john-2012Recently, someone emailed me and asked what were in my lessons that he couldn’t learn on his own.  I thought for a little while and thought.

Nothing really.

Is this true?  I thought about it for a good while and still came to this conclusion.

Yes.  Anyone can learn everything I teach by using the Internet and trial by error.


and this is a big one.

The problem comes when the student doesn’t really know what they should be learning.

It’s hard to search for something when you don’t even know you should be searching for.

You might eventually figure it out, but it will take a great deal longer to find this info.  Then when you do, how do you know what you should do next?

The process will start over again of you trying to figure out what to do.  You will waste a great deal of time trying to learn like this, and if you’re not in your teens, you don’t have this kind of time and will probably end up quitting.

When I Started…

When I first started playing guitar, I immediately took 6 months of private lessons.  I then took a break for a year but eventually found another really good teacher and learned a lot about blues playing.  I also subscribed to guitar magazines, and bought numerous instructional DVDs.

I knew that I didn’t know what to learn and there were people out there who did.

The only area I couldn’t find hardly any instructional material on was Open E Tuning Slide Guitar.  Back in 2003, I was amazed that there was literally nothing out there for Open E other than a few books that taught the basics and some tab books.

NOTHING was even remotely close to learning Derek Trucks style playing.

I proceeded to put in a lot of work to figure out some aspects of his style and about 7 years later that’s one of the the main reasons I put together LearningGuitarNow.

Regardless if you want to play slide or not, if you’re having trouble and you don’t know where to turn, STOP spending endless hours trying to find the video that’s going to change your playing.


Now listen, I’m not saying free video lessons are not helpful.  I’m saying that if you’re at a point of frustration and spend hours trying to find what you need to learn but you don’t even know what that is, then you need some form of lessons.

Whether it’s my lessons, another person’s, or a private teacher, I would recommend investing in some tutorials.  You’ll be much happier and you’re playing will get better a lot faster.

– John W. Tuggle

Breaking Out of The Pentatonic Box Free Course

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  1. Hey John,

    what you are giving people with your lessons is not only the lesson but also a system to follow and the order of steps. That’s crucial if somebody really wants to improve his playing.

    Thanks for your work.

  2. I was pretty much the frustrated person you described, wandering aimlessly. I had taken a year or so of private lessons, transcribed a dozen songs or so with my instructor and learned a decent amount of theory/fundamentals. I was stuck in a rut and not sure how to ‘apply’ what I knew.

    I needed a roadmap, because I learn best when I understand where I am headed and can set short term achievement goals along the way. Your DVDs gave me just what I needed to get unstuck and clear the plateau I was on without needing to continue the private lessons. I feel re-energized and more enthusiastic about the guitar than I have in a long time!

  3. Hey John, I am currently in a sillier situation. I’ve been playing the blues for several years and took countless online lessons/tutorials, including yours which are excellent by the way. I’m at the point where I need a break from the blues, just a little tired if playing it all the time. Im interested in exploring a style similar to Jerry Garcia. i love the mix of blues, country and bluegrass. But I haven’t found much material on it. Do you recommend anything that can help me get there? And would you consider putting together a Jerry licks/riffs DVD? Thanks.


  4. Interesting self, dialogue topic John:

    As you know, I value your work-product here and have several products from you.

    My thoughts on this interesting topic:
    Possibly ironically, when I found I was not being taught properly face-to-face, at an early age, I then researched what that should be doing based upon my goals, expectations, what I considered “playing” guitar — then went to self taught, for which I include your material. I do know from direct experience you do respond, so if had a question, that query would be cleared up — so one is not “on their own” here entirely.

    Unfortunately when I was at an “early age”, none of “this” existed at all — no tab, no CD’s, no internet, no accurate Notation transcriptions, etc. So, my passion remained but remained in “search mode” for quite a period.

    Unfortunately “today”, many “lessons” still remain unfocused on “how to play the *guitar”, specifically. It focuses upon, Music Notation, how to sight read as if a Piano player and does not engage the “guitar”, it’s *Neck, it’s mathematical layout for playing specifically. Complicated? No, not really. From day one, the lessons need to focus upon application of that, for the “guitar”. Unlike other instruments, it is a bass, and lead, multi-note playing instrument. It’s not a Flute :)

    That is address by studying Triad Chord Structure and how applied to Chords on the Neck, and how that is applied from a “Positional” scale on the Neck, and how the Root, 3rd, 5th et al. sound over a Chord progression from that scale and chords. I’ll leave that there. But, it’s not really done that way.

    For me, now an advanced player with a full understanding of the Neck, Positions, how they connect along the journey up/down the Neck, chords, scales, notes — I now really appreciated John’s application for Blues and Bottleneck techniques.

    Ironically, again?, — the bottleneck technique from John, I use *without a Slide. I decided to play “that way” with my finger tips as slides, stops, etc. in regular soloing and slide “patterns”. That bottle-glass tone is not there, but the “difference” in playing is, and makes it interesting and “mine”. Self taught :) LOL!

    Great topic John.

    I don’t have time to engage blogs much, but this caught my eye.

    If someone decides to read my thoughts, I hope they find it helpful in some form, as well as one can explain anything like “this” :)

    You point of know what to even look for IS the major item here. And, if nothing else, some could just email someone like you and get a plan to begin with that would not be a waste of time or money.

    Many new students need something to Play first, then know why. Only they can know (be taught) the best approach with good feedback from other knowledgeable players like you! :)

  5. Interesting post. I’ve been playing for about 3 weeks but I’m loving it! So far I can play three chords but the transition between chords is pretty difficult. I’m sure it will get easier with time. The beauty for me is that some of it actually sounds like music! (My favourite is the opening riff to “Satisfaction” by the Stones. Sounds great and actually pretty easy to play.

    I plan to keep practising for 30 minutes each and every day. My ambition is to be able to play “Jonny B Goode” – amazing opening riff!

  6. John,
    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I started playing guitar so many years ago that I’d be embarrassed to give you the exact date! And you’re right – at that time there was no internet, no tab, very few magazines, etc. – in short, there was really no where to go to learn slide guitar. Not being Duane Allman, and not having had the benefit of formal lessons to give me a firm musical foundation, I did what everyone else my age at that time did: I started playing with other people – usually people with more experience than myself – and soaked up everything I could. Did that make me a master? No way, but I did learn alot. By playing live and making mistakes I became a better player mush faster that I ever could have if I had just stayed home and practiced by myself. Until you actually get out and do it, there’s no way to prepare for the rush of playing in front of an audience. I still believe that the best way to accelerate your learning curve is to get out of the bedroom and play with other people! You know I’ve bought a few of your lessons, and I can honestly say that you present the material in very accessible way. More importantly, you make it fun!!!! I’m a customer and a fan, and can’t say enough about your product. The little extra tips and asides you throw into your lessons are worth more than a year’s subscription to a guitar mag with lots of tabs. After following one of your lessons, I not only know HOW to play the material, but, more importantly, I know WHY I’m playing it that way. Knowing HOW makes you a one-trick pony, knowing WHY opens the door to becoming a guitarist who can improvise over just about anything. Thank-you for the lessons – you’re a great guy!

  7. I think there is two main parts to learning guitar…. 1. Finding a good teacher or course, either online or a real person. 2. Practice a little everyday, even if just for 15mins. ! I remember when I started playing guitar, I had a goal to practice 15 minutes a day . Once I started for the day, even if I only intended to practice for 15mins, I enjoyed it so much I found myself practicing for longer.

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