Series Intro - Guitar Parts and Tuning (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and Tuning

Mark introduces his Phase 1 series and covers some fundamental electric guitar basics.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 30:12Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (06:10) Lesson Series Intro Welcome to the Phase 1 Introductory Guitar series with Mark Brennan! This lesson begins with a demonstration of Mark's fluid guitar style. Before you attempt to tackle advanced techniques and chords such as those demonstrated in the introduction music, you must first develop strong fundamental skills.

Mark Brennan Bio

Mark earned a Classical Guitar Performance degree from Cleveland State University in 1980. He began teaching private lessons shortly after completing college. Currently, Mark performs with a Pink Floyd tribute band called Wish You Were Here.

For more information about Mark and his career please read his full JamPlay biography. Also, click here to tour the Wish You Were Here website.

Advantages of Playing Guitar

The guitar can serve multiple functions in a musical setting. It can be used to fulfill the role as a rhythm player. For example, a chord progression is often strummed to accompany a soloist or a vocal melody. Due to its expressive nature, the guitar can also be used as an effective lead instrument. This is especially true of the electric guitar. With effects and techniques such as string bends, the potential for self-expression is infinite. Since the guitar is a rhythmic and melodic instrument, it is possible to play solo arrangements that include a melody line and a rhythmic part.

Series Overview

Mark begins this lesson series with the assumption that you are brand new to the electric guitar. Before he dives into playing techniques, he explains essential information such as guitar and amplifier anatomy as well as the tuning process. Next, Mark will explore basics such as proper right-hand and left-hand technique. You will learn how to hold the pick and the guitar properly. Once you have mastered basic technique, Mark will teach the essential components of music such as scales and chords. These fundamentals will be applied to rhythm and lead guitar in the rock and roll style.

Specific rock and roll guitar techniques such as power chords and the minor pentatonic scale will be covered later in the series. This scale will be used to compose and improvise your own guitar solos. As he continues to explore rock guitar techniques, Mark will teach some simple rock songs that involve these important elements.
Chapter 2: (11:15) The Parts of the Guitar There are a vast number of guitar manufacturers that produce several different lines of guitars. However, the majority of guitars produced today are based on a few classic designs. Most guitars are based on classic designs invented by the Fender and Gibson companies. The Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul are the two most popular guitar designs.

Mark's guitar is based on the classic design of the Fender Stratocaster. This guitar was built by the Tom Anderson Company.


The anatomy of the guitar is based on a woman's figure. It features a body, neck and a head.

The headstock is located at the end of a long, slender piece of wood called the neck. The nut separates the neck from the headstock. Tuning pegs are fastened to the headstock. The strings are wrapped around the tuning pegs to hold them tightly in place.

Tuning Machines

The tuning machines ensure that the tuning remains stable for as long as possible. Most Stratocaster style guitars feature six tuning machines on one side of the headstock. Turning the tuning machines alters the pitch or tuning of each string. Turning the tuning peg in a counterclockwise motion raises or sharpens the pitch of the string. Turning the peg clockwise lowers or flattens the pitch.

Gibson Les Paul style guitars feature three tuning machines on each side of the headstock. In this case, the three tuning machines on the bottom portion of the headstock work in the opposite direction.

The Neck

The long slender part of the guitar is called the neck. On Strat style guitars, the neck is bolted to the body. Gibson style necks are typically glued to the body.

The fretboard is glued on top of the neck. Fretboards are either made out of rosewood, maple, or ebony. Maple produces a brighter tone. Rosewood and ebony sound slightly darker.

Slits are carved into the fretboard for installation of metal strips of wire. These strips of wire are called frets. Electric guitars typically have 21 or 22 frets. Many guitars designed for hard rock and metal feature 24 frets. Ibanez has recently started to manufacture a guitar that features 27 frets.

In later lessons, Mark will use the word "fret" to refer to the space located between the metal fretwire. For example, the space between the headstock and the first metal fret is referred to as the "1st fret."

Most guitars feature position markers on the fretboard to help keep you oriented. Most Strat style guitars feature pearloid dot inlays. The double dots indicate the 12th fret. As you continue to explore up the neck, these positions markers will become very handy. Position markers are also listed on top of the fretboard. These dots are typically very small. Classical guitars are typically the only type of guitars that do not feature fretboard markers. Guitars manufactured by the Parker Company also do not feature fretboard markers.

The Body

The body is the curvy base of the guitar. The bridge, electronics, and pickguard are found here.

A. Pickups

The pickups sense the vibration of the strings. This vibration is transformed into an electric signal that passes through the guitar cable and comes out of the amplifier. Most Strats feature three single coil pickups. The other type of guitar pickup is called a "humbucker." Les Pauls feature two humbucking pickups. Humbuckers are essentially two single coil pickups that are wired together.

B. Pickup Selector Switch

A toggle switch is used to select a specific pickup(s). The positions of the toggle switch are setup just like the pickups. There are five possible pickup selections available on most Strats. Three of the positions are for each of the single coil pickups. The in between positions blend the sound of the bridge and middle pickup or the neck and the middle pickup. The bridge pickup features a bright, treble sound. The neck pickup produces a warmer, bassier sound. The middle pickup produces a middle ground sound between these two extremes. Experiment with your guitar and explore the different tones that each pickup produces. Compare the sound of a single note played with each of the pickup options.

C. Volume and Tone Control(s)

Most Strats feature a single volume knob that controls the volume of all three pickups. Les Pauls feature two volume controls - one control for each pickup. Most guitars feature two tone controls - one for the bridge and one for the neck pickup. When the tone control is turned down, the high end or treble is decreased.

D. Output Jack

The electric guitar connects to the amplifier through a patch cable. The patch cable connects to the output jack of the guitar. Typically, the jack is located somewhere around the side of the body or the front of the body near the volume and tone controls.

E. The Bridge

The strings attach to the guitar at the bridge. There are several types of bridge systems.

1. Floating Tremolo - Most Strats have floating tremolos. The tremolo is the "whammy bar" that is used to lower or raise the pitch of a note. Pressing the bar downwards lowers the pitch of a note. Pulling the bar upwards raises the pitch. You cannot alter the pitch as much with this system as with a double locking system. Springs that are covered by a plate on the back of the body help maintain equilibrium and keep the strings in tune.

2. Fixed Bridge – These systems do not feature a whammy bar. They are installed on most Gibson style guitars.

3. Locking Tremolo – Refer to the "Lesson Information" section of lesson 1 from Kris Norris' Phase 2 lesson series to learn about locking tremolos.

F. Strap Pegs

Most guitars feature 2 strap pegs. One is typically located on the side of the body directly in line with the bridge. The other is placed on the upper cutaway of the body. Mark's guitar features three strap pegs for more options.

Strap locks will ensure that your strap remains attached to the strap pegs. Straps have a tendency to work their way loose over time. If you are standing up while playing, you could accidentally drop your guitar to the floor and damage it. At the very least, this mishap will negatively affect your performance.
Chapter 3: (03:18) Proper Posture Playing the guitar properly begins with proper posture. Proper posture involves the entire body. Remember that the entire body is one system. Everything affects everything else. Playing with proper posture will enable you to play with the greatest ease and comfort. Improper posture results in poor playing technique and potentially career-ending injury.

Sitting in a Chair

Do not sit in a chair with arm rests. This will prevent you from holding the guitar in a comfortable position. Also, do not sit on a very soft chair or couch. Otherwise, you will sink in to the cushioning. This prevents you from playing with proper posture.


The legs are the foundation of the body and proper posture. Any structure requires a solid foundation. Always follow the following guidelines regarding proper leg positioning.

1. Never cross your legs. It limits circulation. It's awkward. Most people do this just to raise the guitar higher. That's why you should always wear a strap instead!

2. Keep the feet about shoulder width apart. When playing sitting down, keep them parallel. If standing up, then you may find it more comfortable to keep one foot slightly in front of the other. Leading too much with one foot can cause back issues that affect the shoulders. This tension can spread to the hands and affect playing.

3. The groin area and feet should form an isosceles triangle (two equal sides). The ancient Egyptians understood that the triangle is the strongest geometric shape. Consequently, you must position the base of your body in this formation.


Keep the shoulders relaxed and loose at all times. Don't shrug them at all. Your arms should feel like they are hanging effortlessly from your body. Do not lift your right shoulder to bring your right hand closer to the strings.

Do not lean over so that you're face is closer to the fretboard. Keep the spine as straight as possible at all times. Playing slouched over for extended periods of time will hurt your back.

The Strap

Always wear a strap regardless of whether you are playing sitting down or standing up. This is true of both electric and acoustic guitars. Raise your left hand slowly until the bicep no longer must use any force to raise the arm. Adjust your strap so the neck meets your left hand at this position. Play with the strap adjusted the same way regardless of whether you are standing up or sitting down. Pay no attention to rock guitarists who play with the guitar slung down around their knees. This is very improper posture. It makes playing the guitar much more difficult.

Positioning the Guitar

The guitar should remain mainly flat against your body. Do not let the guitar tilt down your leg. This will make it hard for your left hand to play chords and scales. A lot of students complain that they cannot see the fretboard as easily when the guitar is flat against their body. You will get over this in time. Use the dots on top of the neck to help orient you if necessary.

Choosing the Right Guitar

Don't play a guitar that is too big, bulky, or heavy for you. Many players run into back and shoulder problems from playing heavy guitars such as Les Pauls night after night. Similar problems may result from playing a large hollowbody or acoustic guitar. Most likely, these problems will not manifest themselves immediately. It may take decades for the issue to come to a head. However, they could eventually knock you out of commission for a long time. Why would you do anything that could potentially lead to injury?
Chapter 4: (08:41) How to Tune Your Guitar Note: For more information pertaining to the tuning process, please visit the lessons listed below.

Jim Deeming - Phase 1, Lesson 20
Mark Lincoln - Phase 1, Lesson 2
David Anthony - Phase 1, Lesson 1
Steve Eulberg - Phase 1 Kids and Guitar, Lesson 6
Matt Brown - Phase 2 Rock Guitar, Lesson 10
Steve Eulberg - Phase 1, Lesson 10

You must tune the guitar prior to every practice session. It does not matter how recently you played it. The guitar is not like a piano. The strings go out of tune much more quickly. They will slip out of tune in a matter of hours as the guitar sits in its case. Get in a habit of tuning your guitar prior to performing your daily warm-up exercises. If your guitar is not in tune, everything you play will sound bad regardless of how well you play it.

Purchasing a Tuner

Eventually, you will need to learn how to tune the guitar by ear. For now though, use an electronic tuner to help with this process. A reliable electronic tuner can be purchased at your local guitar store for around fifteen dollars. The Korg GA-30 Guitar/Bass Tuner is a great choice for beginning guitarists. This tuner also features a built-in microphone. The microphone allows you to tune an acoustic guitar without plugging a patch cable into the tuner.

Professional tuners such as the Boss TU-2 are designed for live performance situations. Chances are that you will not need a tuner of this quality to start with. These tuners require the use of two cables. They also have two outputs. One output silences the guitar signal when tuning. The other keeps the guitar amplified while tuning.

Open String Names

The tuning process begins with learning the name of the note produced by each "open" string. A string is played open when the left hand is not used on the fretboard.

The thickest string (closest to the ceiling) is referred to as the sixth string. This string produces the pitch "E."

5th string - A
4th string - D
3rd string - G
2nd string - B
1st string - E

Memorize these string names as soon as possible. This information is extremely rudimentary and important. A lot of what you will learn later expands upon this basic information. Notice how the lowest and the highest string are both tuned to the note E. The "high" E string is tuned two octaves higher than the lowest string.

The tuning listed above is referred to as standard tuning. Other alternate tunings are sometimes used. These tunings are discussed in other lessons on

When using the tuner, the string number or open string note name will light up as it is plucked. A meter will indicate whether the note is sharp or flat. If the meter is to the left of center, then the string is flat. If it is right of center, then the string is sharp. If the appropriate string number or pitch does not show up, the note is too far sharp or flat for the tuner to register properly.

If you have any sort of a floating tremolo, you have to go through the tuning process twice if not three times. When the tuning of one string is changed, the tuning of the other strings adjusts slightly to even out the tension placed on the neck. This is one disadvantage of a floating or double locking tremolo system.
Chapter 5: (01:07) Lesson Wrap-up If you ever have any questions regarding lesson materials, feel free to email Mark. You can also leave comments or questions on the forum as well as in the "Comments" section of each individual lesson. JamPlay instructors typically hold live Q+A sessions with members too. These occur roughly every 2-3 weeks with a variety of instructors.

Preview of Upcoming Lessons

Thus far, Mark has covered the parts of the electric guitar and how it is tuned. In the next lesson, he will explain the anatomy of a guitar amplifier. He will also explain how to get the best possible sound out of your equipment. In addition, Mark will demonstrate how to vary your tone to fit the context of the music you are playing. After exploring the amplifier, Mark will dive into some basic exercises that will help develop proper left and right hand playing techniques.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

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

JPes339JPes339 replied

Having taught science for many years, I appreciate the detail and logical way you present the lesson. I think I've made a good choice

TeeAndKayTeeAndKay replied

I am soooo enjoying this! True beginner info. Learning chords is great but if I don’t know what my guitar or amplifier parts are then it’s pretty useless. Very informative. Thank you! Looking forward to amplifier parts because I have no clue what it’s all for.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

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Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

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Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Those two comments were accidentally posted by me.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Those two comments were accidentally posted by me.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Those two comments were accidentally posted by me.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

In the first minute and 46 seconds, all you did was play... AWESOME!!!

MurphdudeMurphdude replied

had an error loading media and it froze about 1/2 way thru phase 1 basic electric guitar on Sunday 12;00 eastern time .."File could not be found"

BillamjBillamj replied

Anyone who opens a beginners lesson with In the Beginning can’t be all bad.

Geremiah2911Geremiah2911 replied

Thanks so much! After my lessons I was able to say Wait what happened to the Whammy bar? Its not here! Guitar Center is closed due to the Corona Virus and as a beginner I sure won't be needing it soon : )

mickbenjaminsmickbenjamins replied

In the second video 'The Parts of the Guitar' you make this AWESOME muted (?) sound at 7:57! I hope you'll learn us how to do this in one of the videos :-)

arpegadreamarpegadream replied

With your Boss Tuner, I see there is a different mode and markings on the bottom of the scale that appear to be for some other tuning method? How does that other setting work, is there a page that explains it? Does the tuner do a strobe tuning effect?

Bradley.ConwayBradley.Conway replied

Hey arpegadream! I just wanted to let you know that you can find out more information about the Boss tuner that Mark is using by copying and pasting the following link into your search bar: This page should have all the information that you are looking for. I hope that helps!

7stryder77stryder7 replied

great lessons... I went through them all to see what was coming and I'm very impressed... now to start at the beginning and really learn something... looks like it should be fun...practice practice practice

Yuri1981Yuri1981 replied

I use an old subwoofer as a foot rest. Semi lifehack.

EclecticElectricTeleEclecticElectricTele replied

Great job. I've been messing around with Guitar for 12 years. I built my own tube amp and a guitar. BUT I still got a few things out of this!

biker437biker437 replied

Hi Mark from a fellow Ohioian.. I live in Conneaut,, my question is I have a tuner but lot of people tell me that I should learn string tuning. but how do you know if the low E is tune?

SurfpopSurfpop replied

You need to tune the low E to something else, a piano or a tuning fork. But there are plenty of apps for your phone that are free and work fine for anyone not in a pro recording situation.

killerskullkillerskull replied

where do I go from here?

EthanWintersEthanWinters replied

I just use the app Guitar Tuna to tune my guitar. It is free and is makes it really easy.

EthanWintersEthanWinters replied

I just use the app Guitar Tuna to tune my guitar. It is free and is makes it really easy.

brian_espanajamplaybrian_espanajamplay replied

enjoyed,not too technical,thanks

RabbitboyRabbitboy replied

Thanks Mark, really enjoyed the first lesson!

NevinDinonsieNevinDinonsie replied

Enter your comment here.

imanewheroimanewhero replied

Looks like i've found my teacher. Mark, thank you for this first part of your lessons. This is exactly how i want to learn guitar - i just have my amplifier, guitar and tuner. And then i want to start using them while teacher instructing me what to do. Perfect balance between theory and practice. And in the opening part, when you played some music - that's just like my guitar sounds. So i'll stick around your courses. Thank you again. Alex.

grhandersengrhandersen replied

i already own a tele set up with 11-46 guage strings and a roland micro cube for practice .i also have a 60's vox AC30 ,a tuner and a me-25 multi effector .I desperately need to learn to play .

mohammad.alhiari3mohammad.alhiari3 replied

hi i just got my guitar im 8 years old show me like i can learn little by little

mohammad.alhiari3mohammad.alhiari3 replied

hi i just got my guitar im 8 years old show me like i can learn little by little

thegreatrawthegreatraw replied

this was very helpful learning what each string represents makes the current tabs i have make more sense

barbarasykesbarbarasykes replied

Just want to say that this lesson and your speed is exactly what I need. Thank you - I am looking forward to being a real guitar player someday. Thanks!

dinomaster606dinomaster606 replied

Great lesson, but about 8 minutes in, the audio is gone :/ any fixes?

TorbenljTorbenlj replied

Many thanks Mark. Many useful informations and a very good intro to electric guitar.

lewis1975lewis1975 replied

Thanks mark for a fantastic intro to guitar

qsharkqshark replied

Is there a lesson on how to string a guitar? Strat?

gkruegingkruegin replied

Enter your comment here.

gkruegingkruegin replied

Is it ok to rest the guitar on your left leg?

NozLNozL replied

Thanks, Mark.

gtolsengtolsen replied

is hanging the guitar on a wall hanger good for the guitar?

fnwheelerfnwheeler replied

i don't have a tuner and you didn't talk about tuning without a tuner. what do i do?

rustyberryrustyberry replied

Get a tuner for your iphone or smart well

themonsterthemonster replied

you can install a tuner in your phone, android or iphone, free

donomoserdonomoser replied

That's guitar, not car!

donomoserdonomoser replied

Mark, I inherited a Peavy Predator guitar from my son, and it didn't have the tremolo bar? for the librato. Is that something I can purchase and install on my guitar or will I have to buy a new car? Thanks, Don

homespechomespec replied

Hey Mark This is my second attempt at jam play. I suffer from a right shoulder injury that limits the time that I can hold the guitar. I was luck to purchase a 7826 Committee Gretch, in excellent condition with original case. this is what I will be using, along with a Fender Stratacustic. Look forward in working with you. TTYL Jerry

ATR72CaptainATR72Captain replied

I have just signed up today. I listeened to this first lesson and I am pleased with it. I have been taking private lessons for about a month and a half. I decided just to move through your course as If i was in day one even though i have a small bit of experaince with my private lessons. although some of this was good review, you taught me some things I did not know. I have purchesd a 2007 Gibson Les Paul Standard and a 79 era Peavey VT 112 artist tube amp. I liked that you explained how the pickup position switch works. I know mine is a different and I was going to look up particular info on mine but you went into the gibson type guitar as well. thank you for that. I see by just the first lesson I have already learned some things. I see the next lesson you will talk about the amplifier of which I know very little.Im sure I will find this helpful and I am glad I made the decision to start from scratch with you.

landonkoon1landonkoon1 replied

I love your guitar Mark. I noticed it's not a strat but has a signature strat body, what brand is it?

whc66whc66 replied

Help the beginner guitarists again plz. In tuning ; how does one know how tight the strings should be? I can tune to E with loose or tight strings. How do I know how tight (or loose) to tune the strings. I know: dumb question.........right? Thnx

mike lansdellmike lansdell replied

Hi Mark. Wht a great intro. Have just bought an Electric Guitar after playing Classical for many years. I find it more comfortable sitting with my guitar on my left leg slightly raised. Is this a practice I should change ? Mike

skye4skye4 replied

Hi Mark, I'm a beginner who has a passion for guitar music. I'm visually impaired at sixty-one I want to learn guitar. On this intro to the guitar I have learned some things not mentioned by other instructors at JamPlay, I think that your clear and pro seize method in teaching is wonderful, now I must say I'm also left handed but most things my life I've learned to do them right handed after all God created end us with two hands, ears, legs, eyes, feet etc. The question I have is making cord changes, is done at the end of a measure or at any time in a measure? What is the best way to do this. what is your take Mark?

stevemagstevemag replied

Hi Mark, I am new to Jamplay, I played an accoustic when I was in college but that was over 20 years ago. I wanted to learn how to play an electric. I just bought a Epiphone Joe Bonasomma Gold Top Les Paul guitar. What are your thoughts on that guitar? Is there much difference between a Les Paul and a Strat? I was just curious. Thanks

jayindiajayindia replied

Grate lessons for the beginner like me

haddershadders replied

In the Beginning - clever.

archenemies32archenemies32 replied

very nice intro mark!

webgeeksunlimitedwebgeeksunlimited replied

Great intro Mark, learned things that were never covered with an actual instructor. I now better understand some of the features of my guitar. Even something as simple as the switch and pickups operation make sense now.

adrian millsadrian mills replied

Hi Mark gr8 intro I'm a 55 wannabe rocker with zippo Guitar knowledge...your intro was very informative. I had I lesson with a one to one Tutor and your intro was a lot more informative...look forward to more lessons.

soulrippersoulripper replied

Hi Mark, I'm getting back into playing after quite a long time. I wanted to take a review and see if new stuff was introduced. SO, My question is, how do you know you have the right "E" when you first change your string and are using the tuner?

ademirvsademirvs replied

A really nice intro, I have 35 years old I think is not to late to learn anything and my dream is play a guitar

stratavariousstratavarious replied

Enter your comment here.

newfilternewfilter replied

Mark your lessons seem like a GREAT place for me to begin, you have a great approach. I am a total beginner, I picked up an Epiphone SG Jr. a 20W amp and a good tuner at Guitar Center to start with. I hope I didn't go too low on the $$ scale. I know it's a little late in the asking but what are your thoughts on this guitar? It feels good, and sounds good, no buzzing etc. I am a newly retired gal with short fingers, also a lefty who has chosen to learn right handed; so far I think it has helped rather than hinder me we will see when I want to finger pick. I also have an older classical style guitar but I've set that aside while I learn to ROCK. Perhaps I'll learn classical style at a later time. Looking forward to getting into all of your lessons.

o_krusho_krush replied

Hey Mark, like your style. A couple quick questions maybe your experience can help me on. I am learning partly because I have an 8 year old that wants to learn and figured it would help if i played as well (not withstanding I always wanted to learn). He is small for his age and I am torn on whether to go with a 3/4 scale or full size. More trying is that he is left handed and I get two answers which is learn right it makes some things easier while others say play however comfortable (which for him would be lefty). Any thoughts? BTW picked you based on your music interests and the fact I was born in Cleveland and grew up in Bay Village so a buckeye would never steer me wrong.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Chris...good to hear from you and welcome to Jamplay. For an 8 year old, I would start with a smaller guitar. There are good quality instruments out there for smaller hands and it will feel more comfortable in their hands. They're relatively inexpensive, and you can move up to a full size as they grow and the interest in playing music is still there. The problem with being lefty is finding teaching resources (instructions books, etc.) and left handed instruments. But I have taught left handed students (who play left handed) and I find it to be no problem. They sit facing me, and to them it's like a "mirror image". The tablature notation is the same for a righty or lefty, but you have to write fretboard diagrams the opposite direction. I think any good teacher can teach a left handed student, but there are adjustments he has to make. One argument you can make for a lefty playing right handed is not only the availability of instruments and resources, but the player puts their strong hand on the fretboard which is a valid argument in my mind. But the choice is yours. If you feel your the most comfortable playing left handed then go for it. I play with a left handed guitarist and he's he has a lot of left handed guitars......good luck with your guitar exploits. Mark

batgirlbatgirl replied

Hi, Just starting out... About the strap: when sitting holding the guitar as instructed in lesson 1 part 3, for the life of me I can't keep the neck of the guitar from tilting downward from gravity no matter how I adjust the strap. If I let go of my left hand from the neck, the neck falls until it hits my leg. Any thoughts on this? Thanks. Rick

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Rick.....if the strap is put on the guitar properly it should balance without a lot of tilting over...but it depends on the guitar and how you have the strap connected. Some guitars won't balance well due to the design. My Breadlove acoustic 12 string will lean to the left because of the size of the headstock. I have to keep my right arm over the guitar to keep it balanced. If your strap is connected at the top of the neck by the nut, it should balance fine, but if it's connected at the bottom of the neck by the heal, it might slip to the left a bit. Some of my straps "grip" on my shoulder, and some slip....this might be an issue. Try a good leather strap.

nwarner3nwarner3 replied

I am an absolute beginner with the guitar. I bought the "game" 'Rocksmith' last month because it was supposed to teach me how to play a guitar. I found out that I need to know how to play the guitar a little bit, before the software will be able to teach me how to play any songs with even remote proficiency. Anyway I noticed some things that happened with that software, and I'm not sure if it is normal, a problem with my guitar, or a problem with the software. Of course, not being sure that I would stick with guitar lessons, I bought a cheap Fender Starcaster and amp combo. When the "game" would have me put my guitar in Drop-D tuning for a specific song, it would also require me to play a half-step lower on the fretboard to recognize the proper note with the 6th string. Is that normal or common? Is it a defect of the guitar? Is it a problem with software recognition? I'm just wondering. Anyway, Mark, I really like your teaching style, and the information you provide is great.

nwarner3nwarner3 replied

A little bit better explanation of what was happening. In the Drop-D tuning, if the song called for me to play a note on the 5th fret of the 6th string, and I played the 5th fret of the sixth string, it would tell me I was wrong, and move me up to the 4th fret. Any help that people could give me would be appreciated.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

When you put your guitar in Drop D tuning, you lower the 6th sting (E) a WHOLE step down to D. So now the notes on the 6th string are a whole step higher than they would be in standard tuning. What was your low E is now on the second fret. F would be on three and G would now be on the fifth fret. The game should be telling you to play the notes a whole step higher (in other words going up the fretboard toward the body of the guitar) than where you would play the notes in standard tuning.....I hope this makes sense for you. Let me know...Mark

nwarner3nwarner3 replied

Yes, Mark, I understand what you are telling me. I had a feeling that the game software's tone recognition program was spotty at best. Your answer tells me to forget what they are saying, and focus on learning from competent instructors. Thanks for your answer, I really enjoy this site.

lone starlone star replied

Hi Mark. I have a guitar amp kit on my I phone which has several pedals on it that I can use. I have been playing for about 5 months and I play any ware from 1 to 2 hours a day. I got stuck on learning how chords work in a certain key. I'm not sure where I should start on your learning sessions. I also don't understand how the progress report works. If you could help me out that would be great. thank you

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

For the Progress report....slide the slider icon along the scale to update how you progress in that lesson....I guess it's your call. when you've got a firm grasp of it's contents, you would be at 100% You can also make notes in the progress on Visit You Progress Report.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey lesson series is if you go through it in order is should work for you. But feel free to jump around. As you learn chords and songs, you'll begin to get a feel for how the chords work in a particular key. Then as you learn the theory of how chords function in a particular key, you begin to understand how to transpose a chord progression to a different key. I would begin by learning the I, IV, and V chords in a bunch of guitar friendly keys.....(C,F and G of G7...G,C, and D or D7......D,G, and A or A7......and so on.....good luck...Mark

mathcoachmathcoach replied

I am going to purchase my first electric guitar, do you have any suggestions or things to look for. I want to play for my own enjoyment. I just started to learn how to play the acoustic guitar and have inherited a Peavey 212 amp and love listening to blues. Any help you can give to a 'senior' who is starting late in life would be appreciated.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I would suggest a Fender the 300 to 400 dollar range, or if you like a Gibson style, like a Les Paul or an SG, try the Epiphone models...they're affordable....good luck!

martinfendermartinfender replied

Thanks Mark for a great first lesson. This is actually my first electric, a Fender Telecaster and your explanation of the tone and volume controls has allowed me to get a whole new sound out of this thing. Thanks again. Jim Niswander

dhfalcondhfalcon replied

Thanks Mark, any lesson that begins with ELP works for me.

zeroedzeroed replied

Thanks, you rock!

kumararkumarar replied

awesome I can't wait 4 more

thisguythisguy replied

Great intro loved it can't wait to progress some more:)

skullbusterskullbuster replied

I'm playing on an Ibanez RG with 2 dual coil pickups at the fret and the bridge with nothing in the middle. Is there a basic setting for my pickup selector switch (i.e. the middle position)? I'm new to guitar! Thanks!

ehabehab replied

In my opinion this lesson covers Guitar introduction very well, the only missing in a Graph by the strings names.

ehabehab replied

In my opinion this lesson covers Guitar introduction very well, the only missing in a Graph by the strings names.

ehabehab replied

In my opinion this lesson covers Guitar introduction very well, the only missing in a Graph by the strings names.

ehabehab replied

In my opinion this lesson covers Guitar introduction very well, the only missing in a Graph by the strings names.

ehabehab replied

In my opinion this lesson covers Guitar introduction very well, the only missing in a Graph by the strings names.

gilmore_wannabegilmore_wannabe replied

Well, reading your bio and watching the first of your lesson sets settles it: I'll definitely be sticking with you to get me started (no offence to all the other awesome jamplay tutors); excellent delivery and content, just as it sais on the box! You may deduce from my member tag that I am a major Pink Floyd fan; in fact my main motivation for learning the guitar has always been that I would like to be able to play the likes of Time, Sorrow, Comfortably Numb, etc... This is probably as noob a question as you'll ever get, but given reasonable dedication and tenacity (i.e. practicing at least once or twice a week), how long do you think it takes to reach at least a basic skill level required to being able to do so? I am under no illusions as to how long it would take and have joked with my wife and friends that in 10 years time I'll give them a full rendition of 'Dark Side of the Moon'; does that sound like an achievable goal to you? 'Looking forward to start the journey with Jamplay, and with you in particular...

dymonddavedymonddave replied

In tuning with an electronic tuner. How do you know if you are at the proper level (I think it maybe called octive)of tuning. If the low is is high enough or low enough on the scale?

theblackmisttheblackmist replied

That you for this :) ive had similar lessons before i joined here but there was extras that i was not aware of

bigdad0926bigdad0926 replied

Mark, Thank you for being a great teacher who happens to be a skilled musician!! I've always wanted to learn how to play the guitar and now that I'm sixty I have the time and patience to learn. I like your teaching style and love of music. Thank you, sir!!! ED Rating 5 thumbs UP

thedgethedge replied

Hello Mark, great intro to the guitar. I have been playing for several years but I have a new electric guitar (Schecter Cr-1). I am not sure how the tone controls are configured. It has a 3 way switch and 3 knobs. I understand how the switch works with the double pickups, but I am not sure how the 3rd (farthest) know works. It has a pull out knob and I am not real sure what this does. Can you help by explaining the knobs on this configuration? Thank you

garrett24garrett24 replied

Great! thank you for telling me how to tune my guitar! xD

kelly griggskelly griggs replied

I just joined and have been watching another teacher. Well, I got kind of lost so I bumped over to you. I deeply appreciate your talent and am looking forward to a lot of fun hours learning from you. Keep up the great work.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Thanks Kelly.....hope you enjoy the lessons....more to come.

kelly griggskelly griggs replied

Thanks for all your help.

griceguitarsgriceguitars replied

Great Lesson Mark! I look forward to continuing the series. Cheers, Dave

zubeldiazubeldia replied

Mark, you are the best!!, I learned so much in this first class, info just flew effortlessly. I can't wait to continue!

belikemike2k6belikemike2k6 replied

Finally found an instructor for me!

bladerunner1bladerunner1 replied

Great Lesson enjoyed the introduction many Thanks !

bencable1bencable1 replied

Great Lesson! But what would I do if I get a wavy sound coming from my line 6 amplifier?

ch005703ch005703 replied

Hy Mark, you are so a likeable teacher, your explanations are easy to understand. All this motivates me for the next lessons. You do a great job. Thanks' lle

fa75943fa75943 replied

this was one of the best guitar lessons i took, amazing job

leesguitarleesguitar replied

does it mater what kind of toner you have

prs-ronprs-ron replied

i have an Ibanez rg series with floyd rose. enough said right lol. i'm pretty sure i do my tuning on the fine tune knobs on bridge right? it's so easy to through the whole thing out of tune by unlocking and using tunning keys. by the way great job.

crackedskullscrackedskulls replied

Great job on the intro Mark. Thank you.

aleko2000aleko2000 replied

ya good job

aleko2000aleko2000 replied

awsome lesson

dpropheticdprophetic replied

Hey Mark, when I am tuning I notice that a lot of times the notes will be out of tune upon picking the string but then settle in tune or vice versa. Is this normal? if not, what is causing this?

ifeightnerifeightner replied

Awesome lesson! Thanks neighbor; I'm in Rocky River!

dfreedmandfreedman replied

Hey Mark - Just joined, thanks for the intro. Borrowed my little brother's 3/4-size ESP. It's sort of a Strat-Gibson hybrid from what you described. All tuning machines are on the same side, but they are on the underside rather than the top side like yours. I have two pickups with a 3-position switch, single vol control, single tone control. I have a tuner and noticed when trying to tune today that even though the tuner (Korg TM-40) said the guitar was in tune, it sounded horrible. I had to tune down to the -20 mark. Then it sounded "right" (according to my untrained ear of course). Any reason why I had to tune this way? Should I set the tone control and switch to a certain position before tuning? Thanks!

monzer7monzer7 replied

Hello Mark, Just joined the site - thanks for a great intro.

sarah_schulzesarah_schulze replied

I really enjoy the lessons, but...I do play organo, like the churche know? I started when I was 10, 30 years ago. I learned the scale like this: CDEFGAHC, german guitars have: 6(E),5(A),4(D),3(G),2(H),1(E), US guitars have the same accept 2(H), that is 2(B). What is going on? I thought Musik instruments are all the same all over the world. There must be a difference between H an B but what is it, it sounds the same but the nakme ist different...WHY is that? ThanX, Sarah

iamsergioiamsergio replied

Hi Mark, When I play my 3rd string open, it's perfectly in tune, but when I play it's 12th fret, it has more 7Hz then it's supposed to. I have a squire starcaster. Thanks

shroom301shroom301 replied

Hey Mark i just finished watching the first few lessons and I'm kinda curious on two things one when should i restring my guitar and is there a lesson somewhere in showing me how to do it myself?

jboothjbooth replied

Check out Jim Deeming's phase 1 series, he has a great lesson on changing strings there :0

shroom301shroom301 replied


cveencveen replied

Hey Mark, thanks for this great intro. Your explanation is easy to follow (even for me living in the Netherlands (Holland), Europe). I really want learn making music. I hope I can, despite I'm 45 years old/young and my fingers (positions) too... Looking forward to follow your lessons step by step!

drapeupdrapeup replied

Great job

zack gzack g replied

Hi Mark! Your lesson was great. I just started and had a lot of fun. Thanks! Zack

dave allandave allan replied

love the lesson-but all that buffering you have to watch twice-hi speed not cheep

jboothjbooth replied

Have you tried changing down to low quality?

ffonsecaffonseca replied

Hi Mark, my name is Francisco Fonseca and I'm from Mexico. I'm a completely brand new guitarrist and I just suscribed yesterday for one year to jamplay. I think it´s a very good and organized guitar teaching website. Congratulations¡. Now, I'm starting my guitar instruction following your lessons. Thanks.

pichipichi replied

Hey Mark, im just starting to play but i would like to know what does it mean to be lead guitarist and can i learn it on Jamplay? Thanks

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

The lead guitarist is the main soloist in the band. He's normally backed up by a rhythm guitarist, who plays chords and Rhythmic riffs to back up the soloist. In many bands two guitarists will share these two roles. Jamplay can teach you both!

jsb510jsb510 replied

Mark, I'm trying to get my guitar in tune and I'm wondering how tight is too tight for the strings? The guitar sounds right but the strings are really tight and feel like they might snap at any minute (i've broken my high E once already) I'm thinking I might be an octave too high. So any advice on when the strings are too tight? Thanks in advance.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

From the sound of it, you are probably an octave too high. You have to be careful with electronic tuners that you have the right pitch....the tuner might show E, but you could be an octave too high.....if you have access to a piano, learn the open guitar string notes on the piano and use it as a reference....hope ya don't break any more strings! Mark

jth111294jth111294 replied

When i play my open strings, there's a small buzz on the tremelo. I have a Halo Morbus, and have no idea how to change the strings, if i need to at all. Any suggestions?

lsakowskilsakowski replied

Frequently the buzz is from the frets near the base of the neck. Look down your neck and see if it has a concave arc. It should be close to flat or have a little arc, but too much will cause a buzzing sound. If you bridge is set to low that will cause a buzzing also. I learned about these causes of buzzing while restoring an old electric guitar. Still trying to learn to play.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Sorry Jonathan...I'd have to see your guitar. I'm not familiar with that tremolo

john lisbonjohn lisbon replied

The intro was simply amazing. Hopefully I'll make it that far.

warpspasmwarpspasm replied

Geeze.... this must be old guy week! :) I'm going to be 59 in August and finally getting around to playing a guitar I bought about 25 years ago. It's a Fernandes Special Edition that looks like a Strat. I'm semi-retired now, so I have the time and still a teenager at heart.

ibanez newbieibanez newbie replied

that rocks.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Go for it man.....and have fun!

mickey2315mickey2315 replied

Hey Mark, loving the lessons. I'm 20 and I've been a drummer since I was 10. Now that I'm balancing work and a bachelor's degree, it's not easy for me to be in a band, so I bought a Gibson Les Paul Studio (always been my favorite guitar) and am hoping to do some solo work over the next year or two, and see where everything goes from there. Thanks again! -Mickey M.

francricfrancric replied

You need to do that ELP song for the song section....................

bajaprov150bajaprov150 replied

Mark, I purchased a Kyser quick change capo from Ebay and received a gift card for & a free membership to for 7 days. I enjoyed your first lesson on learning the parts of the electric guitar, the proper posture, and tuning the guitar. I am 64 and started playing playing a Fender electric guitar about a year ago using the Fender Guitar Method beginners book. I will try the lessons for the next 6 days and see how it goes, before I renew my membership. Thanks for your help.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Delbert......good luck. Stay patient and practice consistently. There's lots of great stuff on this sight. Let me know how it goes..Mark B.

eyeofsauroneyeofsauron replied

Really looking forward to your lessons! Didn't know how to use a whammy bar until I watched this video! I believe there are other methods of tuning not discussed in this lesson. I've found the method stated below useful, as I have previously overtightened my first E string and snapped it as I must have gone past the indicator on my auto tuner. This method gives a good comparison, so you know if you are too high or not. Tune the 5th A string with a tuning fork. Tune the 4th D string by pressing the 5th fret on the 5th A string. Tune the 3th G string by pressing the 5th fret on the 4th D string. Tune the 2nd B string by pressing the 4th fret on the 3rd G string. Tune the 1st E string by pressing the 5th fret on the 2nd B string. Tune the 6th string by pressing the 5th fret on the 6th E string. Should sound the same as 5th A string. Alway tune upwards as it will stay in tune longer.

oldrockeroldrocker replied

Thanks Mark. Even though I've been over this before and I shouldn't have probably bothered, I'm taking this all in from scratch just in case I've missed something or I have bad habits. By the way, a cool way I remember the string names is like this: Both bottom and top are E ( no sweat there ) and the remaining 4 from high to low, I just say - BiG DAy - B,G,D,A! It works for me. Thanks again. Gene

pchiconepchicone replied

Hey Mark. Awesome lesson. I have been trying to learn the guitar for 6 years and have been through 5 teachers. I must say, you are a wonderful instructor and explain everything in simple terms. Thank you!

cory045cory045 replied

Just curious if you own other guitars, specifically a gretsch? I just got a gretsch corvette g5135ps and really like it. I played violin for five years but really lost interest in it. I also can play alittle bit of drums as well.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Yes, I have two Fender Strats, two Martin acoustics, an Ovation electric 12 string, a Taylor electric classical, and others. But no Gretch....though I'd certainly would like to own one!

andybonaparteandybonaparte replied

Hi Mark!! I also love the intro song. I have almost completely copied. It was really A LOT OF, since the camera is sometimes far away from your fingers, but in the end it turned out well. Do you happen to have a tab on this song. Woule be great to correct any mistakes I might have made. CU

jamminjojamminjo replied

Mark on a strat are all the pickups supposed to be the same distance from the strings? My bridge pickup appears to be closer to the strings than the other two. Thanks, Jamminjo

cory045cory045 replied

I really think that the korg tm40 is nice. It combines a metronome and a tuner all a little under $35.

markjmarkj replied

Excellent instruction and thx for the tips - strap locks & Boss TU2

pedrogarciapedrogarcia replied

Mark, could you tab your intro? it sounds really nice

gsamondsgsamonds replied

Great stuff. I knew you were the instructor for me the second I heard you play ELP.

jndaiglejndaigle replied

This is really good stuff. I studied the lesson while I was waiting for my guitar to arrive. I looked at pictures and tried to imagine setting I up. When I took it out of the box, I understood every piece of it and I was up and running in a few minutes. Thanks for the clearly thought out instruction.

skatzskatz replied

Love the intro, looking forward to your lessons. ;)

arghomaitraarghomaitra replied

great lesson Mark.... i have recently decided to purchase a Marshall amplifier and a fender squier strat coz' my parents gave me a deadline of $350... if u have any suggestions regarding this please do tell me.... ???

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Argho....not a lot of cash to work with. I' say get the best guitar you can afford, and get a good practice amp. As you get better and start to jam with others, then beef up your amp, hopefully tube, if you've got the cash.

pagr93pagr93 replied

Mr. Mark, I have a quiestion, I've always played with single coils, so I want know who does a humbucking pickup sounds?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey time you're at you local music store of guitar shop...ask them if you can play a Gibson Les Paul of SG...Epiphone is ok, too. These are the classic humbucker fitted guitars. Basically, it's two single coils wired together. You get a warmer, fatter sound, with more sustain. It's not the thinner, twangy sound of a Strat of Tele.

iseeawliseeawl replied

Hi Mark, I'm looking forward to these lessons. I've been playing guitar on and off since I was 12 (47 now) but have never taken true lessons. I can play what people teach me or pick a few songs out by ear (Dio, Judas Priest) but I love playing and want to truely know the guitar professionally. So lets rock on!

gsturngsturn replied

I just joined jamplay today and this is my first lesson. Very inspiring and excellent presentation on the parts of the guitar. I also liked your intro.

wonderbread159wonderbread159 replied

Do you have any tips for restringing and tuning a guitar with a floyd rose? Also, when I use the tremolo bar it makes a creaking/grating sound. What is causing this and how would I fix it? Great Lesson!

rodnavarolirodnavaroli replied

Mark, Just got the bug to learn the guitar. I'm 54 and retire in August. I like the satisfaction of making music. Enjoyed the 1st lesson. Looking forward to progressing. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Man my fingertips are sore.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Rod....great to have you aboard. Be patient, and play a little evey day. Your fingers will get stronger, and you'll get callouses on your tips eventually. Try to keep you fretting hand as relaxed as possible. Make sure your guitarl is set up properly (action, intonation). Playing the guitar can be very enjoyable..just keep playing and striving to get better.....have fun..Mark B.

graylocksgraylocks replied

Mark - just wondering what gauge strings you use. your sound is full but that could be tone settings. coming from a background of medium gauge acoustic experience, my hands are bending the heck out of the light (or possibly extra light?) strings on my newly acquired electric. plus the sound is thin though i've yet to really play with tone controls. i speculate that a fuller sound is partially a product of string gauge.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Deidre....I use .009's on my electrics. Since you're coming from acoustic, you might want to use a heavier gauge. With electric, you have to lighten up your touch. It's a lighter action. Try relaxing you fretting hand more, putting less pressure on the strings, and avoid bending and sliding the strings. The gauge you use shouldn't have any bearing on your need to work with your amp settings. If your tone is thin, try working with the midrange controls to fatten it up. And also try to experiment with your pickup selector on your guitar. If your not getting the tone you desire, you may need a better guitar or amp....good luck, Mark B.

tammy7689tammy7689 replied

hey mark...first great lessons...i have a few problems with my amp...i keep hearing a cracking sound and somtetimes a popping sound or a real high pitch sound (sry kinda a hard sound to explain) and i also cant get the distortion to sound amp is a marshall mg series 15 cdr....i also have a behinringer distortion modeler dm100 and i tried to hook that up hopin to get a better sound but they dont sound right either...can you help me out? i not setting it up right or is something wrong with my amp?...i just bought it a few months ago so its not that old

slash1slash1 replied

i have viewed lesson twice i like this lesson it goes step by step on things you should no about the electric guitar.

nknitronknitro replied

Hiya Mark, just picked up my electric guitar a week back and thought I'd come here to get to grips with basics. Great 1st segment, hope to learn how to play properly soon :). Niru K

mikunimanmikuniman replied

Hi Mark, inspiring start thank you. I will be playing left handed do you foresee an difficulties with these lessons?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

It shouldn't be a you sit face to face with a teacher (or video), your guitar is a mirror image of your it should be easy to pick things by watching face to face. And the tablature is the same for a lefty, too.....good luck. Hope you enjoy my lessons......Mark B.

lucretialucretia replied

Excellent intro to the series.

baileychamblee1996baileychamblee1996 replied

okay so your guitar is a little more more complicated than mine. I was desperate to play electric guitar and the only one that i found that was affordable was this one i found at walmart, just a cheap $100.00 guitar that doesn't have anywhere near as much machines and equipment as yours. will my guitar not having things like a whammy bar or any other thing like that make learning with my guitar... um... impossible or make it to where it would be a little to a lot harder for me to learn?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Bailey....I'm sure you're guitar is good enough to get started, as long as it's set up properly and playable. The action and intonation must be right no matter how inexpensive the guitar is. As you start getting it going, you're gonna want a better instrument, because you'll feel and hear the difference in a quality instrument....but for now, have fun with the ax you have, and put away some cash for a better instrument. Every electric guitar has the same basic parts....pickups, volume and tone controls, a bridge and saddles (hopefully these are adjustable for better intonation), and tuning machines (hopefully these a decent for better tuning stability). Talk to ya soon...Mark B.

texasiguanatexasiguana replied

Mark upon viewing the segment on tuning your guitar, I noticed (on some notes) you tuned back down to the exact note. I have always heard you should tune "up" to the note and never back "down". Can you share your thoughts?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Mario....that suggestion is a good one. It is best to come from below the pitch when tuning. I think what this does is tighten the gears in the tuning machine and holds the string in tune can feel this when you bring the string up to pitch.

ecw1ecw1 replied

I play Flamenco- 15 years. 1st time on my Suhr and Pure Sixty Four amp and I am tickled pink with your lessons. Thanks Mark.

signprosignpro replied

Mark, I took lessons years ago and haven't picked up my old guitar in years. I decided to start over with your lessons. In purchasing a new guitar, are certain ones made for specific styles of music? For example: I love '80's metal - which guitar would I buy? Thanks!

jdorsmanjdorsman replied

Thanks Mark, these lessons help me understand my guitar a bit better as an absolute beginner :) Looking forward to the next set of lessons.

bdhannabdhanna replied

Very inspiring, Mark! Love the ELP bit in there. Looking forward to more great parts of this intro series.

meganmegan replied

Thanks Mark. I just bought a Hagstrom Super Swede. I got it today. I was sitting here looking at it, thinking it's far to refined looking to play some of the punkier PJ Harvey stuff I've been listening to lately, and "Hey what are all those knobs about ...?" So, you definitely answered all my questions. And thumbs up on the intro. I am inspired to search out groovy tunes for my guitar similar to what you've demonstrated. Happy!

floorshakerfloorshaker replied

Hi Mark. That's the best and most comprehensive description of guitar parts and tuning on Jamplay. Shame you didn't have a Gibson to illustrate the slight differences but, apart from that, GREAT! Thanks. Chris

artydocartydoc replied

I am having trouble reading the tabulature on your beginner lesson. fret one has four 0's on strings 6,5,4,3 and the second fret has 0's on string 2 and 1. how is this played?

georgemorageorgemora replied

Mark, How often should new strings be put on the Guitar?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

It depends on a number of factors.....How often you play the instrument, how much oil and perpiration you leave on the strings....the bottom line i think is if the strings lose their brightness, and start to sound dull, then you should change them, especially on an acoustic......Mark B.

sausn2002sausn2002 replied

I'm glad you mentioned what letters each string has already, so I can start memorizing it already. I gotta get my Guitar Tuner tomorrow! Thanks Mark!

selfrobselfrob replied

Thanks for the lesson. Now I know what the selector switch if for and how to use it.

chanser69chanser69 replied

Just some questions about tuning itself. It seems the 6th and 5th strings are really hard to get to that perfect in the middle, is that just normal because those strings are so thick? Also when tuning I've found that the tone is different based on how hard you pick the string, what strength of picking should you go by for tuning? Thanks

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

There shouldn't be any problem tuning those string under normal conditions. Make sure your low A and E are not too old and worn out. And don't pick too hard when you're tuning, and pick the string and let it don't need to pick repeatedly...hope this helps...Mark B.

rockerdonrockerdon replied

could you tab the intro?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

That would be cool....I'll work on it. Mark B.

namelessheronamelesshero replied

yeah that intro is great!

dash rendardash rendar replied

And another thumbs up for the intro from me. :)

cdawsoncdawson replied

Coolest part is, we usually say.. "ok cameras rolling, play something".. so all of these are always spontaneous.

ryanclarkeryanclarke replied

hey Mark, loving the lessons so far so thanks. Only thing is it seems that every time i tune my fender squire strat, after literally 2 mins it is way out of tune again! Any ideas? Thnks :-) Ryan

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Ryan....make sure your strings are streched out..especially if they are new strings. If you restrung the guitar yourself, be sure they are anchored on the tuning machine shaft. There are a couple of ways to do this. I'd hope that I can do a lesson on restringing in the future, as part of my basic lesson series. But for now, make sure there is no slippage at the machines and they are completely streched out. If that doesn't help, you might have some really inferior tuning machines on your guitar. Might be time to step up to a better instruments...good luck. Mark B.

accordsmagiquesaccordsmagiques replied

Thanks a lot for this great lesson, i look forward for the next ones to come

gfl23gfl23 replied

So that's why my guitar always goes out of tune when i use the whammy bar. It turns out that I don't have the locking machines on the nut. My guitar is also a stratocaster but I can't use the whammy bar to it's fullest extent without fearing that the strings will snap right off. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Sounds like you need to change the number of springs connected to the block of the bridge. Take off the plate on the back, and this will expose the mechanism. Taking off a spring or two will lighten up the feel of the whammy, but you will have to screw the claw (the piece that the springs are connected to) in to level out the bridge plate. Hope this makes sense. The adjustment of the whole whammy mechanism can be might need a guitar tech to do it for you.

gfl23gfl23 replied

I agree the intro is really good. Love it. What type of style playing is that?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Thanks!...glad you all enjoyed that. The first part is a piece of music I wrote on my classical guitar when I was in college. You could consider it fingerstyle or classical, and the second part is the intro of a tune called "From The Beginning" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. i would consider that flatpick acoustic.

rockerdonrockerdon replied

love the intro!!!!

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Mark's Phase 1 series will take you through the basics of playing electric guitar.

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and TuningLesson 1

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and Tuning

Mark introduces his Phase 1 series and covers some fundamental electric guitar basics.

Length: 30:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
AmplificationLesson 2


Mark provides a detailed overview of amplification. This lesson has some great info for any electric player.

Length: 33:55 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Using Tablature and Learning the FretboardLesson 3

Using Tablature and Learning the Fretboard

Before we start rocking, Mark goes over some tools and training necessary to every beginning guitarist.

Length: 12:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Right Hand Technique

It's time to get some sound out of your guitar. Mark begins with picking hand technique.

Length: 31:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 5

Left Hand Technique

Mark explains proper left hand technique from the ground up.

Length: 10:36 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Natural Notes in the 1st PositionLesson 6

Natural Notes in the 1st Position

Mark teaches you all of the natural notes played in first position. He uses two classic melodies to supplement this information.

Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The C Major Scale - 1st PositionLesson 7

The C Major Scale - 1st Position

It's time to learn your first scale - the C major scale in first position. Mark also explains how the major scale is constructed.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 1Lesson 8

Chords in C major - Part 1

Mark covers 7 basic chords in the key of C major.

Length: 35:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 2Lesson 9

Chords in C major - Part 2

Mark expands on chords in C major by showing full forms of the chords you learned in Part 1. He also teaches you the chord progression to a familiar tune.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Power Chord PrimerLesson 10

Power Chord Primer

It's time to start making some noise by using power chords and palm muting. Mark gives you the framework to start rocking with the 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Open Position Minor PentatonicLesson 11

Open Position Minor Pentatonic

Take your knowledge of the notes in the first position and start jamming on a simple pentatonic riff.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and VibratoLesson 12

Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Vibrato

Let's build on lesson 11 with an extended discussion of the pentatonic scale. For lesson 12, we'll simply add one note to the minor pentatonic scale to give us the famous minor blues scale. We'll also...

Length: 36:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Movable Power ChordsLesson 13

Movable Power Chords

Mark explains how to finger power chords and how they can be moved anywhere on the fretboard. He also shows an exercise that will help you remember the name of each power chord.

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rhythmic Notation Part 1Lesson 14

Rhythmic Notation Part 1

Mark Brennan explains rhythmic notation, tempos, time signatures, note values, and more in this lesson.

Length: 32:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of G MajorLesson 15

The Key of G Major

Mark explores the key of G major in this lesson. He covers the first position pattern of the scale and explains how it can be harmonized in thirds.

Length: 33:22 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords of G MajorLesson 16

Chords of G Major

Mark teaches the basic chords of G major as well as some other exercises to get you acquainted with this key.

Length: 34:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Key of D MajorLesson 17

The Key of D Major

Mark explains the basics of D major.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in D MajorLesson 18

Chords in D Major

Mark takes you through the chords of D major and explains some new ones that you haven't encountered yet.

Length: 35:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of FifthsLesson 19

More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of Fifths

Mark continues his discussion of power chords. This time around, he explains the circle of 5ths and demonstrates some power chord progressions that illustrate this concept.

Length: 33:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Movable Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 20

The Movable Minor Pentatonic Scale

Mark teaches the 1st box of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 32:31 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to ALesson 21

The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to A

Mark explains how you can transpose the pentatonic pattern covered in lesson 20 to the key of A minor. He also shows the "lower extension box" and "home plate box."

Length: 26:09 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Blues Boogie ShuffleLesson 22

Blues Boogie Shuffle

Mark teaches the difference between straight eighth notes and the shuffle feel.

Length: 42:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Amplification Part TwoLesson 23

Amplification Part Two

In response to member requests, Mark added another amplification lesson to his growing phase 1 series. In this lesson, he compares 3 classes of amps from entry level models all the way to a Mesa Mark V.

Length: 40:45 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Introduction To ImprovisationLesson 24

Introduction To Improvisation

In this lesson, Mark teaches some blues licks that can be used when improvising over a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 24:01 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of A MinorLesson 25

The Key of A Minor

Mark covers the key of A minor.

Length: 29:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Two Movable Major Chord FormsLesson 26

Two Movable Major Chord Forms

Mark teaches two movable major chord forms and gives many examples of how to practice playing them.

Length: 26:10 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
I-IV-V Progression RevisitedLesson 27

I-IV-V Progression Revisited

Mark Brennan shows you how to apply the chord forms learned in lesson 26 to a I-IV-V progression.

Length: 21:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Dominant 7th Chord FormsLesson 28

Movable Dominant 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan continues his teachings on movable chord forms. In this lesson he shows the dominant 7th chords and how to use them in a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 19:49 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord FormsLesson 29

Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan teaches these minor chord forms and how they are movable up and down the fretboard. He also shows how to use these chords in common progressions.

Length: 21:29 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Brennan

About Mark Brennan View Full Biography Mark Brennan, born August 12th, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, began playing guitar at the age of 10. His first influences were from the Ventures and the British Invasion, especially the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Shortly afterwards he was playing in rock bands with his brother on drums, developing his ear by learning songs straight from records. Playing in a band became a passion.

In high school, he grew to love acoustic and classical guitar. He spent time playing acoustic music, influenced by The Eagles, CSN, Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In the 70's, he headed a very popular Cleveland band, The Brennan-Cosma Band, which played a variety of acoustic and rock music, along with originals. He also took up classicalguitar, and began developing his fingerstyle technique.

Mark is a graduate of Cleveland State University (1980), with a Bachelor of Music in Classical guitar performance. He also studied Music Composition, and took many Music Education classes. After graduation, he began his private teaching career, teaching electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, along with music theory. He taught in various studios and guitar shops throughout his career, and currently has a private practice at his home in Fairview Park, Ohio.

In the 80's Mark took an affection to Progressive rock. With his band Polyphony, he was influenced by the music of Yes, Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Styx, along with a set of prog rock originals.

Currently, Mark is in the regionally successful Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. The band performs faithful renderings of the Floyd classics spanning their entire catalog, along with a strong visual stage show. Here, Mark displays his command of the David Gilmour style.

Mark is excited to be part of's fine roster of teachers. He's looking forward to extending his 35 years of performing and teaching experience to the JamPlay members. His philosophy is about developing a passion for guitar and being the best musician you can be; being true to yourself and developing a personal style, and truly expressing your heart through your music.

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Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Acoustic Guitar

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.

Mary Flower Mary Flower

Mary talks about the key of F in this fantastic lesson.

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Orville Johnson Orville Johnson

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

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Alan Skowron Alan Skowron

Alan shares his background in teaching and sets the direction for his beginning bass series with simple ideas and musical...

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Greg Greenway Greg Greenway

Greg kicks off his series telling a little about himself and introduces the C9 tuning.

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Jim Deeming Jim Deeming

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

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Don Ross Don Ross

New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should expect in this series.

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Eve Goldberg Eve Goldberg

Eve talks about the boom-chuck strum pattern. This strum pattern will completely change the sound of your playing.

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Robbie Merrill Robbie Merrill

JamPlay welcomes bassist and founding member of Godsmack, Robbie Merrill. In this short introduction lesson, Robbie showcases...

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David Isaacs David Isaacs

JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

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Dave Yauk Dave Yauk

Learn a simple mini song that illustrates just how intertwined scales and chords really are. Dave uses a G chord paired...

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Aaron Marshall Aaron Marshall

JamPlay welcomes instrumental guitarist Aaron Marshall for a comprehensive master course. In this first lesson Aaron discusses...

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Steve Smyth Steve Smyth

JamPlay sits down with veteran fret grinder Steve Smyth of Forbidden and The EssenEss Project. He talks about how he got...

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Eric Madis Eric Madis

In this lesson Eric talks about playing basic lead in the Memphis Blues style.

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Brendan Burns Brendan Burns

Brendan demonstrates the tiny triad shapes derived from the form 1 barre chord.

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James Malone James Malone

James explains how to tap arpeggios for extended musical reach.

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Michael Ripoll Michael Ripoll

Michael "Nomad" Ripoll dives deep into the rhythm & blues, funk, and soul genres that were made popular by artists like Earth...

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Tom Appleman Tom Appleman

Tom Appleman takes a look at a blues in E with a focus on the Chicago blues style. The bass line for Chicago blues is very...

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David Ellefson David Ellefson

David Ellefson, co-founding member of Megadeth, explains his overall approach to teaching and learning bass in this introductory...

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Andy Whitehead Andy Whitehead

Join Andy as he takes a look at the style of one of the most influential guitarists of all time: Eddie Van Halen. In the...

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John March John March

Take a new look at the fretboard and learn where to find a voicing that works. There are techniques that simplify the fretboard...

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