GEORGE BARNES: THE METHODS contains material (BARNES FOR BEGINNERS and BARNES FOR MASTERS) that has not been commercially available for over 35 years, as well as content that has never before been released — including informal recordings of private lessons with Barnes and a selection of his master students.

A NOTE TO STUDENTS: We understand that guitar students are accustomed to tablature, but George Barnes did not use that device. He taught his students to read music while he taught them technique, in the interest of allowing them to develop the full range of skills required to be professional musicians.


  • Audio recording from Barnes’ first beginners’ method for his company, Taped Instruction International, 1968 (MP3 – 43:34)
  • Audio recording and Instruction Manual from The Great George Barnes Guitar Course, 1971 (MP3 – 2:47:07 – and 88-page PDF manual)
  • Audio recording of private lessons with a prominent San Francisco businessman and amateur guitarist, 1975 (MP3 – 1:29:04)

Audio clip: BARNES METHODS Beginners Intro


BARNES FOR MASTERS             $149

  • My Students’ Favorite Chord Solos – 10 pieces (MP3s and PDF lead sheets)
  • My Students’ Favorite Duets – 10 pieces (MP3s and PDF lead sheets)
  • Audio recording and first draft (in Barnes’ hand) of My Approach to the Advanced Study of the Guitar and first draft of Improvisation: My In-Depth Analysis (MP3 – 9:02 – and PDF)
  • Audio recordings of private lessons with three professional Bay Area guitarists, 1975-1977 (MP3s – 2:32:07)


GBLC Approach

You may purchase BARNES FOR BEGINNERS and BARNES FOR MASTERS separately — or you can save $50 by purchasing the complete package for $199


“George Barnes was a consummate musician — guitarist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer, performer — and (with the exception of Lady Winters, the piano teacher with whom he studied when he was 4), he was completely self-taught. In the last ten years of his life, he became an extraordinary teacher, and came to cherish that role as much as he loved creating music.

I was his student for 23 years, from the instant I was born until the moment he died. He taught me to love baseball, to hail a cab in Manhattan, to make great Tex-Mex chili, to do the times table in my head, to drive a car, to laugh.

He taught me to recognize the difference between mediocrity and excellence — in music, and in life.

He was an inveterate perfectionist. The quote for which he’s best known — ‘If you don’t make any mistakes, there won’t be any.’ — reflects his expectations in the studio and on the stage, and he considered them to be reasonable and within reach of any professional musician.

But when it came to those of us who came to learn, he only expected from us a passion for the music and progress in our work. He inspired us with his unwavering commitment.

Being his daughter was, for the most part, a joy. He adored fatherhood, he loved being a husband, he was extraordinarily happy in his little family. We gave him a place to be grounded and playful.

Being his student was another story; it was more intimidating to me than if I were sitting with a president or a monarch — because in his realm, he was a king. My feelings of intimidation were my own concoction; as an instructor, mentor and co-creator, he was always kind, respectful and patient — and endlessly supportive of my musical pursuits.

I own the Guild M20 acoustic guitar the company’s president, Al Dronge, had asked my father to endorse as the ideal student guitar. Dad gave it to me when I graduated high school and began my own musical career. Every professional guitarist I’ve ever known has coveted that 3/4 guitar, for its easy action and its beautiful, unexpectedly rich, tone. Some have admitted they also wanted it because it had belonged to George Barnes.

I never wanted to follow in my father’s guitarist footsteps, but I did get to walk alongside him as a singer, composer, and performer. We’d demoed several of my original songs over the years, and were planning our first album when he died suddenly; cruel timing. I had learned to accompany myself well enough to solo, and I did continue to sing and write songs after he was gone, but ultimately moved in other creative directions.

In preparing this material for The George Barnes Legacy Collection, I’ve been transported back to my early teens, when Dad was creating the beginners’ course for budding singer-songwriters like me. I listen to his clear instruction, remember his encouragement, and notice a simmering desire to open the guitar case again, pull out the M20, and make music.

I hope these recordings do the same for you.” -Alexandra Barnes Leh


“My Students’ Favorites were the last notes he recorded, less than 24 hours before he died. Created for his Bay Area students, he was also preparing a personalized mail order system for remote guitarists who were ready to hone their craft at a professional level. It was a natural progression from the beginners’ methods he’d produced in 1971, and was meant to develop a one-to-one relationship between Dad and guitarists around the world, many of whom he’d met over the years, during his tours of Europe and Asia. He was so excited the night he finished the masters, and was taking a break with me and Mom before transcribing the arrangements. It wasn’t to be…but, when my mother was asked to fulfill the wishes of several guitarists who’d been looking forward to learning Dad’s chord solos and duets, she enlisted the aid of Greg Hofmann, a fine professional musician based in San Francisco who’d been studying with my father for two years. Greg did an impeccable copying job of which Dad would be proud.” -Alexandra Barnes Leh

“George was a natural teacher. Always positive, stressing what you could do. A sensitive and discriminating ear, he knew what you need to learn far better than you yourself did. You learned not just guitar or voice or whatever you were studying with him but musicianship, professionalism, the right way to do things, from preparing lead sheets to conducting recording sessions to handling temperamental sidemen – you name it. George shared himself totally. It was his delight and good pleasure to give you what he knew. He had no secrets; there was no holding back. No guarding certain hot licks that were his alone. He funneled himself into you, explored your strengths, and gave you what you needed most, along with a generous amount of positive encouragement…” -Greg Hofmann


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