Sam Smetana is a multi-instrumentalist who grew up in Clancy, Montana playing classical guitar. He spent his teenage years as the electric bassist in a rock band. The band traveled around the US, signed a deal with a record company in Japan, and wore out three and a half touring vans. Sam eventually moved to LA and did some work as a freelance bassist before relocating to Berkeley to learn more about music. He spent the last few years touring up and down the California coast as half of the indie folk duo, Jollymonster.

He teaches privately and devotes his time to the study of folk, old-time, blues, swing and early country music on guitar, piano, ukulele, and bass guitar.


“I had never played the guitar before starting lessons with Sam and for the past year I have gained a level of confidence and knowledge that I would have never found without him. When I started playing I wanted to learn elements of music theory as well as just the general ability to play songs by artists that I like listening to. Sam’s teaching has allowed me accomplish both of those things! Sam exhibits a level of patience in his teaching method that I greatly appreciate. He consistently stretched me to practice in new ways and work on all elements of improving (right hand, left hand, fretboard geography, etc.). Sam approaches teaching by meeting you where you are and encouraging you to respect the process. I look forward to my weekly time with Sam and would highly recommend him as a teacher!” – Ryan Drew

“Sam is an incredible musician (I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform) but more than that, he is a fantastic teacher. My 11 year old daughter and I have been taking lessons from Sam for more than a year now. Sometimes, we don’t get around to practicing as much as we would like. Sam is always patient, even tempered and supportive. He also gently nudges us and helps us to get excited about the music we are learning. I love that he focuses on the basics, but is also flexible enough that he helps us to learn an occasional piece of music that we want to learn. Both my daughter and I look forward to ongoing lessons with Sam. I highly recommend him.” – F. Ramzi Asfour, MD