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While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Updated on January 29, 2014

What Made Me Want To Learn Guitar

Five years before they recorded 'While my guitar gently weeps' The Beatles performed at The Royal variety show at the prince of wales theatre, coventry street, London. This was on November 4th, 1963. Before they played 'Twist & shout' John Lennon made his famous remark:- 'For our last number I'd like to ask your help- will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, & the rest of you if you'll just rattle your jewelry!' Seeing their performance that night & the guitars they were using, the 5 year old edition of me decided that I just had to get a guitar! mum & Dad duly obliged & bought me a plastic Beatles guitar which I still have, though somewhat battle scarred!

I was 12 when I got my first proper instrument, a nylon strung spanish guitar. I never had any formal lessons but there was a family friend called Dave Smith that lived down the road. Mainly a folk singer, Dave showed me some chords along with plenty of advice & encouragement. He played songs such as 'where have all the flowers gone' & 'Norwegian wood' all of which helped with the learning process. Book wise, I had Dan Morgan's 'Guitar' (from which I used to practice chord shapes on a piece of wood before I got a guitar!) , Roger Evans 'Beginners guitar book', & later on a good chord book. I also was very fortunate to have a good ear, & the more songs I listened to & the more chords I learnt helped me to work songs out, although I sometimes bought sheet music or songbooks. The only frustration there is that they're not always in the same key as the record, which isn't helpful when you're young,learning an instrument, trying to play along with the record & it doesn't sound right!

In about 1974 New musical Express published a 10 part pull out section about learning the guitar, which showed a range of songs, techniques, chords & guitar patterns. There was a memorable quote from Lol Creme of 10cc who said that they used to slow a record down from 45 to 33 to work out the solo! ( Even though it put it in the wrong key)

Making your guitar 'gently weep' today is a totally different proposition. There is an absolute wealth of information available on the net. Youtube is very helpful.You can watch the original versions of songs which helps you to see where on the neck the chords or guitar patterns are being played or if a capo is being used.If you want to learn a particular style there are plenty of examples available. Just tap in what you want, play it back as much as you want, learn at your own pace- 'walk, don't Run' as The Ventures said!

A good chord book is essential to your learning & development too. It's an invaluable reference tool particularly in your early days of playing when you encounter a chord you don't know. You'll also learn how to play the same chords in different positions, which give it a different sound or voicing, which is vital to reproduce what you hear on a record when performing it in the same key. For example, The Beatles' 'Here comes the sun' is in the key of A major. Your guitar should have a capo on the 7th fret. On the 9th fret you play a 'D' shape which will now sound as 'A', & will give you the guitar figure you hear on Abbey Road. I would highly recommend 'The Beatles complete chord book', specially arranged by Ricky Rooksby in the keys heard on the record.

Playing with other people speeds up & helps your development too. Don't worry whether they're better than you or not. Put your ego aside.You can help each other, swapping techniques,ideas,influences. Also, why not record yourself & play along with it. It's so encouraging to hear the sound you're making & sparks off ideas for other parts or songs. A cassette player is always handy, though these days home recording is far more affordable, whether you want to use a pc based program such as cubase or reason, or you fancy a portastudio such as Tascam,Fostex or Korg.

The Boss BR800 Digital multitracker comes with glowing reviews. It's portable & easy to use, with plenty of on board effects. You can record up to 4 tracks simultaneously,& with integral microphones you can record gigs or rehearsals. It has an EZ record function, song sketch to quickly put your idea down, or build a track from scratch.

Above all else, practice,practice,practice! Listen to a wide variety of styles even if you don't like some of them because you can always learn a new chord, idea or something from it, & everything you learn becomes part of your own individual style. In fact, once you start playing guitar you never really stop learning, as you make your guitar gently weep in the way you want it to!

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    • profile image

      inachis 7 years ago

      This man is a genius, I've been following him since high school, one day I'll catch up with him...he walks fast

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Hi inachis! I'm greatly humbled by your kind remarks. I'll try not to walk so fast! All the best, steve

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      I love this article and the fact that you still have your first guitar, and eveyone one back then did teach themselfs. Your article brought back so great memories. Nicely done my freind, and I love the pictures.

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Thanks for your lovely comments Darlene!Glad you enjoyed the article & that it brought back happy memories. That's the power that music has!

    • profile image

      pauln2000 7 years ago

      Hi Steve that was an inspired article mate and I do hope the first of many :-) looking forward to the next flash of inspiration!

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Cheers paul, glad you enjoyed it! Look forward to reading your next hub my friend :-)

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      I give you all the credit in the world.Practicing to get the sound right.All the time required!!!Play away.

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      cheers Dream on! practice improves & develops your playing & there's always something to learn

    • profile image

      poetlorraine 7 years ago

      we just bought my grandson a guitar, he can play smoke on the water, i will show him your hub

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      I wish your grandson every success & many hours of pleasure playing the guitar!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Hey, I thought I was the only person in the world who read Dan Morgan's "Guitar" - I loved that book and lost my copy years ago. But it is a great book, isn't it?

      Thanks for sharing your story of discovery.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      My pleasure Tony,glad you enjoyed it! Dan Morgan's book was a great help to me in my formative guitar years!

      All the best

      steve

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      I truly enjoyed this fascinating article. Thanks for sharing some of your history. I'm a singing drummer—or I should say, I used to be. :D

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Many thanks James,glad you enjoyed it. Last night I went to see George martin being interviewed about his career as a producer, so I'll be writing a hub about that soon.

      How about picking up those drum sticks again?!! :-)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Maybe I will! What a treat to see George Martin. Please do write about him and let me know when you do. :D

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 6 years ago

      I picked up my first guitar at 10 yrs old and have been playing ever since. I hung out with my future brother in law and he taught me chords and some picking. I have mostly played mainly for my own entertainment all these years and love to sing and keep myself company, ha. The guitar is a close companion and when I am in the right mood, I can sit and play for hours. Acoustic is my choice, played a little electric, but prefer acoustic. Great post and thanks for the memories of the Beatles, I was at their first concert in at the Montreal Forum in Montreal Quebec, Canada back in 1964...a long time ago, they are still my favorite band of all times, The Stones my second choice and The Eagles my third....thanks again..

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Hi saddlerider1, glad you enjoyed the hub. There's so many different guitar styles & endless hours of enjoyment to be had. wow, that's amazing that you were at the montreal forum. just checked my 'Beatles live!' book by mark lewisohn & it was on september 8,1964. The Beatles' flight after the shows had to be diverted to key west instead of Jacksonville because of hurricane Dora! Maybe you should do a hub about the gig! I too really like the stones & the Eagles :-)

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Hi James! It really was a great evening with George martin, & I will be preparing an article about it later this week.Thanks again for your comments :-)

    • oliversmum profile image

      oliversmum 6 years ago from australia

      wilbury steve. Hi.What a wonderful hub and also the fun you had along the way.

      The beatles were an excellent band, and the folks went mad when they came to Melbourne many years ago, it was really exciting.

      I do like the song " where have all the flowers gone". There is just something about it.

      Still to have your first guitar, that is something special.

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. I loved it.:) :)

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Hi oliversmum,thanks for your lovely comments!It must have been a great thrill to be there when The Beatles came to Melbourne.

      Totally agree with you about ''where have all the flowers gone'', the sentiments still ring true today :-)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      A marvelous hub, written by a marvelous teacher! I particularly like"Playing with other people speeds up & helps your development too. Don't worry whether they're better than you or not. Put your ego aside." This is exactly what I teach my students. I would love to hear you play. Thanks so much.

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      you are very kind & generous with your comments!we can all learn so much from each other, & it's great to know how you help & encourage your students. Cheers vocalcoach!! :>)

    • profile image

      Multiman 6 years ago

      Great Article

    • wilbury steve profile image
      Author

      Steve Webb 6 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      cheers multiman! Glad you liked it :-)

    my first guitar!
    my first guitar!
    Lol CREME  in nme talking about slowing down records from 45 to 33 to work out the solo!
    Lol CREME in nme talking about slowing down records from 45 to 33 to work out the solo!
    The Beatles at the Royal variety show, November 4th,1963
    The Beatles at the Royal variety show, November 4th,1963

    George Harrison's guitar gently weeps!

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