Peter's Learning Log with Rorystrat

Never say never Peter. When I started I had no more ambition than perhaps being able to play a few simple songs such that they were somewhat recognisable. I might have said ‘never’ to producing my own original songs, performing for a live audience, and didn’t know what a DAW was so couldn’t say ‘never’ to mixing and producing a collaboration.

All of that things that I have now done.

So while you may never produce solos that are the equal of the legends, you may find yourself becoming more expressive musically, producing your own songs, or improvising over progressions.

For now, enjoy Gr3

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Thanks David for your reply and although I agree with your sentiment, I am NEVER going to be more expressive than Paul Kossoff; no one is. Just watch the solo in this (live). The first note alone brings tears to my eyes:

And then there’s Greeny. Never to be equaled

Edit: PS: No effects pedals here. Just a lot of reverb on Greeny’s Les Paul

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And just to put a marker down, this is one of my other “Dreamer” songs (along with the 2 above). Blind Blake - what a guitarist:


I’m gonna comment on the same quote that @DavidP selected.

Actually, I agree with you @rorystrat that you can indeed say “never”. Neither you, nor David, nor I will ever be “better than the greats of the past”. In fact, it’s astronomically unlikely that anybody on this forum will ever be among the all time greats in any aspect of guitar playing (or any aspect of anything, to be honest).

However, the motivation for learning guitar or anything should not be to be the greatest ever. It should just be because we get enjoyment out of doing that thing.

That’s why I think you should reconsider skipping improvisation. Sure, you’ll never come up with a solo better than the great ones. So, what? Also, if you do want to study the great British blues players – well, improvisation is a major part of that style of music and you would do well to at least get some experience with it, if you’re interested in those players.

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Thanks @jjw and once again I agree with the sentiment, however…firstly I do know how to improvise so have learnt to.

Secondly, some time ago I read or heard an interview with Brian May saying that he always worked his solos out as, if he just let his fingers do the job, he would end up with the same solo everytime. Proof of this is when I watched Joe Bonamassa concert on TV. It was billed as his tribute to the great British Blues players - so I thought great right up my street. But he played really obscure songs such as Jeff Beck ones from when Rod Stewart was in his band. More importantly in this context, every solo ne noodled was the same. EC is very similar when he plays live.

There are certain guitarists, and I’m thinking here of Rory Gallagher, that wpuld be totally original everytime they picked up a guitar. I recently bought the 50th Anniversary issue of his “Deuce” album (which I got on vinyl the day it came out) and there are alternative takes on the accompanying CD. On those takes he plays those songs, that I am so familiar with, totally differently. And I think, where did those licks come from? Of course he was extremely young then and apparently you are more creative in your youth. But some are great at improvising but not all.

I am under no illusion then, that I will EVER be great, and my fingers now are struggling to play certain licks that would have been a doddle in my youth, but my pleasure now is trying to get there and really having a go. Luckily none of these guitarist are speed merchants.

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So you’ll be skipping Gary Moore then :wink: :laughing: He gets pretty quick at times, though not what I’d call a ‘shredder’

I can manage the slow version of “Don’t Believe a Word”

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Sounds good, Peter, great tune.

That said, you know I was just pulling your leg (emojis just not the best maybe for conveying that)

So to bring my backstory up to the current time, I’ve mentioned elsewhere that my other great hobby is railway modelling, when my last daughter got her own place, I decided to relocate my model railway layout to another room. I doing this, it liberated the guitars and amps that had been stored behind it and were inaccessible. I started to go through stuff probably with a mind to see what I could get rid off. And in true guitarist fashion, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t bare to part with any of it. But in dragging myself through this I discovered that the mojo that had eluded me for so long had returned. So just coming up to retirement age I decided to pick up the guitar again.

I promised to try to resist jumping ahead in my JG journey but, now in Grade 3, I’m finding there may be a certain amount of repetition (or maybe I’d already watched the lessons and forgot I had) so I have had a sneak preview of later lessons. But I like to go through every stage as there are hidden gems buried that can be discovered; currently reviewing string bending which again I’ve never really “practiced”.


Sounds good Peter.

Any pictures handy that you could share of the model railway? I don’t share the hobby, but do enjoy looking at the layouts. And I do know one of my most favourite musical role models, Neil Young, is quite into that with his son and worked on sound for model trains at some point (even owned a share in one of the companies, if I recall correctly)

@DavidP Not just him but Jools Holland, Rod Stewart and of course Pete Waterman who once owned the Flying Scotsman IIRC.

This video is years old but everything on this layout is handmade including the track. You can see the guitars in their cases and music books atop in the corner behind…


Returning to the vexed issue of improvisation, when I play a song, such as “A Million Miles Away” by Rory Gallagher, when I attempt the fills and riffs around the F chord I play the same fill every time. Yet he played everyone different. I don’t have the mind to think of so many variants. And I bet he never played it the same twice too. So the only way I can sound like RG is to copy exactly what he played in my own way. Here’s an example of AMMA and there is serious guitar playing in this clip after the intro:

Thanks for sharing the train video, Peter. That is quite something, another that I imagine can have significant associated GAS building up all the rolling stock, track, and even building scenery etc.

RG is just fantastic. I think fair to say he’d be one of those under-appreciated guitarists, a little outside the mainstream of players majority know. Perhaps a little like Peter Green.

Now that I have discovered you can filter the songs on JG website by Grade, I have come up with this shortlist of songs to learn as I go through and to give me more focus. Currently I’m on the first module of Grade 3:

|Grade 2|All Your Love|(Grade 2 piece All Your Love John Mayall + (11/03) Wishing On A Star Rose Royce + Samba Pa Ti Santana - Peter)

Grade 2
Grade 3 Ziggy Stardust
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Grade 4 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Like A Rolling Stone
Grade 5 All Right Now
Tore Down
Black Magic Woman
Parisienne Walkways
Grade 6 Need Your Love So Bad
Sultans Of Swing
Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
Grade 7 Little Wing
The Wind Cries Mary
Grade 8
Grade 9

Ziggy Stardust has to be in there to get me to overcome the 4 finger G chord! Gently Weeps is in here twice because it appears as both a Grade 3 and 4 song. I’ve got more Grade 6 songs listed than any others but I already know these anyway as I do all of them.


You will notice my list of songs choice, as an advanced player, is quite specific. I want to master blues guitar and particularly in the styles of the guitarists featured in the list above. With a couple of exceptions they feature guitarists I have already mentioned except for Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix was the one I admired and followed from an early stage but could never work out what he was playing. This is my dreamer song:

I also have an interest in acoustic country blues so might slip a few of these in. Players such as Rev Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake.

Writing this log I’m beginning to feel like Jessica Parker penning her latest column in Sex And The City the title of this one being “Can an old dog really learn new tricks?”.

I was very fortunate that I learnt to play guitar in my teenage years when you must learn quicker and easier. So to answer the question “Can an old dog really learn new tricks?” the answer is yes but VERY slowly. Stuff already I know just falls lout of my hands but learning something new is frustratingly hard. For example the 4 finger G chord I still can’t get and this totally baffles me. Also the song “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, must have been one of the songs that drew me to JG initially but can I play it? No.

I have therefore recently acquired a greater appreciation for the older learners on here who persevere with their lessons. Keep going folks I say. Hopefully I’ll finally master the 4 finger G enough so I can put an AVOYP on here of me playing Ziggy Stardust. Until then more OMC’s in my practice routine.


I hear you Peter. Much as I don’t like to consider myself an older learner I most certainly am, but if nothing else I hope I am a slight example of practice paying off, even if it’s more practice than I wish it was!

Hi Peter, I’ve been always kind of a slow learner, but I think that have helped me to learn better some things so I do not get overly frustrated when something takes me more time to learn that I would like. I learnt the basics of guitar as teenager like you so when I started taking Justin Guitar lessons from the basics and not jumping ahead was with the aim of refreshing and improving my guitar skills. Now than the previous knowledge well I can draw from is starting to dry, newer skills can take me a while to get a minimum proficiency with them. I don’t think that necessarily I would have learnt faster earlier in my life and I wouldn’t have had the commitment and resources to do it.

Earlier this week I went to bed on Module 16 of Grade 3. The next day I was back to Grade 2. I half hoped that, in the upgrade on, it might have forgotten my progress on Grade 3 as I am finding that a hard slog and I would have jumped to Grade 4. Anyway, last night I completed Module 16 having finally watched all the way through a 35 minute lesson on moving open chord shapes. There was one nugget of wisdom in there in that you can’t use a 9th on the 3rd chord i.e. Bmin9 when in G = verbotten…


Yesterday my PC laptop stopped working and for a while I had a blue screen of death. I managed to get it back up and running. I had previously recorded a solo of sorts on “Wishing On A Star” and have stuck that version on the AVOYP. I think the videos are taking up a lot of disc space on my ancient laptop which is running windows 8, no longer supported by Microsoft. So I have deleted videos to relieve some disc space and hopefully it will stay alive long enough for the OM. Otherwise I have Zoom on my iPhone so it might be on that.

In the meantime I’ve completed Grade 3: Module 17 - nearly an intermediate now!

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