About Me


Guitar Lessons for Adults and Teens 14+ .

Contact me to schedule your free Strategy Session.  We’ll talk about your big guitar goals and create a plan to reach them.

Have you been frustrated trying to learn music on your own from videos and random tips you pick up?  Maybe you’ve got a few skills on your instrument but you’re not sure how to piece it all together to really feel like a musician. I’ll show you the systems that professional musicians use to understand and learn music quickly.

Get the skills that will allow you to teach yourself new music. Total beginners are welcome too!

How you’ll benefit taking lessons with me:

  • We’ll work by the 80/20 Rule. Right up front you’ll learn the 20% of stuff you need to play 80% of the music out there.
  • HOW you practice is just as important as what you practice.  And you’ll learn how to use accelerated learning principles to get the maximum achievement out of your practice sessions.
  • Just like a trainer at the gym, I’ll be there to motivate you to keep working at it. And be the extra pair of eyes to catch the details you miss. (And show you how to catch them yourself.)
  • No potholes in your knowledge!  Many teachers will show you how to play the song, but not why you’re playing what you’re playing.  That just leaves you stuck when you start the next song.  You’ll get all the important parts here.  Technique, musicality, theory, notation, improv, and more.  (And don’t let that ‘notation’ part scare you.  I’ve got a great system that makes it super duper easy!)
  • It’s all geared towards songs and music styles you want to learn.  (I might turn you on to some stuff you’ve never thought of playing too!)

Let me tell you a story about one of my students, Justin. When Justin came to me he’d been banging around on guitar for a couple years. He knew some basic chords but had a lot of trouble switching between them. And he knew a little pentatonic scale pattern but didn’t really know how to turn that into a melody. He could mess around and learn part of a song but never really put a whole tune together. And every time he tried a new song he felt like he was starting from near zero again. He told me it all seemed like a bit of a mystery that he was only grasping the edges of.

During his first lesson we talked about his goals – He wanted to improve his rhythm, learn how to improvise, and tackle “Hotel California” as one of his goal songs. And I suggested a few other things he could improve on that would help his playing – Better hand placement and putting together an efficient practice strategy that eliminated decision making..

Over the next few months we freshened up and improved the skills he had. I showed him how to build new skills on top of old ones so they connect logically. He became a much more solid rhythm player and began recording himself and soloing over it. And… of course… we tackled Hotel California.

Now he’s got a system for approaching any song he’s interested in with the both the knowledge of how to make sense of it and the strategy for learning it. Music is no longer a mystery to him!

Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:

  • Correct technique and exercises to keep you from being injured
  • Every real-world trick I know to easily read standard notation and tablature
  • All the chords you’ll ever need
  • Improvisation techniques so you can enjoy the purest form of music
  • All the cool little tricks that make you sound like a pro
  • Songs you want to learn in your favorite genres
  • Groove and strumming exercises to keep you out of a rhythm rut
  • The real building blocks of music so you have a deeper understanding and a better performance

Basically, I’ll give you my college music education.  And I’ll show it to you in a way that will allow you to teach yourself in the future. You won’t be left in the dark about how or why we’re doing anything and you’ll find each new concept immediately useful.

What To Expect: At your free Strategy Session we’ll talk about what you’d like to accomplish on your instrument and create a plan to get you there. Then we’ll meet once a week for your training session. You’ll also need to set aside at least 20-30 minutes per day for your own practice sessions.  (I’ve got some great tips for creating more time to spend with your music too!)

Lessons are available in-person at my studio in North San Jose, CA or online from wherever you are in the world.

Remember: You’re in charge here!  I’m the coach and the guide, but the real advancement comes with how much (and how efficiently) you play in between lessons!  And I’ll do everything I can to help make that experience as smooth as can be.

If any of this seems overwhelming or “too much”, rest assured we’ll work at YOUR pace and I will patiently guide you ever step of the way.

Here’s what you WON’T be doing:

You won’t be running scales and arpeggios for hours on end.  They’re tedious and not much use early in the process.  Eventually there will be a time to learn that stuff, but I’ll show you how to make them musical and immediately useful so you’re not left wondering what the point of it all is.

My girlfriend and I were out on a walk the other day and heard piano scales coming from someone’s house.  She immediately started telling me stories of how she hated her music lessons as a kid because of those scales.  I want to create great memories for you instead!

You won’t be watching me play the whole time.  I may play a little something to help illustrate it for you.  But your lesson is for you to play, not me.  (I know from experience… I had some teachers who were brilliant musicians but I never learned much because they played the whole time instead of me.)

You won’t be doing recitals.  Most of my students are playing for their own enjoyment and the idea of a recital isn’t appealing.  However if you are interested in performing, joining a band, etc, I can show you the ropes on how to do that.  I’ve performed thousands of shows and I’m happy to share my road warrior knowledge.

You won’t be taking tests or trying for certifications.  Yes, there are certifications and “levels” and competitions and such out there in the music world.  But to me that’s never been the point of playing music.  It’s called “playing” music for a reason.  It’s fun!  You can learn all the same skills and become just as good a musician without ever being judged on it.

And who the heck is Phil Johnson?

Motivation, strategy, and problem solving have been the backbone of my teaching philosophy since I started in 1994. (That’s over 45,000 lessons…) I’ve helped hundreds of students reach their guitar goals, expand their musical world, and tap into their creativity. (Even the ones who claimed they had no creativity!)

As well as being a lifelong musician who’s played in everything from symphony orchestras to theater pits to rock bands, I’m also a nationally touring performer with dozens of releases. That’s real world, in-the-thick-of-it knowledge learned over thousands of shows that you can take advantage of.

Music Qualifications & Achievements:

  • BA in Music from San Jose State University
  • Performed in 27 states and 5 countries
  • Large catalogue of albums, singles, and video releases

San Jose, CA 95132, USA



Instrument(s) Taught


Where do lessons take place?

Teacher's Location



Lesson Type


Lesson Prices

Other Lesson Prices

Group Lab Sessions 4 x 1 hour lessons = $200

Solo Sessions 4 x 30 minute lessons = $400

Premium Solo Sessions 4 x 1 hour lessons = $750

Payment Plans


Payment Options

Online Bank Transfer, Stripe

Cancelation & Rescheduling Policy

Very flexible and depends on which membership program you enroll in.

Contact Me

Get in Touch

Levels & Ages

Skill Levels Taught

Beginner (up to Grade 5), Intermediate (Grades 5-8), Advanced (Grade 8 and above)

Ages Taught


Lesson Sizes

One-to-One, Group Lessons

Graded Exam Preparation

I don't teach grades to my students

When did you start teaching?


Genres Taught

Genres Taught

Blues, Country, Folk, Funk, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Soul music


Languages Spoken




Rated 5.0 out of 5
April 28, 2021

Phil is am amazing teacher, my daughter was 6 when she started guitar lessons, and terrified! Phil is amazing with children, he put her at ease, and encouraged her. Whenever she was frustrated, he would guide her back on track; helping her work through her shortage of confidence.

My daughter is now 13, and has been taking guitar with Phil the entire time; and is now also taking piano. I have discovered that Phil is also incredible with teenagers. Once again he is never phased by her frustration, also guides her back on track, and her love of music continues to grow.

Aside from being a wonderful teacher, Phil is also extremely professional! He was the only one of 6 teachers to respond to me within 24 hours of my first inquiry, and has stayed constant in his response time from day one.

Kim G

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Supported Learning

Experience Teaching Blind or Partially Sighted Students

No Previous Experience

Experience Teaching Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students

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Experience Teaching Student with Multi-Sensory Needs

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Experience Teaching Students with Wheelchair Access Requirements

Limited Experience

Experience Teaching Students who are on the Autistic Spectrum / Neurodiverse

Limited Experience

Experience Teaching Students with Speech, Language or Communication Needs

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Experience Teaching Students with Moderate Learning Needs

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Experience Teaching Students with Severe Learning Needs

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Experience Teaching Students with Profound & Multiple Learning Needs

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