As we complete the first quarter of 2013, a new teacher and website look to be the next big player in helping all levels of guitar player improve their skills and have a blast doing it.
Mike Gross and his website www.RockinGuitarLessons.com have really caught the attention of a lot of guitar players. He has an amazing list of free guitar lesson videos on YouTube, (youtube.com/rockinguitarlessons1 and youtube.com/rockinguitarlessons2) stuff that you won’t necessarily see on other channels and a new website that is shaping up to change the way you think about learning the guitar. Mike is 20 year veteran to teaching guitar and a really down to earth guy who cares about the success of his students. He teaches beginner guitar all the way through advanced stuff. Not only that but he has jammed with Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars and is good friends with his son.
Mike’s impressive resume doesn’t stop there. in 2000 he started teaching at the clothing shop Famous Stars And Straps, owned by Blink 182’s drummer Travis Barker. Travis even took a few lessons from Mike. Mike’s band “The Velma Fix” used to rehearse out of “FSAS” in Riverside,Ca.
Mike did a project with Dio’s former axe slinger Craig Goldy as well as played in a band with Juan Nelson(bassist from Ben Harper And The Innocent Criminals) and Bryan Duncan(one of Christian soul/gospel,funk’s biggest stars of the 90’s)
I was so impressed by what I was seeing on his YouTube channel that I reached out to him and asked if he would do an interview for the readers of SixStringMadness. Find out what unique methods Mike uses to help his students learn to play the guitar. Check it out-
Hi Mike. Thanks for taking the time to chat. What can you tell us about your background and how you got in to teaching guitar?
I was always a lover of music even as a 5 year old kid. It was all about Kiss, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles .My mom and older brother would always have music playing on the record player as a kid. I believe that was the initial spark. Ace Frehley was the man and Paul McCartney of course. When I was 19-20 years old, my friends would always ask for lessons. I was working construction for the prior two years and trying to pay my bills. I wasn’t much a fan of construction. The only part I liked about it was listening to the radio. I would think about playing guitar all day and by the time I got home, I was so tired from hard physical work that I’d usually not play until the weekend. Before I knew it 2 casual students turned into 7-8 and I started thinking of the possibilities. I had no formal training on guitar but I knew I could play and figure out songs all day long. I had spent my life playing guitar for 5-8 hours a day while my friends went out looking for trouble. In 1992 I came up with a plan. I would go to a local music store and ask if I could teach in their store. I had 8 students as a bargaining chip which meant more sales for the store. To my surprise they hired me on the spot and my 8 students grew to almost 70 within 6 months.
What do you think it is that separates you from other teachers?
For one, I’m not formally trained. What I have learned has come not by a book but by sitting down ,using my ear, and practicing like Eddie Van Halen(on a bad day of course). I am unorthodox I suppose. Teaching theory can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. I had to learn how to read notes. However, most of my students prefer tabs, and learning techniques, songs and styles which is right up my alley. Learning the theory and notes on my own is a bit of a double edged sword. I don’t like to analyze what I play. To me, that’s the beauty of playing guitar, not having to analyze what is natural.
I noticed that you offer lessons via Skype. Tell us how that works. Do you think it gives the same results for your students as if they were in your studio? What equipment does a student need to be able to connect and take lessons with you via Skype?
I do teach lessons via Skype and Google hangout. I would say the results are exactly the same as coming to my studio or one of my stores for the lesson. It’s the interaction that is key- audio and visual. I was apprehensive about doing lessons over the internet and to be honest, I don’t like “change” that much, at least not typically in this form. BUT, after being asked by enough of my YouTube subscribers and my WIFE ,haha, I figured “fine-let’s see how this goes”. Keep in mind, I had never worked a webcam in my life. Once I made the leap, moving to teaching guitar lessons on the internet has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. As a student, the only thing you need get started with me is a webcam (very inexpensive and most people already have one), download Skype and send me a request on Skype to “rockinguitarlessons”. Once I receive the request, we can chat about what days and times work as well as the personal expectations and goals of the student. I will work with them on anything and everything. .I’ve been using “Google Hangout” as well….All you need is a Gmail account and send me a request but Skype is pretty much home base nowadays.
Your Youtube channel is really catching on. There are some awesome lessons on their including song lessons that haven’t been done yet. Tell us how that came about and where we can find you on Youtube.
Yes the YouTube thing has been huge for me. I owe it to my old drummer “Todd Chism” who is now a self-made millionaire and CEO of patioshoppers.com. He pointed me this direction. I was nervous as hell in the beginning. I used to be called “mgfreeguitarlessons”. Now I am at youtube.com/rockinguitarlessons1 and youtube.com/rockinguitarlessons2 and loving every minute of it. Hey, is that a song??? hmmmmmm
You mention in your videos that you are former band mates with the son of Mick Mars, Les Deal and still good friends with him. How did you meet him?
Yes I am friends with Mick Mars of Motley Crue. More so with his son Les Deal. Me and Les met shortly before the Us festival in 1983 or 82. Les lived down the street from where we practiced as a band. He used to sit there and press my FX pedals in my band’s songs. LOL. He was the “official” pedal pusher”. Mick would send him gear all the time and lucky me got to use it. I remember shortly after Les joined my band, we practiced in a church and left our gear there. Well, equipment isn’t safe ANYWHERE. The church got robbed and they took most of our gear. So Les calls up his dad who was on tour with I think “Girls Girls Girls” at the time and a week later a big moving truck pulled up to Les’ house filled with Marshall stacks and a ton of other equipment. One word- WOW.
What is Mick really like in real life?
I’ve been to his house, jammed with him, talked money with him, was produced by him and I have to say he is very very humble and kind. Loves the blues, has a funny personality, loves to joke, loves the three stooges. Pretty mellow dude actually. Soft spoken. A lot like his son.
It looks like you are getting ready to launch a new website called RockinGuitarLessons.com When can we expect to see the launch of that and what will guitar players find on there?
Yes, rockinguitarlessons.com is coming in 2013. I am very thankful for Byron, my web builder. I could never figure out computer stuff like him. He is like me with guitars-but his is computers. I’ll say this about the site- the reason it is taking soooo damn long is two-fold, 1-Byron is a perfectionist and always wants the best and two-it will be different than other websites. rockinguitarlessons.com will be the one stop shop for guitar players. It will be interactive. We want you involved, asking questions, sending video of you playing so I can analyze where you’re at and point you in the right direction. The goal is to help you be the best YOU-and to help you see how to create. Hold on folks-it’s gonna be a wild ride!!!!
What tips can you give guitar players who are early on in their guitar playing journey?
As far as tips, I would say be open minded with music. Everybody puts some degree of heart into what they do. Some more than others but the more open you are, the better. Not to sound all old school on you, cause I am definitely NOT an old school teacher but slow down, enjoy the journey, practice and play what you’re working on slowly, memorize it inside and out, and when you’re done, do it again but play it behind your head and with your teeth.
I want to thank Mike for his time in doing this interview. Mike is a great guy and a fantastic guitar teacher. Be sure to check out his YouTube channels-
Be sure to visit rockinguitarlessons.com.
If you are interested in private guitar lessons with Mike, send him a Skype request at “rockinguitarlessons”
Check out some of my Mike’s YouTube guitar lesson videos