How Good Should Your Guitar Teacher Be?

How good should your guitar teacher be? Should he/she be a virtuoso?

I’ve often thought about this, and I’d like to see what others think. I had a good teacher during undergrad who did a great job of getting me excited about guitar. He was a good musician who forced me to think. My current teacher is crazy good and a really knowledgeable and effective musician. His well developed thoughts on technique and practicing have only helped me.

But at the same time, some of my best lessons were from a Cellist. So how important is it for your teacher to be a great player? I think it’s it’s more important they the are able to take apart and interpret any kind of music. But being able to do that goes hand in hand with being able to play just about anything.

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Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Posted on in Ask the Readers


  • James Stark

    The best teachers are the ones that can inspire you and open the doors to a wide range of musical styles.

    While I’d like the prospect of being taught ‘Spanish Fly’ by a long-haired guitar shred head, if they only had a limited knowledge of certain genres and not much substance behind them it wouldn’t be very effective.

  • Brett

    I think the level of your teacher can be dependent upon the level which you are at and the level you want to progress to. When I was first starting guitar, I was able to learn a lot from decent guitar players and teachers, but now, I need someone who can take me to the next level. So I say it depends.

  • Chuck Connors
    Chuck Connors

    I’ve had so much trouble finding the right teacher. To begin with, I’m in a limited access area (Hawaii) for classical guitar. But also, I always tell the teachers what I expect, that I want them to help me develop my repertoire, enhance my musicality, and also I want to learn more ear training and theory.

    But they always seem to have their own agenda. I end up assigned pieces that won’t work that well in the performance venues I’m after (weddings, restaurants, etc.) I never get any theory out of them. Sometimes I think they don’t want to help me develop my repertoire because they don’t want more competition.

    And also (I mentioned this to Chris earlier), I wish I could convince them to keep the lessons to 1/2 hour. That’s all I need to check on my progress. I always arrive warmed up and ready to play. But they always want to sell me 1 hour lessons. I get bored at about 45 minutes and really don’t get much out of the last part.

    OK, venting over.

  • Bobber

    I don’t see any hard and fast rules here. I have been fortunate to have been around some great players. Both Oscar Ghilia and Eliot Fisk I found to be tremendous inspirations when I was around them in Aspen (in the late 70’s). But looking back, my regular teachers were sub par and lacking in perspective with regards to necessary technique and proficiency. These days, that has changed a bit so it’s probably not as significant.

  • Logan Moon

    As a guitar instructor its not been imparitive that i be the best player. Instead of mastering one style of music. I am someone who persues excellence in all styles of music. Which is good for students because they can learn what they want.

    I tell all my students this though: “Ill teach you the technique but not how to play like me. Im teaching you how to play like you.”

    I think its important that they are at least classically trained to a degree and that they inspire you to do something with the guitar thats more than simply playing other peoples work.

  • Max

    I don’t necessarily see why the teacher must be a virtuoso. Just like most tennis coaches are very mediocore players, the teacher doesnt need to be amazing (even though I suppose in the guitar teachers case – it helps)

    The teacher must however be able to provide critique of any pieces we are playing, as to our interpretation, etc, and be able to help with any technical problems at least at a level that will allow us to further develop it ourselves.

  • balan

    Thanks Chris,
    This a the best blog for me.From where I am ,Malaysia,there are not much choices of guitar schools or tutors in guitar(all generes) music, espeacially in critical thinking,except for private colleges and universities.Many cannot afford the fees,including me.My guitar teacher
    was the guitar magazines I look forward every month,but now it is the net.
    I love guitar music and I will not stop learning,whoever the teacher.