A Lifetime of Music
Many fans of music may believe that all guitar players are basically the same. Those who sit in the audience when local musician Lester Estelle Sr. plays know otherwise. With unorthodox tuning, unconventional technique and undeniable passion, it is evident to even the most casual listener that his style is one of a kind. His ability and talent transcends genre and cannot be truly appreciated without hearing and seeing it in person.
The son of a pastor, Lester has been around music all his life. His father played piano, guitar and sang as well. He grew up watching artists like Chet Atkins and Roy Clark on the Grand Ole Opry. While his father was working the night shift, Lester would take his guitar and emulate what he saw the guitarist doing on TV.
“One evening, I broke a string and my secret was out,” he remembers. “But Dad allowed me to continue using his guitar, and I still have it to this day.”
Having taught himself to play watching a mirror image in the TV, he later realized he was playing backwards. Using a left-handed guitar, strung right handed is only part of what makes Lester stand out from other guitarists.
“I enjoy playing acoustic and archtop guitars in DADGAD tuning instead of standard tuning,” he says. “I love to tap and slap the guitar and play with a thumb pick like the old school players.”
Music, to Lester, has provided him a way to both relax and challenge himself to grow his gift and technique. He believes that playing music helps him maintain a disciplined and balanced life.
“It takes discipline to learn and transpose music, especially since I am self-taught,” he says. “Practice makes permanent. So if I want to grow and get better, I must invest in my gift.”
He learns from watching other musicians. Some of his favorites include Phil Keaggy, Earl Klugh, Jonathan Butler and his sons Lester Jr. and Brandon Estelle.
Lester has been afforded many different avenues to share his love and knowledge of music. He presently serves as the worship pastor at Indian Creek Community Church in Olathe, where he has the pleasure of mentoring and developing young musicians and worship leaders. He has traveled extensively through the United States and other countries, including Norway, Sweden, Canada, Barbados and Mexico playing music.
“I would love to do more of theses venues, learn more about music in other countries, continue to record, produce and share my music while mentoring young musicians as I have my own sons,” he says. “On my bucket list, I would love to perform with Phil Keaggy.”
Outside of music, Lester lives an equally interesting life. He and his high school sweetheart, Pat, have been married for 38 years. They have three children and 11 grandchildren. In 2011, he retired from the city of Olathe following 32 years of service and began working at WaterOne shortly after. Lester now also serves as section chair of the American Water Works Association of Kansas.
Lester maintains a full performance schedule and can be seen at a variety of settings around the area including churches, prisons, weddings and conferences. He also performs regularly at Homers Coffee Shop, the Olathe City Market and the Country Club Plaza. To find out where you can see Lester next or book him for an event, visit his website at LesterEstelle.com.