John Ratso Gerardi

For over four decades, Ratso has been an enduring presence and lively fixture on the Fairfield County music scene as a performer, singer/songwriter, record producer, and teacher.

Ratso made his professional debut at 11 years of age. At 14, he opened for the super group Rhinoceros and Junior Wells and the All-Stars. Self-taught his first 15 years, at 22 he began formal study with Jazz great Sal Salvador, his mentor for 25 years, then in the mid-1970s became a teacher himself. In 1996, he built Lenox Sound Recording Studio.

Ratso has released six albums and is the author of the instructional book, The Blues Bible (Riff Rat Music), a primer on the art of playing blues guitar.

Dubbed by a local reporter as "a workingman's musical institution," Ratso remains true to the moniker, currently juggling live appearances, teaching, recording and producing other artists.

Ratso Endorses
Mesa/Boogie Amplifiers | Italia Leather Straps | VVT Amps | Victoria Amplifiers | Calzone Case Company | Seymour Duncan Pickups | Reunion Blues | Riff Rat Guitars | Millinchuk Guitars

"Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other in the integration of the human being because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the Soul on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the Soul of him who is rightly educated truly graceful."   – Plato

At Lenox School of Music in Stamford, Connecticut, our instructors take great pride in their burning passion to teach. Instruction is set in a private one-to-one environment and lessons are taught by dedicated and accomplished professional musicians. Our instructors work individually with students to assist them to realize their personal and professional musical goals.

Whether you want to learn a specific style (rock, blues or jazz), master the riffs for a group of favorite tunes, or gain complete mastery of your instrument, our instructors will teach you how to get the most enjoyment out of your playing.

Meet the faculty and read what clients say below.

Guitarist John "Ratso" Gerardi, founder and owner of Lenox School of Music, has been a teacher, singer/songwriter and performer for over 40 years.

As owner of the Indie recording label Riff Rat Records™, Ratso has produced or co-produced four CDs of original recordings and several debut albums of talented young artists.

The father of one of his students said this about the impact of guitar lessons from Ratso: "Ratso's lessons are life lessons."

Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and teacher, Chris Carter has performed in nightclubs, concerts and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe leading his own group, The Chris Carter Band, or backing such legendary artists as Solomon Burke, Lester Chambers (of The Chambers Brothers), Chubby Checker, The Drifters, Eddie Floyd, Roy Gaines, The Ink Spots, Johnnie Johnson, Earl King, The Marvelettes, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Kenny Neal, The Platters, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Reverend Zen, Percy Sledge, Ronnie Spector, Howard Tate, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Uptown Horns Revue, Andre Williams and the late Hubert Sumlin.

Chris has written, arranged and produced recordings for himself (Night Shift with Bobby Harden) and others, been featured on National Public Radio's syndicated "Portraits in Blue," and contributed the original tune, "Ain't Got No Home," to NBC's critically acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Streets." He also played in the off-Broadway hit musical "Love, Janis," the life story of legendary blues-rock singer Janis Joplin.

Al Payson is the touring bassist in José Feliciano's band and audio engineer at Mr. Feliciano's recording studio.

A seasoned touring veteran, he has played with many national and worldwide acts, including The Coasters, The Drifters, The Marvelettes and Wishbone Ash. He has also performed with The Burr Johnson Band, Blue Law, Mojo Myles (Mancuso, the 13-year-old guitar phenom), and Tom Dudley and his Blues Buddha Band.

Additionally, over the years, Al has produced hundreds of commercials, jingles, songs and albums. In 2009, he co-produced, engineered and programmed three tracks on Mr. Feliciano's Latin Grammy Award winning CD Señor Bachata.

Joe Meo is a multi-woodwind player who has had a wide-ranging musical career since he picked up his first instrument – a clarinet that fell out of a car across the street from his house when he was 8 years old! He's played on many recordings and with many pop artists, including Billy Vera, The Pointer Sisters, The Four Tops, The Temptations and Johnny Mathis, to name a few.

He has played in rock, funk and jazz bands from New Jersey to Massachusetts, toured the world with the Jeff Holmes Big Band and the Ed Palermo Band, and appeared with "The Tonight Show" orchestra under legendary bandleader "Doc" Severinsen.

His abilities on all saxophones, clarinet and flute have landed him in pit orchestras for a number of Broadway productions. He is also a substitute music teacher in private and public schools.

Angelo Natalie, a mainstay since 1980, teaches drums, piano and voice. His production work in Nashville and New York has afforded him the opportunity to work with many of the leading session musicians and singers in the country.

He has taught percussion classes at a South Bronx public school and music theory at a School of Rock workshop.

For many years Angelo has created original music for advertisers. His national credits include Pepsi, Dodge, Radio Shack, the A&E Network and PBS' "Barney."

Since 1991, Angelo has been privileged to serve as Minister of Music for the Presbyterian Church of Old Greenwich, where he directs a full-praise band comprised of professional and volunteer musicians. On Sunday nights, he also directs the teen choir at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan.

"There's nothing like seeing the light bulb turn-on over a young musician's head," Angelo says. "That's what does it for me!"

Bill Harris has been an integral part of the New York City area music scene for nearly 30 years. He has performed in the clubs, theaters and recording studios of the tri-state area as well as throughout the US, Europe and Japan.

Bill is a renowned performer in any and all styles on all of the saxophones, clarinets and flutes.

His debut CD “The Extra Mile” was released to rave reviews from critics and musicians alike.

He has performed and recorded with artists as varied as the Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Average White Band, Jose Feliciano, Natalie Merchant, Celine Dion, Gerry Mulligan and Jack DeJohnette.

Bill has more recently been pursuing a career as a soloist and as the other member of the "Harris Bros Horns" and the "Harris Bros Band" with his trumpet player brother, Don Harris. For three years Don and Bill were part of the Warren Hill Band and appeared each January as featured artists on “Warren Hill's Smooth Jazz Cruise.” They can currently be heard on the theme song for ABC’s, The View.

Bill is also very busy as a woodwind teacher, teaching both privately and at the University of Bridgeport..

“Ratso is the only guitar teacher I have ever had, and I have been able to live my dreams in the music industry as a result. Of course his talent for teaching music helped prepare me for the big stage, but it is what he taught me "in between the notes" that made the real difference--professionally and personally. Lessons with Ratso are not just studies in music, but lessons in life. Because of the person that he is, he inspires his students to develop good character, maintain positive values, and become good role models for others. These are the not-so-simple lessons that lead to real success in life, and I know of no better teacher to guide that process than Ratso.”

— Ravi Hutheesing

“I took my daughter all around Connecticut trying out music tutors, until we found a GEM at Lenox School of Music in Stamford. I say a GEM because it took a long time to find a very unique place where the tutors are not only musicians (and know what they are talking about and what they teach), but also very caring people. My daughter feels at home every time she meets with her singing tutor and when I pick her up after her session I can see the happiness on her face knowing she has advanced her singing goals a bit more. Thanks to Ratso, Angelo, and Lenox for being there for us!!”

— John G., Student’s Parent

"At Lenox, I've discovered that sustained musical growth is built on focus, practice, knowledge and, most importantly, trusting friendships. Without Lenox, I wouldn't be in the position I am now, recording my first record and learning something new every step of the way."

— Josh Kotran, Student

"Sad to say, but we are nearing the time that Sam will have to discontinue his lessons with you, at least on a permanent basis. As you know, he is captain of the Stamford High Lacrosse team this year, and so his time commitment is more rigorous than ever. While he can likely continue with you through March, April, May and most of June are really pretty much out of the question except perhaps an occasional hour now and then. And his summer plans will have him out of the area for most of the time before heading off to college in the fall.

"Both Bill and I are sad to see this end, and Sam especially so. You have been a wonderful teacher and an inspiration for Sam on his musical journey. We feel so lucky to have found you and can't thank you enough for all you have done for our boy, keeping him disciplined and continuing to expand his musical horizons. Many, many thanks."

— Kristin and Bill Berkot, Student's Parents

"At Lenox School of Music, students get a rock-solid (ha!) music education blended with fun in the perfect combination of pleasure and rigor. I was thrilled to find not only a skilled and inspired musician in Ratso but also a gifted teacher with a complete theoretical background. Anyone who is serious about studying music — not just playing songs — will appreciate what he offers. However, expect to work! That should make you happy if you really want to learn! Five stars for Ratso!"

— Lauren Connelly, Former Student

"Ratso incorporates a love of music and a desire to learn in a lesson. He is a fantastic teacher whose love of music is contagious and makes learning easy and fun."

— Leigh Harrison, Guitar Student

"Ratso is an incredibly gifted musician and teacher. His passion for music and life is contagious and all-inspiring. He makes learning fun and easy. Our daughter always leaves her lesson with a smile on her face and with a great sense of enjoyment and accomplishment. We feel very blessed by Ratso's tutelage and couldn't be more pleased!"

— Karen Harrison, Leigh's Mother

"My son struggled academically for years. We had tutors and he worked very hard to make up for his shortfalls. The school district could never identify any learning disability so, even going into high school, it was an ongoing struggle. Then, two years ago, he got into this 'guitar thing' — and found Ratso. The change has been — what can I say? — just remarkable. In his junior year, he went from being a low-C student to a high-B average. We truly believe that his passion for the guitar and the instruction he received in some way rewired his brain. The focus and passion he now puts into learning how to play, read music, and be creative has also focused him in mathematics and critical thinking. He recently wrote his college essay about this and, as a result, won a scholarship!"

— Student's Mother

"Ratso is the one guitar instructor who made all the difference for our son Jonathan. Why? First, he teaches music, so Jon benefitted from the great tradition of Ratso's own teacher, legendary jazzman Sal Salvador, who passed onto Ratso a wealth of universal musical knowledge independent of any style. Second, Jon learned that the guitar is a highly technical instrument and after unlearning all of the bad habits he'd previously picked up, his playing became fluid and effortless. Ratso's ability to share knowledge, teach technique, and inject fun — combined with a student's desire to learn — leads to success in playing."

— David Joelson
Senior Vice President, Harris Freeman & Co.

"Ratso has become a friend to the entire Anderson family and over the past five years has made an indelible impression on our sons, Michael and Matt. Now in college, both boys are still very active guitar players and their instructors have been most impressed with their prior training. They both communicate with 'Rat' regularly and they schedule lessons in advance of returning home. Ratso's passion, enthusiasm, and skill as a musician combine to create the ideal platform for committed, young musicians"

— Steve Anderson
Managing Director, LoanCore Capital, LLC

"The Greenwich High School Talent Show was last night and even though Nick didn't win it, he kicked butt. The crowd went wild, and it was incredible to see him up on the stage. He did a great job. He couldn't have done it without your help, Ratso. You've really helped transform this kid into a guitar-loving maniac. Thank You for EVERYTHING. You've been a huge influence in Nick's life!"

— Larry Zeug
Founder & President, Pinnacle Construction Group, LLC

"Our son JJ has been a guitar student of John's for four years. JJ has learned to read music, scales, arpeggios, music theory, and apply them with a desire, determination and discipline not only to play all the music taught, but also with creative improvisation as well. He loves studying with John. There's always time for some great conversation as well as all the great music. We could not have found a more talented professor of music who happens to have played with some of the greats. John is one of the greats! He also happens to be one of the nicest people we know. JJ's experience as a music student at Lenox has broadened his entire high school experience and provided a great balance between academics, sports, and music. We feel very fortunate. Ratso Rocks!"

— Meg Holmgren

"Our son, an enthusiastic guitar player, started taking lessons with Ratso when he was 16. Within a year, he was performing solos in his high school jazz band normally reserved for older students, became an integral member of the jazz band and one of the reason it won competitions. He was awarded 'Outstanding Solo Performance' at a high school competition at the prestigious Berklee School of Music. His band teacher commented on how much improved his note reading, fingering, and understanding of music theory was — all because of Ratso's instruction.

"Ratso is a taskmaster who asks students to practice drills and other fundamentals before playing the music they desire. Ratso encouraged our son to perform in a band he would've never had access to without Ratso's support. We firmly believe that it was Ratso's influence that grew our son's interest in music from a hobby to a passion. Ratso finds the best in every student. Our family considers Ratso a lifelong friend, and his kindness and willingness to share his world with our son has been a tremendous gift."

— Steve and Laura Palmer

"Ratso has an amazing ability to connect with a student and to adapt his approach to the student's musical goals. He has ignited a great passion in my son for the music he plays and has given him what will be a lifelong gift — a way to communicate himself musically. I am particularly impressed with how important and responsible Ratso makes the student feel for the progress of his own music education."

— Kathleen K. Lundquist, Ph.D.
President & CEO, APTMetrics

"My son Dan has been studying with Ratso for six years and is now a sophomore in high school. Through the years Ratso has taught him the fundamentals of music, theory, scales ... and then the fun stuff — rock 'n' roll and the blues. He continues to develop and teach the essentials, which have become the foundation for Dan to grow into a very solid guitar player. Ratso has not only taught him to play but also, most importantly, to listen. They work out the subtleties of songs, licks, and solos together. That requires patience and listening skills that carry over into all areas of learning. The academic benefits are without a doubt attributed to his musical studies. Dan has been exposed to the music of so many great guitarists who have influenced music history as well. How many 15-year-olds run home after a lesson to download Les Paul, Eric Johnson, Mark Knopfler, and Buckethead? Ratso is a teacher, friend, mentor, and a role model who is a positive force in our son's world."

— Carrie Getz

"I want to thank you for what I would consider to be some invaluable and priceless help and guidance on the guitar. You are an extremely gifted guitarist and also very personable and pleasant as a teacher. I've had a few stuck-up and pain-in-the-ass teachers for piano, clarinet, and trumpet, but you, Ratso, are a joy to learn from."

— Steffen Hagberg, Guitar Student

"Ratso taught two of my sons guitar, and it turned out that he taught them much more than just discipline and guitar. I'm really grateful for that."

—Susan Gravdahl Parsons

"The best outcome comes from the best input. Ratso and crew teach, not just technical artistry, but also the soul of what music is."

—James Robinson

Lenox Sound Recording Studio—a place to record and a place to learn.

Owner/musician/producer/teacher John "Ratso" Gerardi has recreated that big, LIVE sound of the olden days that he heard when he was growing up listening to records from Chess, Motown and Muscle Shoals on the AM radio next to his bed.

Lenox Sound Recording Studio offers a full range of services: record production, song demos, voice-overs, original music, and promotional jingles.

The main room is the center of every great studio and Lenox Sound Recording Studio is no exception. The room features a 17-foot cathedral ceiling, premium white pinewood construction, and a soundproof iso-booth. By design, there are no parallel surfaces — an acoustically superior geometric configuration — giving the room a big, LIVE sound like no other.

The control room provides the perfect blend of luxury and functionality. Seated at the console, the main room and iso-booth can be seen through a 6x8 foot glass window that seals and separates the two rooms. White pine walls and a hardwood oak floor contribute to the outstanding acoustical qualities of the iso-booth. The booth's exterior is composed of cultured stone and the roof is cedar-shingled.

A great room alone does not make a great recording. Another integral part of the recording process is the gear. Lenox Sound takes equipment selection very seriously.

We use the best gear to make sure that the essence of room is captured and that the acoustical qualities of room are apparent in the finished product. The result is a truly unique sound that only Lenox Sound Recording Studio can deliver. Because — in the end — it's not gear that makes a great recording, but the execution and the performance by the musicians.

Below is a list of some of the equipment we use to capture that big, LIVE sound.

Recording Machines
32-Track Digital .001 Version 5/1
32-Track Digital .002
24-Track Digital Alesis ADAT XTS with BRC
Tascam DA-30 MKII Dat Recorder
Tascam M-2600 MKII Console 32 x 8
1/2-Track Fostex (A Series) 1/4"-Mix Down Deck
Luxman D-111 CD Player
Tascam 302 Cassette Deck
Sony TC-K679ES Cassette Deck

Alesis Matica 500 High Speed
Carver PM-600 Magnetic Field
Peavy M-2600

(1) U87 AKG: (2) 414 (1) D200E (1) D112
Shure: (1) SM Beta 58 (2) SM-57
(1) SM-58 (2) SM-81
RE: 10 Senhheisser: (3) 421 (2) E-609v

E-MU Vintage Keys Analog Keyboards
Alesis SR-16 Stereo Drum Machine
64 Key Upright Acoustic Piano
Hammond XB2 MIDI Keyboard with Leslie
Hammond M3 with Leslie
Roland PMA-5 Sequencer

Lexicon PCM 80 Processor
Aphex 107 Tube Essence Mic Preamp
Yamaha Digital Rev 7
Yamaha SPX 90
DBX 166 Stereo/Compressor/Gate
MXR Digital Time Delay
(2) DBX 166A Stereo/Compressor/Gate
Rane PE 12 Parametric Equalizer
Tube Essence 4-CH Gate
Art Pro Verb MIDI and Effects

Mesa/Boogie "The Formula" Preamp
Mesa/Boogie 2 x 12" Rectifier Cabinet
Mesa/Boogie Road King 1 - 2 x 12" Oversized Ported and Tuned
Mesa/Boogie 2 x 12" Closed Back Cabinet with Celestion 90 Watt Speakers
Mesa/Boogie Cabinets Loaded with Celestion 90 Watt Speakers
1984 Mesa/Boogie Mark IIc Plus Combo
Victoria Double Deluxe Amplifier 2 x 12" Combo (guitar amp)
1964 Black Face Fender Super Reverb
1964 Black Face Fender Tremolux Head
1996 Fender Tweed Pro Junior
1955 Fender Tweed Tremolux

Playback Monitors
EV MS-802
Yamaha NS-10M

Macintosh G5

Click on CD to Hear Song Bytes


ARC Ratso, Dennis Dunaway, Jimmy Kunes and Russ Wilson. American Rock Celebration.
$8.99 + $2.50 sh

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With Blues From The Red Planet MARS PROJECT creates a powerhouse of rockin' blues on their first CD.
$8.99 + $2.50 sh

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Ratso Live Rattled recorded live at Curtain Call, Sterling Farms Theater Complex,
$8.99 + $2.50 sh

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On Water Rising Ratso shines on 12 originals. Featuring, Ratso's Full Blown Blues Band.
$8.99 + $2.50 sh

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Silent Witness captures Ratso's dynamic, live playing for the first time on a studio production.
$8.99 + $2.50 sh

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Whatever It Takes,
the debut release from Ratso
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John Ratso Gerardi/
John Gerardi's first book, "The Blues Bible," a primer on the art of playing blues guitar. A guide through exercises designed to develop technique. Bending, hammer-ons, trills, scale and arpeggio studies, chords and riffs are examples of techniques that, when mastered, will help you find your personal touch playing the blues.

$16.99 + $2.99 sh

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John Ratso Gerardi/
Contact Ratso about purchasing his Signature Amp the Ratifier at 203-359-2238 or

contact ratso