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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
Once I get started I tend to always write too much and too long so I'll try to watch the clock.

I got Ted's phone number from a friend who was studying at Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT). I don't remember how all the conversation went before my first lesson, but I remember Ted asking me several times if I wanted to play jazz. At that time in my life that was all I wanted to do. And I wanted to play solo stuff like I heard Joe Pass doing in recordings. 

Ted used to remark once in a while how I drove "all the way from Garden Grove" to get to Encino. I worked a full-time job as a diemaker and I was usually the last student of Ted's day as I had to schedule my lessons to miss the massive L.A. traffic gridlock. 

I always took with me my TASCAM 2-Track Syncaset deck, and a microphone and a blank cassette tape. I still have all my Ted Tapes and I've always meant to share them here. I recorded them in kind of a TASCAM Syncaset proprietary way. That tape deck was a real 2-track deck, and one week, I'd record a lesson on track one one week (which I think is the left side of the tape when playing regular store bought cassettes), then another week I'd just rewind that tape and record the next lesson on track 2... the 3rd week I turned the tape over and recorded a lesson on track 1 of side be, and so on...

Sometimes I took a lesson every week, and sometimes it was every-other week, depending on how much time I had to practice at home. When I knew I was going to move out of California, I scheduled a large block of time (seems like 3 hours...). I had always kept the Ted Sheets he gave me in chronological order (I still have kept them all to this day the same way)... so for my last and final lesson, I had Ted do a review of every sheet he had ever given me. I also recorded that review to cassette tape and I still have the tapes. 

Thinking back, I should have worked harder. Many nights it was late and I had worked a long day at the die shop and I was super tired when I got to the lesson. I knew that taking lessons from Ted was something special. I was still kind of young and stupid at the time and I don't think I really knew what it was I was doing as far as how special the opportunity I had was... I was 20-something, now at 50-something if it were today I would have a whole different set of concentration.

I remember parking in the street in front of his apartment building. Then there was a walk along the left side of his building. He was sort of toward the back. A couple knock and there he was. If I had gotten there early there was a small room in the back with a chair where I could wait until it was my turn. 

Back then the only guitar I had was a big fat Norlin-era Gibson Les Paul Artisan (my mom had given it to me as a graduation gift from high school in 1980, and I still have that guitar). The pickups on that guitar are Gibson "Series VII High Output" pickups. Very fat and chunky with lots of bass and mids and very little treble. I strung it up with a jazz set by Dean Markley -- first string was 0.012" gauge. I had been playing with that set of strings since '83-'84. That guitar the way its is built (its 13lbs 6 oz... ouch) and those bassy/middy pups really sounded great playing jazz. Add to that a nice fat set of 12's and it a lot of balls and tones of tone. The neck pickup has always been way louder than the bridge pup, so way back when I can't remember how long ago, I discovered the trick was to sink the neck pickup down into the body deeper than the mounting hardware. That gives me a good balance with the bridge pup, plus it grabs all the juicy harmonics out of all the chords you want to throw at it. It came with one of those "chain saw" cases from the factory.

I had had trouble with the fretboard where it was supposed to be glued on the body. I had returned it to the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo twice (it was one of them still made there) because of the fretboard wanting to peel up off where it meets the body. Finally (through another friend at GIT) I located a luthier in L.A. and he fixed the problem once and for all. Typical Norlin Era crap-o-la. Brand new in 1980 that guitar was $925.60 including tax. I wouldn't change a thing about it because it does what it does remarkably well. Its not a LP Custom, or Standard, and it is what it is. Its NOT a pancake body at least, and typical of Norlin's rush to production the wood is heavy because they didn't wait for proper kiln dry times in their rush. But its my baby and she's going in the coffin with me when I go... no one else will ever be allowed to play this guitar. Its very sentimental to me.

So I'd carry that big heavy case and guitar to the room in the back. I remember dozens and dozens of books. Books laying every which way. Some laying flat on their backs, some stuck in shelves. And in and around the books were guitar cases.

When the luthier was re-working my neck on the LP, Ted let me borrow his '65 Fender Jazzmaster and take it home. I had a gig during that time. I was playing with a small jazz combo out of Orange County and the baseball All--Stars wives had a dinner after the All-Star game and we were the entertainment that year. I played the '65 Jazzmaster at that gig. 

Ted always played his Telecaster at most all my lessons. He showed me a lot of his other guitars over time. I was pretty much addicted to my Les Paul and didn't see the value in all these other guitars. For many years that Les Paul was the only guitar I owned. Ted also used a Fender Deluxe Reverb. 

Something I learned to do with Ted is to tune down my 12's on the guitar to C to C. Then later I went one more step D to D. That Les Paul would take everything I threw at it and come out shining. That type of tuning down gives you a nice full sound when playing solo jazz guitar. But if you're tuned there and go to a rock and roll/blues open mike where the bass player typical doesn't know how to play, and just watches where you put your hands... it'll drive bass players and other guitar guys nuts trying to figure out what you're doing, haha. 

I remember Ted as being a very kind man. Gentle and sometimes exuberant about certain things in an excited way. In about five words I could be completely lost about what it was he was even talking about pertaining to something musical about the guitar. I didn't know theory or modes or any of that. I learned jazz the "Close and Play Record Player" way... My first jazz instructor ever was Robert Conti and he has a "No Modes, No Scales" approach to getting jazz in your hands. ("Jazz guitar instruction from the street, not the classroom.")

Conti is a tough Italian guy who grew up on the streets of Philadelphia and knew Joe Pass personally. (His original spelling to his name is "Conticelli"... Joe Pass's last name was "Passalaqua" in the old country). He didn't go to college to learn music. He went to clubs and watched guys play and asked them questions and didn't learn jazz through "modea and scales." I had not ever been taught modes and such, so when Ted started talking music-speak my brain got kind of dull and I had to ask a lot of questions. And one question's answer could take up an entire lesson. ted was deep. As deep as the Mariana Trench out there beside Guam... I could almost say "bottomless deep"...

I studied with Bob Conti in Jacksonville, FL before he moved to L.A. then later moved to Las Vegas and produced his teaching books and DVDs. Back in the day when (as it was rumored, LOL)... if Bob had told you to string up your guitar with a set that had a wound third, and you kept coming to his lessons with a non-wound third string, he had a set of wire cutters and he'd reach over and chop off your 3rd string... haha... It never happened to me, but that was the rumor. I worked my ass off in Bob Conti's lessons and earned his respect and his friendship. I did everything he told me to do to the letter and practiced his material until my thumb literally was bleeding at times.

Ted always gave me a sheet of paper or more for each lesson. Later I learned we called those "Ted Sheets." I see that some previous student have posted 10-12 or so of them under their name. There may be some duplicates, but I have 55 of them. Most all of them have highlighting Ted did as he was explaining the sheet to me or as it fit the dialog for the lesson.  I'm sure he had standard sheets he gave each student, but I cherish mine and I've long since memorized how many of them there are. I always carried them in a pocket folder with a tiger on the front. When it was my last lesson, I had Ted sign it kind of like (what I told him) was signing a high school year book. He wrote me a nice note and signed it. Now there's a cherished piece of something I will never part with. 

So this is now coming up on 15 years since he passed away. It seems the older I get the faster the days pass. Maybe in a few years it will be my time. 

I think I could add a lot more to this at another time. Right now its slightly past this old man's bed time, so I'm gonna hit "send" and logoff. I think each of us that studied with Ted have a bit oif a story we could tell. Maybe some day someone will interview as many Ted students as possible and publish another Ted Greene themed book. That would be cool... or maybe there is already one out there like that... 


Posts: 266
Reply with quote  #2 
Great storytelling! Please, please, please share your audio of the lessons! It's more valuable than gold to us!
keep the stories coming!

Dmolished = Egads

Posts: 333
Reply with quote  #3 
>...I was 20-something, now at 50-something...Right now its slightly past this old man's bed time...

Thanks for the great post, youngster (compared to some others here who studied directly with Ted).

>Maybe some day someone will interview as many Ted students as possible and publish another Ted Greene themed book.

There are many books worth of material right here on  Welcome!  You can add to your 55 sheets for a very long time, if you want.  And now they include music notation, typing out of what Ted wrote by hand, in addition to exactly what Ted wrote.  You can read some things from other students.  You can listen to audio and watch video of other students' lessons with Ted, and share your own if you like.  You can read the book length explanation of Ted's V-System that I wrote here.  In short, there are volumes of material about all things Ted right here.  Have fun!  Thank you for your contribution above and looking forward to more.

Posts: 197
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for writing jamhandy it's cool to hear the tales [wink], and yeah your audio would be an exciting addition over here too.
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