So there I sat, inspired but with no idea how to recreate what I’d just heard and would hear again many times over. I told my mom I wanted to play the guitar. She bought me a guitar/amp combo. I think she paid $99 for it. It was a Harmony guitar painted in an orange sunburst. I remember opening the box, pulling it out, plugging it in to the little peanut butter sandwich size amp it came with. I let go a powerful strum and it sounded well, terrible!! Not at all the way C.C. Deville’s sounded on the Poison record, or Eddie Van Halen’s on 5150, or well anyone album I was spinning at the time. See there’s this little thing called distortion, but I didn’t know anything about that at the time. For that matter, I didn’t know anything about tuning it, either. I didn’t even realize on an electric the strings even moved! Of course, I never even thought of the mechanics of how a guitar actually makes sound. I just knew it didn’t sound anything like what I heard.
It wasn’t long before I started taking lessons. Mike was my instructor, and he was an incredible teacher. So, once a week, for 30 minutes at a time I had my brain filled with the concepts of how to play. It was up to me then to go home and put in the practice. Which I did not do much of the first couple of months. Why? My guitar sounded nothing like what I heard on the stereo. Even though Mike had worked up “Talk Dirty to Me” for me and in a short period of time I was able to play it, it still sounded nothing like the record. I didn’t know why.
Chris told me, “Dude, you need a distortion box.”
I had no idea what that was. So for Christmas that year I asked for only one thing….a distortion box. Mom and Granny gave me the same look I gave Chris and said the same thing….
One evening before my lesson while I was hanging around the music store I asked one of the people that worked that worked there how much a distortion box was. The answer, between $30-$100. Reasonable, I guess. Not long after I walked into a music store in Norman with Granny and Mom and I found a distortion box. $30. Keep in mind I still had no idea how to use it, but I had one and inspired I was again.
I got it home and plugged it in. Hit the pedal and Voila!! Now I knew what I had been missing! “Talk Dirty to Me” finally sounded close to what was on the stereo, and I was on my way. From that point forward I had this voracious appetite to play. I couldn’t get enough. And as with most things the more I did it, the better I got. Which only made me want to play even more.
It was the same for learning. I gobbled up everything Mike could throw at me. Songs, technique, theory, all of it. And so it began…