Greene began his own guitar studies at the age of 11, and was an accomplished player while still in high school, occasionally collaborating with local R&B and Blues Rock groups.
He briefly studied accounting at Cal State Northridge, but dropped out to devote all of his energies to music.
While Greene is often regarded as a jazz musician, he played many musical styles. He was known to guitarists due to his role as a music educator, which included private teaching, seminars at the Guitar Institute of Technology, columns for Guitar Player magazine, and his series of instructional books on guitar harmony, chord melody and single-note soloing. A voracious reader of almost any book on music theory, especially from the 'Common Practice Period' (circa 1600-1900) he distilled very complex concepts regarding the structure of western music, and would write out more accessible versions for students to understand (handed out to students in the form of lesson "sheets"), often applying keyboard concepts to the guitar. For example, many transcriptions of the Chorals of J. S. Bach would be re-written for guitar, along with useful analysis applicable to any musical setting, such as jazz and other styles.
Greene typically worked as a vocal accompanist, which he preferred because he found group settings restrictive. While he was a sought-after session player, he derived much of his income from tutoring. He wrote four books on the subject of jazz guitar performance and theory: Chord Chemistry, Modern Chord Progressions: Jazz and Classical Voicings for Guitar, and the two-volume Jazz Guitar: Single Note Soloing.
His playing style included techniques such as harp-like harmonic arpeggios, combined with gentle, tasteful neck vibrato, creating a "shimmer" to his sound. Other notable techniques included playing songs with a "walking bass" line with simultaneous melodies. Greene used counterpoint to improvise in a variety of styles, such as playing a jazz standard such as Autumn Leaves in Baroque style. He used a large variety of chord voicings, often creating the effect of two simultaneous players.
He recorded one album, Solo Guitar, in 1977, and although respected by guitarists, he was not well known to the public. The recording, originally released in 1977 on PMP Records, contains no "over dubbing" (recording on multiple tracks). Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai has praised Greene's musical knowledge and perceptiveness on this recording, stating that Greene "is totally in touch with the potential of harmonic constructions" which allows him to create an "organic and inspired listening delight." Josh Gordon, in Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, stated that the recording has a "feeling of perfect proportion" and a "full spectrum of emotion and harmonic vision." Steven Rosenberg, in the Los Angeles Daily newspaper, stated "Greene managed to raise the bar for solo guitar."
Greene helped Fender design a 1952 Telecaster vintage reissue (their first such reissue) by making reference to his collection of old Telecasters, Broadcasters and Nocasters. Greene died in his apartment in Encino of a heart attack at the age of 58. Over 700 of his family, friends, former students and other musicians attended his memorial. Greene is survived by his brother Ron and sister Linda. His long-time life partner, Barbara Franklin, organized and archived many of his written notes on music and guitar playing after he died. In 2009 she wrote a biography on Ted, My Life with The Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar. She passed away on August 13, 2011.
- Ted Greene-"Solo Guitar" Art of Life AL1011-2 (1977)
- Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies - The American Metaphysical Circus (1969)
- Greene, Ted. Chord Chemistry, Alfred Publishing Company ISBN 0-89898-696-6
- Greene, Ted. Modern Chord Progressions, Alfred Publishing Company ISBN 0-89898-698-2
- Greene, Ted. Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing, Volume 1, Alfred Publishing Company ISBN 0-7692-0972-6
- Greene, Ted. Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing, Volume 2, Alfred Publishing Company ISBN 0-7692-1282-4
- My Life with The Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar - by Barbara Franklin ISBN 1-4495-7557-9
- TedGreene.com - A website for Ted
- A wordpress archive for Ted
- Rare Videos
- Ted Greene Forums
- My Life with The Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar - by Barbara Franklin Publication Date: Nov 24 2009
- A blogspot tribute page
- Obituary from the Los Angeles Times
- Ted Greene Interview with Jim Carlton
- Ted Greene Guitar Player Tribute - November 2005
- Modern Guitars Magazine Ted Greene Tribute
- Guitar Teacher Magazine Ted Greene Tribute
- Ted Greene Photos
- Ted Greene Performance Part I
- Ted Greene Performance Part II
- Ted Greene Book Editions by Dale Zdenek, the original publisher of Greene's books.
- Ted Greene Memorial Page by Dan Sindel