Guitarist Don Luna Vista Oceanside Carlsbad San Marcos

The first thing you need to know about me is that I make no claim to fame, fortune or fashion. Instead, my lifelong love of music—and my deep desire to share this with others—are what inspire me every day to play, perform and teach. 

In summary, I am a professional guitarist and music teacher, and I play acoustic and electric guitar, fusing a wide range of styles and influences, including jazz, Latin, R&B, rock, country, pop and classical. Teaching plays a central role in my life. I have decades of real-world experience playing, performing, producing and recording many different kinds of music, and it is very rewarding for me to share that knowledge with students. 

A native of Los Angeles, I currently reside with my wife, Katie, and our cat, Carmela, in north San Diego County. I teach primarily in Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad and San Marcos, California. If you are interested, I share more detail about my background and experience below. 

The Day Opportunity Knocked 

I was 17, and it was a hot afternoon in midtown Los Angeles. I was practicing my electric guitar at my parents’ home when there was a knock at the front door. Three African American teens  stood on the doorstep. They had heard me playing through the open window; did I want to try out for a band? 

Sonny Bono presents the Teen Turbans with the top prize at the KHJ Pepsi Big Boss Battle of the Bands, 1966. I am directly behind Sonny Bono, to the right.

Sonny Bono presents the Teen Turbans with the top prize at the KHJ Pepsi Big Boss Battle of the Bands, 1966. I am directly behind Sonny Bono, to the right.

An hour later, I found myself in a living room with a group of kids from Los Angeles High School who knew exactly how to put the “rhythm” in Rhythm & Blues. To give you an idea, one of Louis Armstrong’s nephews, Lester Smith, was the band leader and trumpet player, and Ralph Johnson, who later went on to Earth, Wind & Fire fame, was on drums. In fact, I replaced Al McKay (also an Earth, Wind & Fire star) as the band’s guitar player. 

Our band, the Teen Turbans, went on a year later to win a Los Angeles radio station contest, the KHJ Pepsi Big Boss Battle of the Bands, at the Hollywood Palladium, with Sonny Bono handing out the awards. 

I tell this story not because it catapulted me into fame—it didn’t—but because it served as the launching pad for my career as a professional musician, recording engineer and teacher. 

Performing, Composing, Producing and Teaching

From that early experience, I learned how good bands and good players practice and perform. I learned the importance of rhythm, of collaboration, of really listening, of going over that one tough section one more time. These are fundamental tenets that I continue to live by and that I instill in my students. 

Don Luna performing electric guitar.jpg

Through my time with the Teen Turbans, I became a member of the Local 47 Musicians’ Union in Hollywood and spent years playing the Hollywood and L.A. circuit in a variety of pop, rock/country and R&B bands, including one that backed up Standells singer Dick Dodd for three years while touring the western U.S. and Las Vegas. 

In addition to teaching guitar and music, I began to write, arrange and produce music and worked for several years as a recording engineer in music, film and television. 

In 1992, I began a 10-year collaboration with Los Angeles singer Kim Gile—writing, arranging, producing and performing original and cover material that mixed R&B, rock and soul style music. We assembled a band of talented and experienced L.A. musicians, which I directed, and I produced our CD, “Drive By Rhythm.” We also performed as a duo, where I played acoustic guitar, and as a trio with a percussionist. 

Don Luna acoustic guitarist and guitar teacher.jpg

Solo Acoustic Journey

In 2002, after seeing Australian acoustic guitar sensation Tommy Emmanuel perform live in Culver City, I shifted my focus to a solo acoustic career, with a fingerstyle approach to my playing. 

I have been on this journey ever since, composing and arranging original pieces in this vein, as well as creating my own arrangements of pop and jazz standards. Today, I play and perform both acoustic and electric guitar. 

I truly believe that the most important thing any musician or artist must do is grow. I have been committed to this growth process throughout my life, and it has given me an immense depth and breadth of musical experience. Through both my performances and my teaching, it is my goal and desire to share this experience with others.