About the Founder

Since I was 14, I wanted to learn to play the guitar, but I never thought I had the ability, intelligence, patience or persistence.  

Like so many, I had a fear of trying and failing. I had no musicians in my family or friends that knew how to play an instrument.  I had a fear it would just be too hard, and I’d never be able to make a guitar sound like it should.

Soon, I gave up the idea of becoming familiar with a musical instrument and buried the desire and left it alone.

Instead of trying to learn, I went to as many concerts as I could.  I saw every band I wanted to see and I every time, found myself staring at the fretboards and how my guitar heroes’ hands and fingers moved.

As I got older, my musical tastes evolved and went to go see the blues masters like BB King, Buddy Guy, and Robert Cray.

The first time I saw Buddy Guy at his club, I was moved to tears.  It was the closest thing to spiritual enlightenment I’d ever had. I’ve been hooked on the blues ever since. I saw Buddy live and up close about 50 times over a 10 year period.

Fast forward to the best day of my life. On October 2nd, 2010, I married my best friend and most incredibly devoted supporter, Kate, who loves music to the core.

She knew how much I had wanted to learn how to play, and as the most thoughtful gift I’d ever received, she gave me a black and white polka dot Fender Stratocaster, his signature model, signed by Buddy himself.

There was no backing out now; I had to take it upon myself to learn.  I had just been given a physical representation of Kate’s belief in me.  Nobody had ever made me believe in myself more than she had.

I started as many students do. I found an instructor, then another, and another. Every time I went to a lesson, I came home disappointed. I spent $50-75 per session, went to about 15 sessions and still, couldn’t make the darn guitar produce music.  I was so frustrated. I wanted to quit.

Kate and I took a trip to see her family where she grew up in Macon, Ga. That trip turned me onto the Allman Brothers, where I visited their hometown and even Duane Allman’s gravesite.  Shortly thereafter, I read a biography on Duane Allman called Skydog. The book explained Duane learned his famous slide guitar techniques by listening to his heroes like Elmore James.  Duane learned by placing his record player on the floor and manipulating the record back and forth with his foot, keeping his hands on the guitar as he learned the tunes by ear.

Meanwhile, I kept trying to learn to play the guitar.  I turned to YouTube and quickly found that musical instrument online learning was more convenient, I could find licks to practice and songs to learn.  It gave me exactly what I needed, when and where I needed it. I practiced a lot and made some progress, but still I became frustrated. During every online lesson, I kept pausing and playing, fast forwarding and rewinding.  My hands were off the guitar and on my mouse!

That’s when the idea hit me.  How could I do what Duane did when he was learning?  I don’t have a record player that I am willing to step on, and I definitely can’t learn by ear.  How can I keep my hands on the guitar, maintain my finger positioning, maximize muscle memory, eliminate frustration in order to get something out of my online lessons? That’s how the Elmore Pedal was born.

-James Levin, Founder of Elmore Pedal Company