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Guitar Lessons with Cliff Smith, BMus(Hons)

Online guitar lessons via Zoom

The guitar is one of the most widely played instruments in the world. It is so popular because it can be used for many different styles of music. Rock, pop, jazz and classical to name but a few.

I teach most styles of acoustic, electric and classical guitar, from beginner to advanced level. You will need your own guitar to practice on at home.

I have been a full time guitar teacher for twenty years, and gave guitar lessons part time prior to that. I have a music degree and have taught in primary, prep and secondary schools, as well as in adult education.

Topics covered in my guitar lessons

  • Technique
  • Neck knowledge
  • Musicianship
  • Styles and songs
  • Music theory
  • Lead and Improvisation
  • Plectrum and fingerstyle
  • Exams (optional!)
  • And much more, scroll down for full details

Which type of guitar lessons?

These are the three main types of guitar…

Steel string acoustic guitar

Also known as the ‘folk’, ‘western’ or ‘acoustic’ guitar. If you plan to sing songs and accompany yourself on the guitar, you won’t go far wrong with one of these.

Classical guitar

Also known as the ‘Spanish’ or ‘nylon string’ guitar. Mainly used for classical, Latin and Spanish styles. The classical guitar has a more rounded tone than the steel string acoustic.

Electric guitar

The electric guitar is widely used across pretty much all genres of music, but is probably most synonymous with rock. If you like to make a big noise, this is the guitar for you.

Guitar lessons for…

...for beginners

I teach a lot of adult beginners. Forget about all the negatives like ‘”It’s too late to start”, or “I don’t have an ear for it”. That stuff just holds you back. Start with the attitude “I will do this”, then do it! I will be there to guide you every step of the way.

If you find it very hard on your fingers, your guitar may need a set up (see my Recommendations page for a good guitar technician) or it may be worth switching to a lighter gauge of string.

If your strings are very old, changing them and giving your guitar a clean will bring the instrument back to life again. I can teach you how to do this and advise you on any work that may be needed on your guitar during your first lesson.

...for experienced guitarists

I can help you to identify the areas of your playing that need work. We will set goals and I will teach you how to improve these areas. I can also help you to take your guitar playing in a different direction:

  • Do you know lots of other artist’s songs? Why not study theory, improvisation or songwriting, and get creative?
  • Do you know lots of scales and chords but don’t know what to do with them? Learn some theory and songs!
  • Are you always rocking out on your electric? How about some acoustic fingerstyle or classical guitar?
  • Are you an acoustic strummer who has hit a plateau? It may be time to learn some riffs and lead guitar!

Topics covered

Here is a full list of the topics covered in my guitar lessons:


Alternate picking, apoyando (rest stroke), artificial harmonics, bottleneck, damping, economy picking, fingerpicking/fingerstyle, hammer-ons, muting, natural harmonics, pinched harmonics, plectrum style, plucking, pull-offs, rasgueado, slides, string bends, strumming, tirando (free stroke), trills, unpitched percussive notes, vibrato, whammy bar…

Neck knowledge

Open & barre chords, dead string chords, extended & altered chords, inversions & slash chords, broken chords…

Scales, arpeggios, modes, intervals, root shapes…

Learning the notes, the CAGED system, alternate tunings…


Improvisation, lead & rhythm playing…

Reading chord charts and adding embellishments…

Transcribing, playing with others, aural, sight reading …


How to read and write standard music notation, guitar tablature (TAB), chord diagrams and neck diagrams.

Understanding keys, chords, scales and modes. Chord progressions, songwriting and structure.

See my Music Theory Page for further details.

Music and styles

I teach most styles of music including rock, indie, pop, folk, classical, blues, flamenco, country, jazz & metal. I know a lot of songs in the above styles.

I can also teach you licks & riffs, and teach you how to analyse particular artists, songs and styles.

See my Repertoire Page for more information.


I encourage my pupils to take exams, but it is not compulsory. I use the Associated Board, Trinity Rockschool & RGT syllabi.

This exam material provides a structured approach to mastering the instrument, even if you do not wish to sit the examinations.

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