Guitar Lessons with Jay Skyler

Guitar Lessons Picture

Guitar Lessons with Jay Skyler

Yes, I Do Offer Online Guitar Lessons via Skype! Call (415)845-5471 or email for more info.

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What You REALLY Need to Know About Guitar Lessons

You Can Learn Guitar!

If you take one thing away from this website it should be this: You Can Learn Guitar! My number is (415)845-5471. Give me a call if you want to play Rock, Blues, Metal, on electric or acoustic guitar.

  • My course is for those who want to create and perform their own original music with power, style and authority
    ...and especially for those who think they can't.

Plus be able whip out some covers at campfires and coffee houses whenever the mood strikes.

FYI: For me creating= songwriting + improvising. And despite everyone always denying the importance of these two things, if you can stick with it:

  • You will able to play fast.
  • You will be able to sing at the same time

If you think you have solid reasons WHY you can't learn guitar, I assure you, you have been "misinformed". Jump down the page to read

 I am an experienced musician, teacher and performer with lots of patience and a strong memory of not being able to tune my guitar, let alone communicate with it.

Years later I can play and express things on the instrument I couldn't even conceive of when I first started. When I first learned how to practice and approach the instrument properly I made more progress in three months than I had in the first three YEARS of playing.

Guitar Lessons San Francisco

Table of Contents

Note to Absolute Beginners...

If you've never taken lessons or played guitar before know this:

  • Absolute beginners are the EASIEST type of student to teach. No bad habits at all.

In six weeks you'll be where myself and most folks who either had lessons using the traditional method books or were self taught, were in about a year and half to two years (if they ever got there at all). And you'll never even know it.

Guitar for you will be fun from the beginning. 

You will have laid the foundation for a lifetime of unimpeded progress.

If you are ready to learn to play with confidence and style, drop me an Email at and we can talk details.

If You've Taken Guitar Lessons...

Oh, I had tried lessons but at best they just showed me what to learn, not HOW TO LEARN IT, or how to approach the instrument. In reality I hated  them, the graded "Method Book" and that whole miserable head space I remembered from piano lessons.

"HOW do i change the chords?," I'd ask. Not one of them could ever give me any answer except "practice." Sound familiar?

I felt discouraged and rejected by the world of music as a whole. In retrospect, I had no grounds for selecting a teacher. I knew very little about guitar and guitar lessons and as it turned out, everything I did know was wrong.

Except there was one thing I knew was right,:

  • Guitar should be fun, cool, and a bit rebellious.

 Its very existence, electric or acoustic questions authority. I felt then  that guitar lessons shouldn't be like piano lessons, which I saw as a method for teaching children to hate music.

The standard method book used for guitar lessons to this day predates Rock 'n' Roll (published in 1948!), and has the dubious distinction of being the universal method of teaching sight reading on an instrument where virtually no one can sight read. And quite frankly, sight reading is about as useful as conversational Aramaic if you play popular music styles on guitar. I only teach it on request. Why?

  • Wasting a students time by making them suffer through something of zero usefulness to them simply because the instructor had to suffer through it, that's not teaching. That's hazing.

The Answer was not to be Found at a Music School

From my perspective today, having taught at music schools, having spoken to music teachers in San Francisco and from around the world, and ironically now that I am an  active and vocal member of the music education industry, I realize I was wrong in one respect. Music schools and corporations who refer you to teachers for guitar lessons are not in any sense trying to  teach children to hate music. In fact they are simply trying to maximize profit with the lowest cost overhead, the method books are designed to stretch the learning progress out indefinitely while providing parents with tangible but utterly meaningless indicators of progress (e.g. signed completion certificates at the end of each book.) Music stores/schools have some standards, referral services have none.

I Found Great Teachers but Not Through Guitar Lessons

To be fair, I could have found great lessons when I was a kid. One local teacher was apparently amazing, one of his students even went on to play lead guitar for Ozzy Ozbourne (i.e. Zack Wylde). But I just walked into the local music store, got ripped off, and swore off formal lessons.

  • It never occurred to me that I could find an independent instructor.
I like so many others missed out on countless opportunities  in music because the music shops and publishing companies wanted to make a few extra bucks.

Guitar Teachers are not necessarily Guitar  Instructors

I learned a better way, largely from almost famous rockers and professional New York Jazz musicians.  I brought my guitar everywhere and tried to make friends with anyone who knew anything at all. I got lucky and found some amazing players,not all of them guitarists, who taught me more in the first hour of knowing them than "lessons" ever did. They were my teachers although they weren't employed as instructors. Which is why I prefer the term guitar teacher over the term guitar instructor.

I quickly learned that Rock, Folk, Metal, and Blues require a much different perspective from Jazz and Classical Guitar . So I spent years adapting their methods to popular music styles, both for my own playing and writing (I play lead guitar and sing in my own original music rock band) and for my students. I made it step by step, integrated, and less intimidating.

The Goal of My Guitar Method and Guitar Lessons

My goal has always been to teach my students (and myself) how to express themselves on the guitar, find their own voice, and, quite simply, play the hell out of the damned thing. And I've been doing just that full time in downtown S.F. since 2003.

Don't wait any longer. Give me a call. Even if you don't have a guitar yet, I can help you choose one and probably get you a discount as well.

YOU CAN PLAY GUITAR if you want to.

It takes much less time than you think if you start out right.

Gift certificates and student discounts available.

Females and Males, Young and Old, Rock Stars and Absolute Beginners All Welcome!


Jay Skyler

Teaching Rock, Blues, Metal, and Singer-Songwriter Folk on Electric and Acoustic Guitar

Convenient Downtown S.F. Location:
Guitar Lessons are only 1 block from Market Street, Civic Center & SOMA, & just a few blocks from the Financial District. If You're in the Mission, Sunset, Richmond District, or Oakland Bart, & MUNI is just a half block away.

Gift Certificates

Group Guitar Beginner Lessons?

No. They are largely worthless and usually they are counterproductive. These are usually only offered by corporate chain stores and corporate referral services. Community colleges offer them as a way to get stoners, burnouts, and metalheads closer to a degree by getting them some core credits for their independent study of music (which I think is a good thing).

I am open to the idea that someone could possibly develop a breakthrough system for group classes, but in general they are of value only to intermediate or advanced students. The beginning students who "succeed" are the ones who already knew the basics but took the beginner class so they wouldn't be the "worst" one. They tend to push the actual beginners to try too hard, tense up, and attempt more difficult maneuvers before they have the underlying structures mastered.

But let me qualify this: any kind of lessons with a good teacher is better than any kind of lessons with a bad one. Comparing the abnormally high success rate of my system with that of other teachers is somewhat unfair. As I discuss below, my system is designed specifically for adult and teenage students who want to learn Rock, Metal, Blues, and Singer Songwriter style folk music. The vast majority of the market is little kids who don't know what they want to play, with parents who are often oblivious to to the fact that there are typically no guitars in symphony orchestras, and therefore no resulting step up the nouveau riche social ladder for their child studying classical.  

By the way, I treat all students as adults, I do not yell at, or give any students any flack for how much or how little practice time they get in during a week. Its your money and your life which you have to prioritize. If you show up every week you will get better. Obviously practicing correctly at home will dramatically increase your results, but as an instructor the only time I can control is class time. If you want me to get on your ass about practicing, I am happy to, but you must specifically request it.

Practice makes Perfect Permanent

Any thing you learn wrong, you have to "unlearn" to learn the correct way. This can be a frustrating process. If you are in this boat already, I can help! I have helped many others in the same scenario become really impressive guitarists.

Guitar Lesson Reviews

  • Letters from Students: Patrice Borne
    The Best Teacher! Jay taught me everything I know on the guitar. I started from absolute beginner and he took me to the level where I am now. He is a real musician who understands what he is doing on the guitar and why. He will teach you the music theory in a fun way since...
  • Letters from My Guitar Students: Allen Czerwinski
    I started getting lessons from Jay after having taught myself for about a year, and I had been getting nowhere fast. Jay helped me break some bad habits I had picked up and very quickly go from beginner to quite proficient with this thing. His lessons are grounded in solid fundamental...
  • Letters from Students: Neal Patel
    Best Guitar Teacher I’ve Ever Had! Everything Ive learned from Jay is grounded in careful, practical techniques, and his system so much more effective than anything Ive ever seen elsewhere. You don’t have to be able to read music, or even be musical, all you have to do is...
  • Letters from Students: Jenner Davis
    Best Guitar teacher in the Bay! After deciding at last to pursue my life long dream of being a rock star, I sadly came to realize that playing the guitar is... really kinda hard. BUT I decided to stick with it. So I went to a couple people who offered guitar lessons on ..
  • Letters from Students: David Nogman
     I have students come from around the world to study with me. Heres a photo I received from my former student David in Korea. (Hes a terrific guitarist BTW.)
  • Letters from Students: Mike
    Seriously awesome guitar teacher! I started taking lessons from Jay before I even had a guitar - after wasting way too much time on guitar hero 1-3 and Rock Band, I decided it was time to learn to actually play. I took lessons from Jay for about 11 months (only stopped because...
  • Letters from Students: Julie Lesperance
    Jays approach to teaching guitar is original. Rather than only memorizing the basics, he highly encouraged me to be as creative as possible in finding my own style, and writing my own original music from the very beginning...
  • Letters from Students: Dimitri
    5 Stars! I took lessons with Jay for several months (stopping only because I had to move out of state) and I have to say I progressed more in those months than I thought possible. Jay combines the right amount of music theory with the right amount of how to just ROCK OUT. ...
  • Letters from Students: Matt
    Awesome guitar teacher... Jay is a patient teacher that makes learning guitar fun.  A great choice no matter your skill level. You’ll be rocking out in no time! -Matt
  • Letters from Students: Shauna
    The Best! I have taken guitar on two other occasions in my life, and Jay is by far the only teacher who has helped me progress, and who has kept me motivated enough to continue...
  • Letters from My Guitar Students: Caroline Bockman
    I also have taken guitar lessons at other times in my life, and by far, Jay is the best teacher I’ve ever had. His knowledge and skill is as infinite as his patience with beginners...
  • Letters from Students: Tasha Espinoza
    Rock Miracle Worker! Jay is a totally rockin’ teacher! Hes so fun to work with and his encyclopedic knowledge of guitar theory (and rock n roll in general) will help you to achieve the impossible--sounding like a real guitar player--in no time!;Believe me, I am...
  • Letters from My Guitar Students: Jaime
    One of my students Jaime recently moved back to Spain to get married. Id like to wish him and his new wife the best of luck. Hi Jay! Last Saturday was my wedding!! It was nice and funny, but one of the best parts was the concert. I went to the stage and I played Little Wing...
  • Letters From My Guitar Students: Tommy MacDonald
    Jay Skyler is the best guitar teacher around. Period. Wherever you are in your guitar-playing journey, Jay can make you better than you ever thought you’d be.
  • Letters from Students: Jim Skaggs
    Let me say that I totally discovered the holy grail of guitar through, Jay Skyler Guitar Instruction...
Start on an Acoustic or Electric?

The Top 10 Lies About Guitar Lessons

The Reasons People Can't Learn Guitar

No Musical Talent?

Truth: There are no "Natural-Born" Guitarists

When a guitar teacher (or any other music teacher) can't teach a student, they say he or she has no talent.  As if its written in stars. "Talent" really only applies to singers, as some one's vocal sound may well match the tastes of a given era.
  • This doesn't apply to guitar. Its a tool. Some people are natural athletes. The reason is simple Darwinism. There is a survival advantage in running faster or jumping higher or having sharper eyesight.
  • There is no survival advantage in playing guitar, therefore no inborn talent.
  •  At no point in prehistoric times did any caveman remark "He can make the G chord, he shall be our king."
  • Talent means you are good at something. Being good at anything means you learned it the correct way.

Too Old?

Truth: You are not too old to learn guitar.

I have had students begin guitar lessons in their 70's who, to be frank, now OWN  all your friends who play guitar.
  • Little kids have a huge disadvantage in that they don't know what the music is supposed to sound like. Until they start listening to guitar music on their own they really shouldn't be taking guitar lessons (I would suggest singing or drum lessons instead).
  • Older students have listened to more music and have done more living.
  • If they start out with correct technique and a solid musical framework, students of any age can play well, as long as they know and love the music they want to play,

Too Female?

Truth: "Girls" CAN (and do) Play Guitar

"Girls can't play guitar." If this top ten list were in order of stupidity this would be #1. Women still ask me about this, and to be honest I've heard this so many times from people ranging from 7 year old kids at music schools to professional musicians who should know better. I really hope that this complete and utter fiction invented by insecure male guitar players doesn't survive much longer.

Women have ALL the advantages on the guitar:

  •  Better fine motor muscle coordination
  •  Better study habits
  •  A vocal range better matching the pitch ranges guitar leads are usually played at.
The only disadvantage they have is people telling them they can't (which only  is a disadvantage if they believe it).
  • Don't believe it because its sexist nonsense.
If music teachers and the music education industry wanted to, they could utterly erase this idea from popular consciousness within a decade. Why don't they? Stupid, sexist or lazy, take your pick. But no one should give this idea any credibility. And gentlemen, I'd avoid repeating this trash because I've taught just so many women over the years whose playing will shut your mouth up real fast.

Not Enough Practice Time?

Truth: Make it once a week, You'll Improve

Obviously if you have more time to practice outside of your guitar lessons, and you practice correctly, you can make more rapid progress. But as a guitar teacher the only time I have any control over is class time.

If you show up for an hour a week, you will get better.

I really have no idea the exact amount of time students practice.

  •  I do know that without fail for 12 years, consistent attendance at lessons has equaled success.
I treat all my guitar students as adults. My job is not to yell at you for not  practicing (unless you specifically ask me too).

My job is to make you the best guitar player  possible given your priorities and the time constraints of your life.

Tone Deaf?


  • You are not tone deaf. If you were it would be obvious. You would talk without vocal inflections. Completely monotone. Like a 50's Sci Fi robot.
  • Musical pitch recognition on guitar or in general takes some time, but you will pick it up.

Hands Too Small?


  • I've taught guitar to many student with tiny hands, and there is no difference in the rate of progress between them and anyone with bigger hands.
  •  Inability to reach notes in a guitar chord or guitar scale pattern is a result of improper left hand positioning. I will show you exactly how to do it.

No Rhythm / Weak Rhythm?


  • This is a common problem. But isn't this in part what you are paying to learn?
  •  It can be taught, and you don't need a metronome,

Left Handed?


  • There is no disadvantage to being left handed.
 I do however suggest beginners learn on a "right-handed guitar".
 Lets be honest here. When first starting out both hands are pretty  much equally inept at doing anything on the guitar. 
But a big part of the fun of playing guitar is being able to sit in and play in spur of the moment jam sessions. There is always an extra guitar around, there is never a left-handed one.

Not Classically Trained?


That's actually a good thing if you want to play on an Electric or  Folk Style Acoustic guitar. Check out the chart. A chart showing the relative string pressure on the neck of various guitars.

Classical guitar technique is designed for (surprise!) classical guitars. Steel String Guitar technique (also called American Blues technique) is designed for both electrics and our singer-songwriter style acoustics which have steel strings. The difference is the massive differences in string tension. People have often come up to me after live performances, complimented me and said "Your classically trained right?" At which point I'll tell them I'm not but I understand they mean it as a compliment.

The irony is many instructors who teach you to play with classical technique on a steel string are not even classical guitarists, and many of those don't even use the classical technique themselves! Using classical technique on a steel string can be a real good way to mess up your hands!

  • Nylon string Technique (for Spanish/Classical Guitars): The thumb is behind the neck with a consistent relationship to the second finger (i.e. middle finger). The strings are sounded with the right hand fingernails with the exception of the pinky.
  • Steel String technique (For Electrics and Steel String Acoustics: The left-hand thumb comes over the top of the neck, and leverages all techniques requiring strength, enabling them to be powered by rotating the wrist. The strings are sounded using a pick or less commonly using the right hand fingertips.

If you want to play classical guitar, I'm not the right teacher for you. I teach steel string technique. If you want to learn more, please read my The Two Ways to Play Guitar.

FYI: Any teacher who teaches you to play any differently than they themselves play is incompetent or a fraud. Find a new teacher.

Too Loud for Where You Live?


A steel string acoustic can be really loud, especially when you don't want it to be. Electric guitars are practically synonymous with loud! But I'll let you in on a few little secrets:

  • Electric Guitars are not very loud without an amplifier.
  • Headphone amps are available that sound pretty good and are under $30.
  • Electrics and Steel String acoustics use exactly the same technique.

So all you really have to do is start on an electric with a headphone amp, and you will instantly be able to pick and play up virtually any acoustic you see (except Spanish/classical nylon string guitars). Here's an important point:

  • You do not need to start on an acoustic!

It's actually a lot easier to start on an electric, a big part of which is the neighbors not distracting you by banging on the walls. The whole you need to start on an acoustic is really just an old music store scam to sell you two guitars. Everybody believes it, but its just not true. You can read an in-depth explanation of this bit of popular wisdom here: Should I Start Playing on an Acoustic or Electric Guitar?

Guitar Lessons for Kids?

My system for teaching guitar is an accelerated program for adult and teenage students. Even with minimal practice time students are able to progress far more rapidly than by learning  from  their friends, YouTube videos, or traditional guitar methods.

My Guitar Lessons are for Ages 12 and Up

I simply cannot deliver the same dramatic results with young children. My guitar lessons make an a priori assumption that students who want to learn to play a certain genre of music know what that genre sounds like. Usually kids develop their taste in music around 12 or 13, its also when they can handle a full scale guitar, and that's also the age virtually all the rock guitar gods started playing. 

You want your child to get a head start on music before age 12? Get them singing lessons. You will thank me later.