About Joe Elliott

I spent 30 years playing professionally in Los Angeles as a guitarist, musical director, and composer in a variety of music settings including network TV, movie soundtrack, studio, concert and club venues. In 2010 I left Los Angeles and moved to join the rich music scene in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. I love it here and am as busy playing guitar now as I have ever been in my life.


My professional experience as an educator includes 23 years of teaching at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California for the Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.) and Baccalaureate programs and various clinics throughout the U.S. In my years at M.I. I wrote and edited courses for G.I.T. and M.I.’s Baccalaureate programs, spent 3 years as G.I.T. Department Head, and 9 years as Vice President and Director of Education.

I served as Guitar Department Head and Director of Academic Administration at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota for 7 years.

In 2018, I began writing the Fretboard Biology program with the goal to provide a comprehensive program of learning to students around the world.


My musical experience has been eclectic. I’ve enjoyed a career performing Funk, R&B, Jazz, Rock, Afro-Latin, Gospel, Blues and Country. During my career I’ve had the good fortune of performing with some of the world’s greatest musicians and have recently been performing with David Sanborn.

With David Sanborn







Truth Serum

Truth Serum is a collection of compositions I wrote with no preconceived goal of satisfying or conforming to any particular genre label or template. I just wrote what came to me at the moment. I arranged and performed them with my L.A. band, primarily at the legendary Baked Potato in Los Angeles.

Guitar Books

Jazz Guitar Soloing

(Musicians Institute Press). Perfect for seasoned rockers seeking new challenges and jazz newcomers looking for a good start, this book with online audio covers scales, chords, licks, techniques, and other vital jazz improvisation concepts step by step.

Ear Training

(Musicians Institute Press). This book with online audio access takes you step by step through MI’s well-known Ear Training course. Complete lessons and analysis include: basic pitch matching, singing major and minor scales, identifying intervals, transcribing melodies and rhythm, identifying chords and progressions, seventh chords and the blues, modal interchange, chromaticism, modulation, and more!

Fretboard Biology - Level 1

In the book that accompanies the Level 1 Fretboard Biology course, you will establish a foundation in basic theory, chord voicings, rhythm guitar, technique, and soloing, as well as a framework for understanding the fretboard that will help you advance throughout the course.

Fretboard Biology - Level 2

Level 2 continues to build your musical foundation with intervals, the Octave Shape Family Tree, triad supershapes, rhythm notation, arpeggios, Folk and Classic Rock rhythm guitar, voice leading, and soloing with chord tones.

Fretboard Biology - Level 3

Level 3 introduces 7th chord formulas, 7th chord arpeggios, sequence exercises, analyzing chord progressions with 7th chords, money-maker licks over progressions, Reggae and Country rhythm guitar, and in-position arpeggios.

Fretboard Biology - Level 4

Level 4 introduces modal interchange, shell voicings, essential chord tones, Root Maps, inversions, ensemble chords, Funk and Classic R&B rhythm guitar, slash chord symbols, and analyzing chord progressions with inversions and modal interchange.

Fretboard Biology - Level 5

Level 5  introduces Harmonic Minor, reading chord charts, suspended chords, diminished chords, the V-I resolution, the primary dominant, functioning and non-functioning dominants, Latin and Odd-Meter rhythm guitar, and harmonic analysis of secondary dominants.

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