I first came across Scott Grove while searching for some guitar parts on eBay. I quickly realized he’s got quite a business going selling guitar lessons in dvd and instant downloads. After viewing some of his promotional videos for his lessons, I wanted to learn more about him and asked him to share some his thoughts and experience in learning guitar.
If you’ve seen his videos, you know that he is quite candid and opinionated about his methods for learning guitar. His method is derived from 20+ years of performing on some of the biggest stages throughout the USA and Canada. He figured out how to play guitar for himself because the internet and tabs didn’t exist(not that it would have mattered, because he hates tablature … but more on that later) as it does now at the time and traditional lessons frustrated him.
Following his heavy gigging days, he decided to check out what available for guitar and found that there was nothing new and actually useful, so he created his own. He first started his guitar lesson business on ebay, the lessons sold quickly and he thought he could make a go of it. The business grew quickly and he’s never looked back. He’s even taken requests for videos from customers and he says he’s committed to delivering what are by far the best bang for the buck videos anywhere out there.
I think you’ll find Scott’s background, his take on learning guitar, and why he says tablature sucks, very interesting so check out his interview …
Interview with Scott Grove
1. You run a successful video lesson business on ebay … Can you tell us a little bit about the history of it and your experiences with it?
SG: Sure thing my friend. I did a couple of lessons many years ago (before the internet) and simply sold them in Indianapolis, IN, where I’m from. I just sold a few via VHS. I was one of the local celebrity players there. I went on the road for 25 years with many national country artists, after I had my fill of that, I moved just outside of Las Vegas, NV. I was cleaning out some stuff that I had in storage for all those years and ran across the old VHS copies of those lessons.
I was currently a shift manager and bartender at a local casino and was so very sick of that. So, finding those old tapes sparked a little something in me that made me want to simply film them again with an old video camera that hadn’t sold the week before on eBay. Lol So, I put the videos on just blank, no name DVDs and simply wrote, in black Sharpie, what the title of the video was, charged $19.95 each for them and tossed them on eBay for fun. Those things took off like crazy. I couldn’t believe it.
When I researched the available lessons out there, they were the same lessons that never taught me a thing 30 years earlier. They are STILL selling those same videos today. I made a few more videos really fast and was able to quit that job in a matter of a month after I sold my first one.
They honestly took off that quickly. Then the modern day recession hit, I lowered my prices to $9.95 to make sure that everybody could afford them. Then I put up a couple of sites, offered them as ROM videos, PC and MAC downloads etc. and as package deals. It’s been nuts since. I’m still a one man operation and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had offers to make it bigger, do pro video shoots, pro packaging etc. but that would just mean raising the prices and I refuse to do that.
Everything is perfect the way it is. What really made this all great is the fact that I was able to entertain requests for different videos in the beginning. That gave me a REAL feel of what people really wanted and needed. Today, I spend every waking moment filling orders and answering emails and You Tube help questions. So, the days of requests are pretty much behind me, but all that got me to where I am today, and that is over a million videos sold. I feel like the sign at McDonalds saying that. lol
2. What drove you to develop your own method of playing lead guitar and understanding of how the fretboard works as you discuss in your “Learn Electric Lead Guitar” video lesson?
SG: That whole lesson, in particular, was a dare. Someone (a true skeptic), bet that I couldn’t teach anybody how to play lead guitar without teaching scales and theory etc. I had that video done and in the can and up for sale the very next day. Lol
There is no reason on earth to let garbage like scale practicing get in your way of making great music. I simply decided to go with the chord shapes that everybody was already familiar with and just build on that and EVERYBODY has written in and said that they have learned more from that video than they have in the past 10 years with any other method, instructor, just anything on the market.
So, don’t dare me to do anything because I’ll make it happen and make you look like a fool. Plus, I’m just the kind of guy that really loves to do that to people. I’ll say right now that 95% of all players that have taken lessons in their life have been taught incorrectly and are concentrating on things that simply keep them at the music store, buying sheet music or TAB paper, being coaxed into buying instruments on a daily basis at the store etc.
I refuse to teach in person at music stores. I will not cheat people out of their money and force them to learn the garbage that keeps them coming back year after year. I want them to learn as fast as possible so that they don’t need me any longer. There’s a reason that it’s called PLAYING guitar and not SLAVING OVER THE GUITAR. Lol This is supposed to be fun. It simply isn’t for most people.
3. I know your disgust for tablature, but why do you think that tabs has become so popular these days, is it due to the ease of access and the idea of instant gratification with trying to play your favorite song?
SG: You’ve got that right. TABs are the worst thing to have ever been invented. The reason they are popular is because people have become lazy. Plain and simple. Most TAB junk is put out there by a beginner that doesn’t know the song anyway, so people are learning it wrong.
You have the Internet to thank for this mess. Sheet music from the music store is the same way. Nearly ALWAYS wrong. It sickens me. People can not develop a playing style by READING, they have to LEARN to play, learn by making mistakes (not the mistakes on the TABs), but the mistakes that makes them think their way through the process of learning theory on their own. If they are spoon fed everything, they will never appreciate it. I fully believe that TABs are the single worst thing that any musician can add to their learning journey.
I refuse to give TABs to my students and they thank me BIG TIME after they see why. I will fight anybody to the death over this subject. I believe in this that much. TABs will kill any chance of you putting anything out that sounds like YOU and not like somebody sitting there reading a chart. There is no soul, no pride, no skill in TABs. They Suck!
4. Musical preference aside, are their any current working guitarists that you consider great and why?
SG: I don’t listen to other musicians and I don’t listen to the radio at all. I’ve heard some Brad Paisley stuff on occasion via riding with other people to a gig. He seems to be the hot guy these days and his style makes me grin when I hear him because he throws all of the rules, scales, coloring inside the lines etc. out the window and you can hear the mockery in his playing. He’s often making fun of the style that he’s playing and you can tell exactly what he’s doing if you have an ear for country guitar.
Being a great country player like that is much more difficult to pull off than anything else by far. That guy has talent and a sense of humor in real life and in his playing that is unmatched by anybody else in the business. I think that folks of all genres should listen to him and just bask in everything that TABs can’t do for you. You take a real musical ride when you truly listen to Brad play. Just incredible.
5. From your business bio, I read that you first picked up a guitar when you were 9, who or what music inspired you to do so? And how long did it take you to get to a competent guitarist?
SG: Yes, 9 was the age. I took the horrible guitar lessons that everyone’s parents think that their kids are supposed to take. I never learned to play a single chord in those 3 years. Just melody lines to songs that I had never heard of.
I hooked up with a drummer at my little, hick Junior High school in the 7th grade, he showed me a barre chord and the rest is history. We started playing clubs 6-7 nights a week 3 days after my 13th birthday and that band stayed together for 15 years, traveled the world backing up dozens and dozens of the worlds biggest stars and always opened the shows for them as well. What a great way to grow up!
6. Was there a particular concept , technique, or moment in your journey that benefited your playing the most?
SG: Pedal steel guitar emulation without a doubt. I started playing pedal steel early on. It became too much to drag around with all of the other guitars etc. that have to be put in a single bus dragging a trailer behind it. So, I started making those sounds on my guitar using the volume pedal, figured out that the compressor/sustainer was a MUST also to make this happen etc. So, in order to pull off TRUE pedal steel style licks on a 6 string guitar, really makes you think.
Then that volume pedal becomes a permanent part of your right foot, the Boss CS-3 never, ever, ever gets shut off, it’s pegged wide open, maximum squash all the time and there’s just no sound like it. It’s pure heaven. So, NOT taking the pedal steel to along on all of the tours was the best thing to happen to my guitar playing without a doubt. It really made me think. Again…no TABs. lol
7. For adults that don’t have 10 hours a day locked in their room to practice, what do recommend they focus on in order to play some popular song and maybe make up a few of their own?
SG: That’s an easy one. The Nashville Number System and how to apply it. They can learn how that works in under an hour, from that, they can figure out ANY song and it also teaches them what chords will and will not work in an ear friendly progression.
There is not one single thing in the world that will do more for anybody’s understanding of how a song is formed than to understand The Nashville Number System. 99% of the people reading this will not have a clue as to what I’m talking about. That is why they are taking FOREVER to get a real grasp of the guitar, figuring out songs on their OWN, and writing their own songs. TABs can’t teach you these kinds of things.
This is the REAL secret to it all. Hands down, no doubts. Even though folks will read this, they still will not go learn it. It’s because of the word NASHVILLE. It doesn’t mean it’s a country thing. This is a life changing event here kiddies and you will be making the biggest mistake by not listening to this particular part of the interview. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.
8. What are the most common questions that you receive from people that want help learning guitar? Are there common themes with people worrying about learning stuff they shouldn’t be?
SG: It always comes down to the “SCALES” thing. People need to STOP practicing scales. People need to learn how to play the guitar and have fun, put themselves into it and stop copying other players. Guitar heroes are probably the worst thing a person can have. I advise people to stop idolizing other players. Sure, let them be influential, but don’t become a clone, grabbing the same gear etc. and expecting to sound just like them. 90% of your tone is in your fingers, not in your gear.
So, my advice would be to turn off anything that allows you to copy music from someone else and work on playing the guitar by trial and error. I would rather people did that over taking any kind of lessons (including mine). They will get much more from that than anything else. Grab a hand full of generic backing tracks and drum tracks and lock yourself in your practice place and make all the mistakes you can. You learn more from those than you do by playing scales all day long. Nobody has ever made it big by playing nothing but scales on their album. I wouldn’t go to see that. I’d pay to hear someone with heart in their playing. If they don’t have that, I’m not interested.
9. Do you think it’s important for guitarist to be conscious of developing their own sound? How do you go about this?
SG: 100% and read the above. Lol Stop listening to other players and trying to emulate them. It’s been done already. Don’t be a clone. I live near Las Vegas, do you know just how many Elvis wanna be’s there are here? It’s sickening and most of them believe that they are Elvis. They are truly mental in that capacity. So, don’t let this happen to you. People should be inspired by you, not the other way around.