Guitar Lessons by Rick Ellis

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About Guitar Lessons by Rick Ellis

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I have been teaching guitar and music theory for more than 25 years. I provide my students with the highest possible level of personalized instruction, individual attention, mentorship, service and support. My students are provided with every conceivable resource to facilitate their learning and progression as guitarists. This includes a wide range of supporting material, information and tools that allows them to get the most out of their time. I am dedicated to my profession and devoted to the success of my students, and I love teaching guitar as much as I love playing it. I am a skilled motivator and a positive thinker with a contagious optimistic attitude. I possess excellent communication skills, and I have a well-balanced combination of qualifications, expertise and experience that enables me to teach beginning through advanced levels of guitar playing and music theory very effectively.

As a professional musician, session guitarist, songwriter, composer and teacher, I feel very fortunate to be able to make my living by doing what I love to do most in my life, and that's playing the guitar. I am very proud of my accomplishments as a musician and my achievements as a guitar teacher, but I am even more proud of my record of success over the past 25 years of producing quality guitarists who have achieved or exceeded their personal guitar playing goals.

My guitar lessons are informative, interesting and enjoyable. You will always leave a lesson as a better guitar player than when you arrived at the lesson. I have logged thousands of teaching hours over the course of my guitar teaching career, and I know what does and what doesn't work, so I'm not going to waste your time or bore you by teaching you things that are not relevant to your guitar playing goals.

I teach all levels of guitar and music theory from beginning to advanced levels. If you start beginning lessons with me, you will never have to look for another guitar teacher again.


In-studio lessons are $40 per week, one-hour lesson when four lessons are paid for in advance, or $45 for a single lesson. That's like a raindrop in a bucket of water when you consider that each and every one-hour lesson will result in countless hours of enjoyment in playing the guitar for many years to come. You will never find a better return on investment than that. I encourage you to "try me out" in an introductory lesson for only $40. Prices include all texts and materials.

Guitar Lessons by Rick Ellis is your best choice for guitar lessons in the Orange County and Long Beach areas.


Huntington Beach, CA 92649

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  • 5/5 stars

    Rick Ellis is an amazing guitar player and an outstanding teacher who makes learning music theory extremely understandable. His expertise and advanced knowledge of guitars and music theory make for a very enjoyable lesson. I've learned many things from Rick Ellis including chords, triads, notes, scales, the circle of fifths, and much more. I'd recommend Rick Ellis to anyone, even already advanced guitar players, so they can hone their knowledge of music theory until it becomes second nature.

  • 5/5 stars

    I am a slow leaner and I am 52 years old. I had some reservation about even thinking about learning to play the guitar, but after my first lesson Rick set my mind at ease and was able to get through to me and really gave me the confidence that I needed. Rick is very patience and very knowledgeable.Rick is a wonderful teacher and a awesome guitar player. although I have only 6 lessons I already feel like I am on my way to becoming a good guitar player he has made it fun and exciting.

  • 5/5 stars Guitar Lessons Verified Review

    From the very first moment I sat down with Rick he made me feel relaxed and comfortable. I went to the first lesson very nervous and apprehensive. Although, I have just begun my lessons Rick has already convinced me that I can, with effort and patience, learn to play. I would recommend Rick to anyone who wants to learn music.

  • 5/5 stars

    I've struggled for years to improve my understanding of music theory and guitar playing skills. With Rick's help, I've been able to get past many of my prior stumbling blocks and am on my way to playing at a significantly higher level. Whether you are learning as a hobby or a professional, Rick is great at removing the limitations we all encounter and getting you to think and play at a level beyond what you thought was possible.

    Rick is a master in getting back to basics and helping guide his students to become true musicians. I would recommend Rick to anyone who has a true passion for music and who is looking to improve their musical talents.

  • 5/5 stars

    Rick is a great teacher - I highly recommend him!
    Rick has a wealth of knowledge and experience along with his easy going teaching style. I am continually impressed by Rick's depth of understanding, and clarity in explaining, musical theory.

  • 5/5 stars Guitar Lessons Verified Review

    I'm enjoying lesson! Rick is a great teacher and a great musician. He encourages me at the hard time of the lesson, so I feel comfortable because he's always there for me. I totally recommend him as your teacher. You can learn more than just playing a guitar.

  • 5/5 stars

    I started lessons with Rick in October 2012 at an unexpected tumultuous time in my life - he was not only an organized and knowledgeable musician/guitarist whose lesson plans helped me focus and advance in my novice begginings but he was and is a compassionate, patient and understanding soul - if you are interested in learning how to play guitar to whatever level you aspire, he will be able to lead you there.

  • 5/5 stars Guitar Lessons Verified Review

    Rick is extremely knowledgeable and capable in the areas of music theory, soloing, blues & acoustic guitar and song writing. I had lessons with him for approximately 6 months and it improved my soloing capabilities tremendously. My song writing skills also improved a lot during this time period. He is extremely patient and is a great teacher for the beginner guitarist up to the advanced player. I had played for 13 years prior to my lessons with Rick. Not only is he a great teacher, but he also became my friend.

  • 5/5 stars

    Rick has been my son's guitar teacher for close to 2 years. He is an excellent instructor with great patience and insight. We are very pleased with his services and highly recommend him

  • 5/5 stars

    I have been going to lessons for two months now ,and i am surprised at how much i have learned in a short time. He teaches you music theory in a way that makes since. I have to say when i asked my friends about what i know and they tell me we dont know this or that or just know how to play this or that . Rick will tell you how the cords are made up and how songs are made.

  • 5/5 stars

    I love Rick, he have helped me musically enormous, great guy, great skills and very pleasant to be around,,,, I owe a lot of my songwriting technique to him.

  • 5/5 stars

    Rick has taught my son for several years. I cannot tell you how far he has come..he is now playing with a popular teen rock band and will be playing in front of up to 10,000 people next month. Rick is not only knowledgeable, kid friendly, but interacts well with parents, gives detailed progress reports. He teaches theory, excellent blues, and alot of other genres..very cannot go wrong hiring Rick. Most of all he really cares!

  • 5/5 stars

    I started taking lessons from Rick after I took lessons from this other teacher in Costa Mesa where I live. I took lessons from the other guy for about 6 months and my boyfriend who plays keyboards in a band didn't think I progressed as much as I should of. The teacher charged $30 a lesson, but it was like he spent a lot of the time playing his stuff and not teaching me. Also he played in a band and he was canceling a lot of lessons because he was busy with his band. He also had a regular job during the day so I guess he didn't have to much time to teach. He wasn't reliable too because a few times he did not show and didn't call to tell me. I saw Rick's flyer in a music store so I called him up and talked to him and decided to try lessons with him. In the first 4 lessons I think I learnt more from him than I did from the other teacher in 6 months. plus I was doing some things wrong and had bad playing habits that Rick caught right away and corrected them.

    I'm a waitress in NB and my schedule is always different, but Rick always works with me and gets me in a lesson. I've been taking lessons from him for over one year and I'm getting pretty good. I can play lots of songs and I've even written some of my own. Last month I played in public for the first time at a open mic night and played three of my songs and it was awesome.

    I was learning on a acoustic, but I got squire strat and a amp for Christmas and now I take lessons on my electric. I learnt all the scales and a bunch of modes from Rick and I can play some solo's on my squire. I even can play sweet child of mine by GNR and I play the Slash part at the beginning. My boyfriend even told me that I'm getting pretty good and he's a really good keyboard player. Now sometimes we jam together.

    Rick’s an excellent guitar teacher and I think I am lucky to have found him.

  • 5/5 stars

    I play lead guitar with popular rock group based out of Atlanta,. I met Rick Ellis at a recording studio in Los Angeles in early 2008 where he was laying down some of the most amazing bottle neck slide blues solo's for a movie soundtrack that I had ever seen or heard played on a twelve string acoustic guitar. I thought "who is this guy? He should be famous. He should be fricking rich." One of the engineer's told me that everybody say's the same thing. Someone called him one of the best kept secrets in the Southern California music scene. He is a singer/songwriter/virtuoso guitarist and session player who lives in Huntington Beach and is, hands down, the most humble musician I have ever met in my life. We went down the street for some coffee and sat and talked for well over an hour.

    Rick lives for guitars. He has been playing them for over forty years and he is literally a walking guitar encyclopedia. He has amassed an impressive collection of vintage guitars that he is very proud of and even prouder that he plays all of them. He explained how he had lived the rock n' roll life style when he was in his twenties and by the time he reached thirty he concluded that, for him, the lifestyle was not a good choice. He felt that his playing ability was a gift and that he had been using his gift the wrong way. He wanted to share his gift, but not from a stage before thousands of people. He decided that he would share his gift with just one person at a time as a guitar teacher. That was about thirty years ago and since then he has shared his gift, one person at a time, with thousands of people who became his students. He pioneered some teaching methods that are now used by guitar teachers around the world, he wrote a guitar instruction book and, over the years, he very methodically broke down many of the most complicated elements in music theory into their simplest forms which are easy to understand and digest and which enabled many of his students to reach levels of playing that was well beyond their expectations. Rick trains his students to achieve a level of playing where they could go anywhere and improvisationally play anything, anytime with anyone in any key and not only be able to tell you, note for note, how it is played, but also why it is played that way.

    I had been playing guitar for a lot of years and was mostly self taught. Everything I played was in a performance situation, so every song and every solo was planned, practiced and rehearsed over and over again hundreds of times. I really never excelled at improvisation because I never learned very much about music theory. I decided to take lessons from Rick and over the next eight months I learned a lot of theory which I applied to my playing. It changed my life.

    Rick really knows his stuff, He's is not only a great teacher, he is also an excellent communicator and motivator. His lessons are very well presented and he utilizes some very ingenious teaching methods. Even with the heavy doses of theory that I was receiving every week, each one hour lesson seemed to fly by. Rick reviewed the material covered in a lesson during the last ten minutes of each lesson and he would not dismiss me until he was absolutely convinced that I completely understood the material that was covered that day which would sometimes cause the lesson to go longer than one hour.

    It doesn’t matter if you are a raw beginner or an advanced player with many years of experience playing the guitar, you could look long and hard, but never find a better teacher than this humble guitarist from Huntington Beach, Rick Ellis.

Question and answer

Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A. The most common teaching challenges for me are:
1. Teaching brand new beginning guitarists with no experience to play the guitar and to understand music.
2. Teaching music theory and advanced playing skills to experienced quitarists who have "hit the wall" and stalled in their progression to higher levels of playing because they have little or no training in music theory.
3. Teaching young children to play the guitar, while making learning fun and exciting for them.
3. Teaching guitar to students who previously took lessons from an unqualified teacher who allowed them to develop bad playing habits. I have to first "unteach" the students in order to eliminate the bad playing habits and then teach them how to play guitar the correct way and and the music theory behind what makes it the correct way.

Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.

A. 1.) I have been working with a 13 year old boy who has a learning disability. It has been slow going, but he is progressing and really enjoying the guitar. On his 13th birthday he played an instrumental song in front of a bunch of teary eyed family members and friends and he got a big standing O for it. He did very well and I can't remember being more proud of a student as I was for him. He was all smiles from ear to ear for a long time after.

2.) I had a student who had been playing guitar in bands for over 20 years, but he had not improved for the last few years. He had stagnated. He just could not get any better even though he was motivated to and tried hard to. I met with him and quickly discovered that he was self taught and had very little in the way of music theory training. So I designed a lesson plan that was heavily laden with music theory and from his first lesson on he began to improve in his ability, style and technique. Six moths later he was not even the same guitar player. He had vastly improved and could do things on the guitar he never thought possible. He is now fronting his own band playing lead guitar, lead vocals and writing most of the songs. He and his band have been playing gigs all over Southern California and have recorded a couple of CD's. So if you ever get a chance to go and hear Rebel Hotel, by all means check them out.

3.) Last summer I taught guitar to a brand new beginner, a 13 year old girl, who was vacationing here with her mother and staying at a friends home. I taught her once a week for one hour for five weeks after which time she returned to her hometown in another part of the state. At the conclusion of the five weeks she could play every commonly played open chord, learned the circle of fifths and three major scale and minor scale patterns and she learned to play two songs each containing four chords.

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. Take an introductory guitar lesson from me and a couple of other teachers, then make your decision. After you have chosen a teacher, do not make an initial long term commitment. Take a few lessons and see how the two of you work together. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the teacher and that the teacher keeps your goals first and foremost in lesson planning.

Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A. I think that a lot of people believe that guitar teachers must be certified or have a license to teach guitar. Fact is that anyone who plays the guitar could post an ad on a classifieds website and start teaching guitar. That is why there are so many bad guitar teachers.

Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

A. 1. What Styles Of Music Do You Teach Best?

2. "How Long Have You Been Teaching And Approximately How Many Students Have You Taught During That Time?

3. "How You Teach Your Lessons?

4. Do You Have A Specific Strategy To Help Me Reach My Guitar Playing Goals?

5. “Have You Successfully Taught Many Other Guitar Players To Reach Musical Goals Similar To Mine?

Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?

A. While the rewards of playing the guitar can be great, a person who is considering learning to play the guitar should understand that it is not just a matter of just taking a lesson every week. They should know that learning to play the guitar requires practice, self discipline and time. Learning often requires a lot of repetition just to acquire one skill, so a student should have a substantial amount of patience. Guitar students should have goals for what they want to achieve.

Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A. I believe that no other guitar teacher offers students the level and quality of personalized guitar instruction, training, coaching, and mentorship as I do. I am devoted to each and every students success and I always go the extra mile for them.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. The greatest rewards that I receive from teaching guitar is seeing my students progress and grow as guitarists and musicians and how that changes them as human beings. They become more self confident, more self disciplined and they develop a good work ethic, not only in learning to play guitar, but in many other aspects of their lives as well. They become more creative and artistic. Learning to play the guitar and understand music changes the way a person looks at the world and possibly how the world looks at them. Knowing that I had something to do with that brings me great pleasure.

Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

A. Q. "Why do you charge less for your lessons than a lot of other less experienced guitar teachers charge for theirs?"

A. My students receive "cadillac lessons for Chevrolet prices." I strongly believe that the desire to learn to play a musical instrument should not be constrained by a persons ability to pay for lessons. I structure my fee so that a working person with a family, a mortgage and other financial obligations, or a child living in a single parent home, or a college student with a limited income, or a retired person living on a tight budget can afford to take lessons from me. By having a studio in my home I am able to keep my overhead down and I also have other ways to keep business expenses at a minimum. I pass on my savings to my students.

In the event of a student who wants to take lessons with me, but cannot afford to pay for weekly lessons, arrangements can be made for bi-weekly lessons. I also accept a certain number of students ages 12 -18 from low income families who may take lessons without cost or on an ability to pay basis.

I want everyone to be aware that there are teachers advertising lessons at cut rate prices that you should be very wary of. Usually the reason their prices are so low is because they are not qualified to be teaching guitar and they are trying to appeal to students who can't afford to take lessons from a good teacher. An unqualified, or bad teacher will do you more harm than good and end up costing you more than if you paid for lessons from a good teacher.

Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?

A. in mid-August of 2010 a young man with no guitar playing experience at all came to me for lessons and told me that the reason he wanted to take lessons was so he could learn to play the song "Memories of us" by Kieth Urban and play it as a surprise to his bride during their wedding reception in less than three months.

It was a challenge since he did not have a lot of time for practice. The song was difficult for a beginner. As the wedding drew nearer and the student became more and more involved in the preparations, he had less time to practice and he missed a few lessons. He was about to give up on the idea, but I gave him a pep talk and told him that the show must go on and that he could still pull it off, but I would need to back him up on guitar at the reception.

I ended up tuning his guitar to Open D tuning and I taught him to play most of the chords with just one finger.

At the reception I came onto the stage carrying my ES335 semi-hollow body electric guitar. The guests were under the impression that it was going to be given away as a door prize. I had a wireless connection to my amp that was hidden out of sight. I started playing the intro to "Making Memories Of Us" and the groom came on stage wearing a wireless mic and strumming his acoustic-electric guitar and playing the one finger chords as rehearsed. I made certain that the volume on his guitar was turned down very low so mostly my guitar could be heard. The groom was very nervous since there were almost 500 people in attendance and he messed up on the lyrics a couple of times, but he got through the song and received a tearful hug from his bride and a standing ovation from the guests.

Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?

A. I wish that customers knew how passionate I am about teaching guitar and how devoted I am to my profession and to my students. Teaching guitar is my full time profession. Unlike many teachers, teaching is not something that I do on the side from my regular day job. I feel that teaching guitar is why I was put on this earth. Teaching is my calling, my purpose and I work very hard to be the best guitar teacher I can possibly be.

Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?

A. I paid my dues as a musician. I played in bands, toured, performed as a solo singer/songwriter and did quite a bit of session work for a number of years. I also tutored other guitarists and taught guitar to beginners because I really enjoyed teaching. I began to enjoy teaching more than anything else I did musically and after developing my teaching skills for a few years I eventually decided to make it my career. I feel like teaching guitar is what I was put on this earth to do. Everyone has a calling, or a purpose in life and mine is teaching others to play the guitar. I am very fortunate to be able to make my living doing what I do best and love most.

Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.

A. I have a 60 year old student named Jack. When Jack was a young man he took some lessons and learned to play the guitar a little, but life got in the way and 30 years passed without him playing at all. When his daughter was a little girl he promised her that he would sing a song for her at her wedding. It was a promise that Jack would not forget.

During his first lesson with me last March, Jack made a special request that I teach him to play well enough by June to accompany himself on guitar so that he could sing a song for his daughter at her wedding. Normally, if a student works hard and practices everyday, a request like that is certainly reasonable and attainable. Jack went on to say that during the 30 years of not playing the guitar at all, he also had become about 80% deaf in both ears and even with the help of hearing aids he still had trouble hearing. Still, he said, he had made a promise to his daughter and he was going to try his hardest to fulfill it.

In every lesson Jack would listen intently to my instruction. He read my lips. He could hear the sound coming off of his acoustic guitar and he could feel the vibrations against his body. after a few lessons alot of what Jack learned 30 years ago started coming back to him and he was playing rather well, hearing impaired or not, he was doing great playing at a novice level.

A month and a half of weekly lessons and the day came to select the song that Jack would sing at his daughters wedding. Jack chose " I Saw Her First" By Heartland. Not a very difficult song, but not a real easy song to play either. We worked on the song for the next few lessons and Jack pretty much nailed the strumming down, but the vocals were a whole different matter. Some people just can't sing and Jack, having only 15% of his hearing found singing to be a more than just a very difficult challenge.

Jack had to go to New York and missed a couple of lessons. Upon his return I brought up the subject of the vocals and suggested maybe hiring a professional singer whom he could accompany on the guitar. Jack said he had another idea and asked me to just listen to him play his guitar for a few minutes. Jack then finger picked a beautiful and heartfelt rendition of "I Saw Her First." He played the chords and he soloed the melody out of the chord progressions without a single mistake. Honestly, I could not have played it any better. I don't know who could have. It was all I could do to hold back tears. Jack told me that since he could not sing it, he decided to learn play it as a solo guitarist and while in New York he spent hours every night in his hotel room practicing that one song until he had it down perfectly. You can only imagine how well it was accepetd at the wedding.

I am very proud of the wortk I have done with Jack, but I'm even more proud of Jack and what he accomplished in such a short time. It will be a memory that his daughter will cherish forever and a memory that I will never forget as well.

It is experiences like this one that makes my profession so rewarding.

Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?

A. I belong to a few music teachers organizations where the main goal is improvement through continuing education. I attended a guitar teacher and mentoring training program. I have taken courses in training children to play the guitar. I have taken courses in advanced music theory, songwriting and composition. I am also an active participant in several on line guitar teachers forums.

Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?

A. Lessons taught over the internet using software like Skype is one of the latest developments in guitar teaching.

Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.

A. Lessons cost $40.00 per weekly one hour lesson when the student pays for four lessons in advance.

If the student pays for lessons at each lesson, the cost is $45.00 for each one hour lesson.

If I travel to the students home the cost is $50.00 for a one hour lesson. Lessons in the students home must be purchased four lessons in advance.

All materials and texts are included in the lessons fees, There are never any additional or hidden charges.

Q. What is your greatest strength?

A. My greatest strengths as a guitar teacher are:

1.) I don't merely teach people to play the guitar. I also TRAIN them how to implement the things they have learned and apply them to their playing skills.

2.) I design an excellent dynamic personal lesson plan for each student which is periodically reviewed with the student and, if necessary, revised according to the students progress, learning pace and other criteria.

3.) I am a very good communicator, both in oral and written forms.

4.) I have the ability to teach a large, complex and complicated element of music theory by methodically breaking it down into several simple, easy to understand sub-parts and then eventually combining the sub-parts together, one by one and demonstrating how each part relates to the others until they comprise the one large, complex element.

5.) I teach each student according to his or her learning style and learning pace

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. Q. "Do you offer online or video guitar lessons?"

A. I would teach video lessons on a one on one basis, but that is all. I do not feel that group video lessons are very effective. One of the most important aspects of one on one private lessons with a guitar teacher is that the teacher can immediately detect and correct improper or bad playing techniques by the student and stop it before it becomes a real problem. This is not possible to do in group video lessons.

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. Q. "what are three good reasons why I should know music theory?"

1.) To be a great guitarist is to play guitar outside the box. Music Theory is "the box."

2.) You Gain a Better Understanding of the Guitar Fretboard. Music theory helps us understand how the notes on a guitar fretboard connect into the music we play. When we have a little bit of understanding of theory, the notes on the fretboard are not just merely notes, but there is actually a connection between them, and they relate and function together in a particular way. If we understand how the notes connect and relate to one other, how much more easily can we then creatively express ourselves through our guitar playing.

3.) Music is a language in and of itself. Music Theory teaches us how to speak the language of music and communicate with any other musician in the world regardless of what dialect they speak.

3.) You Gain a Better Understanding of How to Craft Guitar Solos. A good guitar solo will be crafted based upon a solid understanding of how the notes in the solo relate to one another and how they relate to the chord progression of the song. It'Â’s hard to create a good guitar solo if you don't know how to put the pieces together.

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. Q. "How much money will it cost to buy a decent guitar to learn on?"

A. The minimum you can expect to spend on a new acoustic or electric guitar is between $200 and $300. I recommend certain brands of new, entry-level acoustic and electric guitars (with a small amplifier) that cost between $200 and $300 which is about the minimum that you can expect to spend on a new guitar of decent quality.

Used guitars are plentiful and great deals can be found online. I do not recommend that a new guitar player purchase a used guitar unless he or she has a freind who is an experienced guitar player and is willing to check out a used guitar for the buyer. A new guitar player has no idea what to look for or listen for when buying a used guitar and may end up spending good money on a terrible instrument.

I also advise my students to have their new guitars set up by a reputable service technician. A setup involves making numerous adjustments to the guitar and will cost anywhere from $75 to $100 depending on the kind of guitar and what needs to be done. After the setup has been done the $200 guitar will play and sound as good as or better than a guitar worth twice as much or more. The guitar will be much easier to play and much easier to learn on after a setup

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