"Musicians that create and play music from their heart and soul... this is the real deal to me. - Philip Sayce

Posted: April 29, 2024
I try to practice each day for several hours. Sometimes during mid practice, I’ll put the phone up for a minute or so and try to capture the flavor of that day and then share that on social media in a way to say hello to people. It’s a great way to connect with people and I try not to overthink it, just go with the flow on that day.

Photo credit: Matt Barnes

On average, it can take a dedicated student several months to a year to develop a basic proficiency on the guitar. However, some students may be able to play simple songs within a few weeks of starting lessons, while others may take several years to reach a similar level of skill.

You might say to yourself “that is not difficult”. Afterall, all you need to learn is 4 chords. 😊 Forget anything that you have heard from those that have no history of playing the guitar professionally. Learning the basics is key to developing into a proficient guitar player. The length of time it takes you to learn depends upon you.

Gifted individuals have been able to pick up the guitar and learn it seemingly overnight. However, they are few and far between. There are elements of guitar playing, that professionals must re-learn. Rushing to learn how to play the guitar is not the method for success. However, anything worth learning, is worth taking time to establish a firm foundation.

Consider Philip Sayce. A guitarist that has a track record of perfecting his craft. His accomplishments reflect his hard work and dedication. His skill set required labor-intensive training.

We sat down with Philip Sayce to discover what he was willing to do, to master the art of guitar playing.


From the moment Philip Sayce first put his hands on a guitar neck, he never let go. Malcolm Gladwell theorized that “greatness” requires 10,000 hours of practical training. A teenage Sayce had easily surpassed this threshold when his hometown hero, legendary guitarist, and multi-platinum artist Jeff Healey, caught Sayce playing a ferocious set-in downtown Toronto.

Within a year, Sayce was touring internationally with Jeff Healey’s band and performing at the world’s most prestigious festivals. Since that time, Sayce has put in multiples of that 10,000 hours, recording, and touring for four years with musical icon Melissa Etheridge, then launching a solo career and establishing a rabid fan base in Europe and beyond, opening shows for the likes of ZZ Top and Deep Purple. Sayce is a rare artist, a combination of outstanding songwriter, unparalleled guitarist, soulful singer, and electrifying performer.


Guitar Thrills: Hi Philip. Thank you for answering some questions for me today. I had to laugh as I started writing the article. Playing guitar was not an overnight process for me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was gung-ho, about playing. Especially as my brother was excelling at it. Trying to keep pace with him wasn’t easy. Since he was in the work force, he had the money to shell out on the best equipment. Which was frustrating to me, having to practice with a no name acoustic.

Back then, there were no You Tube videos. It was the guitar instructor, and cheat sheets. When did you start learning the basics of guitar playing?

Philip: I started playing guitar when I was about 15 or so. I burned through all the DVD, VHS, CD, and tape players in the house. I would just keep pressing rewind and pause and try to find the notes on the guitar over and repeatedly of the guitarist in music that I was listening to. This is still the same music I’m listening to and trying to figure out today! Always working on it. I also used guitar magazines and instructional books to help dial it in as well. I would also watch guitar players in a live setting, very closely, and then rush home and try to re-create what I had just witnessed.

Guitar Thrills: When did you make the decision to be a dedicated student of the guitar? 

Philip: When I first saw Eric Clapton play live, and when I heard about the passing of Stevie Ray Vaughan. These were two of my biggest guitar heroes and influences growing up, and to this day. I am a student of the guitar and of music and have dedicated my life to learning and growing each day, I just love this music so much.

Guitar Thrills: Did you take guitar lessons, or did you pick up on your own?

Philip: I have not taken formal lessons, other than studying the music of my favorite musicians daily. Playing with Jeff Healey was sensational education, standing next to a musical genius of his level on a nightly basis taught me so so much.

Guitar Thrills: What were some of your initial challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Philip: Some of the initial challenges were things like bleeding fingers, learning to walk before running, so to speak and being patient with the process of learning. Also, some of the mechanics of playing a very inexpensive guitar that physically was difficult to get notes out of. My favorite players are true virtuosos, so I continue to dedicate myself to a lifelong commitment and journey of learning and growing, one step at a time.

Guitar Thrills: What would you suggest for beginners?

Philip: Find the music that truly excites you and go in that direction full force. Play the music that is in your heart and soul.

Guitar Thrills: Do the live videos that you release on social media, help you work through your creativity? What are some of the benefits from going live on social?

Philip: I try to practice each day for several hours. Sometimes during mid practice, I’ll put the phone up for a minute or so and try to capture the flavor of that day and then share that on social media in a way to say hello to people. It’s a great way to connect with people and I try not to overthink it, just go with the flow on that day.

Guitar Thrills: Fast forwarding the interview to what is happening in your career. How did you become so popular so fast? You have performed with some of the top artists in the music industry. There doesn’t seem to be a sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Philip: I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to create music in my lifetime. It is a privilege and a pleasure. I’m always working on it; I’m trying to do better today than what I did yesterday. I am extremely thankful for the support and encouragement of friends and family, and I’m already halfway through the next album. Can’t wait to share morning music with you.

Guitar Thrills: Who do you owe your success too? Did Jeff Healey have a lot to do with it?

Philip: I work hard. There’s been some incredible people in my life who have helped me along the way. Beautiful and talented mentors such as Jeff Healey and Melissa Etheridge, amongst others. These are people that I admire, and they showed me the way. They showed me how they did it through hard work and perseverance, focus and dedication. Also, my musical heroes and influences who I listen to and cherish every day. People like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, Freddie King, The Beatles, and so many more. I am merely standing on the shoulders of giants. People like Jimi Hendrix, who infused his musical inspirations and heroes and wrote the whole book. I am trying to express the music that I care about with love through my own perspective, my own experiences, and my own lens during my lifetime to continue the legacy and importance of this music and these artists that I care deeply about.

Guitar Thrills: What are some of the gifts that Jeff share with you during your time performing with him?

Philip: A lifetime of inspiration. When Jeff was in the zone, he was truly tapped into a higher power. It was magnificent. It was spellbinding and magical. It was beautiful. He inspired me to continue creating and to love what I do through music every day of my life.

Guitar Thrills: Are there any artists that you currently look up too? Which ones do you collaborate with, when you get stuck trying to figure out a new solo, or lyric?

Philip: I really admire any artist that is playing and creating from their heart and soul, speaking their truth, through their music and their expression. Musicians that create and play music from their heart and soul regardless of if anyone is there, listening or not. This is the real deal to me.

Guitar Thrills: There is nothing wrong with endorsing brands, etc. However, it seems like the popular trend. Are you opposed to playing a guitar or product, that just doesn’t fit your style and sound?

Philip: I am not interested in endorsing any product or company that does not resonate with me or inspire me. 

Guitar Thrills: What are some of the “go to” brands that you use either in live performances or in studio?

Philip: I play D’Addario guitar strings. I play vintage guitars. For new guitars I play PRS guitars, an SVL guitar, and a Mule resonator guitar. I play Tommy Cougar amplifiers and Cesar Diaz amplifiers.

Guitar Thrills: What kinds of projects do you have coming up?

Philip: I am about halfway through a new album. I’m really excited about this new music that is coming together, shortly after releasing my brand-new album, “The Wolves Are Coming”. We have some tour dates coming up this year in Europe, the US, Canada, and the UK to promote “Wolves”. I am excited and grateful to get out and play with my band, Sam Bolle on bass and Bryan Head on drums.

Guitar Thrills: Nice. You know you can always feel free to give us a shout. Especially when you are ready to release a new song or album. Do not hesitate. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

Philip: Thank YOU so much for having me on board! I deeply appreciate your support; it means the world to me. Play on! 

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