Take lessons from a pro, no matter where you are!* I have been playing guitar for over 30 years—since 1987—and I'm ready to pass my knowledge and experience along to you. I am a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, the international professional music fraternity, having been initiated in 1998 at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, while I was attending their music education program.
I'm based in Marietta/East Cobb (just outside of Atlanta), but I'm proud to offer lessons to almost anywhere* that the internet and your computer can reach.
All ages welcome...you're never too young**—or too old—to have fun learning how to play guitar!
Standard rates for single lessons are $30 for 45 minutes, or $40 for an hour—but I offer substantial discounts over most of my competitors' rates with the package rates listed below; all packages assume one lesson per week (more info about the packages can be found in the FAQ). What's a "VideoXchange" (or "VX") lesson, you ask? That's also explained in the FAQ.
I have been playing guitar for more than 30 years—since 1987—and my formal education was in music education. I grew up in Marietta, Georgia, not too far from where I live now; I attended East Cobb Middle School and Wheeler High School (both in Marietta), and then Abilene Christian University (in Abilene, Texas). My principle instrument throughout my school years was alto saxophone (but I also played a good bit of baritone sax as well), and like all music education majors I learned to play all the wind instruments typically found in school bands...and of course, throughout all of that, I learned to play guitar as well.
I play or have played bass, lead and/or rhythm guitar in many bands and musical projects in and around the metro Atlanta area over the years, in styles ranging from punk rock, to '60s garage rock, to metal, to experimental, to blues, to country, to heavy psychedelic rock, and lots of other genres along the way. You can learn even more about me and my musical history, as well as get all of the latest info on some of my current projects, at the Sludge Hammer Records website.
In addition to offering remote/online guitar lessons in all styles to all ages and all skill levels, I'm also a freelance audio mastering and mix engineer (via my side gig, Marietta Audio Mastering), and I also offer guitar-specific recording, composition, and performance services. Musically I specialize in rock and blues, but I also teach country, pop, and metal, as well as everything related and in between.
I give lessons pretty much exclusively on Ibanez guitars, usually on a c.1987 model RG550BK (pictured above, along with my modified 1983 Ibanez Artist, which I recently had restored to its original pickup configuration). Ibanez guitars are incredibly reliable—everything on my RG550 is solid, all the way up and down the neck, and it stays in tune even under my rigorous playing schedule. And they are also highly versatile instruments—I can play any of the styles that I specialize in on this guitar, and it all comes through mightily. I always recommend Ibanez guitars to any of my students that are looking for a new guitar.
I also exclusively use McPherson guitar picks, which are my first-choice pick under almost any circumstance (check out my review on the McPherson page, it's the third one down). I feel that they are a fantastic training tool for new players, and they can also help seasoned players improve their accuracy and consistency. If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend them to any player!
Want to learn a little more about me? Check out this interview that I did with Shoutout Atlanta. (And many thanks to the gracious and helpful folks at Shoutout Atlanta...it was wonderful working with you!)
You can also check out this article about me that was featured in East Cobber, a local community-centered magazine.
Want to learn even more about me? You can listen to me playing on lots of different tracks on the Sludge Hammer Records site; in fact, I'm playing on pretty much everything posted there (but you definitely want to check out the song "At Least I Got The Blues", and the Tom Foolery & Miss Chiff stuff as well...). Some of the recordings on the Sludge Hammer site are from many years ago, and some are from more recent years; on some I'm playing guitar, on some I'm playing bass, on a few tracks I'm playing drums, and on some I'm even singing. I hope you like the tunes, and I'd love to hear from you if you have any comments after listening.
There are LOTS of guitar teachers online...believe me, I know! But I feel confident that you'll find that I am the best deal, and I also offer the most "extras" (like my helpful weekly reminder emails)—not to mention that students will learn more under the guidance of an experienced, seasoned musician and teacher like me; I've played hundreds of shows in dozens of cities over the past three decades, and my playing can be heard on hundreds of songs that have been released on CD, online, on vinyl, and even on cassette.
I studied music education, and I continue to better myself as a player every day; throughout the years I've taken lessons from some of the best teachers around, and I've read more guitar method books than I can even remember. I'm actually in the process of writing my own guitar method book, and it's those same time-tested approaches—and often even excerpts right from my book—that I use with my students.
All together, counting personal practice time, band rehearsal time, performance time, hours spent recording and working in various studios, time spent in music classes in grade school and college, time spent in lessons throughout the years, and also time spent giving lessons, I've got tens of thousands of hours of experience to draw from...and more and more each day! I've got the know-how and the ability to help you learn how to play guitar well, and to have fun doing it. Give me a call to set up your introductory lesson, and judge for yourself; you'll be impressed, I guarantee it.
While I do have Zoom, Teams, Facebook Rooms, Skype, Cisco Webex—pretty much whatever video conferencing/video calling software you are most comfortable with—available as a back-up or as options for students that prefer one of those for whatever reason, I primarily use a different program that works better for lessons than many other programs. It's not difficult to install, set up or operate, but I'm happy to assist any of my students that need help with those processes.
Also, for all of my lessons I use a professional broadcasting headset, so the microphone picking up my voice is not only positioned better to capture my voice more accurately and more fully than a webcam mic, it's also far superior to a webcam mic in terms of clarity and frequency range reproduced; I also conduct my lessons in an acoustically treated space, which further enhances the quality of the audio delivered to my students during our lessons. All of this results in a sonic lessons experience that I'm confident is vastly superior to pretty much any Skype call or Zoom/Teams meeting that you've ever participated in, regardless of whatever platform we use for lessons.
Yes, it is! I pride myself on being well-rounded, versatile, experienced and capable, as a player and as a teacher. I can teach any age, as long as the student is willing and able to physically hold and play the guitar, and as long as they can listen attentively in lessons and then apply what they've learned in regular practices in between lessons.
I can teach all styles, but my specialties are rock and blues—so if you want to learn to play guitar with a focus on rock and/or blues (or focused on a related style like country, pop, metal, etc.) and then occasionally we might work in elements of classical, jazz, or funk, or some other style (as the situation dictates), then I would be perfectly suited to be your teacher; however, if you play black metal on an eight-string guitar, for example, and that's pretty much all you want to focus on—even though I have a solid grasp on the basics of that style, in a situation like that I would probably recommend finding someone that specializes in it instead.
And I feel comfortable teaching players of any skill level; I welcome beginners—even if you've never even held a guitar before, and even if you haven't played any musical instrument before—and I'm confident that I have something to offer even the most seasoned and advanced players. And so with those few exceptions, I'm happy to teach anyone how to play the guitar (or how to play the guitar better, as the case may be)!
I do require payment before we confirm the first lesson, but if you decide to go with a package (and pay for that package in full within three days of the intro lesson) then the package will be discounted by the amount you paid for that initial lesson...so those students who choose to continue with a package right after their intro lesson will essentially get that intro lesson for free, and I am happy to continue to offer this service in some form or another to all of my potential students.
You'll receive either 45 minutes or an hour of real instruction at the intro lesson, just like with any other lesson that I give. I want prospective new students to come away with some new skills even at what will (hopefully) become a free intro lesson.
Once you've purchased your first lessons package (please note that all lessons and packages must be prepaid in advance in order to be placed on the calendar), you'll have the option to begin receiving emails containing links to download the audio and/or video files of each lesson (you just have to tell me you want them to be sent, and provide me with a valid email address). These files are provided at no additional charge, but they are for the individual student's practices in between lessons only; read more about the audio and video recordings in question #15, below. I also give all of my students any tab/music that we go over in advance via email...and that's not to mention the fantastic instruction you'll receive at each and every lesson!
I am located in the northen metro Atlanta area, but thanks to the magic of the internet I can give lessons to almost anywhere via a number of programs that can allow remote lessons to be almost as interactive and beneficial as in-person lessons (see question #3 above for more info). At the present time, I do not offer in-person lessons at my studio.
A "VideoXchange" lesson (or "VX" lesson) is a lesson where the student sends me a video of themselves playing and/or asking questions about some music or material that they are working on or wanting to work on, and then I record a reply video with comments/tips/suggestions/etc. that I send back to the student. These would still generally be weekly lessons (as described in the next question), but with each VX student I would create a weekly timeline (tailored to the student's specific situation) regarding when I would need to receive the student's video each week, and then also when I would be expected to have the reply video on the way to the student.
The student's video would need to be limited to 6-8 minutes or less, and my reply video would generally be about 15-30 minutes; since these are not interactive like lessons where we connect in real time, they are less expensive than the regular remote lessons...and so as a result, they are quite a bargain! VX lessons are only available in packages; they are not available as single lessons. Please note that VX lessons are NOT recommended for beginner or novice players, who will generally need a more customized, one-to-one approach.
My normal lesson days and hours are Monday through Thursday 3:30PM to 9:30PM, Fridays 3:30PM to 8:30PM, and Saturdays from 12:00PM to 5:30PM (all times Eastern), and I offer make-up slots for lessons missed during the week most weeks either on Saturday or the following Sunday; however, I can sometimes make an exception if there are extenuating circumstances...and with the current health crisis, I'm happy to schedule lessons outside of those hours as well (as I am able to do so). For those of you located west of the Eastern time zone, I'm happy to accommodate later slots as I'm able to do so...please contact me to discuss your specific situation.
Please be aware that I often have a waiting list for the prime spots (after 6:00pm or so on weekdays), and sometimes my schedule gets completely full and I have to put all prospective new students on a waiting list; if you have more than one slot that would work for your lesson, then the chances are much better that I'll have something that works for you.
Yes, my package rates all assume one lesson per week in the same slot each week, as that works better not only for me but also for students' retention of the material if they can count on that regularity. This also allows me to let a student keep their slot as long as they want it, in most cases. Of course, if a student wants to permanently move a lessons slot, we'll see what I have available at that time and go from there.
VX lessons won't be scheduled for a specific slot each week, but they will still be weekly lessons that will have deadlines each week: a deadline when the student will need to have their video submitted to me by, and then a deadline by which I will have the response video sent to the student. I understand that sometimes weekly schedules can get very full, and with VX lessons not being time-specific it can be easy to not be able to go through a response video from me before your next video is due to be sent to me—making the learning process difficult at best—and so I am happy to discuss the possibility of bi-weekly VX lessons for students that fit that category (real-time lessons are expected to always be weekly, though).
I want to be as accommodating as possible whenever a student has a need for a temporary lessons schedule change, so I'll offer every option I can when a student needs to miss their regular weekly lesson—including allowing a make-up lesson up to or on the Sunday immediately following any given week—but any lesson not attended in a given week will be considered a "missed" lesson (a "missed" lesson is a lesson you are charged for even though you didn't attend), and only certain lesson packages get allowed "missed" lessons that don't count against that package. Please see my lessons cancellation policy in the question below this one for details about allowed "missed" lessons, and cancelling or rescheduling lessons.
If you won't be able to make your regularly scheduled lesson for any given week, please let me know as much in advance as you can; we'll try to find another slot for your lesson on another day during that same week, and I'll also usually have some options on the following Sunday for a make-up lesson if need be...but for any week that we don't have your lesson at the regular time and we're not able to reschedule it for later in that week (or the following Sunday), that week's lesson will be considered a "missed" lesson and it will be deducted from the lessons package (and please note that only one rescheduling of a lesson will be allowed during any given calendar week; if you're not able to make the slot we've rescheduled for, then that becomes a "missed" lesson).
Packages of 6 or 8 lessons get one allowed "missed" lesson before I start deducting them from your package; packages of 10 lessons get one allowed "missed" lesson during the first 5 lessons, and a second one during the remaining 5 lessons; and packages of 12 lessons get one allowed "missed" lesson during each third of the package (so three in total). Allowed "missed" lessons expire at the end of each package; they do not carry over from one package to the next.
So if you elect to either go lesson by lesson, or only with 4-lesson packages, then any lesson that we aren't able to reschedule for that same week will count as a missed lesson and be deducted from the package; those on a lesson by lesson basis will then need to prepay for another lesson to get on the next week's schedule. If your schedule changes a lot, or you have a tendency to need to miss a lesson every few weeks, then I would recommend getting a package of 6 or more lessons. Individually-purchased (single) lessons can only be rescheduled once, and that would be dependent on a suitable alternate option being available in that same week (so the sooner you can let me know if you need to reschedule a single lesson, the better chance I'll be able to make the change); refunds are not available for single lessons once they are purchased.
Please note that I reserve the right to count any lesson that a student schedules (but doesn't attend) as a "missed" lesson, whether the student has allowed "missed" lessons that haven't been used in the current package or not; an example of a situation where this would be the case would be if a student simply forgets about their lesson, or otherwise doesn't contact me ahead of time to reschedule the lesson.
To help ensure that you get every lesson that you pay for, I send out emails every weekend that remind each student of whatever lesson I have booked for them in my calendar for the upcoming week; if I don't have a lesson booked for a given student that week, they won't receive an email from me. This way each student will have a reminder that they can count on receiving somewhere around halfway between their weekly lessons, in addition to a verbal confirmation at the end of each lesson for the lesson the following week.
Single lesson purchases are not refundable, and then with packages there are no contracts—you can take as few or as many lessons as you want. Any package deal can be canceled part of the way through, but I'll base the refund on whatever package is closest to what you actually used and then refund the overage from that perspective (so for example, if you cancel a package of 10 lessons after you used 7 of them, then I would subtract the cost of a 6-lesson package, plus the cost of a single lesson, from the cost of the 10-lesson package, and the remainder would be your refund). If you cancel a package less than 7 days before your next scheduled lesson, then that lesson will be considered a "missed" lesson, and it will be counted as a used lesson in the package before the refund is calculated.
Also, if you discontinue lessons before you have attended 4 paid lessons there will be a $40 administrative fee deducted from any refund, to cover my time and effort to set you up as a new student.
I'll be as flexible as I can with any schedule changes you need to make (as per my cancellation/rescheduling policy, as explained above in question #11), including putting a package on hold temporarily if need be. However, I won't be able to guarantee the same slot when you resume your lessons package, and if a reasonable amount of time passes without any contact or response from you once you put a package on hold, I reserve the right to deduct some or all of the remaining lessons (depending on the circumstances) once you do resume the lessons package.
There are no hidden costs—all of the rates are listed clearly here on this site and will be discussed and confirmed before the lessons begin (click here to view, download, or print a pdf copy of my current guitar lessons rate sheet, which breaks down all the costs you could expect to incur in my lessons program); no sign-up costs; no materials to buy, either...HOWEVER, I highly recommend that you obtain things like a metronome, tuner (there are several free apps for those that are great options), music stand, etc., if you do not already have these. I will be able to provide a metronome during the lessons when needed, of course, but you should have these items for your individual practices; I would be glad to point you in the direction of the best value for any of them, so feel free to ask.
Also, in order to get the most out of online lessons you would want to have: a laptop or desktop computer that has a camera and mic; a good, reliable internet connection (a wired or Ethernet connection is preferred over a WiFi connection); and a set of headphones (earbuds will do, but the nicer the headphones are the better the experience will be for you). Optional additional equipment can include an audio interface (lots of affordable models to choose from these days) and a microphone for your voice (although the built-in mic on most modern computers should be more than enough), and so you can utilize those if you have them...but those items are NOT required in order to take online lessons from me. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss your particular situation, and I can help you make sure you have everything you need and that it's all set up correctly.
Each lesson I give is audio-recorded, and most are video-recorded—all at no charge. Upon request, I will send those files to you within a day or so of me receiving your request. If you want to be certain that a video recording is made of a particular lesson, please let me know at least 24 hours in advance. The audio recordings are generally compact, hi-res mp3 files: easily downloaded, and they still sound excellent. The video files are generally either QuickTime movie files, with the camera trained right on my guitar the whole time, or a recording of the Skype call or Zoom meeting as provided by that software (if we used one of those platforms); either way, it's (almost) just like being there in the lesson again!
All video and audio lessons will be owned and copyrighted in full and in their entirety solely by me, and licensed indefinitely and exclusively only to the student, and for their own personal review only. No other use is authorized or permitted. Requesting or accepting an audio or video file from me means you acknowledge and accept these terms; these terms also apply if you choose to record the lesson, directly or indirectly, via any audio or video recording software or device that you may have.
Yes, it is; current students that refer a friend (new students only) get a free lesson when their friend signs up for a package deal of 10 or more lessons! Wow!! Just tell them to let me know that you referred them whenever they book their first lesson, and I will add the appropriate lesson(s) to your schedule (the free lesson will be the same length as your most often and/or most recent lesson package). This offer only applies to the first package a new student purchases.
Yes, that's true as well! Each year on (or close to) the anniversary of your intro lesson, I'll add at least one free lesson to your current package. You must be a current student in good standing, without having missed/postponed/cancelled/rescheduled an excessive amount of your regular weekly lessons (determination of what qualifies as "excessive" is solely up to me). Putting a package on hold may also prevent a student from getting an anniversary bonus lesson.
I'll add one free lesson (of the same length as that of your most often and/or most recent lessons package) for you on my calendar on or about the anniversary of your intro lesson for the first and second year that you take lessons from me; on the third and fourth anniversaries I'll add two lessons; and for the fifth and each subsequent anniversary I'll add three lessons. No other guitar teacher takes care of their loyal students like that!
Sorry, I do not offer group lessons; I have found that they are not nearly as effective as one-on-one lessons. In certain circumstances I can offer "back-to-back" lessons, where you purchase a package of one-hour lessons and we split the time between two people, with one person getting the first half hour and the other getting the second. Please contact me to discuss whether your situation would qualify for that (please note that a higher lesson rate may apply in those cases).
Yes I do! All of my packages can be purchased for someone else, and I'm happy to send over a gift certificate that you can present to that individual (gift certificates are not automatically generated, so please let me know if you do want one). Please note that gift certificates and gifted lessons/packages are NOT refundable, and any unused lessons from a gift certificate or gifted package would expire one year after the purchase date.
* Payments for single lessons are due in full at the time the lesson is booked; packages must be prepaid in full at the time the package is booked in order to get the package rate and the requested time slot. Slots for all single lessons or packages will only be reserved once payment has been made—so to secure the slot you want, please prepay as soon as possible. In order to properly prepare for a lesson I do require at least 72 hours notice before the lesson occurs; so if you want to book a lesson or a new package, please make sure it is paid at least 72 hours prior to the lesson start time.
* Packages can be cancelled at any time (you can get all the details about my cancellation policy in the FAQ above, in question #10), but any refund will be minus the regular cost of the lessons that were attended or otherwise billed for.
* You can send a PayPal payment to stephen (at) stephensguitarlessons (dot) com; continuing students can also pay securely right here with a credit or debit card, PayPal, or a bank draft (all payments made on this page are processed by PayPal, but a PayPal account is not required if you want to use a credit or debit card), and I'll add the appropriate lessons to my calendar immediately. You can pay for a single lesson (either 45 minutes or 60 minutes, or a "VX" lesson), or for any of my current packages, or you can make a specific amount payment with the Pay Now button.
* I can also accept Venmo payments to @StephensGuitarLessonsdotcom (for Venmo payments please specify what the payment is for, as well as your contact info if I don't already have that).
“Having picked the guitar back up after almost 20 years, I was hesitant at picking a new teacher. I am happy with Stephen as my choice. He is most patient, encouraging and flexible. He has multiple approaches and adapts his teaching to your learning style and speed. His hours work for my schedule. What more can one ask for?”
“Stephen is very knowledgeable and knows multiple genres. If you have something in mind he'll learn it and print out tabs for you. As someone who's been playing for 21 years he still challenges me.”
“Stephen Carrington has improved my understanding of guitar theory and the mechanics of playing resulting in progress as a player that I could never have achieved on my own. He is very patient for a beginner like me, but also has the skills to help more advanced players. His rates are very reasonable, and he is located right in East Cobb, so it can't be more convenient. I would highly recommend him as a guitar teacher.”
“Stephen is a patient and excellent teacher and great to work with. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for a guitar teacher in the area.”
“We have looked for a long time for a good guitar teacher for our 10 year old son. We have found the BEST! Stephen takes the lessons very seriously. He's prepared, is very attentive in class, sets new challenges and is fair in price. We highly recommend this guitar teacher.”
“I have taken guitar lessons with Stephen thus far, and he's an excellent teacher. When I started out I could barely hold a guitar, but within the first few weeks I found myself growing ever more comfortable, confident, and competent with my guitar. His emphasis is on practice and precision to help students develop a strong foundation while also learning to be creative and explore with their instrument.”
“I really learned a lot, which is the point. This guy is very professional.”
“Stephen is an excellent teacher. He is very patient, insightful, and skilled. His lesson plans are very well-thought out and his explanations of technique and musical theory are very clear. He is also very prompt when communicating between session. I have no complaints with my experience and recommend him to everyone. You cannot go wrong with a free lesson which will allow you to see how great of a teacher he is.”
“You've been one of the best teachers I've ever had and I will highly recommend you to anyone I know!”
“My 10-yr-old son loves taking lessons from Stephen! He looks forward to his lessons and has learned so much about playing the guitar as well as patience and how to work toward goals! :)”
“Stephen is very patient, a great and knowledgeable teacher - brings just what you need when you need it to every lesson. My son and I both take lessons from Stephen and he customizes the lessons for each of us. Highly recommended.”
“My guitar playing has improved ten fold after watching this video a few months back. THANK YOU SO MUCH man”
“I have given your name to several families that are looking to start lessons. Thank you for all the time you have invested in Ben. He definitely blossomed as a musician!”
“Stephen is a master at meeting students where they are at in terms of skill, time, and interest. He's flexible with his scheduling. His prices are hard to beat. And he's available to answer your questions even outside of class. What more could you ask for?”
“Stephen is patient, encouraging, friendly, and talented. The value of his service far surpasses the price. He tailors his lessons based on your style providing tabs for your favorite songs, as well as warm up exercises. In addition to all of that, he can send you audio AND video files of your lessons to review at your leisure. I would highly recommend his services to children and adults of all ages. (I am 37...if I can do it, so can you!)”
“Stephen helped me reach new levels of playing (after I tried to teach myself for years). He tailored lessons to my style, and was very flexible with my demanding work schedule. If I hadn't moved, I'd still be taking lessons.”
In addition to offering remote/online guitar lessons, I also teach beginner ukulele—and I can get someone started on bass guitar as well (although most serious bass guitar or ukulele students will want an instructor that specializes in their instrument after just a few lessons with me). I can also provide session/recording, performance, composition, and other (mostly guitar-specific) musical services.
In need of a guitar player for a recording project? Put my years of experience on the stage and in the studio to work for you during your next recording...my specialties are blues, rock, metal, country and pop, but whatever the style or genre—whether you have charts and a specific guitar tone in mind, or even if you need me to create the whole thing from scratch—I have the skills and equipment to add exactly however much or little guitar your circumstance requires. Music projects, corporate videos, ads, movies, presentations, whatever...give me a call and we'll discuss the details.
Session work can be performed at your location*, or at a recording studio, or we can exchange files online and I record my parts by myself at my home studio; the charge for the actual session work will be the same in any case, but there may be travel charges for session work that I perform somewhere other than my home studio (depending on the circumstances). Also, in most cases, I can provide studio and audio engineering services for free on all recorded parts that I create at my home studio as part of a session work project; any costs related to any outside studio would have to be worked out between you and the other studio.
I offer guitar session services at $65/hour (one hour minimum); however, each project will require a different amount of time, so please contact me for specific pricing on your project. Session work will always be completed as quickly as possible; some projects may take longer than others, but I will always make every effort to complete your project ahead of schedule and well before any other deadlines you may have.
All of the song examples posted below feature my guitar and bass playing (exceptions: See You December bass and rhythm guitar, and Everyone Falls acoustic guitar—those tracks were performed by the associated clients), and all feature (either partially or fully) my production/engineering/mixing/mastering skills (see below for details about each song):
In Misery (Tom Foolery & Miss Chiff)
See You December (Danny Fantem)
Everyone Falls (Paul Gravitt)
...plus I plan to have more posted in the future.
Please: no calls between 10PM and 9AM (Eastern time)—and thank you in advance for honoring that request. All messages will be returned as quickly as possible; usually that means within a few hours, but please be aware that it may sometimes take a day or so for me to respond if I happen to be especially busy when you leave a message or send me an email.