TAC Spotlight: David O.

David O.


The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine

Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

The TAC Spotlight is a weekly focus on members of Tony’s Acoustic Challenge who have posted at least one performance on the forums and are especially active in the community by showing exemplary support or inspiration for other TAC members. All TAC Spotlight featured members are nominated by other TAC members.

If you’d like to nominate someone to be honored with a TAC Spotlight feature, please submit your nominee here.

Say hi to David O.!


New York

# of years played

After I graduated from college, I was working in a job that was stressing the heck out of me. I was way overwhelmed by my day-to-day responsibilities, and I needed a way to focus my attention and unwind. I was attracted by the way I could see myself improving on the guitar. I’d sit down in my corporate apartment, stressed out from a (very) long day in the office, and try to learn how to move from a G-chord to an E-minor. And lo and behold: two hours later I could do it! I was hooked.

Favorite 3 Bands:

I’m really interested in the folk-guitar / blues / alt-country revival of the mid aughts. For now, let’s say Ryan Adams, Jeff Tweedy (solo; acoustic) and Jack White.

How many guitars do you currently own?

Right now? Yeesh… 5?

Taylor 814ce (bright and smooth)

Martin 00-15E Retro (sweet and bluesy)

Taylor GS Mini (loud and portable)

Gretsch Electromatic (big and twangy)

Rust Stratocaster (rock and roll)

Plus a Jazz Bass that I don’t know how to play.

Oh come on, don’t look give me that look, TAC.

Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?

Jeez you guys, you sound like my mom. I think playing guitar is exciting for three reasons: intellectual development, creative development, and personal development.

Intellectual development: Learning to play the guitar engages every part of you. From the strength of your pinkie finger to your knowledge of the fretboard to your ear’s sense of tone to your body’s sense of rhythm. And just as I found that first night in the corporate apartment, with practice I could see myself improve from session to session. I love the idea that I was honing and improving myself on a day-to-day basis.

Creative development: I think of different elements of playing guitar as operating on different ends of a creative spectrum. On one hand, you have memorization, which is where you start. You learn chords, then songs, then licks and riffs, then notes and scales, etc. But over time you gradually find yourself developing a creativity that you didn’t have when you started. Having learned the constraints of the guitar, you begin playing in the space between those constraints. And then one day you look back and say “Oh sh*t! I just created that!” For someone who has always wanted to be more creative than he is, that was basically a drug.

Personal development: I wouldn’t be honest if I told you I didn’t pick up the guitar with dreams of one day being a rockstar frontman. So there’s that.

Why are you an active TAC member?

I started with TAC’s daily practice plan – I loved the concept of guitar practice as a “gym membership” and daily workouts leading to overall athleticism. But over time I got excited by the level of support provided by the community. Now I live for the “New Activity” emails…

What convinced you to submit your first performance video?

Honestly, it was the promise of that GS Mini. Yes, I know I already have one, but what can I say? When it comes to guitars I’m a little greedy.

Tell us the story of your first Open Mic?

Technically I haven’t performed an open mic…yet. It was one of my 2016 New Years’ Resolutions, so expect an update here in the next 7 months. However, a couple of weeks ago I did “sit in” on a Bluegrass jam in Manhattan’s Murray Hill. I’ll tell you what: those geezers could play. I was very thankful of TAC’s Wednesday solos the first time the leader asked me to “take a break,” even if I did fall flat on my face. Just an awesome learning experience – and an experience I couldn’t have had without the incredible curriculum and discipline that TAC provides!

What’s the one thing you’d tell other TAC members who don’t think they’d be good at writing songs?

I am just beginning the process of writing songs. And they suck. I mean, seriously, they’re totally embarrassing. But that’s cool! Every time I string together a melody or a couple chords, or even (yikes) some lyrics, they suck/embarrass a tiny bit less, and sound a little bit more like an actual song. I think it’s really hard to judge yourself as an amateur songwriter, when all you hear, all day long, are the songs written by pros. So I guess the advice I’d give is advice I’m trying to give myself, which is to keep at it, and to tell that voice in your head that it can shut up!

What else would be cool for people to know about you?

Usually, this is where I tell people I play guitar. So I guess here I’ll tell you that I’m a bit of a finance geek. I work in private equity in NYC and I’m about to go back to school for my MBA. Um, nope! Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “oh yeah and I play guitar.”


  1. Profile photo of Bradley A
    Bradley A

    Very cool David. I can relate to your comments on guitar skill development and why you love doing this guitar thing. Really enjoyed the stories about song writing and the bluegrass jam. I admire your adventurous spirit and tenacity!

  2. Profile photo of Duane W
    Duane W

    Interesting read. Something to look forward to that isn’t talked about much: you’ll reach a point with your guitar playing where your don’t have to actively think about what your hands are doing. It is at this point you’ll find yourself just playing. It is a form of meditation. This type of guitar therapy helped me through years of very stressful jobs. IME the hardest part of playing in front of strangers and songwriting is muting the inner critic, it never completely goes away or permanently stays quiet, but you eventually get better at ignoring it most of the time. Relax and enjoy the ride.

  3. Profile photo of David Cagle
    David Cagle

    Hey David O. – congratulations on the spotlight. I am also a David O. but the O. is for my middle name of Orvin. We share things in common such as I have been in Corporate Finance for 30+ years, we are learning guitar together and I am also a fan of the same musical genres. Its good getting to know you better!

  4. Profile photo of Dave H
    Dave H

    David – great well thought write up. Work and life balance, always keep them in balance. Guitar worked wonders for me, glad it’s working for you.

  5. Profile photo of Steve H
    Steve H

    Great Spotlight David! I think most of us enjoy the stress-relieving aspect of guitar playing. A much smaller group use it to avoid the daily grind of high finance in the Big City!
    Enjoyed learning more about you. Congrats again!

  6. Profile photo of jumpin' jeff s
    jumpin' jeff s

    Good to get to know you a bit. Are you going to Bozeman for the Jamboree? I would love to shake your hand in person. Risk management is almost as fun as playing guitar. I love both. I get paid for neither: at least your paid for one. On the other hand the rewards for good practice on both are fantastically satisfying. Great Spotlight, congratulations.

  7. Profile photo of gary m
    gary m

    The Ying and Yang of David O ! Guitar > Finance Finance > Guitar
    Congratulations, great interview and thanks for sharing

  8. Profile photo of Karol D
    Karol D

    Love your writing skills and sense of humor! TAC as a gym membership, love it! Nice guitar collection, but you really gotta learn how to play dat bass.

  9. Profile photo of Tony

    Enjoyed learning a little more about you David – glad that you’re here with us.

  10. Profile photo of Robert G
    Robert G

    Nice spotlight David!
    I now wish I had come upon your approach for the stress relief from guitar early in my career. I’m thinking you’re going to have an open mic opportunity at some gathering like a company team building when a band takes a bread and someone says, “hey, I heard something interesting you may not know about David; he plays!” Seems like the perfect surprise for your peers. And off you’ll go as an MBA Rock Star ( might be a stage name in there somewhere).

  11. Profile photo of Pecos Bill J
    Pecos Bill J

    David, I really enjoyed your profile and how you articulated how you feel about playing our favorite instrument. No doubt you’ll be writing songs you can be proud of. Just be you. – Pecos in Helena

  12. Profile photo of Fred R
    Fred R

    Nothin spells pickin’ like finance geek. Put those things together and you could become a tour manager–for your rockstar self. And eventually you might even become s geezer yourself!

  13. Profile photo of Lou Q
    Lou Q

    Thanks for sharing, David. So glad guitar gives you peace in this hectic world. Rock Star with an MBA, interesting…

  14. Profile photo of David P
    David P

    I love the bit about creativity. Not my strong suit but I think I can feel it close by these days. Great spotlight.

  15. Profile photo of Gary L
    Gary L

    Great story David. Thanks for sharing. It’s really inspirational to hear everyone’s stories and motivations.

  16. Profile photo of Jason T
    Jason T

    Entertaining Spotlight! I’m with ya on the unwinding after a day at the office! That’s part of the reason I got back into guitar as well! Hit a mid-life crisis and needed a stress reliever!

  17. Profile photo of Charles B
    Charles B

    David O the Guitar is the same for me it’s a way to “reset” after and before a stressful day.

  18. Profile photo of Roger L
    Roger L

    Nice read David. You summed up the learning process pretty good. I can relate.

  19. Profile photo of Michael D
    Michael D

    Awesome write-up Dave. Dig Jeff Tweedy acoustic, with Wilco, and with Jay Farrar in Uncle Tupelo, and I also dig Jack White. Every time I tried to play double dag nabbit, I ended up playing “These Stones Will Shout!” Anyway, congrats on the spotlight.

  20. Profile photo of Lynne R
    Lynne R

    Interesting read David O. You sound very much like a Type A personality and I have little doubt that you will eventually realize your guitar goals in terms of personal satisfaction. Hope that you can find time to continue with TAC after you start your MBA. Keep on picken.

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