Take lessons from a pro, no matter where you are*! I have been playing guitar for almost 35 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. I also offer in-person lessons at my home studio! (exceptions and conditions apply...see FAQ #11)
All ages welcome...you're never too young**—or too old—to have fun learning how to play guitar!
The standard rate for a single online lesson is $40, while in-person lessons cost $50 per lesson; each type of lesson is 45 minutes long. 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). Click here and see FAQ #11 for more info about in-person lessons.
I have been playing guitar for almost 35 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, and also get all of the latest info on some of my current projects, at the Sludge Hammer Records website.
In addition to offering online and in-person 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, jazz, 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; click here to see me testing out some new pickups I recently had installed in this guitar). 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 page for these picks on the McPherson website, 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 community-centered magazine published in my area.
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, in town and 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. In fact, 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, 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, to get a great sound, and to have fun doing it. Give me a call to set up an introductory lesson, and judge for yourself; I'm fully confident that you'll be impressed—and that you'll learn some good info about guitar, too.
While I do have Zoom, Teams, Facebook Rooms, Skype, 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 easy to install, set up and operate, but I'm happy to assist any of my students that need help with those tasks.
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 the frequency range being reproduced; I also conduct my lessons in an acoustically treated space, and all of those things—plus additional pro audio gear that I use to improve the audio signals—combine to greatly enhance the quality of the sound delivered to my students during our lessons.
But it's not just the gear that I have that makes my online lessons program superior to so many others—how I teach also has a huge impact on the effectiveness of my online lessons. Having spent almost all of 2020 perfecting my techniques for the online medium, I know (perhaps better now than ever before) that how you teach makes a substantial difference—and just like an actor's delivery will need to change if they are switching from a stage production with no microhpones or PA system to a film environment with lots of mics and overdubs, a teacher's delivery must also change when switching between in-person instruction and online lessons. Many instructors seems to have fought against that principle, but I have embraced it...and as a result, my online lessons delivery is second to none.
All of this results in a complete 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. Try it out for yourself and see!
I pride myself on being well-rounded, versatile, experienced and capable, as a player and as a teacher. As a result, 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 also teach all musical 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 a related style like country, pop, metal, etc.) and then perhaps also experiment with or otherwise work in elements of classical, jazz, funk, or some other style (as the situation dictates), then I would be perfectly suited to be your teacher.
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 there's plenty that even the most seasoned and advanced players can learn in my lessons. And so with those few exceptions, I'm confident that I can 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 after the intro lesson) then you can discount the package 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 45 minutes 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 introductory lesson. And you're welcome to book either an online lesson or an in-person one for an intro lesson, and then you can apply the discount to your choice of any of my lessons packages; this special "free intro lesson" deal is applicable with any new student's first lessons package purchase, whether in-person or online, as long as the package is paid in full within three days after the 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 receive an email containing a link to download the audio and/or video files of each lesson; you just have to tell me which files that you want 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 #19, below.
At the first lesson in their first package, in-person students will receive a "new student welcome kit" (pictured above) which includes some McPherson guitar picks, as well as some good info and tips for guitar players, along with a few other things as well—all in a sturdy folder that they can then use to transport their music to and from the lessons (and the goodie-filled folders are also available for purchase—only $17.99 + S&H!—just below). I also give all of my students any tab/music that we go over in advance via email, as well as a printed copy for students that choose in-person lessons...and on top of that, there's the fantastic instruction you'll receive at each and every lesson!
The "VIP Lessons Experience" that I offer is the product of my 30+ years of learning, playing, performing, recording, and teaching the guitar; it's what sets me apart from pretty much any other guitar instructor that you'll likely ever find. I've always strived to make my lessons program the best that it can be, and in the process I've developed a teaching method, a learning environment (both online and in person), a specific approach to my delivery, and quite a repertoire of music/exercises/techniques/etc.—not to mention the skills that I've honed regarding how to find and cultivate a student's strong suits, while simultaneously locating and addressing as many of their weaker areas as possible as well—resulting in a lessons experience that eclipses any guitar instruction that my students have previously been familiar with.
You can find clues as to what the "VIP Experience" is if you look at how I give my students every tool that they'll need to succeed: helpful lesson reminder emails (complete with lesson plans) are sent weekly; accurate tab/sheet music, usually customized for the individual student; a nice, sturdy folder to keep all of their tab and sheet music in (free for in-person students); flexible scheduling; lots of day/time options for lessons; online and in-person lesson options; lots of opportunities to earn free lessons; audio recordings of all lessons are available, for free; video recordings of most lessons are also available (also for free); fast, courteous responses to emails, texts, and voicemails; a learning environment that is engaging, professional, focused, comfortable, and easy to access; and all of that comes standard at the reasonable rates that I charge for lessons!
And there are more clues when you look deeper into those things, as well. Gone are the days of arriving at your guitar lesson, having prepared diligently over the preceding week (as your guitar instructor had asked you to do), only for the instructor to make it clear within seconds of the start of the lesson that they haven't even thought about you or your playing since the moment the last lesson ended. Not so with Stephen's Guitar Lessons! I send out lesson reminder emails each weekend for lessons during the upcoming week, complete with lesson plan info and sheet music/tab when applicable—so not only are you certain that I'm prepared and ready to go by the time we start your next lesson, you'll have plenty of opportunity to be prepared as well. Plus the music folder (and the other goodies) that I give to each new in-person student at the first lesson in their first package, as detailed in the previous question, really helps to keep everything contained and organized, too.
Have you ever taken lessons at a music store, and felt like they just plopped you and the instructor in a storage room in the back? Or maybe you took lessons from an independent guitar teacher like me, but the lessons were conducted (either online or in person) from a little corner the instructor had carved out of their living room—and so there's a sofa and coffee table right next to you, and maybe a dog bed on the floor nearby, and perhaps you hear someone a few feet away in the kitchen preparing dinner. You'll find none of those distracting scenarios here; my in-person students have a private, off-street parking area with a dedicated lessons studio entrance (no having to walk through someone else's living quarters to get to your lesson), which leads right in to my acoustically-treated, professional lessons studio—where all I do is guitar lessons and related work. The environment is the same for online lessons, for which I connect through gigabit fiber internet (connected directly to my lessons computer—no WiFi to slow things down), and for which I use a pro-grade Audio-Technica broadcast headset mic and a Focsurite interface. Professional lighting controls round out the delivery package for my online lessons, which I feel confident in asserting to be the best available, anywhere.
Some students have had a guitar teacher tell them that they will gladly teach them how to play a particular song, if the student would just provide the tab/sheet music—leaving the student to fend for themselves in determining which music/tab version or interpretation, of the many they may find, that they should use (and perhaps even paying for a version that ultimately won't do them a lot of good). And then at other times they feel like the teacher's main motivation is not the student's progress, so much as it is getting the student interested in this new amp/guitar pedal/accessory/etc. that the music store just recently got in stock. At Stephen's Guitar Lessons, I clearly spell out all of the costs that you should expect as one of my students, upfront and out in the open, so that I can focus specifically on the most important aspect of lessons for me: your progress and development as a musician and guitarist. The only thing I sell is private guitar instruction; the only things I'm focused on once we start your lessons package, are the quality of your instruction and the rate of your progress.
Bringing all of that to every lesson helps the student's learning accelerate and really take off...not to mention the fact that it makes it clear to each individual student how much I value every one of them. It all comes together to create the ultimate "VIP Lessons Experience"—and it's my distinct pleasure to offer that to you as well!
I am located near Wheeler High School, about 5-10 minutes or so from most of the major roads that are near me—including I-75, Powers Ferry Road, Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry Road, and Lower Roswell Road—but thanks to the magic of the internet I can also give lessons to almost anywhere via a number of programs, including (almost certainly) your favorite program or app.
Unfortunately, I don't have the capacity to allow additional visitors beyond the student and myself to remain in the studio during lessons. My lessons are held in a fully-functioning private recording studio, and while there is plenty of space for the student to comfortably participate in lessons (as well as packing and unpacking their instrument, etc.), there isn't really any additional room or seating to accommodate anyone else during lessons.
I am sensitive to the fact that parents want to have confidence in an environment before they place their children into it (as well as the desire to be involved in their kids' activities); parents are of course welcome to ask questions prior to booking their child's introductory lesson, plus they can check out all of my reviews from current and former students, they can also visit the lessons room when they are bringing their child for the lesson (and see for themselves how professional of an environment it is), and then for the actual lessons I'm happy to offer audio and video recordings that can be sent to the parents or student upon request after the lesson. Please see question #19 (below) for more info about audio and video recordings of the lessons.
And if a parent would like, I am happy to arrange it so that they are connected via FaceTime during their child's lesson, so they can be "present" for the lesson even though I'm not able to have anyone besides the student attend an in-person lesson. When it comes to your child's safety as one of my students, I'm not comfortable until you are—and so I'll do what it takes to make everyone feel at ease.
Every lesson that is given as Stephen's Guitar Lessons is conducted by me, Stephen Carrington. So the answer to the two-part question is: just one (myself), and yes (me).
If you've ever taken lessons at a music store or some other facility with a number of teachers on staff, then like many people you probably made that decision because you liked the teacher that you were taking lessons with—not because you liked the music store/lessons facility. So to all of a sudden have a different teacher one day—maybe just for a lesson, maybe from there on out—can be a really frustrating thing, but that's something you'll never have to worry about with Stephen's Guitar Lessons.
I'm the one answering or returning your call (and that's me in the voicemail greeting...not just speaking, but playing guitar as well), I'm the one preparing the materials for each lesson (including creating music/tab specifically for the student, in many cases), I'm the one responding to messages and sending out the weekly reminder/lesson plan emails, I'm the website administrator, and I handle all of the marketing as well (in between lessons, of course). So you can rest assured that I'll always be personally delivering the same first-rate service and support, all the time, no matter what—no surprises here at Stephen's Guitar Lessons, just reliable, world-class guitar instruction!
In-person lessons are currently limited to those who provide verification to me that they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and who also have gotten their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots (within 30 days of becoming eligible); please contact me for details on getting verified. For the time being, I'm also requiring masks to be worn (by the student as well as myself) for the duration of any in-person lesson. For even more info about what I do to ensure the safety of all of my students during this pandemic, please see question #24, below.
For those that are not yet fully vaccinated, or for whom online lessons are preferred (for whatever reason), I will continue to offer virtual (online) lessons as a very effective option (and a less expensive one, too).
Please be aware that if necessary, I reserve the right to discontinue offering the in-person option without notice (although I will certainly give as much notice as I am able to provide)—in which case we can either put an in-person lessons package on hold, or convert into online lessons any remaining in-person lessons in any current/active students' packages and then refund the overage as described in question #17 (below).
My normal lesson days and hours are Monday through Thursday 2:30PM to 9:30PM, Fridays 2:30PM to 8:15PM, and Saturdays from 12:00PM to 5:45PM (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.
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...and for in-person students we'll have the option to switch to an online lesson instead. 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), whether online or in person, 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 8, 10 and 12 weeks get one allowed "missed" lesson before I start deducting them from your package. 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-week or 6-week 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—as well as those with no lessons remaining in a package—will then need to prepay for another lesson or package in order 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 8 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-week package, plus the cost of a single lesson, from the cost of the 10-week 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 a lessons package before you have attended 4 paid, non-rescheduled lessons, there will be a $50 administrative fee deducted from any refund.
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 #14), 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.
For in-person students I'm happy to switch any single lesson to online if you'd like; I just ask that you please give me a minimum of 48 hours' notice so that I can properly prepare. If you decide that you want to switch all remaining lessons in your package to online, please let me know as soon as you can and we'll make the necessary arrangements. In most cases where we are converting the remainder of a package (and where there are at least 6 lessons remaining in the package), to cover the difference in cost I'll issue a credit equal to $7.50 per converted lesson; the credit can be used on your next online lessons package, and will expire 3 weeks after the end of the converted package. No credit or refund will be issued for single lesson conversions, or for package conversions where less than 6 lessons remained in the package when it was converted.
For online students that want to switch to in-person lessons, we can do so for an "upgrade charge" equal to $15 per converted lesson (regardless of how many lessons you want to switch to in-person). I also ask for at least 48 hours' notice in order to make a switch to an in-person lesson as well.
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 provide those during the lessons when possible, 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 much, much better than a WiFi connection); and a set of headphones (earbuds often work great). 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 webcams and 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.
An optional item that I do offer for sale (in-person students get one free at the first lesson in the first paid package, but anyone can purchase one) is my music folder, which is described in greater detail in question #6, above. And I'm also going to be offering custom designed, music and guitar related t-shirts for sale in the not-too-distant future, so please stay tuned for that announcement!
When I think of service, I think of repairs or fixes—something that you do when something is broken. Yes, people often call preventative maintenance "service" even though it's not really a repair; but in any event, a common connotation with "service" is the idea of correcting something that has gone wrong, or the idea of correcting a condition that will, if left unchecked, go wrong.
But when I think of "support" I generally think of something that is more ongoing, more transparent or behind the scenes—something that may not always even be noticed in normal circumstances (unless it's underperforming or not performing at all), but that nevertheless contributes to an overall positive. For example, think of the foundation of a house: in the absence of something being awry with it, you probably will never really think about a home's foundation. But when it is functioning as it should, you don't notice it at all—and it helps everything else in the house be as stable (and therefore as dependable) as it can be.
It's also something that is generally more like an "added bonus" rather than a corrective action; support adds measurable value to something that doesn't necessarily have a problem or issue, while service is intended to prevent, reduce, or offset loss or deterioration/decline.
So both service and support are important, but my experience is that too many businesses rely on their customer service—the repairs or fixes that they apply when things go sideways—instead of their customer support, which would likely eliminate the need for a lot of repairs and fixes if the support is there and sufficient from the start. To that end, I tend to focus my energies on the upfront support—but rest assured, I am always there and ready to fix any issues that still manage to come up. Most of my students, though, find that with the level of support that I provide, not only do they progress and grow as players and musicians, but they also find that my reliability and professionalism help to minimize issues on many other fronts. A "first-class" mindset in one area generally spills over into other areas, and my students are the beneficiaries of that concept in myriad ways.
Each lesson I give is audio-recorded, and then Skype and Zoom lessons (and in-person lessons) are also 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. 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 in perpetuity and copyrighted in full and in their entirety solely by me, and licensed indefinitely and exclusively only to the student, and for that individual student's own personal review only. No other use is authorized or permitted. Requesting or accepting an audio or video file from Stephen's Guitar Lessons means you acknowledge and accept these terms; these terms also apply if you choose to record the lesson yourself, directly or indirectly, via any recording software or device (or any other means) that you may have. The same terms and conditions also apply if any other party records any portion of the lesson/interaction in any way.
Yes, I do! Current students that refer a friend (new students only) get a free lesson when their friend purchases a package of 8 or more lessons! Wow!! Just tell your friend to let me know that you referred them whenever they book their first lesson, and I will add a lesson to your current package. This offer only applies to the first package a new student purchases.
And then each year on (or close to) the anniversary of a student's intro lesson I'll give the student the option to add one free lesson to their current package, or they can choose to receive a discount code for TWO free t-shirts (or posters) from my online merch store (just pay S&H). No other guitar teacher takes care of their loyal students like that!
To qualify for a free referral lesson, a free anniversary lesson or a merch discount you must be a current student in good standing, without having missed/postponed/cancelled/rescheduled an excessive amount of 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 or merch discount.
Sorry, I do not offer group lessons; I have found that they are not nearly as effective as one-on-one lessons. Private lessons are the most beneficial for the student, and the most efficient way to approach guitar instruction—and in addition to that, they are my speciality.
Another factor is that I conduct lessons in a space that does not fit mulitple people well during a lesson (although it accommodates myself and the student nicely); for more info about that, please see question #9, above.
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.
I've opened lots of communication channels, to not just my current students but also to prospective students as well; feel free to reach out to me in whatever way works best for you. I am available via email* sent to stephen (at) stephensguitarlessons (dot) com, or via phone at VIP-PLAY-GTR (847-752-9487; you can call or text me at this number), or through the Contact area of this website.
* Gmail users: Please check your spam/junk folder! I'd recommend using another email address, if you are able to do so; if not, please follow the steps outlined in this link (which is also at the bottom of my email signature), which gives you detailed instructions on how to add an email address to your safe senders list. If you don't take one or both of those steps, you may not receive all of the emails that I send to you--even if I reply directly to your email, it could still get sent to your spam folder (but if I'm on your safe/approved senders list, that's not supposed to happen). I hate that Gmail makes its users jump through such hoops to receive emails, but I unfortunately have no control over that.
I recommend any of those options rather than contacting me through Facebook, Yelp, Nextdoor, or any other third-party website; I can't vouch for the speed or reliability with which those entities notify their users of messages or other communications, but I can confirm that I stay "plugged in" (or that I'm close by) to my website, email and phone almost all of the time. I can definitely guarantee that I will be most readily available—and that I'll get your message the quickest—if you use a direct channel like my website, my lessons email address, or my posted phone number.
I'm generally available for calls and texts via phone, and also by email—if I'm not in a lesson, of course!—between 9AM and 10PM (Eastern) daily, and then any messages that I receive will be returned as quickly as possible. Usually that will be within just a few minutes or hours, but please be aware that it may sometimes take a little longer than that. At last check, though, I'm proud to say that my response time to messages received via my website or through my posted lessons email or phone number (during my posted business hours) has consistently been less than an hour; often it's less than 30-40 minutes or so.
I've made numerous changes and adjustments—some small, and some more significant—to my lessons environment, as well as to the methods that I use to present the lessons to my students. For in-person students, I ensure that the student is vaccinated and I'm happy to verify my vaccination status for their peace of mind as well. I only allow the student to be present during lessons, so as to reduce the number of people in the studio at any point in time. To reduce the number of people on a daily basis, I'm currently limiting in-person lessons to one on a given calendar day.
At the present time I'm also requiring appropriate masks to be worn, by myself and by the student, during all lessons. I've arranged my lessons space a bit so that there is a reasonable distance between me and the student while we're seated in the lesson, I've installed a hospital-grade MERV16 air filter element (which gets replaced regularly) in the HVAC system in my house, I've added a room air cleaner (capable of filtering virus particles) right next to where we sit for the lessons, and I wipe down high-touch areas (doorknob, seating, guitar cable, amplifier power switch, etc.) with disinfectant between each student.
Anyone that does not want to attend in-person lessons—whether because they find online lessons to be more convenient, or because they don't want to get vaccinated and/or they don't want to wear a mask during lessons, or anything in between—is still a valued client in my eyes, and so I have gone to great lengths to make my online lessons program the best that it can be (and I believe that what I offer is superior to any other online lessons option). Please see question #3, above, for more details regarding my online set-up.
* 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, single lessons, and all other fees are priced and billed in US Dollars (USD); all payments must be made in US Dollars.
* Packages can be cancelled at any time (you can get all the details about my cancellation policy in the FAQ above, in question #14), but any refund will be minus the regular cost of the lessons that were attended or otherwise billed for.
* New and continuing students can pay securely right here with a credit or debit card (or your Google Pay or Apple Pay account), using one of the payment links below, and I'll add the appropriate lessons to my calendar immediately. You can pay for a single lesson, or for any of my current packages, or you can make a specific amount payment with the "Miscellaneous Payment" Pay Now button (just use the quantity option to select the dollar amount that you are wanting to pay). You can send a PayPal payment to stephen (at) stephensguitarlessons (dot) com if you want to use your PayPal account (or I'm happy to send you an invoice via PayPal that you can pay directly from); payments made via my website are processed securely by Square (or Google or Apple if you go with Google Pay or Apple Pay).
* I also have custom-designed t-shirts, music folders (stuffed with goodies!), guitar picks (in a custom-designed tin printed with helpful info), instructional posters, and more available in my online store, which you can visit using the link below! And lessons can be purchased, individually or in packages, either with a direct link (below) or from the store (link is also below).
* 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).
* In addition to those options, students taking in-person lessons will also be able to pay for upcoming lessons with cash (exact change only), a major credit or debit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express), certain contactless payment methods (Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Cash App Pay), or a local bank check (checks accepted for packages of 8 weeks or longer ONLY; $50 charge for a returned check).
* Want to pay using CashApp, Zelle, Samsung Pay, or any other payment method? Contact me and we'll make a plan.
“Stephen provides the best guitar instruction for any age and any player. I started lessons with Stephen at virtually grourd zero and have been working with him for several years building my skills, developing musical theory and technique. His professional "coach" style of teaching makes learning and playing a rewarding experience! Thanks for all your help so far!”
“Stephen is an extremely experienced and effective teacher. He tailors lessons to the student's skill and objectives and closely monitors progress to ensure the plan is still appropriate. He is a very good listener and works to ensure the student is comfortable and understanding the concepts. Stephen effectively structures the next lesson based on the progress achieved at the last lesson. He is an excellent communicator and explains complex concepts in plain English. He is always on time for lessons and is totally reliable. Overall an outstanding guitar teacher.”
“I signed my children up for lessons in 2020. I wrote a review to express how much I have appreciated the quality of our experience, but then my kids wanted to write something also. Here goes...
Mr. Stephen is a wonderful guitar teacher. I am able to request songs that I would like to learn, or songwriters I want to learn from. Because I have virtual lessons for the time being, he is understanding about all of the background noise(s). If I do not understand something or I forget something, he will take time to go over it so I fully understand what I am doing. He is considerate and I am lucky to have him as a teacher. - H.W., 12 years old”
“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.”
“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.”
“Mr. Stephen is a great guitar teacher. He is very patient with my learning and is helpful with recommending different songs and bands that are in my interest of what I want to learn. He is very understanding of how I play and is recommending new ways of playing to get me out of my comfort zone and giving me things to practice. He is trying for me to get as much practice as possible during the lesson and I'm so lucky to have him as a guitar teacher. - B.W., 9 years old”
“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 sessions. I have no complaints with my experience and recommend him to everyone.”
“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 online and in-person 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 folks I was working for), and all feature (either partially or fully) my production/engineering/mixing/mastering skills (see below the links 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.
When I'm not in a lesson I'm generally available—for calls, texts and emails—between 9AM and 10PM (Eastern). Any messages will be returned as quickly as possible; usually that means within just a few minutes or hours, but please be aware that it may sometimes take a little longer.