andrew burke





An Update On The Gibson App Van Halen Challenge

Posted on: 2023-10-30

A while back I wrote about signing up for the 16 Day Eddie Van Halen Challenge in the Gibson learn-to-play-guitar app. It's been more than 16 days so I thought I'd share an update:

Well, I managed to get through to about day 4 of the 16 days. This is less than I had hoped, but actually better than I had expected. I learned a few interesting new things about inverted power chords and several slick tricks. The main problem though is that I'm still pretty new at guitar and just don't have the callouses or finger strength to handle his hammer-on/pull-off heavy "legato" style, let alone his fast picking and two-handed tapping techniques.

I had been worried at first that this 16 day challenge would expire after 16 days, but it looks like the course has simply been added to the Gibson app's library of advanced technique classes. I'll definitely be returning to this later once my fingers are in better shape.

For now, though, I've gone back to regular lesson plan. It was a bit jarring to go from trying to figure out kick-ass riffs to practicing basic open chords I'd mastered back when I was 17. At least now I've moved on to the "Solo 1" unit, which is all about the Blues Box, which I also figured out when I was 17, but it's giving me some interesting new angles to think about, and more importantly is helping me build up my finger strength and flexibility. I'll be ready for Eddie eventually!

It's been interesting to see the two very different worlds the Gibson app is trying to promote to: I got these two emails from them mere hours apart:

Two promo emails side by side: 'Play Hundreds of Songs Using These Basic Chords' featuring C, D, and G, and

That's two very different ends of the spectrum!

Here's a final treat: I dug back through my photo collection and found this shot of me in around 1988 or so, playing my crappy old acoustic guitar to my cat.

17-year-old Andrew Burke playing acoustic guitar in his bedroom

I think I'm probably playing Rush's Broon's Bane, one of the few pieces I managed to learn all the way through. If you look really closely you can see cassettes of "Led Zeppelin I" and The Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds of Fire" on the floor, neither of which I was at all ready for at that time!

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