Kevin M. Kraft answers the question: When did you learn how to play the guitar?

Q: When did you learn to play the guitar?

Kevin: That's a difficult question to answer, especially since we're over here at the Nation. I'll answer it in a few ways...
I took a few lesson when I was about twelve or thirteen from a guy in town. I used a Hawaiian guitar strung with thick steel acoustic guitar strings! (laughs) Yeah, ultimately those strings destroyed that guitar! Anyway, after three lessons, the teacher just wasn't teaching me what I wanted to learn, so I slacked off on practicing enough that my mother ended the lesson. I learned on my own from there. I learned to play listening to John Denver records--but don't laugh! I think John Denver was a wonderful artist and teacher. I learned a lot about songwriting from him--his melodies were fantastic and chord progressions sensible. I later learned slide guitar, but at first I didn't know what it was. I saw steel pedal guitar on HEE HAW, an old country-oriented tv variety show that came on Saturday nights. But I didn't like country back then, and I didn't relate it to what I heard coming from, say, Jeff Lynne, of the Electric Light Orchestra, which was my favorite band and other rock musicians. I figured they just had the strings right up close to the fret board or something, but could never get my guitar to sound that way. It was much later, as an adult, that I caught a Bonnie Raitt concert on MTV and saw--"Ah-ha! That's how they do that!!!" I went out and bought a glass guitar slide and tortured many others learning how to play--and there's nothing worse than listening to someone LEARN how to play slide guitar! But I eventually grew to be very good, again listening to rock artists like Lynne, Joe Walsh and, of course, Dwayne Allman. In fact, I worked hard at mastering Allman's licks on "Statesboro Blues", which shows you how ambitious I was. Anyway, I mastered the slide, which was good, because I couldn't play lead worth spit. I must have been one of the first to introduce electric slide guitar as a lead instrument when I lead the worship service at church, much to everyone's surprise. I really blew them through the back doors. Some hated it, couldn't understand why I did it. Others loved thew sound. But I could never get the sound I wanted from any of the normal guitars I owned, even when I altered them. It wasn't until I stumbled upon cigar box guitars one day, while look for information on building guitars, that my world brightened. I saw some plans online, wondered if I could do it. I tried it, although I actually used an antique silverware box I bought for a dollar at a thrift store. I built myself a guitar, and from the first strum of the completed instrument, I knew I was home. Cigar box guitar became a major part of my life from that time on. I've built some for other people and now sell them to anyone wanting me to construct one for them. My favorite box so far is the COHIBA. I love its tone. Both slide guitar and using cigar box guitars almost exclusively now, as more methodology than style. It's simply the way I'd rather play and the sound I'd rather produce. I don't study a lot of blues artists, preferring rock and songs I just love. I just learn how to play them on the box.

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