So I've heard and read that sometimes it helps to speak out your feelings to release them. I am a strong believer in the power of intention, law of attraction, "The Secret". I believe we have the power within our minds to control our destinies and also our feelings. So what has plagued me for many years is my feeling towards a very large regret I live with. I don't like to have this regret, but it is a feeling I've held onto for far too long.
During my teens, I was obsessed with guitar. Everyone knows that about me from my days in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A place I both miss, and don't miss at the same time.
I picked up electric guitar at the age of 13 thanks to the influence of my cousin Phil. I spent a lot of time time from that age playing guitar almost non-stop. I was always striving to be better. Not necessarily better than anyone else, just better than I was yesterday. I played with some great musicians at that time and learned how to work in bands. Although my most successful time was playing with Gut Wrench, having recorded a full album and done the most live shows at that time, I much enjoyed my time in Frapperteterhead more. In FTH, we had a brotherhood and friendship. We were all great friends and had some wild times together. I miss those guys and hope they are doing well. (R.I.P. Jay).
But after my father passed away, I was broken inside. It was a very difficult and confusing time of my life. My father's last days were not pleasant and those that know the story, know he suffered from mental illness and was living on the streets his last year. I was lost and unsure of where to move forward. I was looking to my peers and family for guidance and feel I got the wrong advices. I was easily persuaded at that time and made some hasty decisions.
My father supported me greatly with my guitar playing and even helped me out financially as much as he could so I could have decent gear. And when he was gone, my family (mainly my mother) was convincing me it was "time to grow up" and let go of my musical aspirations. Also from someone else's advice, I was better off being single, not getting tied down and let go of someone I cared deeply for, another regret altogether.
So I quit playing music, sold all my gear except for one guitar I held on to (My Ibanez RG570) and moved to another city. My cousin Phil meant well, having provided me with a cheap place to live in Sudbury, but I never felt I belonged there. Within a few months, I returned to the Soo and finished my high school and then went to college.
Although I did enjoy my one year at Sault College for a business accounting program, I never felt it was for me. I do have a higher aptitude for math and numbers, but never did see myself as an accountant. It was an experience no more the less, but during my year at college, I drank and got drunk WAY TOO MUCH. I thought it was part of the college lifestyle.
But once my year was over, I found myself broke, 2 months behind on rent and needing money badly. I ended up escaping to Calgary. I was definitely still lost and trying to find my way. Over the next 8 years in Calgary, I struggled hard, learning a lot of tough and hard life lessons. But one thing remained strongly within myself. I missed playing guitar.
Although I always had a guitar (sometimes a practice amp), I never really did practice or be serious enough as I had before I quit when I was 20. I did somewhat replace it with heavy weight training and bodybuilding, but I was still partying when I could, going out to pubs, and was reminded of that burning desire in me anytime I saw a bar band live. I wanted to be up on that stage.
I started seriously taking my lead guitar studies again after a failed relationship. A very turbulent relationship that was constantly on and off. Once that relationship was finally over, I had decided that I would start making up for lost time. I started buying some gear and even my first digital recording board and started recording my ideas for the 1st time.
I also started seeking out people to play with and slowly, started jamming with people, regaining that love again. I have an old friend from the Soo who moved to Calgary to thank for pushing me to get back into the swing of playing again. (Thanks Dean).
But in a short time, I would find myself on the move again. Longing for my family, I moved back to Ontario. Mississauga this time as I could not find work in Sudbury or the Soo. I had a wonderful year living with my aunt (R.I.P. matante Thérèse) and did more "growing up". But worked a terrible job that had no future, was underpaid and under-appreciated.
Although I enjoyed living among my family and relatives (I would often drive to Windsor to see my mom, sisters and their families), I did not feel like I belonged. My time living in Calgary meant I missed out on my niece and nephews growing up, Do I regret moving to Calgary?, Actually yes I do although I had many good life learning lessons. But I may have had the same lessons had I chosen to stay in the Soo or moved to London which was my other choice. That in itself, is something that I think about often. I need to release that feeling to the Universe.
Within that year in Mississauga, I reconnected with my now wife, who I shortly dated before moving to Ontario. I was more than eager to move back to Alberta to start a new life. Still trying to find myself again.
In Lethbridge, I would really rediscover my love for guitar. Thanks to the influences of my new family, I would discover philosophy and start applying myself in new ways. I started thinking more clearly and with better understanding of who I am. I accepted myself for who I am.
I would also start playing in a bar band and return to the stage again for the first time in over 10 years. That was a magical night and once again, I have my old pal Dean to thank. (And taking over for Tym Morrison in that band was no easy feat!). I would start practicing hard again for the first time in many years.
And since 2009, I have been playing music as much as I can. Having played in cover bands, tribute bands and original bands, I absolutely love it! I even took up bass when I had a hard time finding a band to play guitar in. I just wanted to get some stage experience and return to find a common rapport with other musicians.
But in all, I regret when I stop playing guitar when I was 20. I listened to the wrong people. People I trusted, when I did not trust in myself. One of my biggest aspirations was to go to M.I. (Musician's Institute in Hollywood, California) and had people tell me it wasn't possible because I was Canadian. Then years later, I find out Canadians at that time did go to M.I. IT WAS POSSIBLE! People who had no idea about music influenced me against what I loved.
So I still feel like I'm trying to make up for a decade that I barely played. And now in my early 40s, I feel like I could play forever and want to. I don't plan to stop and will not. I love to shred. It is who I am
Thankfully I haven't had too many like I have had guitars. I remember my 1st electric guitar amp was a little 2 speaker Boss amp along with my 1st electric guitar which was red B.C.Rich Rave II.
Once I started playing in basement/garage bands, I moved up to a Peavey Bandit 112. Not a bad amp but did not have that full tube tone. I had that amp for awhile until I joined Gut Wrench and needed to move up to a larger amp. I luckily was able to pickup a 1st generation Peavey 5150 with 412 cab used.
I kept that 1/2 stack until I had to sell off my gear to go to college. I gave up music for a number of years but periodically played for fun. Once I started playing again, I had picked up a Randall 212 combo that I started jamming around with. Once I started gigging again (Lethbridge) I bought a Peavey 6505+ Head and 412 Cab (with a little financial help). I used this setup during my time in Igniter and Gravity Crash, even adding a 2nd bottom 412 cab at one point.
I wish I could rave about that 6505+ but after a couple years, I started having problems with it. During a Gravity Crash rehearsal, it started smoking. It was before the warranty ran out so the local dealer repaired it. But then it started cutting out intermittently and I had it in for repairs and the issues repeated until the warranty was done. Then I sold it.
Then came my 1st Mesa Dual Rectifier Head that I paired with a cheap Peavey XXX 412 Cab. My favourite tone thus far. Had it for awhile and also pickup up some 412 and 212 Mesa Recto cabs. I also made a trade deal and grabbed a Peavey JSX head which I still own. Swapped the tubes from EL34s to 6L6 and a very nice underrated head. Better clean tones than the Peavey 5150 & 6505+ I formerly owned.
I traded that 1st Mesa Dual Recto head after awhile only to purchase another one (newer multi-watt version) that is my main amp head now. I still prefer to go through a Mesa Cab loaded with Celestion v30s as speakers truly make a difference. During my most recent gig with provided backline, I played the same head through a Marshall cab with Celestion G12t-75s and truly my tone lacked.
Only amp I would consider in the future is an EVH 5150iii. I always loved the 5150 gain sound and the newest model does sound pretty sweet. But I'm rather content with my Dual Recto.
But now with technology having advanced so much with great digital amp profilers like Kempers, would a digital setup is in the future be for me? Easier for travel and consistent tone with recording benefits. We'll wait and see...
Guitars, Guitars, Guitars... yes I have an obsession...
I had an old post on the many guitars I've owned throughout the years and will not repost how many I've actually had (it's a little embarrassing actually). But the majority have been Jacksons, Ibanezs, ESPs, and a few Gibsons.
Best guitar I think I've ever had has to be my black Jackson RR1 USA. Quite honestly, it was the guitar I've always wanted. I've owned a few lower end models of Jacksons RRs including a RR24M and RR3 but the quality of the RR1 is far superior and truly amazing to play. I love it so much, I've ordered another one in white which should be arriving this winter. My newer black Kelly KE2 USA is pretty good too although it's a bit neck heavy. Sweet low action for shredding and is now my main practicing guitar. Honourable mentions are the old red 1991 Ibanez RG770 that I sold to Tym Morrison and a black 90s Ibanez RG570. Those old Japanese Ibanezs were superb!
Worst guitar is my 2008 Gibson Les Paul Standard. I've owned cheaper guitars and could be mentioned but for the money I paid, that Gibson was craptastic! I agree with the online statements of the quality of Gibsons going downhill for years. After owning it only a short while, the neck started warping to the point, the guitar could not stay in tune with the intonation unable to be corrected perfectly. I was so glad to be rid of it. The 2016 Gibson Les Paul Standard was beautiful and better quality, but I cannot stand a guitar that will not stay in tune. Even trying to use the Big Ben's Nut Sauce, I was always pulling my hair out to get it to stay in tune. Could not bend notes on the G string on those bloody Les Pauls without going out of tune.
I much prefer using guitars with Floyd Rose Tremolos. In fact, other than my special, one-of-a-kind custom made V made by Brian Passmore, every guitar I own is Floyd Rose equipped. Even if I don't use the whammy bar much, I prefer the guitar staying in tune and quickly adjustable from the bridge. Just don't break a string.... but that's why I usually bring a back-up.
And the question of the Legators I played? Those wondering I did have an endorsement deal with the Canadian distributor "Anacan" to play those Legators. I overpayed for the guitars in comparison to other makes of the same quality for the media attention only to have them not hold up their end of the contract with any promotion of myself on their website or little media attention. I'm mostly referring to Legator guitars themselves as Anacan did do some media promo. (I pulled most of my demonstration videos off of Youtube awhile back). Shame though as they are well made Korean guitars but honestly, over-priced and the company is making some questionable moves in product changes. No offense to players that like the new headless or fanned frets trend, but I much prefer the traditional 25.5 scale with a sweet in-line 6 headstock. Trying to swim with big fish of Jackson, ESP and Ibanez, Legator will drown in my opinion. In all, I'd rather much play the Jacksons I had always dreamed of playing.
My current arsenal of guitars are:
1. Jackson USA RR1 Black - my new #1 named simply "Jack", kept in 1/2 step down tuning.
2. Jackson USA KE2 Black - Currently my main live axe for SYRYN and yes, Marty Friedman is an influence. Standard tuning.
3. Jackson Indonesian SL2Q Red - Currently my backup live axe for SYRYN.
4. Charvel Mexican So-Cal White - my axe named "El-Guapo" for when I feel like diggin' into the maple fretboard. Killer guitar for rock n blues that screams with Duncan Distortion pickups. I change the tuning on this guitar most and have been using lately for SYRYN rehearsals.
5. And coming this winter is my Jackson USA RR1 white - which will be named "Jill"... haha get it? "Jack & Jill".
Amps... well that's another blog...