by Frank Junior Guertin
I have been playing the guitar since I was 4 years old. Its an extension of who I am. It’s the lifeline to my soul. The sound of the guitar takes me to my safe place in life. I feel like…me when I play. And not the technology employee, not the student or whatever we have to do in life. I just become…me. I remember the very first time I heard an electric guitar being played. I remember it clearly. It was as if time stood still and everything around me went silent, except the guitar. And that’s never changed in my 46 years.
My older sister, Debbie, had a boyfriend who played the guitar. He had a 1977 Gold Top Gibson Les Paul Classic with a Marshal Amplifier and speakers. I remember my sisters boyfriend plugged in his guitar and turned on his amplifier and just hit a rib cracking open “A” chord as he was setting his volume control on his amp. I said to him with such enthusiasm and excitement “What is that? That sound? Why is it gold? What is it? Can I try??! CAN I TRY!?” He didn’t let me try. At all. But I stood still and just watched…mesmerized and completely silent as he played. The sounds coming from the guitar and out of his amplifier speakers was explosive. It was so new to me, yet, there was something very familiar. As if I have seen this before but there was no way I could ever have seen this before. It felt like an old friends voice you haven’t heard in years saying hello. It was emotional. It was powerful as anything. It was mighty and profound and it was calling to me. I was only 4 years old.
My sister Debbie went for guitar lessons to learn how to play the guitar so she can impress her boyfriend. My mother took her every week to a guy named Lou Capic. And because I was only 4 years old, I tagged along. I remember walking into Lous studio in his house. It was a world of wonder and amazement to me. He had a lot of different types of electric guitars surrounding each wall of every room. He also had all kinds of music equipment from pianos to drums. Lou had gold records in frames on his walls along with photos of him with a lot of different people on stage and playing live. It was not too obvious that he was a music fanatic. I liked that.
Each week I’d ask Lou if I could try a guitar. And at the end of everyone of my sisters guitar lessons, Lou handed me a different guitar to try. Lou was cool and he had heart. And he could play. Lou was in his mid 50s and was a well seasoned jazz musician. He was really into it and he was real strict about the guitar. He always said that daily guitar practicing should be taken as serious as anything else in this life. I believe that right to this day.
So when Lou saw my interest as a 4 year old kid wanting to play the guitar, he never said no to me. The only problem was that I was too young with little fingers. My hands couldn’t reach over the frets of the guitar neck in order to play a single note or even a chord. But Lou told my mother that if I kept up my interest in the guitar, that in about a year, he would instruct me. With that said, Lou became my first guitar teacher. I was 5 years old.
To be continued…Part 2 coming soon!