Make Your Guitar Play Great Again!


If you’re just getting started on the guitar, I’m sure you’re beginning to experience some of the difficulties of learning to play this instrument.  Some of the difficulties you might be coming across are pushing the strings down using your fingertips, stretching fingers across strings and frets, and muting strings in chords; let alone holding barre chords!  If you haven’t gotten to barre chords, well, just wait and see.

I like to boil down the difficulties of learning the guitar into two categories - it’s you or it’s the guitar.  Let’s start with it’s you.


If you have a great playing guitar, let me mention a few things, that may be obvious to you, that may help.

  1. Practice more.  Like I said, this may already be obvious to you.  However, you may have underestimated the practice that it will take to accomplish what you are working on.  For example, there are some chords that come rather quickly, like the Em chord, but you may find the D chord is not coming as easily.  If you relate every new chord to the Em chord, you may need to adjust your expectations.  Some chords take longer to learn.

  2. Adjust the level of the material you are working on.  You may have become overly ambitious and started working on “Hotel California” right from the get go.  That’s a difficult piece for a beginner.  You need a plan that will start you from the basics, and then you need to be patient to work that plan so that your skill level will steadily increases.

  3. Take lessons from a real person.  There is a lot of lessons and information online, but nothing beats a real person to be able to respond to how you play and make corrections in real time before you create any bad habits.  You need to see your guitar instructor as a musical mentor and you’re the apprentice.  And, it would be great if they are in the same room as you.


Beginners often want to blame the guitar first, and you know what?  Sometimes they’re correct.  If it’s your guitar, here’s what might be hindering your progress.

  1. Your strings are old and rusty.  Yuck.  Change your strings! They’ll feel better when you slide your fingers across them.  New strings are less likely to break and you may like a lighter gauge set of strings installed.  Lighter strings are easier to press down.

  2. The neck is bowed.  This means string tension is pulling up on the headstock of your guitar and it is causing the neck to bow. This causes the strings (mostly in the middle of the neck) to be higher than they should be.  Strings that are too high can be too hard to press down.

  3. String action is too high.  Again, this means your strings are too far from the frets all across the guitar neck.


You should get some maintenance done on your guitar.  You will be amazed what a qualified guitar tech can do to make your guitar play better.  We are motivated to help students have a better playing guitar.  Why would any instructor want their student to play a difficult instrument?  Let us help.  We will give you an honest evaluation of what work needs to be done on your instrument, and we will do the work at a price that you will not find anywhere else.  

It gives us great joy to hand over an instrument to a student and see their excitement of finally having an easier to play instrument!  Now that the instrument is in top shape, it’s now up to you!

Send us an email here to set up a time to drop off your guitar.  Hey, we’ll even give you a loaner guitar so that you can keep practicing while we are working on your guitar.

Playing With Great Tone

I was once told, “what gets your attention will get your action.” In other words you will eventually get what you’re looking for.  The problem is, most students are looking to find all the right notes, and play in time, but not thinking about playing with good tone.  The result? Songs learned through hard work and repetition that really don’t sound that good.

Tone is basically musical color. This is how I explain it to students. Imagine you have a box of crayons and a picture to color. Won’t we all take a moment to think of which colors to pick to color our picture? It is the same with music.

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Get to know: Bobby Medcalf!

Here's a transcript from a recent interview with one of our fantastic instructors, Bobby Medcalf!

Where are you from? Beech Grove, Indiana. So, I'm from the midwest.

And how long did you live in the midwest before you moved to CA? Until I was 12. My dad is a pastor and he was called to lead a church in CA when I was 12 years old; so we drove out to the Bay Area (Redwood City, CA) and I've lived here ever since.

When did you become interested in the drums? ...

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When The Guitarist opened for business about 25 years ago, we quickly realized that we needed to stock and have guitar available for sale to our students.  The main reason being that most students do not know what to look for in an instrument.  As a guitarist and instructor, I do know what to look for and can really help make the buying decision simple for my students.  Here are a few thing to keep in mind when purchasing a guitar...

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Get to know: Jim Sturges!

Get to know: Jim Sturges!

Here's a transcript from a recent interview with one of our fantastic instructors, Jim Sturges!

Where are you from? San Jose, California. Actually, not far from here at all. I grew up right on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose.

Does your family have a long history here? My father was from Chicago and my mother was from Angel's Camp, up near Sonora, due east from here.

When did you start playing the piano? ...

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Get to know: Tim Schwalbach!

Get to know: Tim Schwalbach!

Here's a transcript from a recent interview with one of our fantastic instructors, Tim Schwalbach!

Where are you from originally? I was born in Redwood City, but I grew up in Cupertino. 

When did you first play the guitar? I started lessons when I was 11, right down the street from where my parents lived. I walked to my lessons. 

How did you learn to play? ...

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