Frequently Asked Questions

Top Question for Beginning Guitar Lessons

How soon will I be able to play songs on the guitar?

Most people can play a complete song by their 3rd or 4th lesson. Some of it depends on your musical talent but for the most part how hard you work and how much time you put in has a much greater effect. I have helped over a thousand people learn to play the guitar and every single person that has put in enough effort has succeeded.

If you have any other questions, please, please send me a message using the contact form. I will be happy to answer them for you. I look forward to working with you.

More About Lessons
Gibson Les Paul electric guitar leaning against amp

Zoom Lesson Information

How do I install the Zoom app?

Having the latest updated version of Zoom is essential. Please download the latest version and if possible avoid using the browser version. 

Go here to download the latest version: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/download#client_4meeting 

How do I improve my video quality?

Low bandwidth is the number one hindrance to quality lessons so please: 

 – Disable any VPN usage. Zoom does not work well at all through a VPN. 

 – Close other software on your computer, sometimes having other applications open can affect bandwidth by the programs having access to the internet or updating in the background.   – When using wifi, have your lesson as close to your router as possible. 

 – Use an Ethernet cable if possible, that always provides the best connection.  – If possible, have others in your home limit or pause high bandwidth usage during your lesson. – Sometimes, low bandwidth or poor connections can be solved with a device reset and other adjustments. Here is a decent article from PC Mag.

 – Comcast routers by default enable a public hotspot that more than likely affects your bandwidth. This can be turned off. Google search “turn off Xfinity public hotspot”  – If you are using your phone’s hotspot for your connection, be sure to close all other apps.

How do I improve noise reduction while using Zoom?

Turning off all of Zoom’s noise reduction software is also very important. We typically do this at the start of every lesson. 

 – In the bottom left of the Zoom window, click the up arrow next to the microphone icon.  – At the bottom of that box click “Audio Settings.” 

 – Here you choose which speaker and which microphone to use in dropdown menus.  – Under microphone, UNCHECK “Automatically adjust the volume.” 

 – Microphone volume slider should be at 80% or so. 

What equipment recommendations do you have for a better Zoom experience?

Isolating your microphone from your speakers by using headphones is also a huge plus.  

Employing headphones WITHOUT a built-in microphone makes a big difference. Using an inexpensive USB condenser microphone creates an optimal situation for most students. Many of these units have a built-in headphone jack which allows for more options when it comes to music playback.  Samson and also Blue make a few good models. You can shop for these at Sweetwater, Musician’s  Friend, Guitar Center, Amazon, and other sites. 

Buying A Guitar

Do I need my own guitar?

Yes. Absolutely. Practicing at home between lessons is the most important part about taking guitar lessons. All the lessons in the world won’t help you much if you never practice. I like to say that my job is not to teach you how to play the guitar, but to teach you how to teach yourself how to play guitar. The time you spend each week in between lessons, fine-tuning the techniques and methods I show you, is where the real learning takes place.

Where should I go to buy myself a guitar?

I don’t recommend the big box, corporate guitar stores for the inexperienced. While there are certainly honest salespeople at these establishments, you may run into someone who’ll take advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge. Do yourself and your community a favor, shop local! In Seattle go to Emerald City Guitars or American Music These shops have courteous honest staff and a great selection of guitars for beginners. Craigslist can be hit or miss. Be sure to take someone with guitar experience with you to look at guitars found in the online classifieds. Buying a guitar is like buying a car. Be sure to haggle some. You’ll need a tuner, and a case or gig bag, so ask them to throw in the tuner or case, eat the tax, or at the very least give you a guitar strap or some free picks and strings. You can always contact me for advice on shopping for guitars.

How about buying a guitar online?

Usually I recommend buying a guitar in person. Even those with years of playing experience still take a chance when buying a guitar online. For the uninitiated, I  suggest Sweetwater for buying guitars online. They have a very good 55 point inspection program for all guitars over $299. No matter what, you should do your research online. Read lots of reviews and learn what a good price is for the models that you are interested in.

What should I look for when buying a guitar?

When buying your first guitar, you should have a good idea of how much money you want to spend. $100 is as low as you should go. If money is no object, you’ll find that after around $2,000, you won’t find a whole lot of difference the higher you go. $300 to $500 or so is a good compromise.

For the beginner, a guitar that plays well is more important than one that sounds good. Consistent low “action” (the distance between the strings and the frets) without the strings buzzing is what you are looking for. If the strings are too far from the frets you’ll have a harder time pushing down the notes. If the strings are too close to the frets the notes will have an annoying buzz to them. If you want to get a sense what you should be looking for when it comes to guitar “action,” take a look at a new $2,000 model and you’ll see what I mean.

Acoustic or Electric?

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Electrics tend to be a little easier to play but require a cable, amplifier, and electricity. Acoustics can be a little harder to play (not much) but can be played anywhere, no amp required. Both are tuned and played the same way and the curriculum is essentially the same.

Should I play left-handed or right-handed?

This is a sure-fire way to get a bunch of guitar teachers into a heated discussion. Personally, I feel there are no clear-cut answers to this debate. I generally like a student to go with their gut feeling on this. You can contact me and we can discuss the pros and cons of going lefty or righty at length over the phone.

What about renting a guitar?

An excellent idea! Most of the above guitar shops have great rental programs. In most cases you can apply several month’s worth of rent towards a purchase after you realize that you can’t live without the guitar you’ve been renting!

Buying Other Equipment

Do I need a tuner?

Yes. $20 will get you a very accurate digital tuner that fits in your guitar case. It is the easiest, quickest and most reliable way to get your guitar into tune every time you pick it up to play. Right now the SNARK tuner is my favorite. I also recommend the Guitar Tuna phone app, which is a good guitar tuner. Guitars and their strings are very sensitive to any temperature, humidity, or air pressure changes. Just transporting it across town is enough to throw it out of tune. Tune your guitar every time you pick it up to play. You need to practice tuning as well as playing.

Besides my guitar and tuner, anything else I should get?

Be sure to buy 6 or 7 dollars worth of thin and medium picks from at least 8 or 10 different pick makers. This will give you a variety of picks to experiment with and you’ll eventually find one you’ll really like. Also you will certainly need a capo at some point. I like the Shubb.

Headphone and Microphone recommendations.

Since Zoom’s default settings are geared towards conversations, we need to take a different approach when conducting guitar lessons.

  • Isolating your microphone from your speakers by using headphones is also a huge plus.
  • Employing headphones WITHOUT a built-in microphone makes a big difference.
  • Using an inexpensive USB condenser microphone creates an optimal situation for most students. Many of these units have a built-in headphone jack which allows for more options when it comes to music playback. Samson and also Blue make a few good models.

You can shop for these at Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, Guitar Center, Amazon, and other sites.