My Guitar Story: Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Playing

In this video I want to answer a question that many of you have asked, over the years: when did I start playing guitar? I’ll not only answer that question, but also go pretty deep into my complete guitar playing story. My early attempts to learn, the various times I quit, what finally got me over the hump, what my big early inspirations were, ruts I’ve hit along the way, and finally – a summary of all the big-picture lessons I’ve learned along the way.

My goal in sharing all of this is to give you context on the path I’ve taken. To be honest, it hasn’t been a straight line! There’s been plenty of zig-zags, false starts, areas of frustration, and times in my live when I struggled to find guitar-playing footing. It’s my hope that in detailing all of these travails, it may help you contextualize your own guitar playing journey.

Here’s a list of video timestamps:

Some of the items I mention in this video…

My original binder of printed Song Notes (2003)

As I mention in this video, back in ~2003 I spent a ton of time creating a binder full of printed “song notes”, where each song was meticulously formatted to fit on a single page (for the most part). Here’s a video tour of that binder, if you’re interested:

My brief songwriting period (2008)

I also mention in this video, the period of songwriting I partook in 2008. You can listen to all of the songs I recorded below, and you can also read the lyrics here.

davidpots · Firefly Grove

My ukulele video lessons (2016)

Back in early 2016, I started recording video lessons (technically, “covers”) again – after taking a 3 year break. These videos were all recorded on the ukulele, and match the songs I was casually learning at the time. After I created this handful of lessons, I was again struck with the bug to start recording guitar lessons again… which quickly followed! But if you’re interested, here’s the uke videos I recorded.

The year I started making videos again (2016)

Although I cover it in my full video above, here’s a video I recorded back at the end of 2016 just after getting into the groove of making YouTube videos again. This marks the start of a 5 year (and counting!) era of continued, consistent productivity.

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Recent video lessons:

📝 My "song" PDFs are now individually purcasheable! I've arranged a licensing agreement with Musicnotes, a service that lets you buy my sheet music arrangements. Patreon supporters get 50% off each purchase. Learn more here »

June 22, 2022

How to Make Drum Tracks Using GarageBand's Beat Sequencer

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #442

A beginner's guide to using GarageBand's Beat Sequencer tool to create custom drum beats! Even if you're a total novice when it comes to drumming (like me), I'll walk you through the basic steps to create rich-sounding drum tracks to play over while practicing or performing.

May 27, 2022

Creating a Fingerstyle Arrangement of Tom Petty's "American Girl"

Practice Log  •  Lesson #438

A few years after learning American Girl the way Tom Petty plays it, I returned to it — this time determined to work out a low-key, easy-going fingerstyle arrangement. Here's how it went!

Patreon PDF

May 22, 2022

Using Triads & Double-Stops to Punch Up a Melody

Practice Log  •  Lesson #436

As part of my Learning Lead Guitar series, I share a realization I recently had showing different ways to fill out melody lines using triads, double-stops, and harmonized sixths.

Patreon PDF

May 19, 2022

Q&A: Learning a Song for a Wedding? Here's My Advice.

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #435

I answer an audience question about how to go about learning a song (with a tricky riff) for a peformance at a family wedding.

Patreon PDF

May 12, 2022

List of My Beginner-Friendly Song Lessons


After many requests from y'all, I finally created this list of all my beginner-friendly song lessons! These are grouped by key, allowing you to take the chord shapes you already know and find other songs using those same shapes.

Patreon PDF

May 4, 2022

Easier Ways to Play B-minor (No Barring Required)

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #431

Two easier ways to play B-minor, using open chord voicings — super helpful to have these in your toolkit. Includes different practice riffs to accompany each chord voicing.

Patreon PDF

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