STG 048: Fretboard Theory – Interview With Desi Serna

The Start Teaching Guitar PodcastAre you tired of not having a good understanding of music theory, as a player and a teacher? It’s hard to teach these things to your students when you’re still struggling with them yourself…but that doesn’t have to be problem for you any more!

In this episode I’ll be interviewing Desi Serna, a very successful guitar teacher, author and online entrepreneur. We’ll be talking about the best ways to approach music theory for the guitar, how to understand and teach the modes of the major scale, how to unlock the fretboard using the CAGED system, and a whole lot more.

Also, for STG All-Access members only, I have an extra interview segment not available in the free edition that goes in-depth on how to understand and use the modes of the major scale!

To call in with a question, a comment or to leave feedback for the show, call the Listener Feedback Hotline at (719) 428-5480 and leave a message! I just might include your recorded message in a future episode.

Items Mentioned In This Episode:

Link – Desi Serna’s Website
Book – “Fretboard Theory” by Desi Serna
Link – Licensed Guitar Tabs from
Link – Licensed Guitar Tabs from

Podcast Transcript

Okay, in this episode, I’ll be interviewing Desi Serna. Desi is the Author of Fretboard Theory and four DVD programs that teach guitar players about music theory, the guitar fretboard, plus scales, chords, progressions, modes, and more.

Desi honed his craft in over 10 thousand hours of private guitar lessons and classes. He also traveled around and played music live professionally for 14 years. This experience taught Desi about what music people like to hear and how people learn guitar. Today, the Desi Serna Guitar Theory Book and DVD Program is a big hit with guitar players who want a practical, hands-on approach to music theory that focuses specially on the guitar fretboard and popular guitar songs.

And just as a side note, I’ve purchased a bunch of Desi’s materials myself and I think they’re great. They’ve been a great learning tool for me, and I can definitely recommend them for any guitar teacher out there, who’s listening, who wants to learn more about music theory in a way that’s easy to understand and implement in your own playing. So, you can find out more about Desi and his Music Theory products for the guitar by visiting

Donnie: So, I just want to say Hi Desi, and welcome to the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast.

Desi: Hi Donnie, and thanks for having me.

Donnie: Yeah, it’s great that we were able to put this together. I think you have a lot of great information that you can share with my audience of guitar teachers here today. So, to start things off, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your background as a musician and as a guitar teacher in particular?

Desi: Well, I think you covered a lot of it. You know, I would say that I’m primarily self-taught. I don’t have a formal education, although I did take some University classes here and there, often just asking the instructor if I could just show up and take the class without receiving credit so that I didn’t have to pay for it and some of them let me do that actually. But I primarily am self-taught, but of course studying from a lot of materials. I mean, my gosh, I used to bring home stacks of books from the library on music and guitar playing, and countless DVD programs, and of course learned tons and tons of songs.

So, I studied and practiced quite a bit, drawing on work from other authors and publishers that had a little bit more education credentials than I have. I started teaching in 1995, and playing gigs. You know, started at coffee shops, playing core melody-style guitar and eventually realized that if I wanted to make more money and if I wanted to have more exciting gigs, I needed to sing and be in a band and be in bigger clubs. So, I pursued that and gigged three to five nights a week for years and years. I live in the Toledo, Ohio area, and so I mainly traveled around Ohio and Michigan. The Detroit area has a lot of entertainment and there were a lot of opportunities for me to play up there. Worked through some agencies that booked a lot of gigs for me. And I taught guitar lessons the whole time.

Donnie: Okay. Well, that’s cool. It sounds like you’ve got a very extensive background, and that’s actually a great tip that you mentioned about auditing the college classes. That’s something I’d never thought about, but I come from a similar background. I’m primarily self-taught and I’m actually a music school dropout after one semester. But that’s something that a lot of people could probably take advantage of; is just to go up and ask, and see if they can just sit in on the class for free.

Desi: Yeah. And if they can’t do that, you know, a lot of these professors often give private lessons on the side anyway, so you can still receive a lot of the same instruction or you can find a graduate that teaches.

Donnie: Yeah, that’s a great piece of advise there. So, I mean that’s a great segway into my next question, because being self-taught just seems interesting to me that now you’re primarily known for your focus on music theory. So, what is it that inspired you to actually focus on music theory for guitar?

Desi: Well, you know, I studied. I took some music theory classes, and it was difficult for me to see the connection to guitar playing or, perhaps more specifically, to popular music. You know, like most guitar players, I’m listening to rock music and popular styles. You know? The kind of music that you’d hear on Top 40 and Classic Rock radio stations. I wasn’t really listening to bebop jazz or classical music, but so much of the music theory information and so much of the instruction is really geared to a more formal, traditional approach. And I guess, over time, I kind of figured out exactly how all that information applies to popular music and guitar playing, and changed my approaches as a teacher.

Initially I had tried using a more traditional approach to guitar teaching, even using Mel Bay books, which are good. They’re great for learning how to sight-read and learning some skills, but most guitar players just want to learn how to play guitar and play popular songs, maybe even make up their own music or compose. They’re not really interested in sight-reading, or certainly sight-reading like a concert violinist. That’s just not why they picked up the instrument. So, you know, I just began to just kind of examine what was really going through my mind when I was playing songs and, you know, what was I really relying upon to kind of navigate the fretboard and understand music? And I started teaching this to my students, and of course it became a big hit.

I had a very successful teaching business. You know, I typically would teach 40 students a week, and then I was also doing some group lessons and classes in addition to that. And then, just kind of over time, I realized that this approach works and it’s really needed, and it really fits the needs of guitar players better than a lot of the traditional stuff that was available. So, you know, my book, Fretboard Theory. I titled it that because guitar players want to understand music, you know? They want to understand music theory, but really, in most cases, what they’re really interested in is they just want to understand their guitar and they want to understand guitar-oriented music.

So, I decided that something was needed that really focused specifically on a guitarist’s perspective and focused specially on guitar-oriented popular music, which is why, you know, if you take a look at my book, I have song references throughout the whole book. I talk about Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton, because I realized that’s what people are listening to, that’s how they want to play, and that’s what they’re interested in. So, my whole approach became teaching theory specifically as it pertains to guitar playing and those popular styles of music.

Donnie: Well, that’s awesome. I mean I think your background from being self-taught and coming from the perspective of someone who’s not a classically-trained musician, I think that’s one of the things that makes your material so good, because you’re basically coming from the same perspective that someone like me or a lot of people in our audience might be coming from that really want to learn music theory for the practical purposes of what it can bring to our guitar playing, but doesn’t necessarily want to dive into all the world of classical music and all of that stuff.

Desi: Yeah, exactly.

Donnie: Yeah, so that’s awesome. And kind of just following along that same line of conversation there, let’s get a little more specific. So, if someone is basically a self-taught guitarist, like myself and a lot of other people that are listening here, without much knowledge of music theory or maybe someone that’s kind of just learning about this stuff, what pieces of it do you recommend that they would learn first? I guess what I’m wondering is what’s going to give someone the biggest return in their playing and their teaching for the time investment that they put in.

Desi: There are a couple places you can start. You know, for guitar players, guitar players need to learn like the pentatonic scale. I mean it’s just so common in guitar-oriented music, especially classic rock and blues, which are two of the most popular styles of music among guitar players. You know, major scale patterns are used too. I’m kind of thinking myself through this. Perhaps I could’ve had a more organized answer, but let me just back up and say that major scale patterns and pentatonic patterns for sure.

Donnie: Right.

Desi: I mean there’s all different types of scales that can be played in music, but the reality is, is that the majority of guitar riffs and solos and baselines and melodies that you hear in popular music is based on either a major scale pattern or pentatonic patterns. So, it’s just real important for guitar players to learn how to play those scales. And although the pentatonic is technically derived from the major scale and it might make more sense to learn the major scale first, I usually have people learn the pentatonic patterns first, just because they’re simpler, they’re easier to play, and there are so many symbol pentatonic riffs that technically aren’t very challenging.

So, from a playing perspective, it kind of makes more sense to start with those patterns. And once you develop a bit of skill, then you could move on to full major scale patterns, which just require a bit more work to learn and memorize and use. And speaking of the major scale, guitar players really need to understand how chords are built from it. You know, triads and how you get the harmonized major scale with the chord that’s built from the first scale degree being major and then the second is minor and the third is minor, and so on. You know, that is perhaps the most important foundational concept in all of music; is understanding basic chord construction and the harmonized major scale.

Chord progressions and playing by numbers. That’s what I call it. You know? I mean if you don’t know what a one-chord, five-chord progression is, you know, you’re in trouble, because that’s just so common. That’s just so essential to know that.

Donnie: Right. Yeah, that’s definitely something that can give you a lot of mileage. Being able to play by ear and learn and perform songs more quickly and easily for sure.

Desi: Yeah. And then, as you learn other things, you know, they all stem from something more foundational. I remember early on, before I had sorted all this stuff out, you know, I just had this grand idea that: “Man, I’m going to learn how to play outside the box. I’m going to learn how to play something that’s totally out there. Learn something really jazzy or weird.”  You know, I don’t know. And of course it was all over my head and I didn’t get it. It just took time for me to realize that in order to play something complicated, you need to understand the more simple and foundational building blocks that it’s made from.

So, understanding basic chord construction and progressions and playing by numbers is really going to set the foundation so that guitar players can explore other things. Modes, for example. Modes is a topic that is really important because all music is in a mode, whether people realize it or not, but it’s a topic that really causes a tremendous amount of confusion. And one of the reasons for that is because guitar players never learn the more foundational aspects of music that the modal concept stems from.

So, I used to have guitar players come to me all the time and say, “I want to learn modes.” I’m like: “All right. Well, you know, have you learned major scale patterns yet?” “Well, no, but I want to learn modes.” You know? “Okay. Well, do you understand how a chord progression works, you know?” “Well, no, but I want to learn modes.” And it’s like: “Okay, you’ve got to back up because modes is really putting different pieces together.”

Donnie: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s kind of hard to understand the concept of modes if you don’t have the major scale down at least first. Right?

Desi: Yeah, I mean I tell people. At the beginning of my Modes DVD and I think also at the beginning of the chapter, I tell them: “Look, you have to learn your major scale patterns and you need to understand chord progressions and playing by numbers first. Otherwise you’re wasting your time. So, go learn those things, and then come back and I’ll teach you modes in a real clear and easy way that you’ll understand, and it’ll finally click and you’ll go: “Oh, I get it now.” You know?

Donnie: Yeah. So, you recommend using songs as the foundation for learning theory, in your materials, which is kind of the opposite of the traditional way people approach it. Usually they’ll throw the concepts at you first, and then use songs to illustrate it. But speaking of songs, one of the common questions I hear a lot is related to the copyright laws and using song tabs and charts, and things like that, both in guitar lessons with your students and using them for yourself. So, there’s probably a lot of different answers to this question that people might offer, but in your opinion, how can guitar teachers use written notation without getting into any kind of legal trouble?

Desi: That’s a great question. Let me back up, if I may, and just respond to something you said earlier.

Donnie: Okay.

Desi: About how, you know, my approach is almost as if I’m starting with the songs and then teaching the theory as opposed to the other way around, where you would teach the theory first and then relate it to songs. Actually, the majority of music theory instruction out there teaches the theory without making really any attempt to connect it to something practical or recognizable, unfortunately. You know? That’s one of the most frustrating things, I think, for guitar players. You go get a book on scales and it’s like: “Well, here’s this scale and here’s this scale and here’s this scale. Okay. Well, what do you do with it?” And unfortunately, most of the books just don’t tell you. They don’t even say, “Hey, Purple Haze is the pentatonic scale.” You know?

Donnie: Right.

Desi: That was one of the big things that I always emphasized on my lessons. One of the major things that make my books and videos so unique is that I never teach anything without giving people as many recognizable examples as I can. And I might add a little bit more to that since we’re on this too. I’m working with an editor on a new version of Fretboard Theory Volume II. Great guy, and he has a very traditional, formal background. And as I’ve presented some things in the book, he’s pointed out. He says, “You know, this isn’t typically how you would present it. Normally you would teach these things along with it,” and I would explain to him, “I know that. However, those other things just don’t come up in guitar music.” You know?

So, his comment was that he really felt like some of my chapters were a little disorganized, like I was taking bits and pieces from different studies of music and putting them together in an order that he typically wouldn’t see them, and I had to explain to him: “Exactly.” What I’m doing is I’m picking that information that is relevant to a guitar player and leaving most of the other stuff out, you know, basically.

Donnie: Yeah.

Desi: As far as copyright, you know, I’m not an expert on copyright law, but I do know that technically you don’t have the right to reproduce and sell copyrighted music. And I don’t do that. I have a lot of song references in my book and DVD, but I don’t actually teach the songs. So, you know, I’ll teach, for example, E minor pentatonic scale patterns, and then I’ll tell the reader that Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix uses E minor pentatonic, you know, and give them some examples. And I might talk a little bit about the song. You know, I’ll say that it’s centered E minor pentatonic patterns four and three. That’s the way, I think, typically most guitar players would play it.

So, I might talk about how the scale is used in the song, but I don’t actually notate the song because I can’t do that, because it’s copyrighted. I do have some free tab on my website that I giveaway. I’ve uploaded videos of me playing through a lot of songs on YouTube, which those videos really make for good companion studying materials to my book. And technically, there are some copyright issues with that. You know, I mean technically you’re not supposed to have a live performance of a copyrighted song on YouTube. I mean we all know that, but everybody does it and I’m not actually selling that content. So, I think it’s kind of a different situation.

I hope nobody would take my advice without consulting with someone that’s really an expert on this, but I don’t actually reproduce or sell any copyrighted material. I just talk about it and teach it. And my videos too, I might reference a song and I’ll just play a little bit in the style of that song, but I’m not actually performing that song and I’m certainly not printing the sheet music.

Donnie: Right. Yeah, and we’re definitely not intellectual property attorneys or copyright lawyers, or anything like that. It’s just something that a lot of guitar teachers deal with because a lot of people use. They’ll print tabs and charts off of the Internet to use in lessons, and things like that, and I kind of like your approach. I mean what I’ve typically done is I’ll email the student a link to it or I’ll just pull it up on my laptop in a lesson, and without printing it or reproducing it, we’ll just kind of use the website tab for the lesson. And then I’ll email them a link later, and that kind of takes me out of the equation as a teacher.

Desi: Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s difficult too. I mean how do you police a guitar player writing something by hand in a private lesson, you know?

Donnie: Yeah.

Desi: In a little studio somewhere up in the mountains in Colorado, right? You know?

Donnie: Right.

Desi: It’s kind of hard for people to track someone like you down, and then, you know, how are you going to collect? I understand that, by law, technically they would have grounds to do so legally, but realistically, I mean guitar players have been writing out songs by hand or even printing songs now off a computer and sharing them, and it’s kind of difficult to police.

By the way, I’m a big supporter of actual legal guitar music and tab. And I always encourage my students. I say, “Look, there’s lots of free stuff floating around the Internet and it can be very useful and helpful, but there’s also quite a bit to be gained from looking at a complete, accurate transcription of the song.” You know? So, once my students got to a point where they were really able to start learning songs in more depth as opposed to just learning simplified versions of them – you know, strung key chords along with the song, that sort of thing -, I would often have them buy a tab book for an artist that they really liked. You know?

So, if they were a big Dave Matthews’ fan, I would say, “Okay. Well, why don’t you order one of his tab books and I’ll walk you through it, and I’ll show you how you can start learning this stuff on your own from a tab book,” and I also promote Music Notes and Sheet Music Plus, and a lot of these online websites, where you can download individual tabs, which is really nice. You know, you play a dollar or two, or something. You can just purchase and download one song. In many cases, at least for me personally, you know what. It’s worth paying an extra few bucks to get something that’s complete and accurate than it is to wave through all the free stuff on the Internet, which often is just incomplete, sometimes totally inaccurate.

Donnie: Right. So, yeah, I’ll go ahead and put some links in the show notes to Sheet Music Plus and a few other sites that some of my listeners can check out for more info about that. And just to shift gears again, we’ve been talking about a lot of good stuff. Before we wrap things up, I want to talk a little bit more about the theory stuff. So, what do you think is the missing link that keeps a lot of guitar players from really unlocking the fretboard and understanding how music on the guitar really works?

Desi: What is the missing link? Well, you know, there are different perspectives, which are okay, which is fine. Some people are blessed with, you know, a really great ear and they just hear everything and seem to know where everything is at. You know? That’s probably where most of our, you know, beloved guitar heroes are. I mean someone like Eddie Van Halen is just so incredibly talented and just blessed with these amazing innate musical instincts that I don’t think it really mattered whether he studies or not. But for the rest of us, well, I think it comes down to some basic things. You know, I mentioned learn some scale patterns. Understand how guitar players use pentatonic and major scale patterns. You’ve got to learn chord progressions and playing by numbers.

The caged system is pretty big too. I teach the caged chord system. I know that some people have kind of devised some other systems that they apply caged to. They have like caged scale systems and that sort of thing. There may be some value to that, but when I use the word caged, I’m referring to the system where any type of chord shape that you would play in a fretboard can be traced back to one of five basic chord forms. C, A, G, E, or D, hence the name caged. And each one of those forms, which we would normally play and think of it as being in the open position. Well, each one of those could actually be turned into a bar chord. Some are obvious, like moving an E or an A form up. Your common guitar chords that guitar players use, which you could actually move up a G or a C form. It is a little bit more difficult and awkward. They don’t work as well as the E and A forms. However, those chord forms are still used all the time on the guitar. They’re just not used in their entire. They’re used in pieces, which is much easier to play.

So, when you learn that caged system, it really helps you understand all of these different types of chord shapes that guitar players play on the fretboard. All of a sudden, you begin to see where they come from, and it’s just easy for you to kind of keep track of them.

Donnie: Right.

Desi: That helps. And then the other thing is just learn lots of song. You know, you don’t want to just learn a scale pattern or a chord shape from a diagram in a book and leave it at that. The more songs you learn as you study the theory, the more that things click and go together, and you understand everything in musical context.

Donnie: Yeah, definitely. I would agree with that for sure. It does give you context for all these seemingly unrelated concepts that you’re learning. And also, just want to say I’ve checked out several different courses and books, and you know, things like that, referencing the caged system. I’ve done things like Fretboard Logic and a lot of other products, and I really do think that the way that you present it on your DVDs and in the book is one of the best methods out there for learning it.

Desi: Thank you. Yeah, you know, I think that what’s his name – Bill Edwards, from Fretboard Logic. I think he did a great job of introducing the system and explaining to guitar players, “Look, you know, this idea that you get a chord book with thousands of individual of diagrams, and that’s how you’re going to learn chords. That’s not how it works on the guitar.” You know? You want to learn the basic forms from which all these other ones stem. You don’t need a poster with a chord chart on it. You don’t need a book with thousands and thousands of diagrams. When you understand where chords stem from, then you understand how to make them on your own.

So, he was spot-on for that, and then I just took that further. Instead of just teaching the chord forms, I would show people all the different ways that you can break it up. And actually, the caged chapter, in my book, is the largest chapter in the book. There’s so much you can do with the caged system. Most people think: “Oh, caged. C, A, G, E, and D chord. Got it. What’s the point? Do I really need to study more?” You can take it so much farther than that and, you know, I have tons and tons of examples of how those forms are moved around, how they’re played as inversions, how you can create different fingering or chord voicing. And of course I’m referencing songs all throughout it, so I’m saying, “If you ever wondered where those chord shapes from Stairway to Heaven came from, here’s how you can trace it back to the caged forms,” or Tears in Heaven is another good example of some chord shapes, where most guitar players really would not be able to make any sense of some of those chord shapes. And then they learn the caged system and they’re like: “Oh, I get it now. It seems to simple.”

So, yeah I really try to take things a lot farther from where Fretboard Logic, for example, starts and really tie it into the music the guitar players are trying to play so that they understand it completely, and they’re applying it and they’re using it.

Donnie: Very cool. So, as we’re kind of wrapping things up here, we already mentioned some of your products, but you’ve created several different resources to help guitar players learn this stuff. So, could you just briefly tell us a little bit about the things that you’re offering on your website?

Desi: Yeah. I think you mentioned you’ve got a URL setup that people can visit, and that’ll take them to my site. You know, I sell books and videos of course, but I have a lot of great free resources too. I also have a podcast that’s on iTunes. It’s very popular. And I went through quite a bit of the instruction in my book and video, and it’s there to listen to it and it’s free. I have tons of videos on YouTube. I ended up using YouTube to do some of the things that I couldn’t do in the book in the videos. For example, actually teach some parts from songs. You know, I can’t reprint and sell that, but I thought: “Well, I’ll at least make a free YouTube video.”

And I have a blog, and I’m always posting to my blog. And you know, people might send me a question and ask me about, you know, “Hey, what key is this Hart song in,” or something like that. So, I’ll analyze it and do a little quick lesson on it and post it, so people can definitely search my blog. And I have a forum with lots of questions and answers posted. So, they just follow that link that you’ve provided to my website, and then they can kind of poke around from there and there’s links to YouTube and my podcast. And of course, I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and that sort of thing, posting stuff and answering questions and responding to comments.

Donnie: Great. Yeah, and just for the record, that link is And that’ll take you directly to Desi’s homepage, where you can check all those resources out. So, I have one last question for you, Desi.

Desi: Yeah.

Donnie: So, with all your experience as a guitar teacher, this is just a question I like to ask everyone that I interview. What would be your biggest piece of advice for other guitar teachers that are out there teaching today?

Desi: Biggest piece of advice. Well, it would have two parts. Number one: if you’re going to get into guitar teaching seriously, it has to be something that you really want to do and you have a passion for, which I certainly did and still do. That’s why, you know, I post my materials now. A lot of guitar players kind of get into teaching by default. You know? They’re a guitar player, but they don’t want to get a real job or they need some sort of income, and so they think: “All right. Well, I’ll charge people to teach the guitar.”

But the truth is, is they don’t really have a true desire or passion for teaching. And you’ve got to have that. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and you’re wasting your student’s time. And then the second half of that would be that you have to understand that it’s about the student and it’s about you, as a teacher, meeting the needs of your students and making the lessons, you know, enjoyable and fulfilling for them. You know? You don’t want to be that guitar player that is always trying to impose your interests on your students or trying to make the lesson more enjoyable for you than the student. You know?

So, I guess that’s my advice. If you really don’t have a true desire to teach and help people out, you think: “I just need to make some money,” maybe it’s not something you should get involved in. If you do get involved, you know, you want to be. I used to get excited about basically, you know, making my students happy. If I had a student that came to me and said, “I have to be honest. I don’t listen to music, except for Nirvana. I am obsessed with Nirvana, and that’s all I care about; is Nirvana.” Then I would be like: “You know what. Fine. Plenty to work with here. You know, we’ll start with some simple power chords and stuff. We’ll have some fun with it,” and I actually really liked being able to give students what they really wanted. You know?

And by the way, many of those students, after you kind of satisfied their initial desire, those interests that drew them to the instrument in the first place, you can often them introduce them to new things or they’ll start asking about new things. You know? Okay, we’ve done so much Nirvana now. You know, who’s this Eric Clapton guy? So, I had a lot of students that, initially, other instructors might have been a little frustrated working with, but I said, “You know what. I’m just going to go with it and I’m just going to cater to their needs right now,” and it ended up blossoming into great students and doing very well. So, I always really enjoyed that part of the teaching process and working with people like that. And if that’s not something you can really enjoy, you know, if you’re one of those people where you’re obsessed with your music and your style of playing, and you want to decide what people should and shouldn’t learn, things may not work out so well for you.

Donnie: Yeah, exactly. I talk about that on this podcast all the time. About how it’s not about you. You know, when you’re a teacher, it’s totally about what your students want to learn. And you know, there’s a degree where you have to direct that because they obviously don’t know what they don’t know, but if it’s not tied to their goals and their desires, and the music and the songs that they like, they’re just not going to get really good results, studying with you. So, that’s great advice.

Desi: Yeah. And you know, you also have to be realistic and understand that the majority of your students are just playing guitar because it’s just a hobby. It’s just kind of a side interest, you know? They don’t necessarily aspire to be as great as you or take it as seriously as you, and that’s okay. That’s another problem I found; is that some guitar teachers would refuse to teach a student because they didn’t think they were taking it seriously enough. And you know, I’d say come on. You want lessons. I’ll give you lessons. Actually, I’ll give you a good analogy. I don’t know if I’ve used this in my book or not. I may have.

But I remember the first time I bought a gym membership for like a health club, exercise facility. The guy who was selling me on the membership is telling me about all the bodybuilding competitions he was in and the different weight groups that he competed in, and giving me his numbers and saying, “I’m going to put you on a program, and we’re going to put a hundred pounds of lean, hard muscle on you.” I don’t know. You know what I mean. And I remember just feeling so overwhelmed that I’m thinking: “Look, I just wanted to get out of the house and get a little exercise. You know, I’m not going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger here. Who does this guy think I am?”

And you’ve got to take the same approach with teaching sometimes and realize that you know what. Some people work all day or they’re busy with school all day. They enjoy music. It’s relaxing to them. It’s very casual and they enjoy learning a little bit. They enjoy playing a little bit. And that’s how they want to keep it, and that’s okay.

Donnie: Yeah, that’s great, a great way to wrap this interview up. We’re out of time, but I was just going to say: do you have any last thoughts that you want to share with us before we go?

Desi: No, I don’t think so, other than I need to get caught up. I see you’ve got a lot of past podcast episodes, and you’ve got a lot of great information here. So, I might have to go back and listen to some of these myself.

Donnie: Yeah, well, thanks a lot, Desi. I appreciate that. So, well, just to close it out, again, you can find out more about the Fretboard Theory book and Desi’s DVDs. He has downloadable versions of those things as well that you can purchase, and a whole lot more by visiting So, well, I just want to say thanks, Desi, for taking some time to be on the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Desi: Yeah, it’s been great. Thanks, Donnie. You have great thing going here and I’m glad that I could be a part of it.

Donnie: Great. Well, we’ll catch up with you later.

Desi: Great. Okay.

Thank You For Listening!

If you enjoyed this episode, or any of the other of the episodes of the STG podcast, and you haven’t left a rating or review yet on iTunes, I would really appreciate an honest rating and review from you. It’s one of the most important parts of the ranking algorithm in iTunes, but more importantly, it’ll show future listeners that this podcast is (or isn’t) worth listening to.

To leave a quick review, open up iTunes, search for Start Teaching Guitar and then leave a rating and review as shown below. You can do this from your mobile device as well, even if you’re not subscribed, and even if you listen on another platform – this is where I’d appreciate you leaving your review.


Feel free to use the comments section below to let me know what you think about this episode, to suggest a topic for a future episode or just to join in on the conversation with other guitar teachers.

STG 048: Fretboard Theory – Interview With Desi Serna was last modified: June 10th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder