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.
While somewhat rare, he would also make occasional live appearances in clubs in the San Fernando Valley, usually playing a Fender Telecaster.
Greene typically worked as an accompanist behind vocalists, because he found group settings restrictive. While he was a sought-after session player, he derived much of his income from tutoring, ultimately writing four books on the subject: 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, which was originally released in 1977 on PMP Records contains no "over dubbing" (multiple track recording). 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 from 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 from the Los Angeles Daily Newspaper stated that "Greene managed to raise the bar for solo guitar."