Strumming from the Wrist (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 22:09Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (10:49) Introduction and Review
- Warm up the hands.
- Stretch the wrists.
- Play the major and minor open chords.
- Warm up your strumming muscles by relaxing the wrists and letting the pick flow over the strings.
- Play the E major chord in the "new" way and play the type 1 barre chords.
- Play the A major chord in the "new" way and play the type 2 barre chords.
- Practice the "slanting A" technique.
- Practice the type 1 minor barre chords.
- Practice the type 2 minor barre chords.
- Play all of the type 1 mini-barre chords.
- Play all of the type 2 mini-barre chords.
- Review and practice quantitative and qualitative techniques.
- Review last week's exercises.
- Enjoy!

Hopefully after the last forty lessons you have acquired some of the basic skills necessary to play the guitar and build a foundation for years of playing to come. I use the word "basic" loosely as it's definitely a subjective issue concerning where the beginning guitar series stops and the intermediate begins. I'm hoping that if you have any questions you will write in and let me know. I'm always happy to clarify any issues if I am able to in a timely manner. Okay, so where do we go from here? The answer: technique!

Although I have discussed playing from the wrist in past lessons and emphasized it to some degree, I want to reiterate the importance of it here. Smooth and consistent rhythm guitar comes primarily from the wrist and the more you are able to relax and strum from the wrist, the smoother your rhythms will become. Remember the exercise that I showed you earlier in this series where you move the wrist back and forth between your legs and attempt to touch the insides of your legs with the hand while keeping your arm relatively still? We'll refer to that exercise as "wrist warming" from this point on and you should all re-familiarize yourselves with it.

Exercise 1
Practice wrist warming until you feel your wrist loosen up and become jello-like (there's always room for Jello!). Do this for two to three minutes and then pick up your guitar. Now strum the following chords: D, A, Cadd9 and G using the strum
or "down, down-up, down-up." Remember to make clean snap-strums with your down-up strokes!





When playing these chords, focus on relaxing your wrist and allowing the pick to flow gently over the strings. Think "wrist" and not "arm" and your strumming will improve immeasurably. However, it should be noted that the elbow and forearm muscles are crucial to the strumming process. The wrist is your primary point of control when strumming.
Chapter 2: (07:11) Over-Strumming Playing too Hard
Okay, so that's a good wrist warm-up exercise, but you should always attempt to play from the wrist in future exercises, especially for those of you who have the tendency to play too hard on the strings. How do you know if you're playing too hard you might ask? One characteristic of this is unpleasant sound, although this can be the result of a number of things, including mis-hitting chords, old strings (you can usually tell if you need new stings if you try to hit a harmonic and have trouble getting a note), or a guitar with intonation problems or neck issues. Sometimes if you find that your pick is "crashing" over the strings and not flowing, then this is a key indicator that you’re playing too hard on the strings. In general, use your ears as the best judge to find if something is not quite right with your playing. First thing, play from the wrist!

Slanting A Technique
I'm hoping that all of you are familiar with this term by this point and have been working on this challenging technique. You might recall that instead of playing an open A chord

A major

using your first, second, and third fingers, you can play the A with your third finger and barring the D, G and B strings all at once. I know this is review, but bear with me. This technique may have come easy to some of you, but is probably a source of some frustration for others. Sadly, this phenomenon is a function of genetics and while some of us have been blessed with longer, slender fingers and more malleable "double" joints, others have been destined to make the best of shorter and less flexible digits. Regardless, that is the nature of nature and we all have to make the best of what we have, right? That having been said, there are ways to utilize the appendages that we have more effectively, simply with insight, and constant, diligent practice.

Exercise 2
Play an open A chord using the slanting A technique. Make sure that you're covering the D, G, and B strings hard enough so that you're getting a clean sound and not touching the high E-string! Yes, I know that this can be the ultimate difficulty when attempting to perfect this technique. If you find that you are touching the high E, then try to push your chord arm (usually your left arm for most of you) forward slightly and apply more pressure with your hand. By moving your arm forward, you will hopefully keep your hand more perpendicular to the neck of the guitar and away from that ever-pesky high E. Use the strum that we used in the previous exercise or "down, down-up, down-up." Relax your wrist and allow the pick to flow over the strings gently. Play this exercise over and over until you are able to get a clean sound out of the A chord. Again, if you are not getting a clean sound, play each of the strings individually until you find where you’re not making good contact with the fretboard.
Chapter 3: (01:43) Type 2 Barre Chords Exercise 3
Now that you are hopefully more comfortable with the slanting A, we're going to use it to play the type 2 barre chords all the way up the neck. Start with the open A chord. Then play B, C, D, and so on as high as you can on the fretboard. Play with whatever strum, you want but make sure that your strumming is primarily generated by the wrist muscles. Go for A NICE CLEAN SOUND EVEN IF YOU NEED TO PLAY THROUGH THESE EXERCISES SLOWLY! QUALITY IS WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR AT THIS POINT!

As most of you know about me by now, I'm the one who pushes you even when your hands are cramping and your fingers are throbbing from holding down the steel strings too long. But hey, someone’s gotta do it, right?
Chapter 4: (02:27) Exercise 4 Exercise 4
Play the type 2 B major chord

B major

using the slanting A technique. Get good and comfortable with it. Keep an eye on your pinky finger, which up to now has been idle. Play the B chord with the strum or "down, down-up, down." Now, place your pinky on the B-string at the fifth fret. Your chord should look like this:

B sus4

You will still be holding down the B string on the fourth fret with your third finger. The pinky is simply added to the fifth fret, changing the chord to Bsus4. Using the strum pattern explained above, strum B and then strum the Bsus4. Feel the muscles in your hand work to accommodate the new chord. Watch me in the video for more on this, and don't forget to relax your wrist!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

tglimmetglimme replied

The written material indicates the type II bar "B" chord has the e string fretted at the 2nd fret however in the video the e string is not barred. I am struggling barring the high e. and getting the 3rd finger to not mute the e string. Is it not important? We is the high e not barred in the video?

sklevi1sklevi1 replied

Exercise 3 really improved my type 2 barre chords. Thanks

alamosgalalamosgal replied

THANK YOU so much for working on strumming. It so often seems to be ignored. The chords are coming along for me, but strumming is what I need to focus on in order to improve the listening quality of my playing. Good timing, Mark.

paulkpaulk replied

Hey mark - jumped up here to see strumming - got a lot more in this lesson - goin back a few to finish on mini bars - starting to sound more like U now!! LOL Paul

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Awesome Paul great to hear from you, rock on my friend! Mark

prdonnellyprdonnelly replied

forget my question I had not done all the excercises - but I still find using my pinky easier on type 2 barre chords.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey PR how are you? Yes, you can use your pinky as a "crutch" at this point but over time you really do need to develop that ring finger to do more of the work, know what I mean? Mark

prdonnellyprdonnelly replied

Mark I have found that using my pinky instead of my ring finger on A type barre chords works better - any big downside ???

dash rendardash rendar replied

There's plenty of room, but no jello! :( Talking about genetic determination, my ring finger simply doesn't bend backwards at the first knuckle. When I see your hand, I can see there's lots of flexibility in that knuckle, but in my hand... well, it just doesn't bend that way! That knuckle doesn't bend much beyond straight. I'm pretty sure it's nothing to do with a lack of practice; my finger is just not capable of that configuration. Consequently, on my A-shape barre chords (what you call type 2, I think), I've now basically given up trying to make the high E string ring. If there's anyone else out there with an inflexible ring ringer, feel free to join my cult. You too can be branded a finger-freak for just one small one-off payment... ;)

stella_madstella_mad replied

Ssomething that has worked for me while playing the slanting A is using both the ring finger and the pinky to hold down the three strings. makes it easier for those of us who arnt quite so flexible

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Dash whattsup? I understand your plight my friend and I sympathize. I think in the long run it's really not that important to have the high-E ring when playing the type 2's and as I always say if someone approaches you when you're performing and says "hey man, you're muting the high E and that's not right" you'll probably know how to respond. Thanx for writing in and we'll talk soon! Mark

ablazich323ablazich323 replied

just renewed my jamplay account after a week of it being expired and it was a great first lesson. I think you've said in a previous lesson but what brand/model of guitar are you playing?

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey blaz great to have you back! The guitar I'm playing in this lesson is a Martin M-36, do you like it? It's one of my very special babies! Talk soon my friend, Mark

roguerogue replied

nice review .. my dad strums really hard and it really does take away from his playing .. although i know i'm not as bad at it as he is .. i sometimes wonder if i'm strumming too hard too .. it doesn't sound like it .. but it just never sounds as good as when you play .. lol .. but i'll just have to keep working on it .. thanks! rogue

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hi Rogue great to hear from you! One of the most important facets of strumming is relaxation. If you can relax your wrist and the pick as well, and allow it to flow over the strings then you'll find that over time your strum will sound more and more beautiful. There definitely is a sensitivity that you develop where you only need to strum as hard as you need to to get the optimum sound and it comes with time. My advice to you is: listen to what you're playing and make the necessary adjustments as you're strumming. Does that make sense? Mark

gone workingone workin replied


Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hello my friend, do you find yourself strumming a bit too hard at times, breaking strings, striking out at the cat? Hmmmm? Well, you may be eligible for a trial prescription of a medication known as Ask your doctor! Mark

whatyousayingwhatyousaying replied

wow that was the second time today I heard someone say "there's always room for jello" I was watching "cold case" today and someone on the show said that....and that was also the first time I have heard anyone say that! SPOOKY

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey What, there is always room for Jello, right? Ironically, I haven't eaten jello in 10 years! Ha! Mark

peterpaulpeterpaul replied

Hey Mark, Really good review. Would love to see you teach some of the classic songs of the 70's. Keep up the good work!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Peter nice to hear from you! Have you checked out my lesson on Wooden Ships by CSN, that's pretty "classic 70's" but there is more to come so stay tuned! Mark

Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning the basics of the guitar, the building blocks if you will, is an extremely important step in learning and mastering the guitar. This series is all about the basics.

Guitar BasicsLesson 1

Guitar Basics

This lesson is all about the basics. Mark explains guitar parts, holding the guitar, and more.

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Tuning, Gear, and ChordsLesson 2

Tuning, Gear, and Chords

Mark begins by discussing equipment every guitarist should own. Then, he introduces chords and proper tuning methods.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chords and StrummingLesson 3

Chords and Strumming

Mark finishes his discussion of the "open" chords. He applies these chords to basic rhythm and strumming concepts.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Minor Chords and MoreLesson 4

Minor Chords and More

Mark reviews the major chords and introduces the minor chords. He also covers strumming techniques in greater depth.

Length: 25:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Expanding ChordsLesson 5

Expanding Chords

Mark introduces a few more minor chords. He also provides a monster chord exercise.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Strumming ExercisesLesson 6

Strumming Exercises

Mark Lincoln continues his discussion of chords and strumming. He introduces several new exercises in this lesson.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Music Theory and Barre ChordsLesson 7

Music Theory and Barre Chords

Mark covers several topics in this lesson. He explains scales and barre chords. He also demonstrates how to find notes on the fretboard.

Length: 21:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
E Shape Barre ChordsLesson 8

E Shape Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln covers E shaped barre chords in greater depth. Mark refers to these chords as "Type 1" barre chords.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Barre ChordsLesson 9

A Shape Barre Chords

Mark covers the A Shape / Type 2 barre chords in greater depth.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Barre ChordsLesson 10

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor Shape Barre ChordsLesson 11

A Minor Shape Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords based on the shape of the "open" Am chord. He refers to these chords as "Type 2 Minor" barre chords.

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mini Barre ChordLesson 12

Mini Barre Chord

Mark demonstrates abbreviated versions of the "Type 1" and "Type 2" barre chords. He calls these "mini barre" chords.

Length: 17:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Mini BarreLesson 13

A Shape Mini Barre

Mark teaches the "mini barre" version of the A major shaped barre chord. He also explains dissonance.

Length: 20:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Mini Barre ChordsLesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln applies mini-barre chord concepts to minor chords.

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar TechniqueLesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar DynamicsLesson 16

Guitar Dynamics

Mark Lincoln explains how dynamics can enhance your playing. He covers topics such as volume, tempo, rests, and more.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Transistion StrumsLesson 17

Transistion Strums

Mark Lincoln explains more about guitar technique. This time around he introduces "transition strums" and continues his discussion of liquid chords.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic TechniqueLesson 18

Harmonic Technique

Mark Lincoln explains what harmonics are and how they are played.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Expanding Liquid ChordsLesson 19

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Length: 16:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Spicing up ChordsLesson 20

Spicing up Chords

Mark demonstrates how chord progressions can be spiced up by adding hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord FingeringLesson 21

Chord Fingering

Mark explains how chord fingerings must be altered when applying "liquid chord" concepts. He also provides a few new "liquid chord" exercises.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 22

Precision Strumming

Mark returns to the land of chords. This time around, he provides an exercise that contains four variations on the A chord.

Length: 14:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
D to D in Six StepsLesson 23

D to D in Six Steps

Mark provides a chord progression that shifts from one D chord to another in six steps.

Length: 15:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Voicings and ConstructionLesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ChangesLesson 25

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes

Mark tests your guitar knowledge with a pop quiz. Then, he discusses quantitative and qualitative changes.

Length: 22:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ReviewLesson 26

Quantitative and Qualitative Review

In the 26th installment of his basic guitar series, Mark reviews the quantitative and qualitative changes he presented in lesson 25.

Length: 17:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm and GuitarLesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

Mark provides exercises designed to make you a better rhythm player.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Expanded Rhythm ExerciseLesson 28

Expanded Rhythm Exercise

Mark Lincoln expands on the rhythm exercise from lesson 27. This time around he incorporates several C based chords.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Hand StructureLesson 29

Hand Structure

Mark discusses proper playing technique. He provides a few exercises that facilitate right hand mechanics.

Length: 17:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Cadd9 and Dsus2Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

Mark provides an exercise that features two new chords - Cadd9 and Dsus2.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger Glue and Flexibility Lesson 31

Finger Glue and Flexibility

In the 31st lesson, Mark discusses his "finger glue" technique. This technique improves speed and accuracy.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Reviewing Chord ChangesLesson 32

Reviewing Chord Changes

Mark takes a step back in lesson 32 to explain how to make quick and accurate chord changes.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
SlidingLesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Keeping Time While PlayingLesson 34

Keeping Time While Playing

Mark reviews qualitative and quantitative changes. He explains how to keep time while performing these changes.

Length: 21:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor ProgressionLesson 35

A Minor Progression

Mark discusses qualitative and quantitative changes within an A minor progression.

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chord TransistionsLesson 36

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Transistions RevisitedLesson 37

Chord Transistions Revisited

In this lesson, Mark once again covers the subject of chord transitions. This time around, he focuses on barre chords and includes several helpful exercises.

Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Playing Individual NotesLesson 38

Playing Individual Notes

In lesson 38, Mark discusses how playing single notes rather than chords can spice up your playing.

Length: 22:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rocking OutLesson 39

Rocking Out

Lesson 39 is all about rocking out. Mark discusses some tips to take your playing to the next level.

Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Slash ChordsLesson 40

Slash Chords

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Strumming from the WristLesson 41

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Raising the BarreLesson 42

Raising the Barre

Mark builds further on barre chord techniques and liquid chords.

Length: 17:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Building on Your Chord KnowledgeLesson 43

Building on Your Chord Knowledge

In lesson 43, Mark discusses additional skills related to learning and playing chords, specifically "liquification" of chords.

Length: 20:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Experiment With PlayingLesson 44

Experiment With Playing

Lesson 44 is all about trying new things. Mark discusses experimenting with your playing in order to take it to the next level.

Length: 17:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
DiversifyingLesson 45


In this lesson, Mark once again talks about changing up chord derivatives to create a more unique sound.

Length: 20:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Shaping the HandsLesson 46

Shaping the Hands

In lesson 46, Mark explains how to maximize your options by maintaining chord shapes while playing.

Length: 21:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 47

Precision Strumming

Today, Mark takes in depth look at strumming.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Shine Like the SunLesson 48

Shine Like the Sun

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song entitled "Shine Like the Sun."

Length: 18:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Changing Chords : Accuracy and SpeedLesson 49

Changing Chords : Accuracy and Speed

Mark teaches some useful information on how to mix postures, "finger glue," and techniques to make your chord changes speedy and more effective.

Length: 30:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings Lesson 50

Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings

In this lesson, Mark guides you through the world of alternate chord voicings. He teaches several shapes and shows how they can be used to enhance your playing.

Length: 23:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Understanding Liquified ChordsLesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

Mark brings us a very appealing aspect to better understand the guitar. With his explanation of "liquified" chords, mark will explain how to move up and down the guitar to create different chord voicing.

Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!

Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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