Straight From the Heart: What Are Your Influences?

Sensational guitarist and real life Guitar God – Steve Vai rockin’ out on his ‘Heart’ guitar!


Many of us have been influenced by our friends, a particular song on the radio, or a new song by our favorite group. Maybe a family member, or even a particular life experience impacted and shaped your influences. All kinds of things have led us to play this wonderful instrument….THE GUITAR!

We all have our reasons for playing guitar. On top of that, we have our reasons for what we play and how we play it. It’s easy for some to identify their influences. Others not so easy. Or maybe not what one would consider a standard answer. Some need to search for something much deeper than a song or artist. And influences can change with time, I can attest to this from personal experience.


I originally wanted to play guitar because I thought it was cool. My dad played guitar, but he played country music and I wasn’t into it at all and had no appreciation for it at the time. I was just a dumb kid, although I loved to listen and watch him play. He was amazingly talented and I was extremely impressed by his level of skill on the old 6-string. But at the time, I was more influenced by the great ‘GUITAR GODS’ of the day. In those days it seemed like every good band had an amazing guitarist.

We had Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff BeckPete Townshend, Tommy Iommi, Billy Gibbons, Robin Trower, Ted Nugent, Gary Moore and this list could go on and on. In the early 80’s it was Rhoads, and the Metallica wave, ending with SRV and Healey in the late 80’s. But that’s about the time I hung up my guitar. Oh the things we do in life for others! But the music never stops. Once it’s in your heart, it’s always there. In my most recent return to playing guitar, I have discovered some new influences. My dad who passed away right before I got my guitar, is definitely a big influence on me now. I hope someday to be as good and as accomplished as he was. Not that he was some big star or anything, but he gigged for the better part of 20 years and did some recording too.


These days my biggest influence is… own heart! I have a new love for guitar that I never had before. And I have an incredible desire to get better. I am dedicating more and more time to practicing guitar….and the more I practice, the more I want to play!

I am still influenced to play certain songs because of a cool rhythm or riff, but my real influence to play these days comes straight from the heart. I just love it! It is the best fix for a bad or gloomy day. Stressed? Grab your guitar! Want to put a smile on your face or the face of someone else? You know what to do…..! Look deep….why do you play…what influenced you?

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