Keith Urban began playing the guitar as a wee lad, first honing his skills on a ukulele, then graduating to a bona fide real guitar, and fell head over heels in love for the first time.

His first electric guitar was an Ibanez copy of a a Fender Telecaster Deluxe. "Wish I still had it," a wistful Keith tells Nashville's Tennessean. "I traded that one and bought a candy apple red Fender Strat, because I wanted one that looked like [Dire Strait's] Mark Knopfler's."

During the sabbatical between The Ranch and his first solo U.S. record, Keith's guitar playing was what helped him pay the rent. The guy from Down Under played a lot of recording sessions, including ones for the Dixie Chicks. "Session playing, I found uncomfortable," says Keith. "I didn't know how to get a good guitar tone. Playing live is well and good, but the studio is a different environment. And my playing suits my music more than it suits other people's."

Even though, he's constantly playing guitar on the road and in the studio, he still enjoys noodling with his guitar around the house. "I still play music around the house," says Keith. "Particularly when I've just bought a guitar, and I seem to always be acquiring another guitar."

Coming off a win at the Grammys for Best Male Country Performance for 'Sweet Thing,' the father of one will head back out on the road March 16 for a performance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.