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

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

  1. Dobronaut

    Dobronaut Tele-Meister

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    The hard part was tuning! Never could get on with pitch pipes. I didn't have a very good sense of pitch, so string breakages were frequent. Strings were hard to find. I did manage to tie a string together once. We mostly learnt from each other, and as a keen and committed teenage player, I did play for hours a day. My mother reckoned I took my guitar to bed with me! I don't recall it being actually in the bed, but it was certainly in the corner so I could see it when I awoke first thing in the morning. (The only change now is that I have a few more, so they have to take their turn in the corner of the bedroom.) I don't remember any guitar mags in the sixties / seventies, though we had "Beat Instrumental". Anyone in the UK remember that? I remember one really useful article on how to cover your belt buckle in velvet to avoid scratches. I bet nobody actually did that! Slowing down the gramophone turntable to work out a tricky bit on a record was something else we did. And I've just remembered that a local school had a folk guitar evening class. Wasn't keen on the material (Tom Dooley, Freight Train etc), but I did learn a lot of basics. Though I never want to hear McTell's Streets of London ever again. But grateful for an introduction to Gordon Lightfoot. We did "Bitter Green" very sloooooowwwly. Those were the days. I don't want them back!
     
  2. teletail

    teletail Tele-Holic

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  3. stormsedge

    stormsedge Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Cowboy chords.
     
  4. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Perhaps it’s my imagination or coincidence, but I seem to hear a lot of the patterns in the Mickey Baker guitar book in guitar playing on records from the late 50s and 60s. Of course, Mickey Baker himself played on many records.
     
  5. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    Growing up in the 70's, I think more people just played. My mom's family had a Country and Western band in the 50's, and my older relatives always picked at gettogethers. My Kindergarten and !st Grade Music teacher in the 70's taught with a guitar, and I stared at his hands, same with players at the church I went to. People's moms had guitars under their bed, and people found more occasions to play- I always sought out any situation where someone was playing, I used to BORE my older cousin with questions (he could just play cowboy chords, but I thought/think of him as a genius). And yes, dropping the needle- which was tough for me, but necessary. When I got a little older, yes, Guitar Player magazine was a godsend. Remember also, if you were gathering with people 15 yards from an outlet, you didn't have any music at all unless someone broke out the Guild. And that guy was the life of the party.
     
  6. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    I had all the Mickey Baker books - just trashed used copies that were always lumped in a huge stack of sheetmusic at this one music store. Ted Greene, Stefan Grossman, Arlen Roth, every book would just BLOW your mind wide open.
     
  7. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    My uncle taught me some cowboy chords and I watched all the groups on TV that I could. I had a turntable that could be slowed down and you could figure a lot of stuff out. My uncle showed me how to tune with a harmonica.
    I’m not sure young guys can truly appreciate the level of detail available to them today compared to the “old days”. At age 68 I learn something new every day.
     
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  8. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    One thing I see from all my fellow old guys on this thread- that despite the pitch pipes, the crappy cheap guitars, the fact that a good guitar was too far out of the average player's reach, there was DESIRE. We wanted to PLAY. So we figured it out, the hard way. I think that separated the good from the bad quite quickly. If you could play cowboy chords even remotely well on my first Harmony acoustic, you could play anything.
     
  9. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    And when I see this resurgence in those crappy guitars of the 70's I totally CRINGE, and grab my tele.
     
  10. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    My older brother got guitar lessons, old man thought I was too stupid to play guitar so I didn't. (funny that at 55 that still pisses me off a little )
    In 6th grade '75 or '76 we got a new music teacher that gave lessons to a few kids that wanted them. He'd only started playing himself but I learned sort of how to tune and some cords. After that it was my older brother's old books and playing ALOT.
    Didn't get a decent guitar till I spent a summer sandblasting and painting at 17 and bought a Les Paul Custom, still got it.
     
  11. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    And to answer your question- I think there are amazing young people who are blending both their access to the world wide web, and the simple enjoyment of organically figuring out this art form on their own. I would have been SUCH a better player if you'd plopped a laptop on my lap in 1985. I just can't argue that the old way is better, because I know kids today that are doing it just like I did- and they're asking me a s&*+ton of questions whenever they see me. (and I love it.)
     
  12. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

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    Mel Bay, my dads ventures records, and hee haw. I started around '77 at the worldy age of 8. I made nothing but noise until 1980. I played with tv commercials, the radio, tapes, records. Everything, all the time.
     
  13. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    I love showing a young kid a lick an old guy showed me when I was a young kid! I feel like I'm claiming a victory for a time now lost to us!
     
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  14. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    That sounded bad, but you guys feel me.
     
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  15. carpenter

    carpenter Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    60s Mel bay guitar lessons go tell aunt Rhody,Greensleeves. Practicing with a guitar that was bigger than
    I was.When I was 7 years old.
     
  16. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    One of my first teachers had also been Larry Coryell's teacher. There were maybe 10 guitarists in town who had studied or were studying with him. We learned a lot from each other. We would stand at the foot of the stage to watch a touring band's guitarist. We tried to pry info out the band members, and that's where I got a broader sense of how terminology is used. We also got info by crashing other bands' rehearsals.

    I wanted to focus on Freddie Green type of playing. He would write out a chord chart for All of Me, or something. Then a month or two he wrote it out again, but in a different key, different chord types, with a 2 per bar rate of change. A big fun lesson in chord substitution. In order to understand those, I embarked on a mission to learn all the chord spellings.
     
  17. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Ya. Mel bay and greensleeves and me. Glad I had piano before
     
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  18. GEECEE

    GEECEE TDPRI Member

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    Everyone's pretty much covered it. Two things I'll add are the truly excellent guitars available today at reasonable prices and getting a good set up were not available or known back in the day. I remember how hard to play my Kalamazoo single pickup strat was because of what I now know was a poor set up and excessively high strings, and quality between it and a Squier is no comparison. The music store and my teacher were oblivious and knowing no better, I carried on until losing interest. Couple years later I happened to pick up a Rickenbacker and was blown away by the low, fast action.

    Picking up guitar again relatively recently, while the information online is so accessible now - the volume is overwhelming. Like drinking from a fire hose. I spent a fair amount of time sorting through too many websites and sales pitches before settling on a few I could learn from. So maybe it took more resourcefulness and discipline in the past, it still requires commitment, time and practice.
     
  19. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    I remember trying to use pitch pipes, an ancient harmonica and eventually reading somewhere that the old UK GPO engaged tone was a G. So every practice session started with me dialling my home number and tuning the 3rd string to the tone. I've no idea whether it was accurate.
     
  20. GuitarGeorge

    GuitarGeorge Tele-Meister

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    A barely playable acoustic guitar, a pitch pipe, and a Mel Bay Beginners Guitar Book.
     
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