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My now-vintage Squier Stratocaster

Above is me playing my 1989 Squier II Stratocaster. The '89 is my first guitar. It's now 25 years old. That's vintage. Today, you don't need vintage to get vintage tone as Squier makes brand new guitars like these that totally capture what vintage Strats are supposed to sound like.

But anyway, being that cars over 25 years old in most parts of America qualify for "historic" license tags (meaning vintage), the same can be applied to guitars as well. If what you have is over 25 years old and still works properly, then yes, it's vintage.

And yeah, that means I have been playing guitar for 25 years.

What have I learned in 25 years of playing?

It would take a very long time to state everything I've learned, so instead I'll make a few points. It's still long but worth the read. Or at least I think so.

Single-coil pickup guitars have the best "personality"

I play nothing but guitars with single-coil pickups in them. I've tried many from skinny Strat coils to P90s to Jazzmaster big-and-beefy. All are great in their own way.

Humbuckers for me have a personality I just don't agree with. Every guitar I've owned with humbuckers in it was nothing I ever got particularly excited about. No, I'm not saying humbuckers are bad. I'm saying I find much more enjoyment out of the single-coil.

Fender design is my favorite

I've bounced around different brands of guitars over the years, but always go back to Squier. And of course, Squier is part of Fender Musical and the only company permitted to copy Fender designs. So in essence, if you play Squier, you're a "Fender guy" because they are Fender designs.

But that doesn't mean I like all Fender designs...

I don't like the Telecaster

Strats I can get along with. The Jazzmaster I totally love, and love that offset-waist body so much I might even pick up a short-scale Jaguar later.

As for the Telecaster, nope. I owned one very briefly (the Thinline model). Played great, looked great, sounded great, but I enjoy the Jazzmaster so much more.

Telecasters have their place. But they do nothing for me.

Playing nothing but metal is stupid

I used to play nothing but metal. Metal, metal, metal all day long. I played metal so much that I bought a Schecter C-1, put away the Strat and didn't touch it for years.

Then I broke out the Strat again and started playing things other than metal. And I liked it. A lot.

I sold the Schecter, went through a bunch of Squier guitars and ended up with the Jazzmaster as mentioned a moment ago. I do not regret selling that Schecter one bit.

Want to advance as a guitar player? Stop playing metal because it's limiting what you can learn.

Playing nothing but cover songs is stupid

There was a time when I wasn't playing anything of my own. Most guitar players are the same way where they will play everyone else's stuff and nothing else.

It's fine to play other people's stuff to learn, but eventually you have to start coming up with your own riffs and songs.

There are some guitar guys on YouTube who play cover songs (of course) and brag about getting every single note correct by stating it in the title of the video. What a total waste of time that is. They basically treat the song they're covering like a game, where if they hit every note exactly perfect, they "win". Sorry, but you're not a winner when you do that, you're a copier. All you're showing anyone is that you know how to copy things well. That's not impressive at all, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just fooling themselves.

It's cool to learn other people's songs. But if that's all you do, it's time to start writing your own stuff.

When I started coming up with my own stuff, I really started advancing as a player.

It is 100% OK to drown your guitar in effects if you think it sounds better

One of the funniest things I've read in internet comments is how guitar guys say that anyone who uses any guitar effects of any kind is "cheating".

There are no rules to how your guitar should sound. None at all. If you want to add in delay, do it. If you want to add in reverb, do it. If you want to add in phaser, flanger, octave, wah or whatever else you have, DO IT without apologizing for it. And if anyone gives you any crap about using effects, ignore them.

Guitar snobs believe that an electric guitar should be nothing but the guitar itself and the amp. To hell with those idiots.

The fact the electric guitar can have so many different effects applied to it is what makes it FUN. Yeah, fun. Remember that? Remember how the fun factor is the reason you play guitar to BEGIN WITH?

On certain songs I write, I will purposely drown the guitar in effects and not think twice about it. Why? Because it sounds cool, that's why.

Every guitar purist snob I've ever known who complains about how other players use guitar effects is a crappy player himself; that's why I pay no attention to what the snobs say, because they're all 100% wrong.

Use effects because they're great. Get a Pandora Mini or a Pandora Stomp. Both are loaded with TONS of effects for hours of experimenting with - and you will. Or if you want to go really dirt cheap, get the DigiTech RP55. The RP55 has a built-in drum machine by the way and 27 effects. Wah, compressor, noise gate, chorus, flanger, phaser, pitch shift, vibrato/rotary, delay, reverb, etc. It's all in there. If you want one with a rocker pedal for wah/volume-rocking, get the RP255 instead.

Need something really, really cheap? Get the Behringer VD400 Delay pedal. The delay effect is probably what you'll find useful more than anything else, and that pedal is as cheap as you can get if you're really strapped for cash but want a cool effect.

Whatever you get for multi-effects, get it and have fun with it. Don't do that guitar snob crapola. Not worth it. And boring.

Record in the cheapest, fastest, least-hassle way and just get it done

If you read my blog at all, you know I use a Zoom R8. It has everything. Yes, everything. You don't even need separate effects because it's all built-in to the unit, along with a drum machine and built-in microphones for quick vocal tracks. The R8 is so loaded with so much awesomeness that I can't say enough good things about it.

I made my personal goal to record things very, very fast while still sounding pretty good. And for the most part I think I pull that off nicely.

When I have an idea for a song, all I do is set a tempo, arm a track and hit record. That's it, and the idea is put into the R8. I don't even plug into an amp because what's in the R8 is good enough. I also have my DigiTech GSP1101 plugged directly into it as well. And yeah, that's an expensive unit, but in all honesty the RP255 can do almost everything the GSP1101 can (and had I known that before buying the GSP1101, I would have bought the RP255 instead and saved a bunch of money).

But anyway, I have my recording rig set up in such a way where all I have to do is dial in the guitar sound I want, set a tempo and record. Done and done - and fast.

Rarely do I ever encounter the "What was that riff I played yesterday...?" thing. When I'm just noodling around on my guitar, when I come up with something I think is cool, I put the riff down right then and there because it's all set up and ready-to-go.

Am I done learning?

No. I'm still learning new things on guitar. Recently I've been messing around with Dorian scales, and that's something I haven't used before.

The way I see it, when you stop learning, you stop playing. So I never intend to stop learning.

I'm not saying I learn something new every time I pick up the guitar. Not at all. But I do try different things often because it's interesting.

I still have fun playing guitar, and I'm glad I still have my first electric. I don't play it often (mainly to preserve it), but that guitar has been with me for 25 years.

Will it still be playable in another 25? I've no idea. Hopefully it will be. 🙂


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