Mendocino Guitar Workshop

The Mendocino Guitar Workshop takes place every July at the Albion Retreat and Learning Center in Albion, just 7 miles south of the historic town of Mendocino on California’s stunning north coast. 

This is a hands-on interactive workshop for intermediate and advanced guitarists and for singers who play guitar. The workshop will focus on performing, arranging, and composing for fingerstyle guitar, but we welcome players of all backgrounds. 

Alex and guest instructors will share their insights into the techniques and inspiration that have become an integral part of their unique styles.

Participants will also have the opportunity to perform a piece with the workshop guitar ensemble at the Mendocino Music Festival, and on the Friday afternoon, students will have an opportunity to perform informally at one of the Mendocino shops and galleries participating in our Guitars in the Village event.

We will be announcing registration for 2020 soon, but if you’d like to reserve a spot in the meantime, please send an e-mail to


The workshop will focus on performing, arranging, and composing for fingerstyle and classical guitar. Alex and guest instructor, Sean McGowan, will share their insights into the techniques and inspiration that have become an integral part of their unique styles.

Dynamics, articulation, phrasing, tone, polyrhythms, right/left hand technique, cross-string technique, extended techniques, and alternate tunings and more will be covered in a very hands-on approach.

This is an interactive workshop designed to improve your playing and ability to arrange music for guitar, whether you are an instrumentalist or a singer who plays guitar as accompaniment.

The four-part format will consist of:

  1. a master class
  2. lecture demo
  3. one-on-one time
  4. an optional ensemble rehearsal for those who wish to participate in a public performance

Evenings after dinner will be devoted to informal performances, jam sessions, and free time.

Guitarists of all backgrounds are welcome, but should be at least intermediate to advanced fingerstyle players. The workshop is limited to 20 participants. Each participant should be prepared to perform one piece in the master class and another piece informally with the group and/or during the one-on-one session with Sean or Alex. You should arrive prepared to play:

  1. A composition or arrangement by a known composer or fingerstyle performer, or an original composition;
  2. An original composition or an arrangement of a theme to be assigned by Alex at the time of registration.

The ability to read music is not absolutely required, but will be useful. Alex and Sean will hand out music and written exercises in standard notation and/or tablature, so some experience with one or the other will be a plus.


With generous support from our sponsors below we offer tuition-free scholarships to qualifying students under 25 years old who can demonstrate financial need.


Occasionally, I have had the pleasure to perform with some of the workshop participants outside of the workshop. In 2009, Jeff Titus and his amazing nephew, Noaa Rienecker (about 15 at the time), and I played a few gigs together and Jeff very generously donated his proceeds back to the workshop. We used that money to sponsor our first scholarship student and got to thinking we should be doing more of that. I contacted my friend John Wunsch, guitarist extraordinaire, former instructor at the prestigous Interlochen Arts Academy, and more recently, owner of Strings by Mail in Traverse City, Michigan about getting a scholarship program going. John was all in, and SBM became our very first official scholarship sponsor. Since that time, Lowden Guitars, Elixir Strings, and individual donors Diana Coryat & Ashok Khosla have very generously become scholarship sponsors as well. String Letter Publishing has joined the team as our media sponsor via Acoustic Guitar & Classical Guitar magazines, and the Arts Council of Mendocino joined us by becoming our fiscal sponsor. Thank you all for your continuing support!

Fees & Registration

Workshop fee: $1,500; companion fee: $250. Fee includes 7 nights lodging and all meals. Register with your 50% deposit by clicking the PayPal button below.

Refund Policy

Please note that your deposit is refundable up to 30 days before the start of the workshop. Beyond the 30 days we will only refund your deposit if we can fill the place vacated by your cancellation.

Albion Retreat & Learning Center

Located right on the water at the mouth of the Albion River, the Albion Retreat & Learning Center offers 16 modern cabins, each with three beds and a bathroom. There is a large kitchen, dining hall, and a large meeting room that can accommodate 2 separate sessions simultaneously. The center has its own pier, and canoes and kayaks are provided for those wishing to explore the scenery and wildlife upstream. For more information about the facility, please visit


The Albion Retreat and Learning Center can accommodate everyone in one of their modern cabins, each of which are equipped with one queen bed, two single “bunk” beds, and a bathroom. If you would like to guarantee a private cabin, please request asap; there will be a one-time $50 reservation fee.  There are also many wonderful Inns nearby on the coast providing a variety of accommodations for those who prefer extra comfort and privacy.  They run the gamut from B&Bs to resorts and motels.  Please visit for lodging options or feel free to contact us

Facilities / Activities

Located on the river at the site of an old redwood lumber camp, the Albion Retreat and Learning Center is a former marine biology Field Station operated by Pacific Union College. The facilities are thoroughly modern, and there is one very large conference room that can be divided into two separate meeting rooms for conducting the workshop. There is a modern kitchen and meals will be served in the ample dining room. The center also provides free canoes and kayaks that can be launched from their brand new dock on the Albion River, and wildlife and scenery abound. 

The Mendocino Coast is rich with activities include hiking, horseback riding, diving, fishing, riding the historic Skunk Train, wine tasting and more. Guests may want to also avail themselves of the nearby fine dining and shopping, or even choose to stay at one of the many wonderful inns nearby. Please visit for a complete list. 

Gianfranco prepares to put in on the Albion River

Food & Drink

Meals will be designed to accommodate vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. If you have a serious dietary restriction, please contact us well in advance, and we will try to accommodate your needs. Because this facility is operated by a college, alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the premises, however there are two fine restaurants with bars a short walk or drive away—the Ledford House and the Albion River Inn—and there is a general store in the village of Albion with a good selection of beer and wine. If you wish to bring a spouse/partner/family member, there will be an additional $100 dining fee.


Weather on the Mendocino Coast can be foggy and cool or filled with brilliant sunshine. Bring clothing layers and comfortable walking shoes, maybe even a bathing suit, sun protection, and a hat for going out on the river or one of the beaches.

Getting There

The Albion Retreat and Learning Center is located a little over 3 hours by car from San Francisco and Oakland airports, about 4 hours from Sacramento Airport, and about 2 hours from the Santa Rosa airport (service provided by Alaska Airlines/Horizon).  We cannot provide transportation, but we will help coordinate ground transportation and carpooling for those who need it. We will provide more specific directions to the Albion Retreat and Learning Center once you have registered for the Workshop.  

Contact Us

If you have additional questions, please email us at or call us at 707-318-7932.

Alex & Alison de Grassi
Mendocino Guitar Workshop
PO Box 772
Redwood Valley CA 95470