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Filling your toolbox

When I first began learning guitar I was heavily influenced stylistically by my friend who encouraged me to play and then I took it from there finding other influences. This was guys like Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch, Vito Bratta, well you probably get the point if you recognize these guys. 80’s hair band metal had a pretty specific set of tools that I needed in my toolbox and so that is where I spent most of my time. I put in my 10,000 hours on speed drills, scales, tapping, artificial harmonics and every other trick you’d hear from those players.

Ironically, prior to picking up the guitar, I was way into country groups like Alabama, but never played any of it. When I made the transition to country guitar, I felt like I had about 20% of what I needed in my toolbox to become proficient. So I went to work filling my toolbox again and what the heck does that have to do with anything? Well, here’s the point. As a guitar player, if your toolbox is full, by this I mean the point where knowledge and technique are locked in, creativity can just flow without giving thought to it.

The reason I woke up thinking about this was that I had some moments this morning where I started doubting myself about my own dreams, what I’m doing, my health and so on. I mean, it was such a scatter shoot of thought filling my head, I wasn’t sure what was happening. Here I am almost everyday giving what I hope is insight to dreaming bigger and achieving it and now this. But it also occurred to me that perfection is not the goal. Not in my guitar playing or in my life.

The goal is to live a life of creativity and a love for what I am doing but also a love for others. And the “toolbox” for this is place I can reach into if moments like that occur. For me it’s an audiobook from someone I respect, spending quiet time just breathing and relaxing, playing guitar, hugging my wife, petting my dog, etc. Essentially, it’s anything I have recognized that will put me back in the place I need to be. It’s also wise at these moments to take a look at what might have triggered this. Was it a TV show or movie, negative talk from friends or something at school or work? This is valuable, not to blame, but simply to learn from for the future. If I know that too much sweets before bed will lead to a headache the next day. The solution is kind of obvious, don’t you think? Now, if you don't mind, I going to go have some fun in my guitar toolbox.

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