Have you ever said, "If I only have gear X, I would be able to play Y!"


I thought it was something made up and then I researched it! $9000 on reverb.com!!! is it famous for super low action?


It was awesome. I feel lucky to have spent my formative years studying with him. I live in Michigan now but I’m originally from Long Island, New York. About 15 minutes from my home was a guitar shop called Focus II (it’s still there, it’s called New York Music Emporium now) but back in the 80s it was THE guitar shop in my area. I had studied with another teacher there when I was younger, an amazing rock and classical guitar player.

After awhile I took time off from lessons to self-study, and when I was ready to go back Al had just come off tour with Michael Bolton. This is back when Michael Bolton was a hard rock singer and not the soul singer he is today. Anyway as soon as I spoke to the owner about lessons he immediately recommended Al and I started 4 years of study with him. Obviously he was an amazing player and a huge influence on my own playing.

I haven’t seen him in a long time, although we are Facebook friends. It’s awesome to see the upward trajectory his career took starting with Alice Cooper and on to Asia and Megadeth and finally to the huge success he has had leading the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All in all a tremendous experience for a young player!


Whereabouts are you in Michigan??


Southeastern Michigan. West Bloomfield.


nice! i’m in dearborn heights. wonder if there are any other Michiganders here on this forum?


I was convinced that my 90’s Mexican Strat was the reason my picking wasn’t up to scratch, @uglijimus. I gave it to a friend, who was amazing player, (& shredder), & that pretty much answered my question.

A tough question, because now, it was all down to me & I knew it…:disappointed_relieved:


I know what you mean. it is both a relief and a disappointment at the same time. Congratulations and you have my sympathy at the same time!


I’ve got some great, bordering on excellent guitars. But I was at a friends’ house during a party once and her ex-boyfriend had a friend of his show up with his Ibanez RG and a small amp. I think he thought a band was going to show up but that didn’t really happen that night but he offered to let me try it out. I’ve tried RG guitars before and they don’t always agree with me but this particular guitar somehow let me play “over my head”, faster and more accurate than any of my personal guitars and they were even asking after I was going WHIRRRR on it “gosh, is all you ever do play guitar?” It was a really different one too: pink, with pink knobs, pink covered pickups, pink headstock, pink mirrored pickguard, and maple neck. VERY eighties. I’ve never really seen another one but if I ever find a guitar that lets me play that well I’ll sell what I have to get it. I had a black strat that was like that that got wrecked in a bad accident and after it was fixed it “wrecked the magic”. Anyway, interesting question: my thinking is: I’ve got guitars more expensive than that RG was but it played like a $5000 guitar in my opinion.


I have tried many different string gauges and tunings. I think the Eb tuning is more pleasing to the ear AND the hands, especially with 9s. I used to play like that for years.

I then switched to Eb with 10s, because I wanted the bottom strings to be tighter when in Drop-D. It was still doable compared to the 9s.

Then I switched to E-tuning (because I collaborate with people that use standard tuning) and I kept the 10s. Besides the guitar sounding brighter (matter of taste if you like that), the strings are much tighter and the 10s in standard mess up my bends and vibrato, because I need much more strength to bend up and do vibrato. Also, I like doing vibrato on the lower strings as well, which is sort of impossible with 10s. Speed suffers as well, because of more strength required to press down. The plus side is that you can really hit hard without detuning or breaking the strings.

Because I will stay with E-tuning (until I have more guitars) I will probably switch to using 9s again or a 9/10 hybrid set. Probably the hybrid set is the best compromise between playability and tone.

(By the way, once I tried 11s in Eb. The sound changed to more bass and volume, which I didn’t like, and to compensate for that, you might as well keep playing with 10s, which are far easier to play.)


I can sympathize. I used to play in drop C with 9s. It was really easy to play fast. Then I went back up to E standard it was shocking how horrible my playing was. I won’t be doing that again!


After that I generally started doing all but the most extreme luthier work myself (setups, setting action, setting truss rod). Still, very few guitars played as well as that strat in its prime.


I thought the same thing dude. I kept saying i just need a better guitar. But no matter how hard i tried, could only afford up to 500$ at tax time. That was it. But then i watched a video about Dimebag Darrel Abbott. U know what? All his guitars were 85$- 125$ in some forgotten pawn shop and nobody cared about them. He would buy them, gut them, and fix em up. And he always played like one of the great gods. Hell, he was and is a great god LOL. But seriously, i don’t think it takes a great guitar to play great, it takes a great GUITARIST-and one hell of a good setup- to play great!!


I think this line of reasoning is only reasonable if it’s in relation to buying something that suits your ergonomics in a way most guitars don’t.

For example, extra jumbo frets make playing easier for people with shorter than average digits. Shorter scale and can do the same. A slimmer profile neck can make a huge difference, too.

I know all these things because as I have begun to get more proficient I began to notice the walls I was hitting related to developing speed and technical ability were due to guitars that made it harder for me to handle ergonomically.

Finding these options has helped me develop my technical ability tremendously.


The advice on this page covers it all almost.

If I may, I’ll add a few points. My apologies if I’m repeating points already made.

2018 is a fantastic time for guitar players to be at it, the gear available is very high quality, plenty of variety and very reasonable.

Music is a journey, your tastes will eventually change/evolve/expand, but don’t worry about that right now.

  1. Identify your current guitar god, high chance that’s the sound you want to emulate at first.
  2. Depending on your budget find the guitar that is closest to that artist’s guitar:
    • take note of the bridge style, Floyd rose, Fender Stratocaster ( 6 point or 2 post ), fixed, etc…
    • pickup configuration
    • string gauge & number of frets, frets the taller the better
    • learn to setup you gear to your own requirements, more on this later.
  3. Body shape, woods, finish type, collars and tuner configurations are secondary.
  4. Amp and stomboxes:
    • Start with a simple analog amp and analog stomp.
      Keep it simple (Guitar -> tuner -> drive -> delay or reverb -> Amp).
      Twiddle less and play more.
      Keep the volume down, you’ll drive your self and household crazy if your
      really going at it. ( A picture of my practice rig is attached )
    • it’s easier and cheaper to get a decent distortion tone than a clean tone
    • it’s expensive to get very high quality amp/stomp tones but the
      budget stuff if picked wisely can get you very very close.
  5. Pick a course on Udemy like Bulletproof guitar with the discounts,
    Ross Campbell’s course is excellent, no affiliation, just personal experience.
  6. Aquire tab of your favourite tracks from your guitar hero, and start bar by bar.
  7. Cross check with friends, forums like this when in doubt or difficulty.

About guitar setups, sting gauges etc. There’s a lot to getting a good tone. A post above with that video covers this topic for the most part. There is a lot to it but its very hands on, practice even that.

Biased content coming up:
One thing not everybody understands is, scalloped necks. The primary reason to use them is for good tone using light gauge strings. YJM uses 8-11-14-22-32-46 to get a certain tone with single coils tuned to E-flat. It’s a very specific requirement of his. The scalloped finger board allows one to play with higher action which is what is required for 8-46 strings to sound huge. I just printed out those rulers and checked my own setup on my YJM, each string was exactly 2.5mm at the 12th fret between the top of the fret and the underside of the string. The scallops don’t stop your fingers at the board and allow the string to embed them selves deeper into your fingertips. This allows for higher action with comfort resulting in better tone. I have tried this setup with 8s, 9s, 10s on this guitar and the 8s develop a certain tone under high gain that the 9s just cannot reach, this is something he figured out a long time ago.

Point is identify your hero and emulate him/her till as much as you need to, but in parallel also pursue a well rounded course to attain that broader knowledge that will help you unlock your very own potential. Learning an instrument can be daunting and very non linear, think of it like a modern free reaming world game like Red Dead 2. Sometimes what you need is a strict linear progression if you can’t find a talented teacher, that course I mentioned is just that.

Get that guitar, time and time again I’ve seen students give up due to trying to play fancy fire wood. Sometimes you need a treat to bolster your enthusiasm and drive.

Supplement your guitar study with apps that will help you learn to read music, I think its a very helpful tool to be able to visualise chords and other things on paper, even if your aim is not to sight read. Ross will cover that if you chose to take his or a similar course.


Ok, it’s been a while since i first started this thread. I now have a Jackson (my first) and I can say without doubt that there are riffs I can play on it, when I could play on my previous. I compared them right after one another and verified it. But as you nailed here in this post, I think it comes down to ergonomics more than anything else. My Jackson is not necessarily “better” than my previous guitar, it just fits my hands better.


No, in my case is more like “If I had X, I could play X.”

And then I buy X as soon as posible.


There are certain things one learns playing on a variety of gear that may very well translate into playing better through the gear that one started with. If you hear the sound you have in mind, playing on the older gear may actually feel better. Holdsworth cost me a lot of money over the years. In as much as I’m able to cop that sound, my Peavey Backstage Plus still works.

In other cases, not knowing, or having the right effect can be a total mind eff if one never had access to them. E.g. fuzz, octavers, and univibe pedals.

I suppose it’s a cliche that top players sound like themselves on any guitar, any amp. Peace out, D