I have been playing guitar for over 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 have always been fascinated with, and drawn to, music of all kinds—as well as all the things that go into making recorded music. And ever since my middle school band director, Mr. Al Hager, showed me just how rewarding music education can be, teaching has been a huge part of my life. Being able to pursue pretty much all of my passions for a living—not to mention being married to the most incredible woman, Kris Hale (a certified dog trainer)—I truly feel that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I'm certainly the luckiest person I've ever met.

Stephen in the lessons studio, with his Ibanez guitars

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!)

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.