Meet Michael Papenburg

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Genres: Classical, Jazz, Blues, Pop, Latin
Specialties: Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Slide Guitar, Lap Steel, Dobro, & Ukulele
Available Days: Sundays & Mondays in Santa Rosa

Book A Lesson (Online lessons only)

When booking a lesson with Michael, choose Santa Rosa, then Guitar Lessons, then choose the options for the lesson length you would like. Then choose "Pick a Staff Member first". 

Lesson Rates

30 min : $40
60 min : $60

New Student Promo
Michael is offering a New Student Promo! After choosing your lesson day and time, proceed to checkout and choose the 4-pack of 30 minute lessons and use coupon code GET1FREE to receive 1 free lesson! Applicable to new students only and package must be paid in advance.

Meet Michael Papenburg

Michael Papenburg is a Bay Area native with over 35 years of teaching and performing experience. He has performed and recorded with many local artists including, The Jerry Hannan Band, Matadore, Matt Nathanson, Brittany Shane, Orange, Penelope Houston, Lilyvolt, The Mad Cattle Ensemble, and Missile Harmony.He currently plays lead guitar for Petty Theft, a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Michael specializes in rock, alternative, slide guitar, blues, funk, country, and folk. His influences include Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, Robin Guthrie, Daniel Ash, Mike Campbell, and many others. He is a very patient teacher with students ranging from beginning to advanced players. His teaching has a focus on playing technique, chords, scales, music theory, musicianship, and transcriptions of songs and solos in either tablature or standard notation.

  • Location: Santa Rosa
  • Lesson Type: 30 & 60 minutes
  • Rate: $40 for 30 minutes, $60 for 60 minutes

  • How did you get started in music?

    I was always surrounded by music as a kid. My aunts were all in bands and my dad and grandfather were big fans of music in general. When I was 12, I borrowed a guitar from my cousin and started taking lessons. I progressed quickly and joined my first band at the age of 14. Thankfully, my family has always been very supportive.

    What artist inspired you when you were first learning to play?

    Jimmy Page was definitely my first favorite guitarist. I learned a lot of Led Zeppelin songs by ear and was really inspired by his playing and songwriting. That being said, I was also really into David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, and Angus Young. 

    How long have you been playing?

    I started playing guitar in 1978 so it has been 39 years so far.

    What is your favorite genre to play and why?

    If I had to choose, I would say that my favorite genre to play is post-punk/alternative. It allows me to combine many of my favorite things together: minimalist melodies, aggressive rhythm playing, feedback, and ambient soundscapes. My band Matadore is the only group where I get to express myself in this fashion, though.

    What is your favorite song to play right now?

    I recently learned "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?" by the Stones and it is super fun to play. I love open G tuning.

    What made you decide to start teaching?

    When I started playing guitar there weren't nearly as many resources as there are today - especially if you wanted to become a rock guitarist. Because of this, I spent hours and hours learning songs by ear using a small tape recorder. My friends would often ask me to teach them the songs that I had learned and I found that it came naturally to me. When I was 17, my mom went in to a music store in Vallejo called The Academy of Music to buy me some strings. The owner, Dean Friedrich, was also the leader of a big band jazz group called the Minnesingers that I played with at the time. Dean asked if I would like to start teaching there and the rest is history. I taught at the Academy for 6 years to an average of 36 students per week. 

    What projects or bands are you involved in currently?

    The main band that I perform with is Petty Theft which is a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I also play in an original band called Matadore that is currently recording it's first demo and hopes to play out soon."


    What tidbits would you like to share?

    When I was a teenager, the drummer of my band thought that it would be cool to have have fog on stage during our performance. Unfortunately, he chose to use a military grade smokescreen to achieve the effect instead of a fog machine. He set it off next to his drum stool without telling the band what was going on. We were eventually completely engulfed in smoke and he ended up taking a running jump off the front of the stage because he couldn't breathe. The county fair we were playing at had to call the fire department. They were not amused.

    What is the best advice you can give to a beginning player who is just starting?

    When it comes to learning an instrument, it really comes down to putting in the time to practice what you have learned. I always advise to set a side even a little bit of time to play each day. There are many distractions these days so it is often hard to actually begin practicing. I have noticed, though,  that it is easy to practice longer than anticipated once you get going.

    What is the best advice you would give to an established player?

    A few things come to mind: 

    Listen. Play for the song. Any time spend honing your rhythm playing is time well spent. 
    If you are learning new scales, take the time to absorb each one so you don't overwhelm yourself.  If you play electric, try using less distortion than you think you need. 

    What is your “gigging” instrument and equipment and why?

    My main guitar is a K-Line electric that is essentially a Jazzmaster with a hardtail bridge and Lollar PAFs. It is my favorite because it has the fullness of a Gibson and the clarity of a Fender. I also play a K-Line strat style guitar, a Fender Jazzmaster from the 80s, and a Collings 290. 

    For amps, I mainly use a Carr Rambler combo amp for live gigs because it is a great pedal platform and sounds good at both medium and loud volumes. For quieter gigs I use a Victoria Ivy League which sounds great with my strat. 
    I keep it pretty simple in the pedal department. I currently use a Morning Glory overdrive as an "always on" base tone. It provides a very British sounding edge of breakup tone that I love. For solos, I boost with an Analog Man Prince of Tone or an Exotic RC Booster. My favorite delay is the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay. These pedals along with a Korg Pitchblack tuner are mounted on a Pedaltrain Nano+ and powered with a Cioks power supply mounted underneath. 

    Michael Papenburg

     Need help booking a lesson? Email or call us at (415) 457-7600 x 104

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