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Wilbur M. Savidge                                        Meet the men responsible for the Guitar Phonics 'play guitar' albums
Wilbur Savidge and Don Blocker worked tirelessly to create an educational LP using the talents of The Venture, Chet Atkins and Jimmy Bryan.  They exceeded beyond all expectations.

 Wilbur M. Savidge

Guitarist - Music educator - Publisher

Wilbur Martin Savidge was born July 11, 1932, in San Diego, California.  In 1937, his parents moved to the family ancestral farm in Handcock Country, Illinois.  As a child, Bill Savidge was fascinated with the sound of the guitar.  He was seven years old when he first held one in his lap, plucked the strings, and wondered how it made music.  In high school, his prized possession was a table radio, and he religiously listened to the weekly Friday and Saturday night WSM radio broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry.  He was never interested in the vocals:  What caught his interest was the sound of the lead guitars, and that rare event, a guitar instrumental.

He still vividly remembers the night in 1948, when he first heard Chet Atkins, unable to understand how one man could create such beautiful and complex music with the guitar.  He purchased the guitarist's records, listened and dreamed one day of playing guitar just like his idol.

In 1949, he talked his father into purchasing his first instrument, a Sear and Roebuck arch top; ordered a correspondent course, and set about trying to make sense of written music.

The beging of a life long dream

Married in July 1951, he settled in Rock Island, Illinois, and worked for the Rock Island Arsenal.  Here, he came into contact with fellow employees that played guitar and eagerly set in on weekly jam sessions.  He purchased a Gibson L 4 arch top guitar, installed a DeArmand pickup, practiced, and dreamed of playing the instrument for a living. 


After a two year stint in the Army (1952-1954), he returned to his home town, Macomb, Illinois, and found work with an appliance store.  He swiftly rose from the entry level position  making deliveries, to becoming a service technician, a salesman, and in three years moved up to a position of store manager. He worked in this capacity for six years.

In 1963, he moved his family to Santa Barbara, California, and found work as sales manager  for a local appliance store.  In his free time, he begin playing the guitar again, and made the decision that he wanted to earn his living with the instrument, and set about improving his playing skills.   He spent his lunch breaks at a music store, where he came upon an instructor teaching the Merle Travis finger style guitar, and set about learning this complex way of playing.  After a few months of practice, he gave up on the style, and decided that the single string technique used by The Ventures made more sense and spent his practice time learning their songs.  During this time, he realized that there was a need for a modern instructional method and in a few months, he had developed a system of instruction employing written diagrams augmented with sound recordings.  He called his new method 'The Guitar Phonics System', and copyrighted  the method in December 1964.

In 1965, after many months of failed attempts to find a company willing to market his new system of instruction, he approached Liberty Records, and struck a deal with Director of A&R, Don Blocker.  Over the following eighteen months, seven 'play guitar' albums were released on Liberty Records, Dolton label: four Ventures play guitar albums; one Ventures play bass album; a Chet Atkins finger style album; and one Jimmy Bryant country album.

In 1967, following up on the success of the Guitar Phonics play guitar albums,  Savidge moved to Galesburg, Illinois,  and opened his own music store:  The Olde Music Shoppe, and became a dealer for Gretsch and Mosrite guitars. It was during this time that he first developed a system of teaching that was later used in his signature educational books.

In 1969, he sold his  store and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.  He was offered a sales position with the Fred Gretsch Guitar Company, as regional sales manager for Texas and Oklahoma, and moved to Hurst, Texas.  He worked for the Gretsch company for two years, but eventually grew tired of the extensive traveling and resigned  his position.  For twelve years, he operated teaching studios for several Fort Worth area music stores.  During this time he developed his first guitar instruction book: 'Everything About Guitar Chords', published in 1978.

In  1988, he established Praxis Publications, and over the following eighteen years, wrote and published a series of nine guitar instruction books which he sold directly to music stores, establishing over 600 national accounts.  In 2006,  he sold his catalog of highly successful books to the New York publishing company, Music Sales Corporation.  These books are now being distributed by Hal Leonard.

Today, Bill Savidge devotes his time to writing new guitar instruction books, producing videos, and managing the Guitar Phonics web site.

"All I ever want to do was earn a living with the guitar......I was blessed with that opportunity." wms 2010   


Books written by Wilbur M. Savidge

                         These four great guitar instructional books may be purchased at book seller Amazon
                                       See in-depth video review: Everything About Guitar Chords   

    Donald W. Blocker     Chet Atkins      Jimmy Bryant      The Ventures

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