Miscellaneous Rumbles

What was your first?


Bad Moon Rising. I learned it in about an hour, because my unofficial guitar teacher made me play it over and over.

“That was good. Now again, 1-2-3-4...”


As the question doesn't specify instrument, I'll interpret it to mean "stringed instrument," because I started on piano at 6 or 7 in John Thompson's 1st Grade Book...which means my first song was *C-D-E" (who had a tree, full of apples as can be), and that's not very colorful.

So it would be something on the tenor banjo I started in 5th grade ("if he sticks with that, we'll talk about a guitar"). Maybe "Blowin' in the Wind," because at 10 I had so much to protest. (I'd rather have learned "Puff the Magic Dragon," but too many chords.) I'm sure the second song would have been something I "wrote."


First song I really learned was Puff, the Magic Dragon. A family friend showed me the chords. I'd been playing for less than a month and learning from Mel Bay books. I'm sure that I played some things before that but that's the first thing I can remember. I got the Harmony in my avatar at about that time and went to work on playing Ventures' songs: Walk Don't Run, Perfidia, Pipeline, Penetration, etc.


Still working on that first song.


Wildwood Flower. I thought that was EVERYBODY'S first guitar song!


Willie Nelson’s All of Me.


Not sure what my first complete song was, but “Smoke On The Water” was the first lick I learned. It was the late 70’s and some kid in junior high showed it to me.


As far as guitar and singing goes...as a teenager I was already the lead singer of the oldies show band, Cruis’n, and our lead guitarist was the brains of the outfit. His name was Ray. We had bass, drums, keys, 2 guitars and me. Played all the clubs and restaurants and private parties in the Bay Area. One day, we had a band meeting and Ray said expenses needed to be trimmed to keep us bookable, so either I had to learn how to play rhythm guitar, or Hans had to learn how to sing Elvis! Hans was from the Netherlands with a pretty thick accent, (great harmony singer tho!) and he didn’t look the part anyway! Soooooo,,,,I borrowed an acoustic guitar and the bass player gave me an old Fender duo-sonic 3/4 sized electric, and Ray showed me my first chords!! I was on a crash course to learn all of it...from Elvis and rockabilly to The Beach Boys. Ray showed me I, IV, V chord progressions, their relative minors, and how to do barre chords. By way of demonstration, he taught me Blue Suede Shoes. I got a Mel Bay Book too. That started it! We payed in that band for years...eight years later, Ray quit and started a new punk band, DK! Yeah, my guitar teacher was East Bay Ray.

– Steve

That is such a great story - would have been funnier if Hans had sung Elvis. But a great story. What has struck is just how young people were when they started music.


My buddy Rusty sold me my first guitar and showed me how to play barre chords. After about 10 minutes of instruction, I could play "Wild Thing". It was the only lesson I've ever had.


After he got me my first guitar (Silvertone acoustic) for a present, my Dad told me not to play it until I started taking lessons. So, a few weeks later, when the day of my first lesson arrived, I was pumped with anticipation. Unfortunately, my guitar teacher was primarily an accordion player who dabbled in guitar. So, the first song I was given to learn from the songbook was the "Julida Polka."

No offense to Polka fans, but ... REALLY?!? Oh well, I guess it was a good beginning finger exercise.

Fortunately, there were other "current" songs in that songbook and the one I quickly gravitated to next was "Since I Met You Baby" by Ivory Joe Hunter. While not a particularly well known song for guitar players, that early hit for Ivory Joe was my first introduction into playing a blues progression on guitar and is still a favorite.

A year or so later when I heard Duane Eddy's take on Ivory Joe's "I Almost Lost My MInd," which had also been a big crossover hit for Pat Boone, I realized my "Ivory Joe" starting point for the blues was far from a bad thing.


For me and my new Landola guitar, too, it was The House of the Rising Sun, at the age of 12 (about 39 years ago)!


“Let It Be” by The Beatles on acoustic guitar. 3rd grade.


I was 6 years old when I received a Kay student model acoustic guitar, and a Mel Bay guitar course for Christmas. The very first full song in the book was "Michael Rowed The Boat A'shore". I struggled with the chords C, G, and D, until I finally got it.

The first radio rock song I learned was Aerosmith "Dream On", followed by Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird". I had saved paper route money, and in 1973 with Dad's help, I found a used late 60's Fender Stratocaster for sale in the newspaper classified ads. It was a game changer, suddenly I was "cool", I had an electric guitar! Next I saved up for a used 1969'ish "West Grand" 100 watt head/4x12" cabinet, and then I was very cool! I had that guitar and amp until they was stolen, in 2011.

I didn't realize how rare that amplifier was until it was stolen, only about 300 of these amp heads were made. I got it from a guy that bought it in Michigan, and had moved to Tacoma WA, where I bought it. They were apparently designed by David West, for the Michigan band "Grand Funk (Railroad)", and had a limited commercial production of approximately 300 units each : Avalon 50W, Grande 100W, and Fillmore 200W. They were all 6L6GC output and all tube power supply and pre-amp stages, built to withstand a nuclear holocaust!


If memory serves me correctly it was "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young but a simple version of it. My guitar teacher said that song was easy and I could learn it or start to during my first lesson. When I first signed up for lessons I was 14 and he said first lesson I would learn chords and start o play songs. I was surprised by that. I had no idea you could start playing songs during the first lesson. It's true, if you can learn three to five chords you can play a song depending on the song. By the way it was on an Ovation nylon string guitar my mom got me at a pawn shop in downtown LA before the area became gentrified and pawnshops were driven out. Years later I worked in the adjacent area and from what I know about the area it is full of broken people who are transients, ex-cons, drug addicts and lost souls. My guess is a down and out drug addicted musician living in one of the skid row hotels hocked it for drug or rent money. I still have the guitar.

Sorefingers great topic you started!


Maybe the opening few notes to the theme from Bonanza, because it can be played on the open D, G & B strings. After that Puff the Magic Dragon.


Probably Joy Division - She's Lost Control, 1984 time frame in my early twenties using a house mates acoustic. Probably took me an afternoon to figure out the bass lead line and the chords. That is the only song I remember learning then.

Fast forward to 2011 (at the age of 49) and my son wants to learn bass, so I start taking guitar lessons so we can play together. I always wanted to play, so better late ... My son did fine & left my in his dust. However within 4 lesson (or so) I was playing Adverts-Gary Gilmore's Eyes and Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak.

Now at 57 I have reached my pinnacle of mediocrity. I have a great time playing, my wife enjoys it, I have too much gear for a home player, and you kind GPers have not asked me to turn down my amp at the two So. Cal Gretsch Jams I have attended.


"Pipeline" at about 11 years old


T Rex - Laser Love, I watched a crappy VHS over and over.


Picked Johnny Cash - Hurt for my first song. To say it’s a painful process is an understatement - love the song and the lyrics. Learning guitar at 48 not only have I missed the boat but it’s sailed round the world twice and gone again.


speaking as someone who's 62, you've still got LOTS of time. remember, all those guitarists we love were only playing for a couple/few years when they first got a break. by the time you're as old as me, you'll have over a decade under your belt. it's never too late to do something cool.


WILD THING! …… Troggs or JH version will do. 3 chords opened up buddy, beatles, elvis, hank, dylan, stones, endless options to learn more


Pigs On The Wing - came out the year I got my first guitar. Campfire chords with some lovely minor chord changes that really caught my teenage ear.


I started at 14, had classical lessons for a few months. I can't remember what I played! I think the first thing i learnt which was on a record i had was a short instrumental thing off Pink Floyd's The Wall. I don't know what it's called but it's in Am and all arpeggios. It's a simple but cool sounding thing.

The song which made me want to play guitar was Sultans of Swing - which is odd because I can barely stand to listen to it now! My tastes have changed a lot over the years.


If we're talking single notes I believe it was Love Is Blue when I was 10. Playing actual chords probably House Of The Rising Sun.

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