Tony MacAlpine Master Course

Dig into the style and technique of one of the most accomplished and creative guitarists of his era! Ever a true clinician, Tony MacAlpine breaks down over 30 song passages from his extensive catalogue while offering pointed instruction on melodic development, composition, soloing, picking and legato techniques and more!

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Tony MacAlpine has been a driving force in Progressive Rock music for decades, and now, this course offers an exclusive and intensive look at all the facets of Tony's playing. Based on songs that span his nearly four-decade career, Tony inspires as he presents and instructs. You won't be able to help but come away with new ways to approach your guitar playing!

Lessons in this Series:

Lesson 1

Series Introduction

Get a taste of what to expect from Tony's Master Course.

Length: 3:39 Difficulty: 0.0 Free Sample Lesson
Lesson 2


Sit back and relax before the mayhem begins! Tony talks about his career and music, and offers some solid advice for the aspiring musician in us all.

Length: 22:46 Difficulty: 0.0 Member Only
Lesson 3

The Taker

Dive head first into Tony’s style with some signature string-skipping action. Tony’s string skipping technique is unmistakably recognizable and this short passage is a great place to start when working on this kind of playing.

Length: 3:03 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 4

Concrete Gardens Rhythm

The driving, staccato rhythm found in Concrete Gardens will make you feel like a superhero. Tony keeps things efficient with alternate picking, and crisp with the use of palm muting.

Length: 2:59 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 5

Concrete Gardens Solo

Using a sequential idea repeated on different sets of strings, Tony shares another idea that requires not only some strategic picking, but also some key hammer-ons, in order to make it flow correctly.

Length: 2:52 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 6

Concrete Gardens Clean

While the drums and rhythm guitar are driving like a freight train, Tony throws this clean, chorus laden tone over the top, creating a rich texture that he likes to refer to as “icing on the cake.”

Length: 2:14 Difficulty: 0.0 Member Only
Lesson 7

Exhibitionist Blvd

This motif is sure to make your head spin. It goes up as it goes down, is highly syncopated, and is utilizing the dirty, low 7-string sound.

Length: 2:39 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 8

Exhibitionist Blvd Chorus

Get ready to challenge both your brain and your fingers. This line requires quickly switching between finger patterns while maintaining a consistent picking pattern.

Length: 4:53 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 9

Square Circles

Tony has a way of using rhythm and repetition along with complex harmony structures to create things that stick in your ears. There are some seriously weird harmonic ideas going on in this melody. In an important way, the rhythmic consistencies, though odd as well, hold it together and make...

Length: 3:17 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 10

Square Circles - Opening Rhythm

Let’s rewind a bit and check out the opening rhythm to this fascinating piece. Combining multiple techniques, including muting and hammer-on’s, this line feeds off of and accentuates the bass and drum parts happening in the track.

Length: 2:26 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 11

Sierra Morena

When applying altered tonalities, you’re intentionally trying change what the normal flow of the music would be. In essence, you’re in one tonal space, but you’re borrowing notes from where the song is going in order to set up what you haven’t played yet! Here, we start in a major key...

Length: 3:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 12

Dream Mechanism Part 1

Break away from terrifying guitar ideas in this segment with a simple, catchy melody that outlines the strongest notes in a basic chord progression. Tony plays a good ‘road-trip type’ groove with it, and shares a part of one of his most requested songs. This is a fantastic melody and progression...

Length: 2:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
Lesson 13

Dream Mechanism Part 2

Tony first outlines the chord progression and explains how it inspired the solo he plays over a passage from his popular song “Dream Mechanism.” He drives home the point that, for him, some of the most inspiring melodies come from simply following where a chord progression wants to go....

Length: 2:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 14

Pyrokinesis Part 1

Upon first glance, this line looks and sounds like a raking or sweeping idea. Closer examination by Tony reveals that it can be more fluidly done with legato playing. These arpeggios are what tie the broader melody of the song together, so it is important that they are clean, not too percussive,...

Length: 3:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 15

Pyrokinesis Part 2

There’s a lot to unpack in this flurry of notes. You’ll be employing three-note-per-string sequencing, precision alternate picking and rapid position shifts. The position shifts actually create an opportunity to have more uniform fingering throughout. Rather than trying to stay in position,...

Length: 2:14 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 16

Pyrokinesis Part 3

You’ll get to stay in position, play in harmonic minor and utilize some punchy triplet ideas within an otherwise slower sequence. The rhythmic variance is challenging from a picking perspective and it is easy to tense up when trying to harness these short bursts of speed. Tony recommends...

Length: 2:36 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 17

Poison Cookies Part 1

Tony breaks down a run from his song “Poison Cookies” that has garnered many questions since he introduced it on his album Concrete Gardens. It goes by so fast live and on the record, that it appears to be more complex than it actually is! You’ll notice with Tony’s slow breakdown of...

Length: 2:36 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 18

Poison Cookies Part 2

Continuing with his glimpse into the song “Poison Cookies,” Tony looks at the build up to the solo section as an example of repeating rhythmic motifs that move from chord to chord over a progression. The main focus in learning this passage should be on making sure the rhythm is showcased...

Length: 2:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 19

Poison Cookies Part 3

Tony examines the chorus outro into the run from his song “Poison Cookies.” When this passage is played live, it is played with multiple guitar players. Tony discusses the keys to locking in with other players, especially in a lead guitar context and highlights several target notes in the line...

Length: 2:55 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 20

Poison Cookies Rhythm

This catchy line is sure to have you coming back for more. Built off of the open B string, the straightforward rhythm and melodic movement just feel good under your fingers. The string skipping and speed of this line may be challenging, but with some work, you’ll get there. This line really...

Length: 2:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 21

Confessions of a Medieval Monument

With lines like this, many guitar players default to sweep picking. Tony asserts that in this case, these arpeggios really need to be approached with alternate picking in order to get the proper note separation. Sticking with alternate picking also helps to employ some of the other techniques...

Length: 3:05 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 22

Epic Part 1

Get a crash course in melodic development using what Tony calls a “mini ballad” or a song within a song. The idea is that you create a melodic phrase that stands apart from the rest of the song and make a hook out of it. It not only provides a nice solace in the middle of an otherwise high-intensity...

Length: 3:50 Difficulty: 3.5 Member Only
Lesson 23

Epic Part 2

Whole tone scales are notoriously difficult to apply. Tony shares a great example of incorporating this scale in his tune “Epic” by emphasising other, more melodic notes not included in the whole tone scale. He also creates a catchy sequence that follows along with other band members. The...

Length: 1:58 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 24

Epic Rhythm

The title of this track says it all. The long ringing tones of this rhythmic line are nothing short of epic. While this piece is relatively easy, some of the muting could present a challenge. The harmonies present will also force your ear outside of the box. The band all seems to be doing something...

Length: 3:20 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
Lesson 25

Epic Clean

Tony uses neighbor tones in this lick to create a smooth, vocal-like line.

Length: 3:36 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 26

Napolean's Puppet Part 1

Tony teaches portions of the rhythm section from Napolean's Puppet.

Length: 2:28 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 27

Napolean's Puppet Part 2

Taking parts from Napolean's Puppet, Tony teaches a line that utilizes the whammy bar.

Length: 3:29 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 28

Napolean's Puppet Part 3

Tony teaches a legato line taken from Napolean's Puppet.

Length: 2:07 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 29

Napolean's Puppet Part 4

Tony teaches part four from Napolean's Puppet. This one will require a good level of dexterity and knowledge of alternate picking to accomplish.

Length: 1:39 Difficulty: 4.5 Member Only
Lesson 30

King's Rhapsody Line 1

Tony teaches the solo from King's Rhapsody which encompasses multiple lines simultaneously.

Length: 3:38 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 31

King's Rhapsody Line 2

Tony teaches Line 2 of the King's Rhapsody solo which encompasses an ensemble like sound.

Length: 2:22 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 32

King's Rhapsody Line 3

Tony uses an octave based melody in lesson 32 to teach the third line of the King's Rhapsody Solo.

Length: 2:44 Difficulty: 4.0 Member Only
Lesson 33

Concert and Q&A

Tony MacAlpine puts on a live concert and then answers your questions. Come see amazing live performances of his songs, and hear his distilled wisdom. Tony truly is one of the best guitar players in history.

Length: 1:49 Difficulty: 3.0 Member Only
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