Ted Greene began his own guitar studies at age 11, and was an accomplished player while still in high school, often collaborating with local R&B groups; he briefly studied accounting at Cal State Northridge, but soon 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.