Jimmy Bruno is one of the premier, living, Jazz guitarists of our time.  His playing style is immediately recognizable.  He has a signature guitar built by luthier Roger Sadowsky you can buy.  He’s the boss man.  He’s a top teacher.  You can now study Jazz guitar with him online at the Jimmy Bruno Guitar Workshop.

If you want to study in person with Jimmy Bruno in Pennsylvania, it’s going to cost you $150.00USD an hour.  If you want to study online with Jimmy from anywhere in the world for as many hours as you like, you’ll pay a $60.00USD membership fee for a three month subscription or $220.00USD a year for access to his teaching portal.

I signed up for the three month trial to get a taste of what Jimmy is teaching and I am impressed.  The site is well-programmed and easy to navigate by experience level.  Jimmy is always entertaining and fun and his rough personality is a breath of fresh talent and seriousness you don’t get with this sort of direct, mainstream, access to a SuperStar.

Jimmy is deeply involved in the site.  He replies to forum inquiries.  He posts video responses.  You can tell he hasn’t just given over his name for branding the site.  He is the site.  The site is Jimmy Bruno.

Jimmy’s workshop is not for the novice guitarist.  If you can’t name all the notes on the fretboard, you will have trouble with his teaching method.  Jimmy also doesn’t use a lot of TABs.  He also is against providing explanatory PDF files for every teaching video.  I disagree with him on that note, because my philosophy of online teaching is that the distance between teacher and student is tough enough to conquer, and anything and everything you can offer to help bridge better learning and facilitate understanding is something that should be done.  Jimmy feels PDF files will make you lazy and inattentive — he wants you to figure it all out on your own.  I argue PDF files can only help build deeper comprehension.

The core of Jimmy’s teaching is in offering public or confidential Master Classes — you choose your privacy preference — as part of your subscription package.  You must first submit a video of you playing Jimmy’s “Five Fingerings” in all 12 Keys to qualify you for getting future directed assignments, and perhaps, video feedback, from Jimmy.

There is a lot of content in Jimmy Bruno’s Guitar Workshop that could easily challenge a top Jazz guitar player for a year or more, and new content and lessons are being added all the time.  The website recently celebrated its first anniversary online and I am impressed by the depth of the provided teaching.  If, however, you don’t know what — II-V-I — means, then you aren’t quite ready for Jimmy to teach you.

27 Comments

    1. Ha! I just wrote to Jimmy to tell him about this review. I also told him he reminds me of my best MFA teachers at Columbia University. He’s smart and blunt and tough. No b.s. Just get it done. No excuses. I love that and that’s why it’s such a joy to get back into learning mode with a master teacher.

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    1. Jimmy just asked me the same thing when he replied to my email!

      Here’s what I said:

      Jimmy!

      I am too frightened to send in a video. I’m working on the five fingerings and it is going slowly for me because I’m used to CAGED barre chords — I know you don’t like barres and I understand why and it makes sense because putting down that index finger does sort of blur which notes you’re actually playing — and, for some reason, I have rarely use my left pinky in any fingerings. I also don’t use a pick. I prefer fingerstyle.

      So, I’m trying to get on the Bruno Bandwagon by giving up the barre chords and putting my pinky squarely in the mix — and while things
      are going painfully slow, I’m getting the genius in the madness! SMILE!

      No Master Class for me yet!

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    1. I agree. I just have to re-learn some proper technique first. You play Jimmy’s way or you don’t play at all. I appreciate and respect that requirement when it comes to learning.

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    1. I hope I will get Master Class status soon, too, Gordon. There’s no rush, though. The perfectionist in me knows this will take some perseverance and dedication to unlearn some previous techniques and get it right for Jimmy.

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  1. this is unsolicited and I am not getting a kickback for this….I have been on his website for a number of years (from the first “unmentionable” incarnation)

    No single thing has impacted my playing more than this site; the site has organized and focused my playing and I am incontrol of concepts I couldn’t previously comprehend, let alone master. I have seen a number of methods and had many teachers; this is the best availalble; Is it hard work?…`., yes it is, but you know exactly where you are going; it clear and concise and effective.

    The value of the experience is beyond any 1:1 lessons you could find. Show me a better deal…I dont believe it can be done
    Richard

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Richard!

      What was the hardest thing for you to learn when you first started studying with Jimmy?

      Are you taking Master Classes with him now?

      What advice do you have for new students trying to learn the Five Fingerings in all 12 Keys?

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      1. there was not a hardest thing per se……as the site started small in terms of assignments and materials but has grown significantly; things of value that immediatey effected my playing were
        1) getting rid of magical thinking e.g. a special scale or formula that will “transform your playing over night” or “secrets revealed” or “riff-o-matic” approaches that promise easy gains; JB made clear that its lots and lots of hard work and focused practice – no short cuts; ironically, the clarity and honesty in his approach makes the journey real and something about his frank attitude rings very true & attainable; you know what to do and where to go and you do see progress. I set up a spread sheet with a 12 key grid for each exercise; that really helped, doing the small exercises in twelve keys; however,its murder when learning whole tunes, but persistence pays off.

        2) I had the benefit of Jimmy’s input during his “Bruno Bash”; he watched me play and gave me some very useful feedback; I am on the site dailly but have yet to send a video in, for a few reasons, some technical, some practical and some plain ol’ chicken stuff. But the technical excuses are now gone and its important to do it, so I will; that said, the Master Classes are comprised many players at my level, making the identical mistakes I make. Vicariously, I am getting corrective instruction……..the has precluded doing a video as “problem addressed”

        3) r/e the 5 tone collections: I followed his video instructions closely; after a certain point, your fingers know where to go before you head does. That locked the approach in for me- watching my fingers land somewhere I wasn’t fast enough to think of, and it was right!

        Rich

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        1. Thanks for the excellent extended detail, Richard!

          We do live in a Riff and Lick world. Mastering a few runs makes you feel like an accomplished musician — but all you’re really doing is imitating a certain style for five seconds. Comprehending how and why a song is structured is paramount to improvement, and that’s Jimmy’ goal: To teach you the methods of musical Jazz composition so you can take that teaching and make your own thing sing.

          Are you willing to share your 12 key spreadsheet? I’ll take all the help and understanding I can get!

          I’ve only been on Jimmy’s site for less than a month. What is a “Bruno Bash?” I think I’ve watched all the Level 1 videos and other update videos but I don’t remember hearing any stories about that.

          I wish you the best luck preparing to submit a Master Class video. It’s a big step. I understand why Jimmy has that requirement for directed teaching: He wants to make sure you’re worth his time, and that you have his style of learning ground into your fingers! SMILE!

          I’m already seeing improvement in my technique. I sometimes get impatient, and I just have to tell myself to slow down, there’s no rush — keep working on consistency and everything else will eventually start to relate and fall in place.

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        2. sorry its been hectic; you asked for a copy of my study grid (I’m afraid the excel liines didn’t paste in but this should give you a general idea of what I do with the materials on the site; the materials are organized by Jimmy pretty effectively, I am just trying to translate them into twelve keys and get tehm in my handsand ears; If you hang in there, the site will do the job;

          Hi Jim Cohen- we should get togther sometime soon
          Richard

          JIMMY BRUNO METRONOME 2/4 5 minute drills
          1. 5 SHAPES 170 C F Bb Eb Ab Db F# B E A D G
          3 x

          2. ARPEGGIO SHAPES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
          2.1 maj7 160 12 12
          2.2 min7 12 12
          2.3 dominant 12

          2.4 minor7b5 12

          2. CHORD STUDIES 160 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
          3.1 3 note chords x 12 12 12
          3.2 turnarounds to I 12
          3.3 turn around to II 12
          3.4 6432 dominant inv 12 12
          3.5 6432 minor inversion 12
          3.6 6432 major inversion 12
          3.7 6432 II-V-I 12
          3.9 4321 group
          3.10 5 chord groups 12
          3.11 Dom 7 to all chords 12

          4. MELODIC CELLS 160
          4.1 thirds *1 C

          5. IMPROVISATION
          5.1 II-V in C 20
          LEVEL 2
          Ab in C II-V-V (p5L & 5H) 20

          6. CHORD MELODY x
          Tune Analysis

          7. TECHNIQUE

          8. FORUM VIDEO

          9. TUNE ANALYSIS
          9.1 Satin Doll
          9.2 Blue Bossa
          9.3 Bb Blues
          9.4 All the Things You Are

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          1. Thanks for posting that, Richard! I’m going to email you right now at the address you used to post this comment to see if you are willing to email me your Excel spreadsheet.

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  2. I’ve been studying with Jimmy for about 3 years now and have come much farther in that time than I ever imagined possible. For me, this is really the ideal learning situation. Jimmy actually lives just up the road from me, but it would be pointless for me to buy an hour of his time for $150 every week (even if I could afford it). In an hour, he could totally overwhelm me with material that would take a lifetime to digest. I don’t need an hour with Jimmy Bruno every week; I just need the RIGHT FIVE MINUTES with Jimmy Bruno, when I’m ready for the next installment lesson, custom-designed for ME. And for twenty bucks a MONTH?? Gimme a break! That’s ridiculously low for access to a world-class musician and teacher that is basically unlimited (as long as you don’t abuse the privilege and post master classes before you’ve spent enough time working on your last assignment). I can’t say enough about how great this system has been for me. It’s truly growing not only my guitar playing but, more importantly, my EARS and depth of understanding of the jazz idiom, and that is transferring over to other instruments that I play that Jimmy doesn’t even play.

    Jim
    p.s. Yes, I have submitted Master Classes and the hardest assignment I’ve had so far is to play scales in fourths with half-step leading tones, ascending and desending in 5 positions along the neck, and then try to use this in soloing! Arrrghhhh….

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    1. Hi Jim!

      Your comment is immensely warm and reassuring and I thank you for taking the time to share your direct experience.

      Looking at your website, it looks like you were deep into Country music and pedal steel — how and why did you decide to make the transition into Jazz? What is your favorite Jazz guitar and amp set up?

      I love it that you’ve been with Jimmy as a student for three years. That gives new students a lot of hope that staying in line and persevering and practicing every single day helps make you a better player.

      You make an excellent point about “Five minutes with Jimmy.” He is a powerhouse of knowledge. Another great thing about going online to learn with him is that every time you practice and then watch the same video instruction, your depth of understanding increases. The videos don’t change their content, but you are able to see more precisely the effort at hand that Jimmy is teaching and sometimes it takes many watchings to get the idea. That’s a tremendous help because if you get stuck — you work, go back and re-watch the video, work some more, watch again — and you build understanding.

      I also like your point about ear training — highly necessary, hard to teach, and Jimmy’s method is focused on getting your ears “in tune” with your fingers. That creates independent playing ability. Hard to acquire, but once you have it, you’re set!

      Yikes! Your Master Class assignments sound complicated and scary. I’m going back to practice some more right now! SMILE!

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      1. I’m still deeply into pedal steel as it is my primary instrument. But I’ve never been particularly into country music, despite what one might expect from my instrument (in fact, I didn’t record a country CD until over 30 years of playing the instrument, just because that’s what everyone would have expected me to do). I’m mainly a jazz pedal steeler and got into that through my main influences on steel, Buddy Emmons, Paul Franklin and Doug Jernigan, all of whom I’ve had the privilege to study with.

        I have a few archtops but my favorite is my Eastman 803CE. I play it through one of my steel guitar amps, a Peavey Nashville 112, or through a G-K MB200 running into a single 12″ black widow speaker, with a little delay/reverb pedal in the line. Either way sounds good to my ears.

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        1. Hey Jim —

          Jazz Pedal Steel! I love that, and I had no idea that was even a genre. I’m going to listen to the artists you recommend and get caught up!

          When you submit videos to Jimmy, do you use your pedal steel or your archtop?

          I’m hearing a lot of great things about Eastman archtops. I’m going to have to buy a few and do some playing.

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      1. The 5 fingerings don’t translate directly to steel but the general concept does, i.e., of having several ‘zones’ in which you can play anything in any key. It just gets more complicated on steel because of the pedals and knee levers which raise and lower strings by between 1/2 step and 1.5 steps, so if a certain pedal or KL is engaged your bar has to be in a different place to get the same note as if the pedal/KL were off. (Don’t try this at home!) LOL.

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