for two more years in Waco while in college. I did not enjoy the stage. But it is still a huge part of what I am today. Two weeks ago I gave a tele to a thirteen year old girl living next door. I heard her screaming in the back yard a couple of month ago. She needed the guitar. At 64, I have now promised her mother I would come over and show her a little. She likes metal. I am a rocker. Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Who, ZZ top, etcc.. But I am going to teach her a little about "Power Chords and cross my fingers. Good Luck to anyone learning any style of music. It may save you over and over.
     
  15. since71

    since71 Tele-Meister

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    ...more or less every word you said. But Tab is a scourge foisted on us by the devil in an attempt to make everyone's ears lazy.

    Thats one reason why I said in an earlier post that we were much better off.
     
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  16. JBaum

    JBaum TDPRI Member

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  17. JBaum

    JBaum TDPRI Member

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    You were in the right place at the right time. Eric Johnson is one of the best players in the world. Not everyone knows how extremely talented he is on stage. I read your post and woke up when I got to "Lavaca Street". I used to ride up from Temple, Texas to Austin on the weekends in 69. Around 1971 it became every weekend. Around 1970 I lived at "Armadillo Headquarters" every weekend. It was the only place we could listen to great acts and smoke pot without getting arrested and subsequently offered 5 years in TDC( Texas Prison) or Vietnam. I had met Stevie Ray playing at the "Hole in the Wall" when I was around 16 one night. We became friendly over the years. I was very lucky to meet a lot of great musicians including Tom Petty and his band backstage at the Irwin Center. I never met any musicians who could play "Manic Depression " like Stevie or Eric.
     
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  18. Col Ben

    Col Ben NEW MEMBER!

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  19. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Amen, brother!
    I was in the right place, at the right time.
    My family moved to Austin in December 1966.
    I was 9 1/2.
    I got to grow up in “hippie heaven-on-earth.
    UT coeds, great weather, lots of lakes and rivers,
    the Armadillo, Eric Johnson, SRV, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, ARC Angels, and Antone’s.
    It ain’t lost on me!
     
  20. Col Ben

    Col Ben NEW MEMBER!

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    I have often pondered this as I look at the plethora of CD’s followed by YouTube videos, etc., that kids have access to today! When I was young, there weren’t nearly so many players/musicians!

    Back in the 60’s, I had an old hi-fi record player. I figured out how to wire this through my amp. That way, I could play along and the music sounded just as loud as my guitar!

    I started with Creedence albums and learned every song the way they played them. Then I moved on to Grand Funk and did the same. By that time, I felt like I was pretty legitimate as a player.

    We had an older man in our neighborhood that owned the only music store in town. He was an awesome musician, having played in numerous bands and toured with the USO during WWII. He formed a band with us local boys in the town. We were pretty good, too, thanks to his leadership! He booked gigs for us at company bar-b-que’s, Rotary Club meetings, etc. it was a great experience and made for some nice memories.
     
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