William P. Gottlieb / Public domain

If you ever feel like learning guitar is too darn hard, you’re not “cut out for it” or you have “no natural talent”, read this and hopefully, you will think twice before telling yourself you ain’t no good.

The amazing stories of recovery of these five guitarists will be sure to inspire you even on the darkest of days.

They are amazing really…

Les Paul – the guy who created, ahem, the Les Paul guitar (and was a superb player too) was involved in a severe car crash after which the only way to stop his right arm from being amputated was for doctors to set it in one position without him being able to bend it. Les Paul showed dedication to the guitar and chose the position that would allow him to play the guitar. He re-learnt how to play this way and went on to be a maestro juggernaut guitar player.

Django Reinhardt – had the ring and pinkie of his fretting hand burned so badly they were unusable, yet he went on to create some incredibly interesting, fast and exciting gipsy jazz, all using only two fingers. His playing was something else!

Tony Iommi – the guitarist of the mighty Black Sabbath and Ozzy’s mate had the tips of his fingers severed in a machine accident (about 5 miles from where I’m writing this). He used synthetic tips and low tunings to reinvent his playing which in turn helped invent the music of heavy metal – love or loathe Black Sabbath they changed rock music for good.

Pat Martino – after a seizure and brain issues, and lots of surgery, jazz extraordinaire, Pat Martino was left with amnesia, not being able to play the guitar and not even recalling his own albums! He went through a painstaking process of re-learning everything from scratch and, in many people’s opinions, became an even better guitarist the second time around.

Larry Carlton – who performed with legends such as Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, and Barbra Streisand was shot, (yes shot!) in the throat, which left him with nerve damage down his left arm. It all looked to be over for his career, but Larry said “no way to that amigo”, and painstakingly started all over again, and is still relevant and touring to this day.

If you ever need inspiration, look up these guys playing, read more on their stories, and you’ll see what YOU can do if you put your mind to it.

Severe burning, being shot, amnesia, a car crash, industrial accidents – they had it all. It sounds like something from a Tarantino movie, but these things happened and these guys overcame the odds.

The thing is, everyone can learn to be musical and have fun on the guitar, but only with the right mindset.

Getting to where you want to be is all in the mind, as these guys have proven (as well as many of my private students over the years).

Don’t let anything stop you.


Dan Thorpe
Guitar Domination

P.S. This was inspired by an interesting email I got the other day from a new subscriber telling me about how he lost the use of his index finger 40 years ago but how he just started learning guitar.

He was pretty positive about it and had a plan, which is awesome.

He suggested trying open G tuning and using simpler chord shapes where needed, which are great ideas. He could even add playing power chord stuff if he’s into rock, playing blues lead and working on some simple fingerstyle arrangements which are more melody-based and less chord-based.

You don’t need four fingers for any of the above.

He too is overcoming the odds.

Anyway, I hope this inspires you if you ever get down about your playing. All the above guys were/are human. If they can do it, so can you!

This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming and learning guitar more enjoyable, (especially if you are over 40) then join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE 


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