Customized Guitar Lessons

Custom Guitar Lessons specifically tailored for you

My Approach

Craig BeckI love giving guitar lessons and teaching music to students from all over Santa Clarita and southern California. I enjoy sharing a passion for music with my students. Giving bass and guitar lessons is what I do for a living but it’s not a job. It is a privilege to guide my students on their musical journey every day. This is where I want to be, in my guitar instruction studio here in Valencia, CA, playing & teaching music with my students.

My approach as a guitar instructor starts with a relaxed environment where my students feel free to express themselves. Guitar lessons are structured to maximize our time together but are informal in nature. I believe that people learn best when they are having fun. For this reason, I tailor each student’s guitar lessons to suit their own skill level, style of learning and preferred music style. Whether you want to play songs around the campfire or light up the fretboard as a frenetic shredmaster, I can help get you there. As a guitar teacher of 28 years, I routinely teach every type of student all styles of music including classic rock, blues, jazz, pop, country, extreme metal and even cartoon soundtracks. Learning to play your favorite songs is a great way to learn and to stay motivated. After all, the goal is to learn to play guitar, and hopefully have fun at the same time!

My mission is to give my students the tools needed to achieve their musical goals, whether they be modest or extremely ambitious, or somewhere in between. Whether it’s reading music, music theory, complex scales, chord progressions, or a student’s favorite song, my approach is to help my students build a solid foundation in their guitar technique and musicianship. By laying a solid foundation, my students develop the tools for continued improvement and musical growth.

I approach guitar instruction in a way that encourages rapid growth and an ability to exceed one’s own expectations. There is no better reward than to see the smiles that spread across my student’s faces when they accomplish what originally seemed insurmountable to them. Seeing their eyes light up as they exceed their musical goals and expectations is what this is all about for me. It’s why I do what I do. It’s not a job. No, teaching guitar is my passion.

What Do You Want to Learn?

What Do YOU Want to Learn?I haven’t been playing guitar for 36 years and teaching guitar for 28 years because it’s a boring, miserable experience. I’ve been playing and teaching this long because I love it. Playing guitar is fun! And I know that if I can make it fun for you, you will be inspired to play more and will learn faster than you ever imagined.

I encourage all of my students to learn music from their favorite artists. Nothing gets more grins in my studio than the sense of accomplishment that comes from nailing your favorite song. Of course, if it’s the first time you’ve picked up a guitar and you want to play a like Eddie Van Halen we may be overshooting the mark…but I can help you reach that goal! I’ll work with you to pick out songs you love that will develop your skills and help you progress at a fast pace. And before you know it, you’ll be impressing all your friends with your catalog of jams!

Maybe you’re already an accomplished guitar player who wants to take his playing to the next level. Perhaps your definition of fun is learning Phrygian scales and diminished chords. Really? I’m a guitar nerd at heart so let’s do it! I’ll show you how to take your shredding to another dimension.

Or maybe you’re in a band and want to learn how to write your own music or improve your current writing skills. I love helping my students learn song structure and how to compose their own music. Many of my students have gone on to tour the country with their bands, playing music everywhere from Newport Beach to New York City and everywhere in between. I get a kick out of going to see my students play live. Seeing all their hard work paying off on-stage is a rush for me as much as it is for them.

Why Personal Instruction?

What Do YOU Want to Learn?Why personal instruction? It’s a good question, and a fairly common one. With so many free video lessons and guitar tab sites available, what’s the big deal with private lessons? It’s actually pretty simple. It’s all about technique, feedback and consistency.

Proper technique is so critical to your success as a guitar player. Learning how to play the guitar correctly will improve the speed at which you learn and can unlock a world of possibilities that are often unachievable due bad habits. Correct form can take your playing to heights you never thought possible but the reverse is true too – developing bad habits and poor technique can limit your progress and keep you from playing as well as you are capable of. It is absolutely impossible to learn proper technique from reading guitar tablature. You can learn the notes but there’s so much more to music than just learning notes. Have you ever heard someone say that they feel music? Feeling music is more than just notes. Feeling music is an expression of notes as though they are coming from the musician’s soul. By learning proper technique you will learn to express feeling in your own music instead of just playing notes. And videos can talk about proper technique and even show you examples but that’s not enough. Why not? Read on…

Feedback is critical to a musician’s growth and improvement. Without feedback, how will you ever know if you’re playing the notes correctly? Or worse yet, what if you’ve picked up a bad habit that is limiting your abilities? A video may be able to show you how to play a chord or a scale or even a solo but can it provide instant feedback when you’re struggling and before improper technique sets in? Can it recognize your learning style and tailor itself to maximize your uptake of the instruction given? This is a critical limitation of online videos and it’s why personal guitar instruction is so important. Compounding the issue is that online videos also do not allow for two-way communication. I encourage all of my students to ask questions during their lessons and I provide immediate answers. Nothing is as effective a learning tool as this.

During our one on one lessons I analyze your playing in real-time and provide instant feedback. I teach you the proper technique from day one and I stop bad habits before they start. And the more time we spend together the more effective your lessons will become as I fine tune my teaching to match both your playing and learning styles. Online videos can be a good reference but they are not nearly as effective as one-on-one lessons.

Consistent practice. I’ve found that people tend to practice more consistently when they are invested in personal guitar lessons. Maybe it’s because they know we’re going to get together in a week or two and they are going to have to play in front of me. Hey, whatever works! The reality is that it’s easy to ignore an online video when you run into a section that seems too complex. It’s easy to reach a figure in a guitar tab that doesn’t make sense to you and just stop. It’s not so easy to do that when you and I are working on a common goal together. My success is defined by yours and it is my job to unleash your greatness as a guitar player. You will learn that with a lot of practice, proper technique and encouragement (from me), you CAN play that seemingly impossible riff or chord progression. It’s important to remember that practice is good but it is CONSISTENT practice that will develop and hone your skills to amazing levels. In the beginning practice will help get you through the initial difficulty of first picking up and understanding the guitar. And if you are consistent with your practice you will improve your technique, your skill and understanding of your instrument until it becomes a part of you. With enough practice, there will come a day that you and your instrument will become one. You won’t be able to go a day without picking up your guitar and that’s when it’s no longer practice. It’s just playing guitar.

I guarantee that personal instruction is the fastest, most effective way to learn guitar. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a guitar or you’re self taught or you’ve tried lessons elsewhere. Let me show you how good a guitar player you can be!

Lesson Features

Craig BeckI teach guitar in the comfort of the studio I built specifically for doing so. I designed my studio to be comfortable and inspirational for my students. It is a place where music and creativity flows.

Lessons are available in either 30 or 60 minute sessions though I highly recommend 60 minutes for maximum benefit. An hour of personal instruction provides ample time to ask questions, learn new material or concepts, and practice them to ensure your understanding of the instruction given.

LESSON MATERIALS & GEAR
Amps & Cables
Bring your guitar and I’ll supply the rest. Use my cables, plug into my amps and crank it up. Whether you are into clean jazz tones or the distored aggression of pure metal, I’ve got you covered.

Sheet Music / Tablature
I provide all of my students with sheet music or tablature specific to the music we are working on. I carefully review the sheet music with my students to ensure they understand it completely so that they can effectively practice at home. I encourage all of my students to ping me if they have a question or need help. If you’re asking for help, I know your practicing so give me a shout!

Technology & Software
My computer is a vital part of every bass and guitar lesson. I cannot imagine teaching a lesson without it. I use the same recording software that recording studios use to record and capture every musical nuance of your favorite bands. Some would say this is overkill. I say high-quality cutting-edge technology equals more fun and faster learning!

Jam Tracks
If you’re looking to improve your improvisational skills, jam tracks are a brilliant tool to stimulate growth. I provide jam tracks for every style of music, at whatever speed you need. I even provide several variations of the track at varying speed to help you progress even faster.

Song Tracks
The most effective way to learn how to play a song is to play along with it. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially if you’ve decided on something particularly challenging. I break songs down into small, manageable sections and then provide those sections of music at varying speeds for you. You might start by playing along with the song at half speed and work your way up to full speed over time. I will provide you with the tracks you need to to practice with at home at 50%, 60%, and all the way up to 100% speed.

Improvement Exercises
At the end of each lesson I will provide you with exercises for your to practice at home. These exercises will be specific to your learning style and the type of music you are playing. I will give you the tools you need to more rapidly master your instrument.

Skype Option
Don’t want to leave the house? Would you rather not brush your hair or get out of your pajamas? No problem! I also offer webcam lessons via Skype. This can be a very effective tool if you are sick or can’t make the commute or are out of town for an extended period of time but don’t want to lose momentum.

Exceptional Support
Remember that my success is defined by yours. I want you to succeed at guitar. I want you to enjoy playing guitar as much as I do. So if you are stuck on something and have a quick question between lessons, hit me up via text or email. I teach throughout the day so I may not be immediately available but I will respond as quickly as possible. I’m here to support and encourage all of my students.

Music Theory & Songwriting

Music Theory and SongwritingHave you ever been at a jam session and wondered which key the band is playing in? Or maybe you are transcribing your favorite song and can’t find the right notes (and worse yet, it takes hours)? Maybe you have a killer verse and just can’t find the right chords for the chorus. Would you like to be able to write songs in a variety of moods from happy to sad, from angry to melancholy? Why does your favorite guitarist’s solo sound killer but your solo sounds like you are lost and searching for the right note? How do interestingly expressive bass players create those endlessly flowing bass lines without boring themselves by playing the same thing over and over and over? Ever wondered how your favorite two guitar bands create those blazing dual harmony leads? The answers to all of these questions and more can be found in music theory. Surprise, I teach that too!

If you’re interested in learning to write your own songs, I’ll teach you music theory and the art of creating music with a proven method that is easy to understand and has been refined through years of teaching. Don’t be intimidated by those thick college textbooks. Unless you are writing classical music, songwriting is much easier than you think! I will help you free the music that is trapped within you.

While we’re talking about music theory, I’d like to dispel a common myth. Some people believe that music theory will stifle creativity and make them sound like a machine. Sure, writing songs purely from inspiration is great, but when inspiration dries up, and we all know that feeling, theory will kickstart your creativity and elevate your songwriting skills. I encourage you to listen to the band videos. Each band is using the same musical theory but applying it in their own unique way. Music theory is not a substitute for inspiration, but a companion to it. The more music theory you know, the more freely you will be able to express yourself – whether you are writing songs, composing bass lines, improvising or transcribing.

Guitar Soloing & Improvisation

Music Theory and SongwritingLearning to play lead guitar or ‘improvise” is a direct link from your soul to the listeners ears. Students often believe their favorite guitar and bass players are blessed with some sort of special and magical power that allows them to freely improvise with great emotion. Sure they put in hours of practice to get to that point, but scales, arpeggios and modes are the tools that they are using to create this illusion. I will teach you how to improvise over the entire neck of your instrument in the mood of your choice. Want to play some aggressive knock you in the teeth solos like Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold? Then the Phrygian mode is what you are after. Maybe a little Stevie Ray Vaughn or John Mayer or Johnny Cash? Let’s look at the Mixolydian mode. On a different day and in a mellower mood you may want some jazz stylings like Wes Montgomery or George Benson. I will help you master all the modes including Locrian. Oh yeah, interestingly, Locrian is also the mode of choice for the most extreme and angry metal from Slayer to Megadeath. Isn’t it amazing how the same mode can be used for such drastically different musical styles? I know it still amazes me every time I teach, play and listen to music.

UNDERSTANDING & READING SHEET MUSIC

Bass LessonsThe biggest challenge while teaching guitar and bass lessons is helping students find a passion for reading music. Learning to play your favorite song produces results in a short amount of time. Plus, playing a song for your family and friends is a huge rush! Learning to read music produces results for your long-term growth as a musician. I am so thankful that one of my earliest teachers taught me to read music. I was not happy about it at the time, but I sure am happy about it now! I use my music reading skills each and every day during my own personal practice time and also while I am teaching students.

I talk individually with each of my students about their goals and then decide if learning to read music is right for them. Do you plan on going to college or The Musicians Institute in Hollywood as many of my former students have? Then definitely reading music is a priority. Is your goal to strum simple acoustic songs while accompanying your voice in the privacy of your own backyard? Then your time may be better spent learning songs, songs and more songs. Through years of teaching experience, I have found that most students excel by initially learning how to play songs and learning how to improvise. Once they have accomplished those two goals, students are often very receptive to practicing reading music. Learning to read music is not mandatory in order to take guitar or bass lessons. I write out all lessons using tablature so that learning real songs that you enjoy can begin at lesson number one.

DO YOU ONLY TEACH GUITAR? WHAT IF I PLAY BASS?

Bass LessonsI definitely teach bass guitar and I have many bass players as students. Playing bass is sort of like playing a slower, rhythmic guitar solo throughout the entirety of a song. So there are many similarities between the two instruments and I couldn’t imagine teaching one without teaching the other. I’ve had students that took bass lessons and later expanded their knowledge of the instrument by also learning to play guitar. I’ve also had students taking guitar lessons that used their knowledge of scales arpeggios etc. to learn to play the bass.

Gift Certificates | Coming soon!Inspire creativity – Give the gift of music

Guitar Lessons Gift CertificateIf you’re looking for a unique gift that’s sure to inspire creativity, guitar lessons are hard to beat. Whether you’ve got a budding rock star in the house or a spouse that’s always wanted to play guitar and just needs a little push, the gift of a lesson is a great way to encourage inspiration and show your support. Or…maybe there’s some ear-wrenching squawking coming from the next room and you’d like it to start sounding like music. Give YOURSELF the gift of lessons and put their name on it. LOL! Purchasing lessons for someone is a great way to get them to take the first step. You’ve done the hard work. All they have to do is show up.

Download a printable copy of this Gift Certificate

If you have questions prior to purchasing a Gift Certificate, feel free to call me any time at (661) 296-8685.

Number of Lessons
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Frequently Asked Questions

WHERE ARE LESSONS HELD?
The Studio: Lessons are held in the studio I designed and built specifically for teaching guitar lessons, right here in Santa Clarita, California.
Click here for address & directions

Webcam: I also give lessons via Skype or Facetime. This is amazing technology that works incredibly well. So regardless of your location on this planet, custom guitar lessons are just a click away. Living in the Hawaii? Lucky you! I’d rather fly out there and give you a lesson in person but webcam lessons are a LOT cheaper! Or maybe you’re going to be on an extended business trip for a month and want to keep your lessons going. Webcam lessons are a great way to maintain your momentum. Or maybe you just don’t feel like leaving the house. Maybe those flannel pajamas are just too comfortable and you’d rather not make the trek to my studio. The magic of Skype and Facetime makes this possible! I’ve had students from all over the world so whether you’re in Valencia, California or Valencia, Spain, I can teach you how to play guitar.

HOW LONG DOES A LESSON TAKE?
I give lessons in 30 and 60 minutes increments. Honestly though, 30 minutes is a bit short. Lessons are most effective in 60 minute blocks. To maximize your guitar lessons, I highly recommend hour long lessons.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO LEARN TO PLAY THE GUITAR?
I’ve been asked this question countless times. Everytime I’m asked, I struggle to find the appropriate answer. I could honestly say just a few months or the rest of your life and both answers would be true. When a student asks me how long did it took me to learn to play guitar I chuckle. The reality is that I didn’t wake up one day, look in the mirror and think to myself “Today is the day! I have now mastered the guitar.” You never really stop learning and a good guitar player always wants to get better. If your goal is to strum some chords around a campfire, then you’ll be able to play in just a few months. If you want to truly master your instrument, you will work at it for the rest of your life.

CAN I WAIT WHILE MY CHILD TAKES A LESSON?
Definitely! Many parents enjoy watching their children learn and play guitar. The studio is large and comfortable enough to accommodate you and I’d love to have you join us. One of the many advantages of my studio is that parents can listen and monitor their child’s progress.

DO YOU ACCEPT STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR DISABILITIES?
Yes. I’ve worked with a number of students who had special needs or disabilities – ADHD, blindness, Asperger’s, extreme shyness — and have seen very good results. Playing music has a therapeutic effect on people and should not be denied to anyone. Please contact me to discuss the student’s specific problems and/or needs.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE A LESSON?
Regularity is the key. I’ve found that lessons can be maximized when taken every week. If that’s not possible for you, I’d recommend at least a lesson every other week. It’s important to continue learning your instrument. Regular lessons will speed up your progress and help prevent bad habits from setting in.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PRACTICE?
Developing good practice habits is extremely important in developing your skills as a guitar player. The most important thing is to be consistent. Practicing a little each day is better than skipping a few days and then practicing several hours trying to catch up. Practicing is a discipline that you will need to work at and its not always fun. There are so many reasons not to practice – TV, Facebook, school, etc. Distractions are everywhere these day. You need to make time to practice. Allocate 60 minutes a day to practice guitar. Even 30 minutes a day is better than not practicing at all. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. I have a client that works 70 hours a week and has two kids and STILL manages to schedule 6 hours a week to practice his guitar…so there’s really no excuse. If you want to be good at anything you have to work at it. There’s no magic pill you can take that will make you the next Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai or Tosin Abasi. Those guys spent untold hours, days, weeks and years of their lives practicing their instruments. The age old cliche is true – practice makes perfect.

WHAT WORD OF ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO YOUNG/ASPIRING MUSICIANS?
If you think you have practiced enough, you haven’t.

IS MY CHILD TOO YOUG FOR GUITAR LESSONS?
The largest obstacles that young children encounter when the begin to learn the guitar are a lack of manual dexterity and poor hand-eye coordination. This is most noticable in children between the ages of 5 and 6. Through the years, I’ve developed a teaching method specifically designed to develop children’s musical skills while taking age into account. My method lays the foundation for a solid musical background and has worked well with students as young as six. But generally speaking, eight is a good age to begin studying guitar. By that time a child’s coordination has developed to a good point and the majority of students are able to read and recognize differences in pitch.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A GUITAR?
This is an easy question to answer. If you don’t have a guitar, get one. You can buy a great guitar for very little money these days. 20 years ago it was hard to find a good inexpensive guitar but these days there are some amazing options available. You can pick up a nice little Squier Bullet Strat electric guitar at Guitar Center for less than $130. Squier also sells a complete starter kit with guitar, amp, strap, cable, picks and a case for less than $200. One thing I’d like to point out is that if this is your first guitar, BUY NEW. There are great deals out there on used guitars and you can find some real steals on eBay or Reverb.com but unless you really know what to look for and what questions to ask there’s no way to know what you’re going to get. Buying new from a reputable retailer allows you to return the guitar if something is wrong with it. Try doing that on eBay and you’re in for a big disappointment. After awhile you’ll begin to know what to look for and be able to spot a great deal pretty quickly. I’d suggest you wait until that day before you dip your toes into the pool of buying used guitars.

WHAT IF I AM GOING ON VACATION?
If I told you not to go would it stop you? Heck no, so go and have a great time! Seriously, vacations are a great way to recharge your batteries and guess what? You’re guitar will be waiting for you when you get back. Missing a couple weeks of playing the guitar isn’t going to kill the skills. You might be a slight bit rusty when you pick up your guitar again but you’d be surprised how quickly it all comes back to you. And if you suffer from guitar playing OCD like some of us, check out these great traveler guitars. These guitars are made to travel and fit in the overhead bins on most airplanes. But don’t blame me when the spouse complains about you bringing it on the trip. Ha-ha! I do ask that you let me know when you plan to take a vacation so I can adjust my schedule accordingly. And if I decide to run off to Timbuktu for a week I’ll let you know so you can do the same.

WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL A LESSON?
I am very protective of my student’s time and I appreciate you respecting your committed lesson schedule. But sometimes life gets in the way and you need to cancel a lesson. I get it. All I ask is that you let me know at least 24 hours in advance. This affords me the time to fill your vacated lesson time.

WHAT IF MY CHILD WON’T PRACTICE?
Every student is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You know your child better than I do. I do all I can to make sure my students progress at a good pace and I will do everything imagineable to make learning and playing the guitar as fun as possible. But you know better than I what makes your child tick when he or she is at home. I know many parents that are directly involved in the learning process and who closely monitor their child’s practice time for the first 6-12 months. This is usually how long it takes for a student to discover how much fun it is to play the guitar. Some kids don’t respond well to the watchful eye and need to feel free to explore and discover music on their own. After all music is such a personal thing. I have a student who’s father doesn’t monitor his son’s playing other than occassionally overhearing the squawking of a guitar coming from his son’s room. In fact, he stays far away from meddling in his son’s progress. Instead he simply told his son that as long as he practices regularly he will continue paying for lessons but if he stops practicing, he will cut off the lessons. That’s all it took. Each student and their motivation is different. You will know better than anyone what motivates your child but don’t forget that I too am invested in their success as a musician. I will work with you to find the key to unlocking your child’s desire and inspiration.

WHAT MATERIAL DO BEGINNING STUDENTS COVER?
Learning the guitar can be a bit overwhelming at first. You’ll quickly learn that it’s not as easy as guys like Slash make it appear. But you know what? Every single guitar virtuoso was a complete noob in the beginning. Every one of them had to start from scratch. For the beginning student, I start with the basics: how to hold and use a pick; how to read music or tablature; how to strum; how to tune your guitar; how to care for your guitar; how to hold your guitar; how to form chords and notes; and proper technique. As your playing progresses, we’ll cover more and more advanced subjects and material. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu

WHAT OTHER ACCESSORIES WILL I NEED FOR GUITAR LESSONS?
Quite frankly, learning to play the guitar is fairly inexpensive. Beyond your guitar, everything you need is pretty inexpensive. Once you’ve purchased a guitar, the other accessories won’t set you back more than $100.Here are a few tools of the trade that I highly recommend all of my students purchase.

If you need help finding any of these fundamental supplies, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help you find them.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A GUITAR INSTRUCTOR?
The answer to this question often differs for each individual. A great deal depends on your age and how experienced you are with a guitar. Adult beginners should look for someone who has a systematic approach to the material and the ability to easily convey techniques and concepts to people who are new to the instrument. Also, much depends on what your goals are. If you see yourself as the next Steve Vai just waiting to be set free, you’re going to need a very accomplished instructor to accompany and guide you on that journey.

Experienced adults looking to improve their existing skills should look for an accomplished instructor with at least 10 years of teaching and 20+ years of playing guitar. You don’t want to take lessons from someone less experienced than you!

Young beginners face an interesting problem because most guitar instructors DO NOT want to deal with children. I LOVE teaching children. Children are so open to learning and still have a youthful joy that has not been sapped by 14 hour days at the office, a mortgage and other responsibilities! 50% of my students are children under the age of 18. I teach children how to play cartoon themes, boy band songs and the latest teenage angst songs and I love all of it. It helps me feel a little younger and keeps me in touch with the latest music trends.

Another VERY important factor when searching for the right instructor is to find someone who listens to you intently and is committed to developing a plan to help you achieve your goals. Too often guitar teachers become rigid in their instruction methods and approach. When it comes to learning the guitar, one size does NOT fit all. It’s important to find someone who teaches you what YOU want to learn. A good instructor will also recognize that every student is different and not everyone learns things the same way. A good teacher will be flexible in his approach and will tailor lessons for each student based on their learning styles.

A common and fundamental problem for all students of the guitar is that people often assume that because someone can play guitar well, they are able to teach others to do the same. That is a false assumption. Playing well is an important component, but personality and teaching ability are always paramount in a learning situation. I would highly recommend you interview potential instructors before signing up for lessons. I love talking guitar and I think you’ll hear the enthusiasm I have for it when we speak. I’m looking forward to my interview.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A GUITAR?

  1. Determine your budget. As a beginner, try to keep your budget low. Around $150-$300 for a guitar is usually right for the beginner. I don’t recommend used guitars for the first time buyer. Unless you know what to look for in a guitar, you may end up with an inferior instrument. Just because a guitar is expensive does not mean it is a good guitar. Also, beware of guitars that are under $150. They are often cheaply constructed and have poor sound quality.
  2. Decide if you are going to play an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. Your decision will depend on the style you play. Ideally you will play the same type of guitar as your favorite guitar players. Whichever guitar you own, you are not limited. You can learn to play electric guitar songs on an acoustic guitar. Likewise, you can learn to play acoustic guitar songs on an electric guitar. The technique is the same on both instruments. Only the sound is different.
  3. Shop. ALWAYS play a guitar before you buy it so you know what you are getting. Not doing this can be a huge mistake. Have your guitar-playing friend go with you to several guitar stores to help you choose an instrument. As a beginner, your ear may not recognize subtle tone qualities and playability factors that your friend will pick up on and point out to you. This is probably one of the most important things you can do.
  4. Ask the clerk. Ask the clerk to show you guitars in your price range. Have the clerk to play the same 20 second section of a song on each guitar and use your ear to decide which guitar sounds best to your ear. Guitar tone is very subjective. Ask 5 people which is the best sounding guitar in the store and you will get 5 different answers. Trust your ear.
  5. Have the clerk verify that the guitar is tuned to concert pitch or standard tuning. This will allow you to better compare this guitar with others.
  6. Feel. Try several guitars sitting and standing. If they don’t seem natural to you, even slightly, they might be wrong for you. Try several guitars until you find one that feels good in your hands and on your body.
  7. Place your index finger directly behind the first fret on the fattest string (E6). The fret is the raised metal “line”. Pluck the string with a decent amount of force. Listen for buzzes, pops, or odd noises. Check behind each fret on each string using a hard pressure. If you notice even the slightest bit of “non musical” noise, ask the salesman to adjust and re-tune the guitar. Check the guitar again, if the problem persists, don’t get that guitar.
  8. Judge each guitar by feel, sound, and appeal. Playing guitar should be FUN, so buy a guitar that visually makes you want to pick it up and play.
  9. When purchasing: ask for a warranty, a new set of strings, a gig bag, and a tuner. As a new guitarist, you WILL need a gig bag and tuner, so it is wise to buy one. Most dealers leave the factory strings on the guitars for years, robbing them of bright tone. New strings will breathe new life into the guitar.

WHAT STYLE(S) OF MUSIC DO YOU TEACH?
I specialize in teaching all levels of guitar players – beginners, intermediate, and advanced. My current student roster ranges in age from 6 to 74 so you can imagine how diverse their musical preferences are. I’ve been doing this long enough that I truly specialize in teaching all music styles with one exception. I can and will teach classical when requested but it is not what I would consider a speciality of mine. I specialize in virtually every other musical style including country, pop, rock, hair metal, death metal, jazz, folk, reggae and even cartoon soundtracks! I’ve played in many different types of bands and taught many different styles of music over the years. I’ve learned to thoroughly appreciate and enjoy all types of music. If you’re into it, I’m into it! Because when you are excited about learning a song, it’s infectious! I genuinely enjoy working on everything from One Direction to Slipknot with my students.

WHAT TYPE OF GUITAR IS BEST TO LEARN ON?
This is a topic of hot debate. I think the most important thing is to learn on a guitar that compliments the music style you will be studying. So don’t buy a Schecter Hellraiser Extreme if you want to play Jim Croce tunes LOL! Here’s my advice – learn on a guitar you love. A guitar that feels good in your arms. A guitar that plays well when you hold it. A guitar that visually appeals to you. As I mentioned earlier, shop around before you buy anything. You’ll be amazed at how different each guitar feels in your hands. It’s not a myth that the right guitar can make you a better guitar player. Find the guitar that fits YOU. Don’t be swayed by a salesperson recommending the latest guitar to hit the sales floor. And when you find YOUR guitar, it will become part of you. It’s common to fall in love with a guitar and no matter how many others you play, you keep going back to your first love. Stevie Ray Vaughan could have played a new guitar every night but instead wailed on his “Number One” (also known as his ‘First Wife’) 62/63 Fender Stratocaster throughout his career. It was his main performing instrument and companion and was used on every one of his albums. He beat the snot out of that guitar and it showed the scars of a hard life but SRV cherished that thing until the day he died. What I’m trying to say is that the best guitar to learn on is the one you love. So find a guitar that you like and then fall in love with it!

HOW CAN I MAKE MY PRACTICE TIME THE MOST EFFECTIVE?
Great question! Let’s start with the obvious – minimize the distractions. Find a quiet place to practice. It could be your room or your backyard or your garage. Heck, if your bathroom is big enough and you can focus in there, go for it. A side benefit is that most bathrooms have great acoustics too! Wherever you choose to practice be sure to keep your accessories such as picks, a tuner, a metronome, a music stand, etcs within arms reach. Learn songs from start to finish. Here’s a simple practice outine I recommend

  1. Be organized: Many students find that writing a daily practice plan helps them to focus on their most important practice tasks and gives them a feeling of accomplishment as they complete each one.
  2. Focus on one task at a time: Discipline yourself to complete each practice goal before moving on to the next. In the long run, you’ll save enormous time by completing the day’s work rather than bouncing back and forth between them at whim.
  3. Only practice with full concentration: 30 minutes of concentrated practice is far more valuable than 30 hours of moving your fingers while your mind wanders.
  4. Always warm up first: Properly warmed-up hands will allow you to accomplish the physical tasks demanded by difficult repertoire with greater ease and with fewer errors. I find that scales and arpeggios make for the best warm-up.
  5. Practice slowly: It is a known psycho-physiological fact that the brain cannot absorb musical information in detail when playing fast. It is therefore essential to work slowly and carefully at all times. The speed will come but don’t force it.
  6. Don’t allow yourself the ‘luxury’ of mistakes: Mistakes cost far too much time to repair and only create uncertainty. Remember, your performance is a direct result of how you practice, and efficient guitar practice means playing correctly. Mistakes lead to bad habits and those bad habits will stymie your growth.
  7. Practice only short passages: The brain absorbs musical information much more readily when it is not overwhelmed by quantity. Each day, practice just one passage, and practice it extremely carefully and thoroughly. This makes for far more efficient guitar practice in the long run.
  8. Schedule your practice sessions: As useful as this tip may be, it must be subsidiary to the rule of only practicing when the mind can best concentrate.
  9. Keep a practice journal: A practice journal is a log of your practice sessions, including what you practice and for how long. I’ve discovered that timing myself forces the mind to focus, and the clock doesn’t lie.

ARE VIDEOS A GOOD WAY TO LEARN GUITAR?
Videos can be helpful, but only to an extent and videos have their limitations. Feedback is critical to a musician’s growth and improvement. Without feedback, how will you ever know if you’re playing the notes correctly? Or worse yet, what if you’ve picked up a bad habit that is limiting your abilities? A video may be able to show you how to play a chord or a scale or even a solo but can it provide instant feedback when you’re struggling and before improper technique sets in? Can it recognize your learning style and tailor itself to maximize your uptake of the instruction given? This is a critical limitation of online videos and it’s why personal guitar instruction is so important. Compounding the issue is that online videos also do not allow for two-way communication. I encourage all of my students to ask questions during their lessons and I provide immediate answers. Nothing is as effective a learning tool as this.