Earlier this year, Gear Factor, powered by Sweetwater, went on the road, traveling to Southern California for the annual NAMM convention where the Music Experience's Squiggy hosted a panel featuring six guitarists and picked their brains for the riffs that inspired them to pick up the instrument.

The panel, backed by Gibson, featured blues rock guitarist Jared James NicholsFive Finger Death Punch's Jason HookBush, Helmet and Orange 9mm guitarist Chris Traynor; Tesla's Dave Rude; Galaktikon and Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small and acclaimed producer and guitarist Bob Rock.

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Some classic guitar greats are responsible for helping to inspire the careers of our panelists. It shouldn't surprise you to see names like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and even a more modern band like Guns N' Roses come up more than once. Hook had a specific reason for gravitating toward Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," telling the audience, "I knew if I could learn this, the girls will dig me.”

Yes, the love of the ladies looms big for our guitarists, with Small later relaying his love for the riffs in Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years" playing a big role in his "bedroom" jams. He would confide, "Those three, they got a lot of rotation in my bedroom. My bedroom was a very lonely place back in those days. I would not know the love of a woman for years. So I got my playing together. I knew deep down inside, I knew that if I could get my fat, sluggish fingers working I could parlay this into romance.”

Traynor also shared his love of Jimmy Page's craft, particularly playing "Ramble On." “Jimmy played every single verse and chorus different. There was a lot of flavor and a lot of slop and sauce going around that. I think even young kids today kind of pick up on that. What’s special about that generation of music and what’s special with Sabbath and Zeppelin is that those dudes were playing all the way through. That inspired me as a kid and I think it still inspired kids today,” said the guitarist.

Rock also reflects on one of his favorite guitarists, Pete Townshend, while giving the Gibson brand in general some love. “Who did I like? Who was the guy where I could find something that would inspire me? It was Pete Townshend. From 'Pinball Wizard,' ‘I Could See for Miles,’ ‘My Generation,’ his leads would always serve the song. I concentrated on rhythm and that’s where I ended up being as a musician," said Rock, adding, "He played a lot of guitars, but Live at Leeds, it’s an SG standard, and it always goes back to Gibson for that kind of sound. His sound was not distorted, it was kind of clean but it was always the way he hit it. Kind of like Malcolm Young in the way he played, it was hitting the guitar. That’s what inspired me, just to be a great rhythm player and a great songwriter and make great records.”

Which of our panelists went outside the box a bit to select of Prince favorite for inspiring him? Who turned to Jimi Hendrix to learn how to make a note "bend, cry and scream"? Who had to hide his Ozzy records cause his mom thought that it'd make him a criminal? Watch more riffs being dissected and analyzed with our panelists in the player above.

And if you, like these guys, are inspired to pick up the guitar, be sure to head over to Sweetwater.com for your guitar needs.

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