Elder grad wins guitar dream

Elder grad wins guitar dream

In May of 2008, Elder Graduate David “Putz” Puthoff, at age 13, stood before all of St. Antoninus school – classmates, teachers, parents – and ripped away a guitar solo that has echoed into the life and bright future that he now has.

As an eighth grader, on that stage, David played a solo that was engrained in the minds of all those who witnessed it. It was his eighth grade spring play, and each student was to do a skit that pertained to what they want to be when they grow up. Since David saw his future in music – he wrote and got to perform a solo that featured parts of “Eruption” by Van Halen, “Thunderstruck” by ACDC, some Metallica, and Avenged Sevenfold, that ended in his own version of  “The Star Spangled Banner”. The 3-minute performance he gave was thanks to years of practice and passion.

“I started playing piano when I was five or six, but I hated it and stopped. But my grandma and mom always wanted me to play something. Then my dad showed me Led Zeppelin, and I agreed to play guitar,” said Puthoff.

Being introduced to the instrument at age eight, David got his start. He worked his way up for years, until he was able to do what he did at St. A on that memorable spring day. That day marked the beginning of what will be a lifetime of infinite performances and accomplishments.

Entering high school, the multi-talented man took his talents to the Elder Band. As a freshman, he made snare drum on the drumline. This is a spot that most sophomores and even juniors strive to one day achieve. Puthoff made his way through high school in Elder’s band, and the friends he made in drumline would carry on with him past high school.

From playing together in drumline, David became close friends Nick Ulmer (’12) and Sam Feist (’13). The guys, now graduates – took their vast musical talent and knowledge and started a band of their own.

David has been the lead shredder for The Requiem for over three years. They have written and professionally recorded multiple songs, played well over 50 shows, and made quite a name for themselves among local metal fans.

Just as he knew he would all along, come his senior year at Elder he applied to a world renowned program at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. The Classical Guitar program there is extremely elite – given that it accepts 0-4 applicants a year. People apply from all over the world, and few applicants are straight out of high school.

David was accepted into CCM’s classical guitar program, and at age 17 started being graded on his skill when he started the program that fall.

Being one of only two applicants that were accepted, making it in, alone, is a huge deal. CCM ended up not being the right path of music that David wanted to take. He decided to drop out of the program, and decided this year to take classes part time at Cincinnati State, as a finance major.

While going to class over the last two years, he works at the music store that his dad owns – Keller Music. At age 19, David is a part time guitar teacher at the store, and teaches dozens of students each week.

David has been more than a fan of Avenged Sevenfold since gradeschool. He’s seen them in concert five times, once all the way in Indianapolis. So obviously he’s on the band’s e-mail list, and early this past summer he opened one that told him about a contest.


The contest involved writing a song to hopefully win one of ten spots in a private lesson with his favorite guitar player, who is in his favorite band – Synyster Gates.

The contest supplied guitarists with drum and bass tracks to a song that Avenged Sevenfold wrote, recorded, and released – with their No. 1 album Nightmare – which David and other hopefuls had to take and re-write the guitar parts for.

David started writing right away, and he spent several weeks writing and working on his entry piece. It took a total of ten hours to record the final product – which included six different guitar parts. His younger sister Hannah helped him with the recording process, and he sent his finished recordings over to Sam Feist, the drummer for his band who happens to have a recording studio, and he helped him mix the sound.

The videos were put up on a website for over two months, and his video ended up third overall most viewed with – over 3,500 votes. There was a final tally of 1,460 video submissions for the contest.

Out of all the video submissions, the top 100 videos (by number of votes) moved on to be judged by a panel and Synyster Gates himself. Judged on performance, originality, technique – a final top ten would be chosen as winners.

While the voting was still going on, David was in first place for over a week – therefore Guitar Center awarded David a $500 gift card. With this huge win, Puthoff went to the store and got himself a couple of unreal pedals.

October 15 was the date when winners were supposed to be announced, but they weren’t released, so David sat waiting. He got a call a week after the winners were supposed to be announced. They told him that he was still in the contest, and that his video was one of the ones Gates mentioned as a favorite. Because the band was on tour and in Europe, it was hard for Gates to watch the top 100 and select the 10 winners.

This contest was clearly no “pick a name out of a hat” thing. This was full on: writing, practicing, recording, voting, sharing, viewing, re-viewing – and a final selection of the best of the best.

On Friday, November 22, David got another call from Los Angeles.

“He just said ‘you’re in’, and I lost it.”

David’s dream hit him full force with one phone call. This contest provides him with an experience that will take a lifetime for many people to top. They are flying him out to LA, and paying for his hotel and meals. The highlight of course, is the master class – where the ten winners get to meet and get a private lesson from the guitar legend.

David also gets one of Synyster Gates’ signature Schecter guitars, a $500 package of accessories, pedals, strings, etc. And the winners get a tour of the Schecter guitar factory to top it off.

Putz will have to pinch himself once this finally happens – and he’s not one to take an amazing experience for granted. His humbleness remains strong, like it always has. This is a giant leap for David in his career, and this early success and experience will be something he can always remember, because someday, he very well may be the one giving the master class.

Another good thing is that when he sits down with Syn, Dave can show his hero the Avenged Sevenfold logo that he recently had tattooed onto his arm.