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Guitar Hero

A few people have asked for an update on DJ's progress in the guitar god business.

Here he is doing Pantera's Cowboys From Hell. He's even got the Dimebag strings on the guitar.

click image for movie

(It's a big file, but worth it. Humor me, ok? And you can't see him too well, but it's all about the sound, anyhow. And please keep in mind that he's only 11, so go easy on the critiquing)

[I also updated the Q&A post below]


You are basing your retirement on his talent, right?

But seriously, that's good for an 11-year old.

That's really good. He's gonna be a god. Tell him to keep up the good work!


Is he taking any classes or does he learn it on his own?

He teaches himself.

Was that a good oy or a bad oy?

most excellent. potential has this one, yes.

Fucking Ay Oh Kay!!!
Can me get like autographs now ?
i play keys,but the hot gtr players ALWAYS get the babes.You're in for quite an adventure with this one,my dear.He's good.

Majorly impressive, as always.

Holy crap.

Michele, he's AMAZING. For 11 years old, he's got a shitload of talent!

Much, MUCH better than my husband, who's been trying to learn how to play for like the past ten years...

Hey, he's developing some pretty good chops there. He's already figured out how to use his wrist and not his arm to pick.

Nice sound on that lick too.

I'm glad he's enjoying it. He definitely has some ability.

How are you going to deal with the inevitable groupies?

That's not my kind of music, but that's hard to do. He's gonna be a rocker!

He is Awesome!! Much better than my older brother who has been trying to play for.... alot longer than 11 yrs.

Well. I had to put the bleedin' thing in Vegas Video and crank up a boatload of brightness in order to see it. (This is important.) Dave's got DJ's number on his right hand. I needed to see his left hand, as well, and I like what I see. He's spanning four frets very cleanly: that's a big deal for someone his age.

Pretty impressive. He's on his way.

Kicks the hell outta my sorry ass playing, that's fer sure. :)


You have given birth to a potential Rock God.

A few things Michele...

#1. See if you can get him into a music class somewhere. Much, much, much easier to learn to sight read at age 11 instead of age 33.

#2. Better ground his ass soon...when I say "ground", I mean start talking to him about the business. About how he can make a living doing that and support a family easily with the talent he has. I bet he's going to be asked to join older bands within the next few years and those guys will most likely drink and smoke and do other things that aren't appropriate for a smaller child.

And yes Michele, you are going to be waiting up some late nights for him to get home from the bars. :-)

Following on Brian (whose advice is important), I'd like to urge him to pay close attention to rhythm parts. I know grown-up players with a lot behind them who do not understand the history of what they do (the guitar was originally part of the rhythm section of the ensemble), or why that's important, and it shows in their work.

Someone who can play rhythm guitar parts with serious authority is going to have a major leg-up over those who don't, who are in the majority.

He should not neglect chord books, changes, and time.

Oh, it was a totally good oy.

Amazing kid.

The kid has talent, but I definitely think you should get him some lessons.

As Billy Beck said, he's got the picking from the wrist thing happeneing and that's good, but it looks like he's relying a little too much on downstrokes, and not enough on alternate (up and down) picking. That's gonna hold his speed back unless he breaks that habit pronto (belive me, I know).

I don't know that particular song, so I may be off here, but it sounds to me like his rhythm is a little wobbly. That's normal for a kid his age, but if he starts working on that now, it should be easy to fix.

One recommendation I would make: see that he gets some exposure to types of music other than metal (and rock in general). He may not enjoy the sound of jazz, for example, but if he learns to play over complex chord changes, rather than just doing pentatonic riffs, he can bring a much more expanded vocabulary back to rock. (Let him listen to Allan Holdsworth and John Petrucci for an idea of how jazz and metal can coexist.)

Alright, you said go easy on the criticism, so I'll end up by echoing what others have said - for an 11-year-old, he's really, really good!

VERY impressive.

To play like that at age 11 shows that he is passionate. Hell, at age 11 I couldn't be bothered to take the time to brush my teeth. That kid obviously practices a lot.

Big props...

Really good, DJ. I had trouble playing that song on bass at 20, after 10+ years of music ed. I look forward to seeing more in the future.

something that may help you develop your rhythm - tap your foot, nod your head, use a metronome, pay attention to the drums, whatever - when you play along with the recording. Every good guitar player I ever played with had a harder time learning a song if the rhythm wasn't there (i.e. the drummer sucked).

Farmer Joe -- it was Dave in Texas who pointed out the wrist thing. And you're absolutely correct about up/downstrokes (although I can't see that clearly enough in the video). Go ahead: ask me how I know this. Believe me: it's almost unimaginably easier to drill this sort of thing at DJ's age than at even half my current age.

And you're right about exposure, too. I wasn't going to say it: what he's playing just bores me endlessly. (And I hate the sound of that guitar & amp, but I understand it.) That is neither here nor there, however, next to the technical and theoretical point that you're making. Me? I've only started kicking my way out of a pentatonic box in the past several years. That's quite regrettable, in fact, and DJ's got all kinds of time to not make a similar mistake.

Wow. The Force is strong in this one.

He's not a Jedi yet, but he's well on his way. I know a bit about music, and I second the comments about rhythm, but for a kid his age to be doing what he's doing...absolutely phenomenal.

Billy - I'm not gonna criticize the sound of the guitar and amp, because A) he's probably using budget gear at this point, and B) he's got plenty of time to investigate the wild world of gear and tone. Hell, I've only had decent gear for a few years, and I'm pushing 40.

He's using a Line 6 amp with a Line 6 pod.

Also, just because he's playing metal in this movie, don't presume that's all he's playing. He does some blues, and he'll be joining the jazz band at school in September.

Hell, Joe, I'm not going to criticize it because it's pretty obvious to me that that's what he wants to play. (shrug) "Everybody gets to go to hell in their own go-cart." That's what I always say. Besides: he's got pretty decent gear, and it sounds to me like he's dialed-up what he wants to hear.

"Tone" is a damned funny thing. I maintain that everybody carries about 90% of it around in their fingertips. This is a very difficult thing to realize, and lots of people never figure it out. It strikes me that DJ's got enough on the ball at his age that he'll get all the way around the "tone" mulberry bush on his own.

Michele: Right. That's an excellent thing. In addition to playing in the school jazz band, you might want to think about getting him a teacher. And you want someone who actually plays jazz. Not a rock guy who says he knows jazz.

Billy: Yeah, I agree with you about tone being in the fingers, (though I'm not sure I'd put it at 90%). The thing is, that last 10% or whatever it is can make a big difference, even if the player is the only one who notices it.

Line 6 is a good choice for a kid. He can experiment with a lot of different sounds. When he's older, he might want a tube amp of some kind. Hopefully, by that time he'll have messed around with the POD enough to know the general type of amp he'll want.

My favorite tone story:

I once knew guitar player for a Big Time Nashville artist who shall go un-named but who has done splendid business with the ABC Monday Night Football account. This guy -- the guitarist in the band -- opened an arena tour with a six-foot Rack-o-Stuff with which to process his signal, and it was a constant battle. He was tearing his hair out and threatening to set his gear on fire.

Along came The Kentucky Headhunters as the opening act.

That first day, the Heads did their sound check, and it was just knock-out. Instantly as they were done, the Big-Time Nashville guitarist approached Greg Martin, the Heads' lead guitarist, and said, "Man your sound is killer. What kinds of effects are you using?"

Greg kinda cocked his head at the guy and said, "A cord."

He was just mainlining his axe straight into a 100-watt Marshall.

There were crew guys running out the door in order to not laugh right out loud in front of the Wrong People.

Like I said: it's a damned funny thing.

I hate rack gear. I had a rack processor with my old early 80's Peavy amp because it was the only way I could get it to sound decent, but nowadays I just have a couple of stompboxes on the floor, and I even keep those in hardware-bypass loops. When they're off, they're out of the signal chain. I'd forgo effects all together, but for the kind of music I play, I need a lot of colors at my disposal.

Oh, I don't argue against processing, in general.

What I do emphatically suggest is a proper grounding in the basics. It's kinda like AutoCAD: I've taught several people how to draw, but I won't take up someone without experience with a T-square and triangle. Likewise; anyone who wants to try to get a tone out of a processing chain without understanding the mainline is on their own.

Understood, and agreed.

he loves what he's doing. that's terrific. everything else is gravy.