Q: If you could go back in time to your earliest guitar days, what advice would you give yourself?
Mitski — Guest Picker
A: Literally practicing is the only way you will learn how to do this. Suckkkk itttt uppppp.
Current obsession: I’ve been playing bass every day for three years and I’m just now finally understanding what it means to actually listen to the drums. The day I got it was mind-blowing, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Bass players know what I’m talking about.
Bob Bailey — Reader of the Month
A: I would advise my younger self: Don’t use a pick. Ever. Going pick-less opens up another world of tone and technique possibilities.
Current obsession: I’m learning music theory and how to read sheet music by taking a YouTube course. I have a long way to go, but I want the knowledge and the chance to grow musically.
Andy Ellis — Senior Editor
A: Dear Little Andy: As soon as you can handle your own affairs, leave the safety of your hometown and move to a music center. I started playing guitar when I was 12, circa 1964. By 1970, I’d played in many bands, seen Hendrix twice, and acquired a ’68 goldtop Les Paul. In the ’70s, L.A. was the epicenter of rock in the States, and even though I played at the Troubadour and tracked at Sunset Sound during those years, I didn’t take the plunge and relocate. I regret that.
Current obsession: It all began with using five different guitars to multitrack a Henry Purcell piece arranged for a horn quintet. Now I’m hooked on recording ancient music with modern instruments.
Shawn Hammond — Chief Content Officer
A: Hey, you may be stuck in musically desolate Mormonville, but you gotta find some guitar mentors to help expand your horizons. Also, stop being wowed by technical playing—music’s not a sport, and only guitar dweebs wanna hear it. And forget all the hi-tech new digital gear. Get a used tube amp and some old pedals—they’ll cost less and sound better. Lastly, turn the damn gain down and start learning to sing!
Current obsession: Tracking down a Starcaster with old-school Wide Range-style pickups.
Rich Osweiler — Associate Editor
A: Surround yourself early on with talented bandmates who are as passionate about creating music and determined as you are, and you might be playing full-time and kickin’ it on a yacht dipping Bugles in caviar for breakfast every morning before you turn 18. Truth be told: I have had some phenomenal bandmates over the years, but alas, the only boat I’ve owned was my kayak I sold years ago. [Photo: with Ben Folds playing The Jerry Lewis Telethon, 1979]
Current obsession: The Get Down. The killer soundtrack, fun storyline (Grandmaster Flash’s character serves as a mystical Jedi master of sorts), and huge production of this Netflix series which looks at the emergence of disco, hip-hop, and rap in ’70s-era NYC—an ear- and eye-candy treat.