It was sometime in the summer of 1985. I was a young, skinny, pimply faced teenager who had just started taking guitar lessons at the local music store. My Mom had rented me a Gibson Explorer with the only stipulation being, I take weekly lessons. Now a junior metal-head and armed with a black guitar, there was no stopping me.
I’ll admit, those first few months of learning how to play were rough. I had to endure my siblings berating me for playing “the same thing over and over” and to this day still have nightmares about muddling my way through a Mel Bay lesson book and painfully maneuvering my left hand in a futile attempt to form a “G” chord properly.
Fortunately though, my teacher always saved the best part of every lesson for last. Towards the end of each session, he would take a recording of any song I brought in from home and we (or should I say, “HE”) would figure out the chords to it for me. He was one of those little weasels who could figure out any song and lead on the guitar just by listening to it on the stereo. So songs by Bon Jovi, The Scorpions, AC/DC and Quiet Riot were all quickly added to my repertoire. My arsenal of music was slowly beginning to grow, and I was on my way to becoming the metal head I wanted to be.
But still, it felt like something was missing.
One day, I was at my local music store performing my ritual of staring at the expensive Gibson Les Paul guitars hanging on the wall when I happened to pick up my very first guitar magazine. As a new player (and well before the advent of the Internet), those magazines were like the Bible. As I perused through the pages of gospel, I suddenly stopped when the face pictured in this post caught my eye. It was a picture of Doug Marks and an advertisement for his Metal Method guitar lessons.
These were lessons that were geared towards teaching how to play “METAL”, which was right up my alley. So, over the next few years I supplemented my weekly guitar lessons by purchasing all eight of the initial lessons and immersing myself in playing chords and leads geared towards the style of music I wanted to play. It was wonderful.
The thing I loved the most about Metal Method was the fact that there was always something you could use to make you better. And it wasn’t something that you had to rush to figure out; you could take your time with it. I’ll never forget the first time I learned how to play the two-handed tapping method that Eddie Van Halen made famous. If you listen to Eddie do it, you say to yourself: “This is impossible”. But the fact is, as long as you have the desire to play it, you can do it.
I’ve come a long way since the day I first picked up that tattered magazine. Today, I actually own one of the Les Pauls I spent years gawking at on the rack. And Metal Method is still going strong; continuing to make countless guitarists better players.
Even I, someone who now plays “G” chords with ease, recently checked out some of the updated lessons and still benefited from them. But I suppose that’s the real power and joy you get out of being a musician, no matter how long you’ve been playing.
You truly never stop learning.
You can read my Guitar World interview with Doug Marks from Metal Method Here.