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Amplification (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan


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

Taught by Mark Brennan in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 33:55Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (05:23) Lesson Intro Welcome back to the Phase 1 series of guitar lessons with Mark Brennan! In this lesson, Mark will explain how to use the controls on your amplifier to dial in the best possible tone.

Tone Is in Your Hands

Owning nice equipment will definitely help you achieve the guitar sound that you are looking for. However, to a very large extent, tone is in your hands. A great guitarist can make any guitar and amplifier combination sound exceptional. By the same principle, an inexperienced player can make top of the line gear sound like a junk heap.

Demonstration of Versatility

Mark kicks off this lesson with some introduction music. He demonstrates three different guitar tones to illustrate how a single amp and a single guitar can generate a wide range of different sounds. First, Mark demonstrates a crystal clear clean tone. The second tone he demonstrates is a slightly dirty, distorted sound that is ideal for rhythm playing. Finally, Mark demonstrates a high gain sound that is ideal for hard rock, metal, and screaming guitar solos.

Types of Guitar Amplifiers

Guitar amps come in all shapes and sizes. Each type of amp is ideal for a specific setting. Typically, amplifiers are grouped into three categories: practice amps, combos, and heads.

Practice Amps

Practice amps are smaller and feature lower wattage. These amps are ideal for beginners and home practice use. Practice amps typically produce the lowest number of tonal options. Many of them do not feature a distorted sound or any type of reverb. Most practice amps come equipped with a single ten inch speaker. This speaker size is not capable of producing the wide tonal range of a larger, 12 inch speaker.


As you progress as a guitarist, you may want to trade in your practice amp for a combo. A combo will give you the necessary volume when playing with the full rhythm section of a band. Combos start at around 30 watts and go all the way up to around 100 watts. There are some exceptions that extend beyond this range. Most combos are outfitted with one or two 12 inch speakers. In addition, they typically feature a broader variety of tonal options than practice amps.


Amp heads do not come with a built-in speaker. They must be plugged in to some sort of external speaker cabinet. Think of a head as the controls on your car stereo. You must have speakers connected to the system in order to hear the sound that you are controlling.

Heads produce the highest volume levels. They also feature the widest array of tonal options. Many modern amps feature four independent channels that each produce a unique tone.

Tube Amps VS Solid State Amps

Solid state amps are usually less expensive than tube amps. This does not necessarily make them inferior. Most players prefer the warm, natural sound produced by a tube amp. However, many players favor the sound of a solid state amplifier. The only way to decide which type of amplifier is best for you is to try out a wide variety of tube and solid state models.

Mark's Amp

Mark plays through a Mesa Boogie Mark IV. This is a professional quality combo amplifier. With three independent channels, the Mark IV is ideal for a wide variety of musical applications. This amp has all the features of a practice amp plus some additional controls. In the following scene, Mark will explain all of the features on his amp. He will focus primarily on the controls that appear on all types of amplifiers.
Chapter 2: (11:01) Amp Basics and Controls On / Off Switch

All amps have an on / off switch. Turning the switch on brings electricity into the amplifier from an outside source and enables it to function. Tube amps typically take a minute to warm up before they are fully powered. For best possible tone, leave a tube amp on for several minutes before using it. A better tone is produced once the tubes heat up.

With most solid state amps, you're ready to play as soon as the amp is turned on. Typically, the switch itself or a bulb will light up to indicate that the amplifier is receiving power. However, some amps such as the Marshall Mode 4 have fans that cool the digital electronics. These fans must run and regulate themselves for about a minute or two before the amp can be used.

Half Power Mode

Many amps such as Mark's and the VHT Pitbull feature a half power mode. Turning the on switch in one direction sets the amp to full power. Flipping the switch in the opposite direction sets the amp to half power mode. Half power mode is desirable for lower volume settings. Most 100 watt heads are too powerful for a small club when they are run on full power.

Standby Switch

The standby switch is almost always found right next to the on / off switch on tube amplifiers. When the standby switch is in the off position, the amp is still powered on. However, no sound is produced by the amplifier. The standby saves the life of the tubes by not draining all of their power. Use the standby while heating up a tube amp before recording or a performance. Also, use it during a set break. This will keep you from having to warm up the tubes again.

Master Volume

All amps feature a master volume control. This is sometimes labeled as "master" or "output level." If an amp only has one channel, this control might simply be labeled "volume." When an amp has two channels or more, this knob controls the overall volume output of both channels. The balance in volume between both channels must be set by using each channels' individual volume control.


Amps that have more than one channel almost always come with a footswitch. The footswitch enables you to switch between channels without taking your hands off of the guitar. Many practice amps require that you push a button or flip a switch in order to switch between channels. This is not practical in a live performance situation.

Mark's amp has three channels. These are labeled Rhy 1 (Clean channel), Rhy 2 (slightly dirty), and Lead (high gain). Each channel features progressively more distortion than the last. With his footswitch, Mark is able to jump between each of these channels on the fly.

Another footswitchable control on Mark's amp is the graphic EQ. This button activates the tone settings established by the five band graphic eq found on the front of the amplifier.

Mark's footswitch also enables him to activate the effects loop. Often, guitarists will string effects such as chorus, delay, and reverb together together in the effects loop. When the effects loop button is activated on the footswitch, the effects within the loop are added to the signal chain. Thus, their affect on the overall guitar tone can be heard.

Gain Control

Each channel has a gain control. The gain knob controls the level of distortion that each channel produces. On some amps, the gain also controls the volume level for each individual channel. However, most modern amps feature a separate gain and volume control for each channel.

EQ Controls

Each channel typically has its own EQ controls. This gives you a great range of versatility and options when shaping your tone. However, many single channel and multi-channel amps feature master EQ knobs that control the tone of all channels.

The EQ controls are more commonly referred to as the "tone controls." These knobs control the high, low, and middle frequencies of each channel. "Highs" is a word that refers to the treble frequencies. Be careful not to set this control too high. Your tone should be bright enough to cut through the mix without sounding shrill or tinny. "Low" is another word that describes the bass frequency or bottom end to your tone. Most rock players set the lows relatively high (around 7 or 8) to produce a booming, crunchy tone. The "Mid" control boosts the mid range frequency. Most rock players prefer to set the mids rather low such as around 3 or 4.

Volume Controls

Each channel typically features its own volume control. This allows you to balance the volume level between the different channels. Set the clean channel to the lowest volume. Set the rhythm channel slightly louder. Set the lead / high gain channel to the highest volume yet. Once the volume levels are balanced between each of the channels, adjust the overall output or master volume.


This feature is not available on all amps. Reverb produces natural echoing sound of a room with nice acoustics. Reverb can add much needed body and life to a guitar tone.
Chapter 3: (08:32) Experiment with Your Guitar and Amp Using the Amp

Turn your power switch on. Let the amp warm up for two minutes if you have a tube amp. Then, turn on the standby switch.

Clean Channel Settings

A. Gain Control

If the gain control is rolled back to three or lower, the tone of the clean channel is crystal clear. However, most rock players prefer to play with a very slight amount of gain even when playing with the clean channel. This simply adds a little more body and edge to the overall sound. When picking more aggressively, the tone will break up just slightly and a real mild distortion becomes audible. Notice the difference in tone as Mark plays with the gain at three and with the gain at ten. There is a change in tone and an increase in volume. Mark typically has the clean gain set at seven for most of the material he plays.

B. Treble

Typically Mark sets the treble at around six or seven. This is pretty common of most rock players.

C. Bass

Most rock players prefer to set the bass pretty high. This is especially true of heavy players. This will give a more booming sound to palm-muted material. However, do not set the bass control so high that your tone conflicts with the bass player in your band.

D. Mids

Most players set the mids relatively low (around three or four). The mids add a distinct "honky" sound to the tone that may or may not be desirable. Eliminating the mids completely takes some body and bigness away from your tone.

Rhythm Channel Settings (Slightly Dirty Sound)

A. Gain Control

When Mark takes the gain control down, the distortion is very subtle. The tone is almost clean. Setting the control at a higher setting provides a nice crunchy ZZ Top-esque tone that is good for rhythm parts and even some lead sounds. An increase in gain usually results in an increase in sustain as well. This is especially true when playing a guitar such as a Les Paul.

Adding Distortion Pedals

Some amps such as the Fender Blues Jr. are not capable of producing high gain sounds. Sometimes a distortion or overdrive pedal can be added to achieve a higher gain level. Think of distortion pedals as the icing on the cake. Do not depend on them to fully generate your distorted sound. A solid distorted tone starts with a good amp. Use distortion pedals to compliment the natural distorted tone of your amplifier.
Chapter 4: (08:56) More Experimentation and Wrap-up Lead Channel Settings (High Gain Sound)

The third channel of Mark's Boogie Mark IV is designed for heavy rhythm parts and screaming lead guitar solos. It features a significantly more distorted sound in comparison to the crunchy rhythm channel.

A. Gain Control

Even with the gain set at around one or two, the tone of this channel is similar to the tone that is produced by the rhythm channel with the gain set at ten. However, the sound of the high gain channel has slightly more body. With the gain control set at around 6 or higher, classic, over the top heavy distorted sounds are produced.

Adjusting the Controls on the Guitar for More Options

Rolling the volume knob down will decrease the volume and the overall level of distortion. Guitarists adjust this knob to dial in some in between distortion levels.

The pick attack also controls the level of distortion produced. Watch at 06:15 as Mark demonstrates an arpeggiated chord progression. At first, he picks lightly. The distortion is very subtle. As he continues to pick harder, the distortion becomes more pronounced.

The selector switch is also employed to add variety to the sound. Heavy crunch riffs are typically played with the bridge pickup. A deep jazzy sound is produced by using the neck pickup on the clean channel. The middle and neck pickups are typically only used with the distortion channel when playing single note lines. Otherwise, the sound becomes too muddy and undefined. These pickups are often used with the clean channel to produce a twangier sound.

Final Tips

-Always remember that every amp is different. Setting the lows to seven on a Mesa Boogie Mark IV will not yield the same result on a Marshall JCM. Spend a lot of time turning and tweaking knobs on your amp to find the ideal sound for you. Also, consult the amp's instruction manual for some tonal tips.

-Chances are, your preference in tone will change over the years. Finding the ideal tone is a never ending search for most players.

-The ideal EQ settings for one guitar may not work with another guitar. Consequently, you may need to adjust the amp settings to accommodate a certain guitar.

-Listen to the tones of your favorite players. What do you like about them? Try to imitate these tones as closely as possible with your equipment.

-Remember that tone is in your hands. Even if you have the exact gear as someone else, you are not going to sound exactly like that person. Also, mixing in a recording studio can drastically change the quality of a tone and the way that the tone is perceived. Also, you are probably used to hearing this tone in conjunction with a bass player. This will change your perception of the sound as well.

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.

AtomicRoarAtomicRoar replied

Hi Mark! I've got Marshall DSL5CR tube amp. But it has only switch on/off button. There is no standby or tweed power switch. So, what should I do when I take a break in terms of saving tubes life? And thanks for lesson.

o0thx11380oo0thx11380o replied

I have this amp in Amplutube's MesaBoogie collection and wow I followed all the things you did and it sounds the same. Its so cool. Great lesson. You've inspired me to learn some pink floyd.[email protected] replied

Great lesson - My Fender Champion 20 (practice amp) is nothing like the Mesa Boogie Mark IV. As suggestion would be to use your Fender amp next video for amp lesson

rgelhornrgelhorn replied

I really liked the information he provided on the amp. Got explanations to each individual setting.

mitchellzmitchellz replied

it would help to just have a more basic amp would really help where would you go to find that

mitchellzmitchellz replied

hi there can u redo this lesson I have a mustang fender amp this didnt help me much plz help

TerrierTerrier replied

Really enjoyed your lesson, hopefully sticking with it all the way to the end.

WahmmetTheHammetWahmmetTheHammet replied

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WahmmetTheHammetWahmmetTheHammet replied

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CaptJamesTDerpCaptJamesTDerp replied

Heh, I'm using a 1974 Fender Champ. It has an on/off switch, Volume, Bass and Treble. That's it. I don't spend a lot of time turning knobs. But anyway, so far so good, I'm gonna stick through it to the very end. You sound like you are from Chicago. Just an observation.

RC2RC2 replied

I'm sure you've heard this suggestion before but I think for your first class on amps , for beginners , a simple practice amp would have worked better for this lesson . Then down the road you could do an advanced lesson using your very nice amp .

EclecticElectricTeleEclecticElectricTele replied

Just my opinion, but it's sort of hard to say one way or another. IMHO I would say go for a better amp to start with as a beginner if you have the money. You won't regret it, and in that case Mark's choice of an amp for this session is a really good on. Better gear has much better resale value as well. That said folks who start with a little practice amp may feel a little overwhelmed.

RC2RC2 replied

Having said that I learned a lot , Thanks .

alexcoversalexcovers replied

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mhowellsmhowells replied

Mark - how do the various controls on the amp (effects, bass, treble, etc) work in conjunction with similar controls on the guitar itself (treble knobs on guitar for instance) or effects you may have on pedals? In theory I could turn down treble on my guitar and then turn it up on my amp. Presumably you could have all sorts of opposing things going on.

jet690jet690 replied

Amp basics explained - easy to follow - on a very nice Mesa Boogie which is also a very nice price. I have a much more modest Fender Mustang II - plenty of on-board sounds, if you want them. Coupled to Fender Fuse software you can get almost any sound you want.

justinhhornerjustinhhorner replied

The Fender Mustang series is fantastic. One of my favorite modeling amps.

Mcp501Mcp501 replied

Hey Mark. Is my THR10 Yamaha okay to begin with? What can you say?

justinhhornerjustinhhorner replied

That's a great amp to begin with! It can produce incredible tones and is built to last. Great choice :)

Islander66Islander66 replied

bought a fender deluxe reverb 65 reissue tube amp dos not have a gain control on it, did i make a mistake, should i trade it in for a blackstar or something more suited fore rock or just buy a distortion pedal?

justinhhornerjustinhhorner replied

That's a great amp! It depends on what style of music you want to play. If you'd like to get a bit of overdrive for some blues/rock, I recommend getting an overdrive/distortion pedal to drive the amp. If you want a much heavier sound, you might be better off trying some other amps to find one that sounds good to you.

brian_espanajamplaybrian_espanajamplay replied

thanks,you must be parcially deaf?

rbuist00rbuist00 replied

With my fender mustang amp I could set two or three of the eight clean channels for each guitar.........gretsch and gibson.....that would make it like having a foot control like his to set three settings for each guitar???

stahlstiftstahlstift replied

The basic strumming at ~3:00 is Free Bird, isn´t it?

jazzy1jazzy1 replied

just started with the lesson and already learned a few things thanks. i am planning to buy a mustang iv because of the price, what do you think about these modelling amps?

justinhhornerjustinhhorner replied

+1 for the Mustang series. They are amazing modeling amps.

TaumannTaumann replied

What's your thoughts on the model amps like the Line 6 Amplifi?

dlpjr7869dlpjr7869 replied

Really enjoying your lesson.... Have a question about my amp.... It's an Ibanez TBX150R, that I bought new, it was old stock that they were just getting sick of looking at, for 150.00. It has the knobs you talk about, plus a Hue knob and a freq. level knob. Any idea. Probably won't get this as I see most of the posts are quite old, anyway I am finding you lessons very informative. The best I have found on this site. Thanks

elinterelinter replied

It would be better I think to use a practice amp for this since you even stated at the beginner level that what we have.

LollostratLollostrat replied

thank you very much for this important lesson for me.

scottguitar5scottguitar5 replied

Nice lesson! Thank you Mark:D

czigerelliczigerelli replied


cmaibcmaib replied

Hi Mark, I didn't hear you mention what the small microphone in front of your amp is for... is that a standard piece of that amp, or something you have for even more volume? Thanks!

the_ANTIDRUGthe_ANTIDRUG replied

So far this guy is a condesending jerk; subtle comments which made me decide on being self taught. Yes, ten years of playing; just starting lessons from the begining.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Man, this dude is way better than you, so you can't be talking about how much of a jerk he is.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Man, this dude is way better than you, so you can't be talking about how much of a jerk he is.

Jazz2009Jazz2009 replied

Man, this dude is way better than you, so you can't be talking about how much of a jerk he is.

dvdanielsdvdaniels replied

Anti - Think about this. He is trying to explain the amp but he is trying to tell you that your amp is not necessarily the same as his. I don't think he is being condescending at all he is stating a fact. The only thing I think needs improvement is up to date explanations. I personally grew up with tube and think it is better but modern solid state modeling amps are really sounding a whole lot better. I like so far Mark and I have also been self taught for 30 years but now starting at beginning to see what I missed 30 years ago. I can only say you need to update some of this to modern equipment.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Excuse me??!!

timpenntimpenn replied

Excellent and very informative. Thanks.

reoringoreoringo replied

I have the new Fender Champion 20 amp. Though solid state and single channel it seems to have real nice features. Hope it makes me a good practice amp. Fx n such. Great class Mark. Thanks a lot. Now I understand a few things.

rangerscotrangerscot replied

Hey Mark, I am a disabled veteran so I have lots of time on my hands and am just starting out with an Ibanez guitar and a small solid state amp, I followed all the way through your amp explanations, but my guitar has a switch with three settings, seems to get fuller sound as I go down. This may be a stupid question but my guitar also has 4 controls you can set as well, I know one is column but since they are not labeled I don't know how to use them in harmony with the amp. Can you shed some light on what these knobs are. Two rows of two that go 0 to 10. I am enjoying your classes and practice every day, does wonders for PTSD, thanks.

loco13loco13 replied

Insteand of an AMP would it be OK to use a PC Interface that simulates the AMP?

stevemagstevemag replied

Hi Mark, I llike your lesson so far. I have not watched it all yet. I am new to electric guitar and no nothing about amps. The Amp I bought is a line 6 Spider Jam 75 watt. It has a lot of presets on it which are a little confusing. Should I just stick to the tone and gain controls for now? The amp also has some effects knobs to add reverb, phaser and echo. I know what reverb does and some of what echo does but I am lost on the other knob that adds chorus flange, phaser delay and tremelo. Could you briefly explane those? Thanks

cobramancobraman replied

You should have discussed the ways to hook up sn effects pedal

webgeeksunlimitedwebgeeksunlimited replied

I have a Fender Mustang I practice amp, solidstate of course, but 24 presets and options to add a peddle to switch between any 2 presets. Nice high end sounds at a cheap price. Comes with software so you can program your own presets. Worth looking at if on a budget and looking for a flexible practice amp.

monabrimonabri replied

Mark, any views on the Blackstar 1 Watt practice amp ? It's loud enough for practice and it has a headphone socket. It's a valve amp as well with "emulated ouput" (???).

monabrimonabri replied

Mark, any views on the Blackstar 1 Watt practice amp ? It's loud enough for practice and it has a headphone socket. It's a valve amp as well with "emulated ouput" (???).

qubaquba replied

Many thanks Mark for this great series! I want to ask you about your opinion regarding the combo amp that I am planing to buy. As a beginner I don't want to drain too much money straight away for a very expensive amp so I budget myself up to £200. I was thinking to get either Vox Valvetronix (VT20+ or VT40+ model) or Fender Mustang II. If you were in mine shoes which one would you choose? or if you have any other suggestions I will be happy to consider them as well. It may be helpful to add that I have Epiphany Les Paul 100 guitar. Thanks a lot for your advice and I can't wait to get back to your lessons' series.

brennantourignybrennantourigny replied

First off, you are a great teacher and this site is offering far more help in learning to play my Strat. than the books I have purchased. I have a little Peavey Vypyr 15 watt. It has pre and post gain settings. How do these work? Thanks for your help!

l0cut15l0cut15 replied

Same question, I have a Peavey amp with Pre and post. It seems like adjusting the gain in pre creates more distortion at a lower volume. Also more noise (hum) when I'm not touching any strings.

brennantourignybrennantourigny replied

I just found my owner's man. Pre-gain = amnt. of distortion (in edit mode parameter contrl. 1 of stompbox or effect) Post-gain = This is the individual preset volume. (In Edit mode, this knob controls the amount of reverb.) Hope this helps. I am still trying to figure out how all of these electronics work, myself. Making a lot of headway, but a long way to go!

brennantourignybrennantourigny replied

I just found my owner's man. Pre-gain = amnt. of distortion (in edit mode parameter contrl. 1 of stompbox or effect) Post-gain = This is the individual preset volume. (In Edit mode, this knob controls the amount of reverb.) Hope this helps. I am still trying to figure out how all of these electronics work, myself. Making a lot of headway, but a long way to go!

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Very cool....glad you got the answers. These amps have different names for controls that basically do the same thing. You'll have a gain control that will control the amount of distortion, and then a control to set your overall volume after your gain is set......I always keep my owners manuals LOL

proto77proto77 replied

What's your opinion on a line 6 spider IV 15w amp as a first amp?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

This amp will work great as a starter amp.....plenty of power for practice and jamming with small groups. I think it has on board effects, which is very cool. You can buy stomp boxes later.

lstelielstelie replied

Hello Mark I’m starting your lesson set after finishing a first beginner series. This lesson is at the same time very interesting, and totally surrealistic, a Tom Anderson guitar with a Mesa Boogie Mark IV.. I doubt a lot of beginner have access to this kind of material, it’s a little bit like if to teach car driving a guy was presenting a high end Ferrari You have a dream equipement.. really.. pretty far from my Epiphone/Chinese Laney amp.. (I'm jealous)

lstelielstelie replied

Hello Mark I’m starting your lesson set after finishing a first beginner series. This lesson is at the same time very interesting, and totally surrealistic, a Tom Anderson guitar with a Mesa Boogie Mark IV.. I doubt a lot of beginner have access to this kind of material, it’s a little bit like if to teach car driving a guy was presenting a high end Ferrari You have a dream equipement.. really.. pretty far from my Epiphone/Chinese Laney amp.. (I'm jealous)

beebeebeebee replied

Hey Mark, great lesson. I'm a complete electric novice, play some basic acoustic. I'm starting out on a garage sale guitar, a Pignose Double-cut (Strat knock-off), and a Behringer Ultraroc GX110 amp. The sound is OK, and there are a confounding number of effects channels I am working my way through, but I can't seem to get any distortion, regardless of the channel I switch to or how I crank the gain. Any suggestions, or should I just get a pedal? Thanks so much!

matthew arnottmatthew arnott replied

Hi Mark, I have bought an old Line 6 POD Version 2.0 of a mate (his spare one) does everything work much the same way as to your explanations...? Are there any major differences with this I should consider? I seem to get some cool sounds out of it I just not sure on what exact sounds to use for particular songs. eg Devil Went Down To Georgia 'distortion' sound to replace the fiddle part vs AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" vs Daddy Cool "Eagle Rock" etc. Only just bought a new guitar about 3 months ago and these are the first 3 songs I have learnt. I mainly just play rhythm guitar on the acoustic but wanting to experiment with midi backings to have more fun on stage.

wah6714wah6714 replied

I joined Jamplay today and the first lesson about the guitar and its various parts was very interesting....I went to the part about the Amplifier, the lesson would not Stream kept buffering and it is very annoying....what can be done to cause this lesson to stream continuous...Need help right away and very enthusiastic about learning to play the electric guitar...Thanks....WH

iJahmaniJahman replied

Forgot to add - Try to close any open applications that are running. This also helps streaming videos to work well. Again - Good luck. :D

iJahmaniJahman replied

When a video keep buffering it means your computers memory is too slow or it also could mean you dont have enough memory in your computer to hold the streaming data. Try to get a computer with at least 4gb memory or try to find a computer with DDR5 memory. Hope that helps. Good luck! :D

matthew arnottmatthew arnott replied

Really enjoying the explanations and the lessons. Love learning about the amp details etc. Helping heaps.

gcraenengcraenen replied

Hi Mark, I'm picking up (actually starting up again) after years of not playing. I'm using the Line 6 DT-50 as my new amp and apart from all the channels, Bogner tubes, etc. I have a somewhat different setup for the controls. I have a drive-control, that's probably comparable to the gain you mentioned. Then bass, mid, treble and volume. I also have the reverb control, but next to that a presence-control. So what does this control give me extra?

kumararkumarar replied

best guitar teacher ever!!!!

thisguythisguy replied

Hey I have a Viper or a Pervey I don't realy know wich one it is but I have a whole lot of different sounds on my amp section it's a dial. next to it is effects I understand that but when I press the button the pre gain turns red and so does the low. they're all dials and what was reverb and past gain again? thank you

syx123syx123 replied

Hi there. I think you mean you have a Peavey Vypyr. This is a modelling amp. In other words it mimics varios different types of amp. If your lucky enough to own a Sanperea Pedal, you can pre-set your pedals to change using the footswitch, like Mark does in his video.

syx123syx123 replied

When the dial turns red that is when it is playing a 'dirty' channnel. Green is for clean.

Maroun91Maroun91 replied

I didnt understand this lesson well, in my amp i have: Volume, High, MID, LOW, MASTER, REVERB. And I have a bottom CHANNEL SELECT and one of OVER DRIVE. thanks for giving me a little help :)

ehabehab replied

Thanks Mark, it was very interesting lesson

ehabehab replied

Thanks Mark, it was very interesting lesson

bigfrobigfro replied

I have a BM6 amp can I do the same things as in this video?

bigfrobigfro replied

I have a BM6 amp can I do the same things as in this video?

theblackmisttheblackmist replied

I use a Line 6 : Spider 4 even though it doesnt have the same switches as yours the buttons work very similar thanks Mark :)

theblackmisttheblackmist replied

I use a Line 6 : Spider 4 even though it doesnt have the same switches as yours the buttons work very similar thanks Mark :)

littlemountainguitarlittlemountainguitar replied

I'm sitting here with my Boogie Mk IV and my strat setting the tones where you have them. Sounds great! I have been running this amp with my JCM 2000 on stage, it will be interesting to here how it sounds now! Thanks for the lesson Mark. I love Floyd, Kansas and Styx, would be cool to see you live sometime.

clayton1234clayton1234 replied

What if you don't have the mid control

jeannenoeljeannenoel replied

Thank you for being thorough about the guitar and amps and the relationships between the two. I too have a Peavy VYPYR and a Crate Acoustic Amp (as you stated very basic). Now that I know the fundamentals I can appreciate the VYPYR's other dials that let me experiment with out buying a boat load of petals/effects. Thank you for the well thought out lessons and adding in the tab n fret board supplements.

SteveP1961SteveP1961 replied

Awesome thus make look and sound so easy!!!! Thanks for the easy to follow instructions

eon dysoneon dyson replied

Nice lesson... want to particularly mention I love the harmonic you used at the end of scene 4 (@ 6:38) with the distortion and a bit of whammy bar... sounded great.

wanda j lwanda j l replied

Mark, I have just started with you're lessons, I have a Ibanez electric guitar and a G-DEC 30 amp. Is this a good start?? The amp has a lot of fetures I don't know anything about do you have any suggestions where to put my controlles? Thank you for the lessons.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Wanda. I'm sure your gear is fine. Make sure the guitar is set up properly (action, intonation). You may want to have a guitar tech or repair person take a look at it. any local guitar shop of Guitar Center will have someone who can do this. As far as your anp goes, Set the tone controls staightup and go from there. It's a matter of taste: you may need to boost the treble (high frequency) control to add more sparkle. The bass (low frequencies) control will add or cut the low end. Just experiment till it sounds good to you. You may also have an on board effects processor, which will add reverb, echo, and chorus to your sound. Try to have someone you know who is familiar with this feature show you how it works. You can get a lot of great sounds with this. And again, just experiment til you get a sound that you like..good luck, Mark

greenwood187greenwood187 replied

I play a Peavey VYPYR amp, and it is a huge pain to figure out the effects. Time is my friend ;)

hoosierdaddyhoosierdaddy replied

i have the same amp and i hate it. I bought a Slash signature Les Paul and it sounded exactly like Slash's guitar in the store but i cant get close to it with this amp =(

hoosierdaddyhoosierdaddy replied

edit* turns out the dealer was playing it on a marshall AFD(appetite for destruction) 100

mtbluesmtblues replied

So, I put my strap on (pulls on my neck) and then here you are--no strap! Is your leg up on a book or stool to raise? Good idea maybe.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Get a stool with a rung on it to bring your leg up more parallel to the floor so the guitar doesn't slide down your leg. Or, sit in a chair lower to the floor to get the same position of your leg. Then, you won't need a strap....Mark

gofinsgofins replied

Wow, so many possibilities between the guitar controls and amp controls, it's like a rubix cube !

medguymedguy replied

Hi Mark. My question relates more to troubleshooting your amp. I purchased a used solid state amp (Marshall MG50 DFX) I notice quite a bit of "buzz" coming from the speaker, particularly when I'm in Overdrive mode. Obviously it sounds worse when the gain/volume is up. Now here's the kicker... when my fingers actually touch the strings, the "buzz" is reduced considerably. What exactly is going on here? Does this sound like a normal phenomenon to you? Is this inherent with solid state amps or does it sound like a have a problem with the amp? Btw.. my guitar is a Gibson SG Supreme.

iJahmaniJahman replied

It could also mean you are too close to the amp. Stand or sit farther away if you can. I notice when I use my 40 ft guitar cable and place my guitar far away, when I go up to the amp and check it - I no longer hear the buzz. Good luck! :D

gabrielcallejagabrielcalleja replied

Hey mate i had this problem too and i realized that the jack was the problem. So i bought a better (high quality) jack and the 'buzz disappeared! I think you might try that.

thezverthezver replied

why not just using PC as amplifier , for the beginning stages ? i personally use guitar rig .. but there are plenty free amp software too. As a side note - almost in every guitars store i asked - i heard that i must have (buy..) an amp , and it's a lie. just plug the guitar to PC line-in and play :)

samuk912samuk912 replied

i have a imac and i will be doing the same as it gives me diffrent types of amps

john lisbonjohn lisbon replied

Very useful information in this video.

melvmatmelvmat replied

excellent information!

bajaprov150bajaprov150 replied

Mark, your lesson on amplification helped me to understand how to operate my amp better. I have a Fender Frontman 15 G amp, which based on your lesson is a practice amp. The part that helped me a lot was how to control the distortion. I had a question concerning the whammy bar from the first lesson. I have turned my whammy bar all the way in clockwise to where it is snug. How far do you turn the whammy bar in to where it is in the proper position to to raise and lower pitches of notes? Thanks

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Delbert....The important consideration for this is how your bridge is set up. If you are playing a strat style the bridge rides on two set screws, and the springs in the recess of the back of the guitar behind the bridge act to counteract the pull of the strings. There is also a claw in this recess that the springs are attatched to. This claw is mounted onto the body with two wood screws. All of this needs to be carfully set up and adjusted. You can vary the number of springs you use, and you can pull the claw back to pull the bridge closer to the to of the guitar. With proper set up the bridge will whammy down, lowering the pitch of the notes, and you can also pull up on the whammy to raise the pitches. If you intend to whammy in both directions, you should have a competent guitar tech set it up this way for you. The bar itself should be screwed in as far as it is comfortable for your right hand. If it is screwed in to much, you might have a problem with "dive bomb" stuff. Let me know how it works out for you...Mark

alexmarblekingalexmarbleking replied

is the new version up?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

It has been filmed.....waiting for it to get posted...stay tuned.

roadgliderroadglider replied

ok this was interesting, but I would have been better able to use it if you have really used the type of amp that most of us are starting out with. this would have been useful when i get to the point of being able to play a can u show us something more to our level like a good old Crate amp?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Your point is duly noted....and i agree with you. i hope to put an add on to this lesson using a more bare bones amp...stay tuned.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I've filmed an updated version of this lesson....should be up soon....Mark B.

motley crewmotley crew replied

Hi Mark! Awesome Lesson. I am a novice, and I am loving the guitar! I have a new Epiphone Les Paul Standard and a little Epiphone 15 watt amp. I really like the guitar so far, so I'll probably just up grade the pickups at some point. When I get better, I'll probably want a new guitar, but for now this is fine. The amp on the other hand is kind of crappy. I don't really have anything to compare it to because it is the only amp I have ever used, and it is ok for in my office where I practice, but what about playing out doors or in a huge room? I'm not ready to bust out 3 grand for a killer amp. I do want a tube amp, in a combo or stack. There is just so much to pick from. The amp you have in the video, do you use that on stage?? Any feedback you have is great. Maybe I should go for a new guitar first like you suggest? I don't know. Thanks

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Kurt.....looks like you've got a pretty nice guitar for now. I'd step up to a tube amp. Fender has a nice line of tube amps you should check out. I have a Blues Junior, which is 15 watts, but has great tone. To play in a larger venue you'll need more amp, like a Blues Deluxe or the Hot Rod Deville, these are 40 watts. There are a lot of choices for under a grand. Check out the way I've filmed an updated version of this lesson, which is more comprehensive. The amp I use in this lesson is a Mesa Boogie Mark IV, which I use on stage.

arnoldaloiaarnoldaloia replied

Mark, I've purchased the Roland Cube 80X as it has input for headphones.Great for silent practise sessions at home with the family around. Have you an opinion on this amp as a beginners amp? Based on your advice ,I'll buy a tube amp once once I've become a competent player.Hopefully in the not too distant future.

beeho15beeho15 replied

nice lesson mark, I just purchased a second hand usa strat and I really didn't know how to make it sound decent. I also purchased a marshal amp on ebay. But it doesn't have tubes. It's o.k I guess for now. But I think I will not want to keep it forever. thank you terry

beck_flanderbeck_flander replied

This question has to do with mesa boogie. Why do they stop making some of their best amps (such as Mark iic+ and Mark iv)? I'm just curious.

koharakohara replied

Hi Mark, I purchased a Line 6 Spider IV 15. It seems to have 4 channels clean, crunch, metal and insane. I noticed in your lesson that the strat gives alot of range. I have an Epiphone SG. Can I get similiar tones and sounds with this guitar as a strat?

kevinkevin replied

great lesson i have a question where did you buy this amp and how much it pay(d)

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I bought my Mesa at a store in Cleveland that no longer exists. It was called Ohio Guitar. It was a great store and teaching studio. Sadly, it was put out of business by a Guitar Center that went up a block away. My Mark IV with the extension cabinet cost about 1800.00, but that was 14 years ago. They don't make this model anymore, but I'm sure if you search aorund (EBay, etc.) you can find one.

jpfanboyjpfanboy replied

Great Great!

bendrebendre replied

No doubt this was confusing and I am glad to say I picked one of the most intricate and difficult instruments to learn! Thanks for the great info Mark - I will first "experiment" a little with my Peavy amp and get back to you with any questions.

jtutjtut replied

Ok, deciding between a Mesa lonestar classis or the new mark V and wanted your opinion. I like the warmth of the lonestar however the V seems to be more versatile. Being that you have the IV do you think I can achieve a blues tone from the V? Decisions, help!

nerdalmightynerdalmighty replied

Hi Mark, Thanks for the lesson, most other learning videos I've found focuses mainly on acustic guitars, so this was great. I'm a complete beginner and can't really afford real lessons at the moment (all the saving went into the guitar and accessories :) but JamPlay seems to be a great place for learning until I do. I did have a small rookie accident with my amplifier though, hope somebody might read and learn from my mistake :) I was very much enjoying the amplifier session until my nabour knocked on the door, which proved to be catastrophic. I was standing up wearing a strap and didn't consider putting the guitar down, so as I walked to get the door I managed to pull the amplifier off of the table, resulting in the input jack being knocked into the amplifier, effectively ruining it ;/ Will be getting a new amplifier when the next paycheck comes, and a longer cable, Will probably keep the new one on the floor in the future too :) just in case.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Ouch! There's a lot of great amp stands on the market. Quiklok makes a good one. This is a great way to get your amp off the floor, and you can angle it up, for better pistening proximity.

nerdalmightynerdalmighty replied

Thanks for the suggestion Mark, if it can secure the amp so it won't fall over even when accidentally pulling the cable, it will definitely be something I'm gonna look into when getting a new amp. I've also considered another solution, which is getting a Line 6 pocket pod or pocket pod express. It would be great for more quiet practicing with headphones, while still getting the electric guitar sound and I think it would actually also work with my current amp, as only the guitar input jack seems to be broken. The amp has a cd/mp3 mini-jack input, so the idea was to simply use the headphone output from the pocket pod to the mp3 input on the amplifier. Would that work ? I realize that it is not the perfect solution, but for now that would get me both a "working" amp and portable headphone amp for a cheaper cost than just getting a new amplifier altogether.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Sound like a good plan to me. A portable practice amp is great for silent practicing, and they get pretty decent tones for you. Make sure you're working on your tone with you amp so you'll be good to go when jamming with a live rhtthm section.

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

singesinge replied

i have the same problem so i asked lynchburg music and they say to stop it you have to tough a string and the noise should stop

singesinge replied

touch* not tough

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Tammy...sounds like you have some nice gear. The crackling sound may be from a bad guitar cable, or you may have a problem with your guitar..maybe a short in your output jack...that's common in less expensive guitars. The squealing may be from the gain set too high on your distortion. Start off with the gain set lower, and gradually increase it til you have the desired amount of crunch. If you're using your Behringer for distortion set the amp gain lower, and use the Behringer's gain for more distortion. A lot of want your looking for takes experimentation. Start clean, and gradually add the distortion til you get the sound you're looking for. I'll assume your guitar is's hard to get a good overdriven tone with a crappy guitar.....good luck..Mark B.

tammy7689tammy7689 replied

hey mark...thanks for the tips...i tried it and it still sounds crappy...the cable i got is a vtg audio low noise..the guy at the guitar shop said it was one of the best....the guitar i have i got with a beginners is a trinity that a good guitar or should i get a new one?i thought it was the strings so i put d9's on it cause i was told they were the best output jack on my guitar is lose so could that be the problem?...i keep tighting it back up but it dont stay tight....could you tell me what a good guitar and amp i should get?...i was thinking about a fender or gibson....i have small hands so i think i need one that is not too big....i would appreciate your opinion...thanks in advanced

dtaylor4374dtaylor4374 replied

Tammy, Beginner packages usually have cheap electronics, as well as other components- That's why they are so cheap. They will wear out much sooner, as yours has a loose input jack connection. If you can afford it, try a fender standard Strat, and a Super Champ XD tube amp. If you want more of a all in one tube amp try a VOX Valvetronix tube amp. Both cost just under $300.00. Also if you start to hear a crackle when changing pick ups, your switch has a little dirt or dust at the contact point(S). Can be cleaned out easily.

roadglideroadglide replied

Hey Mark. Really liked the amp you use Boogie MK 4. Are tubes the best way to go?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

for great tone, absolutely.

jndaiglejndaigle replied

Mark, I really enjoyed this lesson. All those buttons and knobs are daunting for a beginning electric guitar player. I think I can see clearly that a person really has to listen up and keep trying to express himself, no matter what level he may play at, just like in trying to communicate any other way. That is really a new thought for me after all these years of playing acoustic ... duh, hello in there! I really appreciate your work.

jonandjimjonandjim replied


sens93sens93 replied

hey mark! i just started playing for 2 days ago and i wonder if you have any tips on easy songs to start playing?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

try the songs and pentatonic jams in my upcoming lessons.....Aura Lee, Somewhere Over The Rainbow are cool.

warcrapworldwarcrapworld replied

Hey Mark, i got a bit confused with the tubes getting warm up part. You said something about the tubes need to be warmt up before they can be used. Why do they need to be warm up first before use? and what happen if i dont?

bastolbastol replied

Tubes are old school electronics.. go figure that back in they day . they got it right. they work much like light bulbs inside.. and to function properly they have to heat up to full hot for the electricity to jump properly through the tubes... solid state is the same concepts but much smaller. and without the vacume tubes.. - and smaller -= instant warmup -- tubes also ahve a shorter shelf life for operation time.. and can burn out like a light bulb.. usually in a much shorter time epriod than solid state. this. is an electronics persepctive.. for gutars.. im a 1 day old owner.. but for electronics. its been my life since 7 years old.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Paul...thanks for fielding that one. Good information..I'm definitely not a electronics wizard!

heinzelmanheinzelman replied

Hi Mark, question on my practice amp. I has a lot of buzz, even at low levels. Is that buzz a function of the solid state amp, my cord, the guitar or all three?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Check to see if your amp has a polarity reverse switch. If not try a ground lift on the power cable. Try changing the proximity of your guitar to your amp. Try changing your guitar cable...get a good quality one, very important. Also changing your pickup selector on your guitar can help control this, too.

tammy7689tammy7689 replied

i guess this is where i shouldve asked the questions about my amp...sry about that mark

galenogarbegalenogarbe replied

Nice Lesson Mak!! I really liked it! Thank you.

baileychamblee1996baileychamblee1996 replied

okay so will there be any lessons on jamplay where i will absolutely need a bigger and better amp than what i have i have now (practice amp First Act MA104)?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

You'll need a better amp when you start jamming with other musicians (especially a drummer), and when your looking for better tone.....Tubes! What you have is great to get started in your practice room.

velvet pilotvelvet pilot replied

Hey Mark, I'm really digging the lessons. I'm a beginner and I already feel like I'm way ahead of the game, haha. I have a question that pertains to effects of a specific song. I'm currently working on the lead guitar to "Where You Get Love" by Matthew Sweet (it seems like a simple song to play) and I'm not sure what effects are being utilized. I'm using a Line 6 Spider III (15 watt model) amp and I'd like to get as close as possible to the sound of the song without switching amps. I kind of get the feeling it's just one big wall of distortion masking a clean tone, but I rather have a pro's answer. Thanks in advance!

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Ryan...I'll check out the song and get back to ya..Mark B.

laurentlaurent replied

Hi, I 'm french and sorry for my english, can you recommended me a book about amp and the differents settings, in fact I am a beginner and I realise it is very important to have the good song when you play guitar, blues, jazz, hard, an so on ... I don't mind if it is in english ;-) thanks

cmp1969cmp1969 replied

Fast question for you Mark. I just have a no name practice amp which works fine for now. The chord going to the amp from the guitar causes allot of feed back. I know I need to replace the chord. The shielding in it must be broken or something. Can you recommend a good chord?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Monster Cables are great...they have a lifetime guarantee, too. Also Planet Wave cables are cool. You can customize them to any length.

jotero8951jotero8951 replied

By the way. The amp model is irrelevant. All amps work essentially the same.

jotero8951jotero8951 replied

This was a great instructional lesson. This is the first anyone has ever explained how amps work and its capabilites. I have a line 6 spider 3 combo and have been able to get some pretty cool tones now that I got this lesson down pat. Thanks Mark!

ricokillerricokiller replied

Hi Mark can u please find a practice amp to show us how to setup a smaller less complicated amp??

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Juan...sorry i had to use my Mesa for this lesson. My amp has all the controls a smaller amp has, but with three channels. A more basic amp has one channel, which means you set up one tone on it. Most practice amps i see have an overdrive, or distortion feature, which activates with a push button. The amp will have a gain control which will sweep from "clean", or no distortion, to overdrive depending how much you sweep it. Then you have an overall volume control to set your volume after you set your gain control. The amp will have a set of equalization control to set your tone...which I explain and demonstrate in the lesson. These amps might come with extra features, like a spring reverb...which you set to get a room ambience sound. Some have a headphone out for private practicing, and some even come with onboard effects...which is cool. They're pretty simple to set up...the key is experimentation....hope this helps...Mark B.

jsd0203jsd0203 replied

The Fender G-DEC is a great practice amp. I'd reccomend oit to all beginners.

bdhannabdhanna replied

Hi Mark, another great lesson hitting exactly what I wanted to know. I have a Roland solid-state SuperCube-60, a gift from a great friend. It has two jacks, on labeled Normal linked to Gain II and the other labeled Drive linked to both Gain I and II. So that sounds like two channels, but do I need some sort of stomp to switch between them? Also it has Stack Pre Out/Main In. Are these for effects? How do they work? OK, lots of questions, hoping for more material. Inquiring minds want to know! Peace out, Brian

bdhannabdhanna replied

I got my amp as a gift, no manual. I was able to find the amp manual on-line for free, and it answered a lot of questions! Now for some experimenting!

sausn2002sausn2002 replied

What basic equipment do you recommend for MIDI/computer work? I'm thinking ahead that later I could use my computer to add in the drums, ect. for my guitar playing to further the hobby as an alternative to finding a band. I looked and saw mostly $300+ software programs that do this.

marcosalcala1marcosalcala1 replied

Hi Mark, Great lesson, I am just beginning on jamplay and have been through just about everyone's first lesson in phase one and you were the only one whom covered this subject. You said to tune your eq to taste. Is there one pickup combination that is better than the other to do this I have a squire strat, so the 5 selector switch applies. Don't know if you need another subject to teach on but if you are willing to accept an Idea, stomp boxes is somthing I would like to see covered. Thanks, look forward to further teachings. marcos

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hi the picture with you and your child! Try starting with you switch in the middle position (middle pick up activated). If you get the EQ on your amp set to the sound you like, then all the selector positions should sound good. We have talked about doing a series on stomp boxes, which I'd love to stay tuned...Mark B.

BenDiScipioBenDiScipio replied

Best Instructor I've seen on this site. I'm disappointed there aren't more lessons by you already loaded. You're an outstanding teacher. A pleasure to listen should have your own site. I'd join.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Thanks Benjamin....I'll keep adding to my lesson series as much as my schedule, and Jamplay's schedule allows....glad you enjoy it. I sure do! Talk to ya soon Mark B.

JZCode45JZCode45 replied

Looks like a real nice amp with a lot of great features that I've been looking for. I did some research on your Model and see they are out of production. What Mesa amp replaced your model? I have been looking at Marshalls lately with simular features but many of the reviews I've been reading are not so favorable. Seems like there quality has slipped lately. Do you have any sugestions on higher end amps I may concider? Thanks...

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hi Bruce...sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I have one suggestion. Check out the Marshall JVM 410. It has four channels. Powered by 4 EL34 tubes it puts out 100 watts. thsi thing looks like a's pretty expensive, though.list for 2,500...I have a friend who has one he wants to's too much amp for him.

og13og13 replied

Hi Mark, I'm just setting out on the guitar so bought a fairly cheap. your lesson is great and has explained a lot, but my amp has a para mid setting as well as treble, mid and bass controls - can you tell me what this does please? Thanks

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Ian....that sounds like a parametric midrange control...that gives you more control over the midrange eq. That control will vary the center frequency of the midrange. In other words, your can change the range of the midrange you need to cut or boost. Thsi gives you more tonal possibilities and more control over your midrange. But, as I say, experiment with it and set it to taste.

SylviaSylvia replied

Mark: what the best way to avoid feedback?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey control feedback by the proximity to your amp. If it's something your trying to avoid, you're probably to close to your amp or your playing too loud. Try backing off the amount of distortion you're using, too.

traceytracey replied

Thankyou Mark, I have a Marshall Jvm 410 amp way to much for my needs to many channels and controls ( for a Beginner) Your lesson was great. Very easy to follow lesson i feel i understand my amp much better now Thankyou

jaronjaron replied

Mark, All the knobs on your amp look like the volume and tone controls on my cheap strat copy!

kogablackkogablack replied

Mark when will thier be you next lesson? So a far your a great help. Easy to fallow and listen to and a reason to stay with Jamplay. ...Thanks from a Stratocaster owner.

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.

Lesson Information

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Acoustic Guitar

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

Marcelo Berestovoy Marcelo Berestovoy

Marcelo teaches the eight basic right hand moves for the Rumba Flamenca strum pattern. He then shows you how to apply it...

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Jessica Baron Jessica Baron

Jessica kindly introduces herself, her background, and her approach to this series.

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Tyler Grant Tyler Grant

Tyler Grant is back with an introduction to his new series "Classic Country Chops." In this series, Tyler goes in-depth...

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Hawkeye Herman Hawkeye Herman

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

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Trevor Gordon Hall Trevor Gordon Hall

Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term that can incorporate percussive elements of playing as well as Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed...

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Trace Bundy Trace Bundy

Trace Bundy talks about the different ways you can use multiple capos to enhance your playing.

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Freebo Freebo

In this lesson, Freebo covers the basics of right hand technique. This lesson is essential for all up and coming bassists.

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Mary Flower Mary Flower

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

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Mark Lincoln Mark Lincoln

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

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Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Electric Guitar

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.

Stuart Ziff Stuart Ziff

Stuart delves into all the different aspects of how R&B guitar has had an impact within reggae music.

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Daniel Gilbert Daniel Gilbert

Known around the world for his inspirational approach to guitar instruction, Musician's Institute veteran Daniel Gilbert...

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Guthrie Trapp Guthrie Trapp

JamPlay introduces Nashville session player Guthrie Trapp! In this first segment, Guthrie talks a little about his influences,...

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Ariel Posen Ariel Posen

If you could choose one technique to replicate the human voice on your guitar, it would be slide guitar. The long rich history...

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Irene Ketikidi Irene Ketikidi

Dynamics can be a key component to becoming expressive with your melodies. Irene applies some dynamic expressive techniques...

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Billy Sheehan Billy Sheehan

Billy starts his artist series off with a lesson on something he gets asked the most to explain: right hand 3 finger technique.

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Andy James Andy James

Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

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Evan Brewer Evan Brewer

Evan Brewer explains everything you need to know in order to get going with your bass guitar. Topics include the parts of...

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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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Michael Palmisano Michael Palmisano

Michael kicks off his course and explains what to expect from the course, as well as who this course is designed for.

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Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 126 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00
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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


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