"I have been playing guitar now for over 35 years, most of it spent playing in various bands in Columbus, Ohio. I started playing when I was 15 years old and basically learned initially from friends and was self taught. Probably 10 years into my playing I was becoming stagnated and decided it was time to take some guitar lessons. Over the next 25 years I took lessons on and off from probably 8 to 10 different teachers and saw a slow improvement in my playing. Unfortunately there seemed to be something that was holding my playing back and limiting me in progressing further. It was frustrating because there seemed to be a wall up that was not allowing me to improve and the frustrating part of this was I could not figure out where the root of my problem originated. One evening I was in Nashville at a party and met Rob Jackson. We started talking about guitar and he mentioned he thought he could help me with my problem. A few months later I returned to Nashville to take Rob up on his offer. I sat down and played all of about 30 seconds and Rob looked at me and said “your picking hand technique sucks!!” I was a little taken back by Rob’s straightforwardness but I travelled all this way and was determined to see if Rob could help me and help me he did!! I spent over a year religiously practicing the Rob techniques and have finally blown thru the wall that was holding my playing back. I have returned to seek more of Rob’s guidance in improving my playing. It is well worth the 6 hour drive to spend time with an individual that truly understand what I need to become a guitar player and the important piece is have a proven method to make that happen. All the lessons and money I spent over the years and I never had anyone see how messed up my right hand technique was and let me know. All the lessons I took from some very good instructors always focused on my left hand. Rob’s methods remind you that you have a right hand and you need to focus on training this hand as much as you do your left hand. My playing has improved more in the last year then it did over the previous 15 years. If you are serious about becoming an accomplished guitar player whether you are just starting out or like myself have been playing forever, the Rob Jackson method is the way to go."
Doug Hubbard, Columbus, OH
Rob Jackson is a tough and amazing instructor. I was lucky enough to get 1.5 years to train under him during the short time that I lived in Nashville. I sought out Rob’s instruction to learn the old Deep South Blues after I had lived in Mississippi. He chuckled at how hard it was and told me to get ready. If you really want progress, sign up for a lesson.
I have spent 15 years in the Navy as a jet pilot and an instructor pilot. I have been through the best training programs that the US government has to offer, and I can honestly say that I know good teaching technique when I see it. Hard work and repetition makes the professional. Rob’s teaching style focuses on the building blocks that are necessary to be in place before a player can really take off.
Rob took me from barely playing a good A chord to playing Delta Blues in less than 1.5 years. Looking back, that is amazing. He trained me in the basic muscle memory for playing, and then he trained my ear. When I was ready, Rob made me decipher by ear and tab out the very first song I learned to play. What a genius exercise. It was tough, but I learned so much in the process.
Rob has been teaching in Music City for over 30 years!!! He has seen it all and has witnessed every single type of student. He knows how the human brain learns and is extremely efficient at training it to play guitar well. Invest the time practicing, let Rob instruct on how to fix your weaknesses, and have a thick skin. Some people want to believe that music is completely magic, but I believe that the magic only surfaces once you have the foundation in place. Rob Jackson is a master at developing a foundation quickly so that you can grow as your own musician.
-Joe Berta, Fox Island WA
The first thing I would like to say about Joe is that I am personally thankful for his service to our country. This guy is practically a superman, and we all owe a major debt to guys like him who protect our country. Joe is the type of guy who shuns praise and thanks, but I am saying it anyway, dude. Thank you. That being said, even though Joe knows how to land a zillion-dollar jet fighter on the deck of a carrier, and is also a martial arts student, when he set foot in my studio the first time I made it clear to him that he was nothing but a common delusional street punk with no guitar chops (haha) and I treated him accordingly. In reality, Joe really applied himself like a madman to practicing relentlessly and achieved an impressive skill level within a few months. He once told me that the way I stressed basics on the guitar was very similar to the methods of his martial arts teacher, who made him spend months doing the same basic things over and over, until he was really bored, but then he started winning matches at seminars because of his mastery. He also researched the field of travel/ practice guitars and bought a travel guitar that enabled him to practice for many hours a week while staying in hotels all over the world when flying for a commercial airline. By the time he presented me with a note-for-note transcription of a Lightnin’ Hopkins tune, I knew that he no longer needed a teacher!!! I hope Joe can be on the “advisory board” of my online tab archives once I get that set up (someday) ..........I hope to keep in touch with him!!!
"He is the BEST....Took lessons with Rob and don't want to work with any California wimps. They don't know a tenth of what he knows."
Mike Weinstock, San Clemente, CA
My former student/friend Mike Weinstock took some lessons from me when he was working in Nashville in the '90s, although he eventually moved back to California due to "corporate displacement." Recently, he reconnected with me by submitting the "New Student Information" form on my website. He included this rather "blunt" endorsement that I found hard to pass up. Here's a picture of Mike hanging with HANK, JR. when he was working for CMT (to the right) --->
"Rob Jackson's method of teaching guitar is no short of brilliant. Since studying under him I have learnt how to practice, what to practice and what steps I need to take in order to get from where I am to where I want to be...and that was all in the first three weeks!! Whatever style, whatever technique, whatever form, Rob has developed a step by step, 1 2 3 method to take you from a novice to a master. I can not stress enough just how user-friendly, applicable and GOOD Rob's teaching method is. Rob has a love for music and its history that is infectious and inspiring and if you are passionate and willing to put in the work, Rob will work with you, and you will be lucky to work with him. Every week I bound ahead into skills and understandings that stick and stay with me shaping me into a wiser, far more connected player. I have improved as a songwriter and overall musician simply by studying under Rob. He corrects and hones my skills and instincts and above all, he believes in me. As a young musician it can be hard to find this and Rob offers a never ending flow of it: belief. Belief in music and the people that choose to pursue it, in whatever form. He will educate you and inspire you. I hope to be a student of Rob Jackson's for life - The Rob Jackson guitar teaching method is all you need! Thank you for everything so far Rob...see you next week!"
Luke Dolahenty, Australia
Luke is one of the most blatantly talented and motivated individuals I have had the pleasure to work with. He is a truly gifted singer/songwriter, and has developed some scary acoustic guitar chops with only a few months of lessons, due to his natural ability and strong dedication. Luke is a native of Camden, NSW, Australia and has lived in the US for several years. He has a killer singing voice, strong guitar chops, great songwriting skills, and that charming Australian accent. I am pushing him as fast and hard as I can . This guy is a born star! (I hate guys like that, haha)
"Rob Jackson was my first and only guitar teacher many moons ago when I grew up in Nashville because there is nobody better. He's ornery and opinionated, and these are the qualities that (combined with his ridiculous talent, good heart, and extreme passion for music) guarantee that if you give him your time, you will become a real guitarist and have fun doing it. He's a one of a kind personality. In the years since he taught me how to play, I've sent many people his way, and every single person was incredibly happy with the experience. Most still take lessons from him today. Do yourself a favor and give him a call."
Cary Brothers, Los Angeles, CA
Cary Brothers is a successful indie recording artist, currently residing in Los Angeles. His song "Blue Eyes" was featured on the Grammy-award-winning soundtrack to the movie "Garden State". He has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe, and has a growing fan base.
"I've done a bunch of interviews where people have asked me who my influences are. There are a ton of bass players that I love, like Larry Graham and Paul McCartney, but the answer I have always given is Rob Jackson. I think I was 11 years old when I started taking lessons from him, and I hadn't really listened to a lot of music, so Rob was truly my musical guru. He eventually had to deal with teaching me Nirvana songs, how to play "slap" bass, and other stuff that I'm sure made him cringe, but in the meantime, I got schooled on the history of rock and roll, music theory, and why the Beatles were good even before they started doing drugs. He would also go beyond the call of duty by coming over and showing me how to get the most out of my bass amp, popping by the studio to see what I was up to, and probably most importantly of all, helping put together what became my first ever band which led to a record deal that I had no idea how to appreciate at the time. It's amazing how many of the best musicians in town got their start at Rob Jackson's studio. He really is a great teacher and a cool dude. Just don't tell him that because his ego is out of control as it is."
Keith Lowen, Nashville,TN
Keith Lowen owns Nashville. Everybody else just lives there.
Keith has played bass in every hip band in Nashville for the last 12 years or so, sometimes several at a time. He and his band Lifeboy, which also featured talented guitarist William Tyler, another Rob Jackson Studio alumnus, signed a major recording contract in the late 90's when they were still in high school. The legend has it that Seymour Stein of Sire Records (who discovered Madonna, the Pretenders, the Ramones, Talking Heads, etc.) flew into Nashville and signed Lifeboy in study hall at University School. Now that's what I call rockin'!!!!
"'What's up Slacker?' was probably one of the first things Rob Jackson said to me as I set out to begin a 3 year period of guitar lessons with him. "Slacking" is strictly prohibited under his instruction and he knows exactly who's trying and who's not! His passion for guitar and music is immediately evident and enormous, he expects no less from his students - not a problem if you love music on this same level. What a thrill it was to sit and watch him Travis Pick or turn out some old blues run and then tab out the lesson right before my eyes... knowing I was about to learn to play like this, well, not quite like Rob, he is a master after all, but learn I did. He taught me excellent fundamentals / basics which allowed me to to branch out and explore many styles, i.e. blues, slide & lead improvisational. Always resourceful, he was there to help purchase a new guitar, sell my old guitar, set up a guitar for slide, answer amp questions, discuss rock n roll history, hook me up with a friend to play with, you name it! As Ibecame more confident in my guitar playing I began sharing original songs with him and he continually encouraged me to follow the songwriting passion. His interest and enthusiasm meant everything to me as a novice. Pushing me to sing my songs, through my own anxieties and even a few tears, Rob Jackson was a sustaining force and inspiration. I consider him a mentor and have utmost respect for him as a teacher, a guitarist and true artist himself. So, if you take lessons from Rob, trust him, his methods work, he puts everything into his instruction and KNOWS when you are slacking! No Slacking."
Tonia Sellers, Nashville,TN
Tonia Sellers is a songwriter who also dabbles in art and photography. She makes an annual pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta to be in the home of the blues, and she has stood at The Crossroads. Check out Tonia's first album of original songs, "Between Luck and Fate," at CDBaby.com as well as her beautiful, funky artwork at CleverClogsArt.com.
"What can I say about Rob Jackson? He has a very kool handlebar mustache...he doesn't suffer fools lightly...and he is an incredible guitar teacher. Trust me if I can learn, you will be Jimi Hendrix....and he is my friend."
Tom Douglas, Nashville,TN
Tom Douglas is one of Nashville's most respected #1 songwriters, with big hits by Tim McGraw (My Little Girl, Grown Men Don't Cry, Southern Voice), Martina McBride (Love's The Only House), Lady Antebellum (I Run To You), Collin Raye (The Gift), Miranda Lambert (The House That Built Me), and many others to his credit.
Update, November 2010: Tom Douglas and his co-writer Allen Shamblin just received the CMA award for Song Of The Year, "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert. This song was also produced by one of my former students, Frank Liddell. Congratulations, Tom !!! Visit the STUDENTS page for more about Tom's career.
"Rob is not just a teacher, Rob is an ARCHAEOLOGIST. He will dig and dig and find your limitations and your weakness. He'll take you on a trip that'll be sometimes painful, sometimes weary, sometimes long, but in the end, the prizes you'll uncover together will be priceless.
When I started, I thought I was a hot shot rhythm player. I'd been in bands for YEARS playing guitar, but never could figure why I just could not "get" playing lead. I memorized scales, I bought every DVD I thought would help, every book. I did online courses, I subscribed to online teachers, I worked with local teachers---NOTHING helped push me over the edge. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.
THEN, I went to Rob. I drove 3 hours from Birmingham after going through 4-5 other teachers that were just not what I needed locally. I had found Rob's website, and it sounded just like what I needed. The first appointment broke me. I couldn't play anything right. I screwed up everything. I felt I needed "another chance". All the way home I wondered how I could've done better. Rob sent me home with "Basic" books! "BASIC! WTH?", I thought to myself. All the way home I was trying to figure out if this was worth it. The drive was long, I wasn't being understood, something. I communicated with Rob about a dozen times during those first 2-4 days asking for a second chance and an opportunity to show "more". Rob insisted. "No! Do NOT circumvent this! GO SLOW!". But I wanted fast. I breezed through the first book---I thought.
Next lesson: broken down again. I had no idea why, but I could NOT perform the most basic of licks. Fumbled all over the place. I was trying way too hard. I just couldn't perform what I thought was already in me.
I stuck it out. Week by week I could see, hear, and feel myself improve. It wasn't easy. It was humbling. It was frightening even. BUT, by 6 months I was able to play pretty much anything I wanted to play. I learned patience. Rob taught me everything I needed to know to "break through", and he did it so sneakily, I'd almost call him a "lockpicker", but archaeologist is a better term. I've become a guitarist that I never could've been without Rob. I broke through that ceiling that I just could not get through on my own. The time and money I spent driving between Birmingham and Nashville for those months I could never put a price on. Rob helped me release what was in my head and to connect to the fretboard. Thank you so much!"
Jason Lockridge, Birmingham, Alabama
Jason is a great guy from my original hometown of Birmingham who found my website one day and decided to give me a try as a teacher, even though it meant driving 3 hours each way from Birmingham to Nashville, usually leaving Birmingham at 2:30 am so he could be at my studio at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning. I like hard-core rockers so I was willing to drag it out of bed at 4:00 am to meet him for a 2-hour lesson every other Saturday morning---I am not sure which one of us is crazier !!! I already had 10 straight hours scheduled on Saturdays so 6:00 am was the only time I could fit in a two-hour lesson. But it worked !!! That's what matters.
Jason didn't send me a picture of himself when he emailed this testimonial to me, but I know that he is a serious Alabama fan (he was at the Superdome when Alabama won the National Championship this year, 2012) so I am sticking up some "Roll Tide" until he gets me a picture.
"After struggling years with the mandolin, I found Rob, and we started a long distance teacher and student relationship.
I live six hours plus from Nashville, so once a month or so, I'd head up to Nashville and spend a couple hours with Rob at his studios. I'd go home with enough challenging lessons and music to learn, to keep me occupied until the next visit. In retrospect, it all made sense.... Every little exercise, run, or song he challenged me with, were all building on the next steps and set of lessons.
After a couple of those trips, he had me hearing music better and playing. I was picking out and playing with Linda Rondstadt, Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, Carter Family, Martina, Dolly, and Miranda cd's soon after the first trip. My enjoyment factor was amped up, and that helped me keep the resolve to do the tedious work of learning right. His bluegrass set of accompanyment cd's is cool. You are playing with your own band, or so it seems.
Rob's methods, character, and honesty ring true almost immediately! If you'll do the work and take it seriously, Rob will bring the musician out in you, and set you up to hone down the rest yourself! He has a mojo that just rubs off on you if you'll let it! The man is a master, and a guru, and a teacher.
He is also a man of faith, and you can trust him to always have your best interest the priority.
I still have a ways to go in my quest for great mandolin playing, but... that's on me..... Rob has me playing well enough to jam when occasion presents. In less than six short months, he had me functioning at a level I would never have attained on my own, and probably wouldn't have attained with anyone else as teacher. I came to him a mess, and left playing.
Today, I take my mandolin along on fishing trips, and play with locals in trout stream mountain towns. I'm still working on finnesse and polish, but the basic sound playing technique and inspiration belongs all to Rob!
You can play music, whatever your choice of instrument be! That's really what you need to know! With Rob's guidance, you can!!! You are only limited by the effort you will put in."
Treasure Stover, Mississippi
Treasure contacted me from her town in Mississippi and asked if it was feasible for her to drive up to Nashville a couple of times for some concentrated mandolin lessons, and I told her that if we could stay focused on the basic stuff and nail it down, that I thought I could help her get going down the right track. Her testimonial speaks for itself. Here's a picture of her fly-fishing somewhere. Her husband Eric and her are major league outdoors guys and they would not disclose the location of their favorite fishing spot, but I am pretty sure its somewhere in North America east of the Mississippi, if that helps.
"One year ago today we met for my first lesson with you and I'll never forget it. I probably wasn't your usual student. I studied guitar in college and have been playing 25+ years. But, I overheard someone say once that amateurs think they know everything and pros keep learning. Now, I'm not necessarily a pro, but I knew that I needed to learn more so I could get back up on stage and have the confidence to play with just about anyone.
About 2 mintues and 15 seconds into our first lesson you said, 'I know what your problem is...your right hand has no rhythm.' Boom! No one had ever paid attention to my picking technique. Every teacher that I've had has always been concerned with what's going on around the fretboard. So, we spend the next 3 months breaking my picking technique down and building it back up. And it was a massive improvement in my playing and my confidence.
Next, we went into learning fills and then onto slide. Wow - I finally cracked the secret code of slide playing thanks to you and have become a Skydog junkie. And then we focused on breaking down some great solos note-for-note, spending a whole month alone on Dickie Betts' solo on 'One Way Out'. I'll be honest, I have never practiced as much as I had under your watch. Mainly, I didnt want to endure your wrath if I didn't show up prepared!
So, you told me in the beginning, 'Give me a year and you'll be a completely different player.' You lived up to it and then some. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help and advice. Get ready for another Gallent in the future, my boys are heading your way when they're ready. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have teaching them the right way from the beginning."
Chip Gallent, Franklin, TN
Chip Gallent is a great guy who was referred to me by a former student. He simply wanted to brush up on his chops before he started trying to put a good "weekend warrior" band together. In less than a year's time, doing lessons on an alternate-week basis, due to his hard work and dedication, he made so much progress that now he has a really good band with 3 experienced, pro-level players and they play around town quite regularly. The email he sent me a few months after he had stopped taking lessons is what is posted above; I asked his permission to use it because it really illustrates the often dramatic impact that my "groove-based" teaching approach can have even in a few months' time.
This is a real letter I received in 2010 from a former student who now lives a thousand miles away from Nashville, and who had been one of my students when he was in high school. Apparently, things got a little crazy when he was getting ready to go off to college and he ended up leaving town when he still owed me for about a months worth of lessons. This was a really nice letter, 25 years later, totally unexpected. I subsequently contacted him, turns out he is still playing in bands and has had a great career with a prominent advertising agency. Rock on.