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Power Chord Primer (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan

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.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 36:43Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:55) Welcome to Lesson 10: Power Chords, Palm Muting, and More... Welcome back to Mark Brennan's Introduction to Electric Guitar! Mark kicks off lesson 10 with an up-tempo 12 bar blues progression. This boogie style rhythm utilizes two string chord shapes that are commonly referred to as "power chords."

Lesson Objectives

In the upcoming scenes, Mark will explain the basic theory behind power chords. He will also explain how power chords are formed on the fretboard. Finally, these new chord voicings will be applied to some basic chord progression exercises.

Mark breaks down power chords into three categories based on their visual fretboard shape. He'll cover power chords that include two notes first. Then, he'll advance to three note power chord voicings. In addition, you will learn how a new technique called "palm muting" can be applied to power chords to make them sound even more aggressive.


You are encouraged to play all lesson exercises with distortion. When playing power chords with distortion, most players prefer to use the bridge pickup. Otherwise, the tone can begin to sound rather muddy. Throughout the lesson, you may want to periodically switch over to the clean channel to ensure that you are playing accurately.
Chapter 2: (05:55) The Basics - 2 Note Power Chords What Is a Power Chord?

A power chord consists of two notes. Technically, three notes are needed to form a chord or triad. With the exception of G7 and C7, all of the chords Mark has discussed in this series are three note triads. Power chords are ambiguous in quality (neither major nor minor), because they lack a third interval above the chord's root. The third of the chord determines whether the chord is major or minor. A power chord is comprised of a root note and the note located a perfected fifth above it. These no notes have no bearing on the quality of a chord.

At 00:18, Mark explains an E5 power chord. This chord contains an E root note and the note B, which is located a perfect fifth above it. The "5" in the chord name indicates that the chord is solely comprised of a root and a fifth. To play this chord, play the open sixth string in conjunction with the B note fretted by the first finger.

Frequently, Mark will refer to power chords by their root note location. For example, the E5 chord demonstrated at the beginning of this scene is a "root six" chord.

Note: Fretboard diagrams to all chords discussed in the lesson video can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Picking Practice

Practice strumming the E5 power chord with a rest stroke. Remember that the rest stroke technique is a great way to add an accent to a chord. Pivot the wrist through the sixth and fifth strings. Let the pick come to rest on the fourth string. Be careful that you don't accidentally cause this string to vibrate.

A5 Power Chord - "Root Five" Shape

This power chord is played on the fifth and fourth strings. Notice how its visual shape is very similar to E5. The shape for E5 is simply shifted up to a higher set of strings for A5. The root note A, is located on the fifth string. E, the perfect fifth above A, is played at the 2nd fret of the fourth string.

D5 Power Chord - "Root Four" Shape

Once again, the shape of D5 is quite similar to E5 and A5. The basic visual shape is moved to a higher pair of strings. The first finger still frets the fifth of the chord (A) at the 2nd fret.

Rhythm Practice

Practice strumming each power chord in the following rhythms: whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. These exercises comprise measures 1-18 of "Power Chord Practice #1." Play these exercises along with a metronome set to a relatively slow tempo. Pick each chord with a solid rest stroke.
Chapter 3: (05:05) Introduction to the 12 Bar Blues The "12 Bar Blues" is a staple chord progression used in countless blues, rock, and country songs. It is one of the most common song forms used in all of Western music. Throughout a blues song, the basic 12 bar song structure typically repeats for the entire duration. A basic version of this progression can be played with the power chord shapes that you learned in the previous scene.

12 Bar Blues in A

Remember that Roman numerals can be assigned to each chord in a progression. Roman numerals are used to denote a chord's function within a progression. The most basic form of the 12 bar blues progression consists of the I, IV, and V chords in any given key. In relation to the key of A major, the I, IV, and V chords that will be used in the progression are A5, D5, and E5 respectively.

Within the 12 bar blues progression, the chords always change in the same measures. A measure-by-measure breakdown of these chord changes is listed below. Memorize these changes as soon as possible.

Measures 1-4: I chord (A5)
Measures 5-6: IV chord (D5)
Measures 7-8: I chord (A5)
Measures 9-10: V chord (E5)*
Measures 11-12: I chord (A5)**

*The IV chord is often substituted for V in measure 10 to add variety to the progression.

** The V chord is often substituted for I in measure 12 to create a stronger transition back to the beginning of the form.

12 Bar Blues Exercise

This exercise is written in measures 19-30 of "Power Chord Practice #1."

While practicing this exercise, focus your attention on where the chord changes occur within the song form. Play along with Mark at 03:18 in the lesson video to ensure that you are changing chords accurately and in time. In addition to playing along with Mark, play these exercises on your own along with a metronome. Also, begin to listen to some songs that utilize this song form. This will help to further acquaint your ears with the sound of the blues. Your ultimate goal is to get to the point where the chord changes within the blues progression become second nature.
Chapter 4: (09:51) 3 Note Power Chords and Palm Muting Review

Before advancing to the remainder of the lesson, review the materials Mark has covered so far. He has explained how to play two note voicings for the E5, A5, and D5 power chords. These chords were strummed with rest strokes in various rhythms. Finally, Mark explained how to play power chords in a variety of different rhythms within the 12 bar blues progression.

E5 (Three Strings)

The three string version of E5 requires the first finger to perform a barre across the second fret. Now, the first finger frets the note B and an additional E note located on the fourth string. This new E note is one octave higher than the open E note played on the sixth string. When barring two strings, flatten out the tip joint of the index finger. This will allow you to place even pressure on both strings held under the barre. Watch Mark at 03:50 for a demonstration.


Practice this new voicing with rest strokes and free strokes. Strive for accuracy and clarity. Play the exercise in whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes along with a metronome. Refer to measures 55-60 of "Power Chord Practice #2" for tablature and standard notation.

In addition, practice switching back and forth between the two note voicing and the three note voicing. This mini right hand exercise will greatly improve picking accuracy.

A5 (Three Strings)

As you might have expected, the three string version of A5 utilizes a similar shape to E5. The fifth string is played open while the first finger barres the fourth and third strings. An additional 'A' root note is now added to the third string.

Apply the exercises listed under the three string version of E5 to this new version of A5.

D5 (Three Strings)

The interval distance between most adjacent strings pairs on the guitar is a perfect fourth. However, the open third and second strings produce notes that are a major third interval from one another. For this reason, the three string D5 chord is fingered slightly different from A5 and E5. The additional D note is played at the third fret of the second string. Mark prefers to fret this note with the middle finger. Other players prefer to fret this note with the third finger. This fingering is more similar to the "open" D major chord.

Apply the rhythm exercises listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab to this D5 chord.

Palm Muting

Often, a technique called palm muting is applied to power chords to create a thick, crunchy sound. You've probably heard this sound in countless rock guitar recordings. Mark exhibited this technique in the introduction music.

Note: Some of the following information about palm muting is taken from lesson 18 of Jim Deeming's Phase 1 series.

The Mechanics of Palm Muting

The key to successful palm muting technique is proper positioning of the picking hand. The thumb muscle and palm area must rest slightly off the bridge towards the pickups. Keep the palm at a straight angle. If you rest your palm on the bridge, the string will continue to ring normally. If you move your palm too far towards the neck, the string produces a choked, dead sound. Watch Mark at 06:33 in the lesson video for a clear demonstration.

It may take some experimentation in order to find the perfect palm position. Remember to let your ears guide you when learning a new technique. Listen to your favorite players, and imitate the sounds you hear. If what you are doing sounds bad, make some adjustments and try again. When palm muting is applied, the vibration produced by the string is not muted altogether. Rather, the tone is slightly muffled to create a chunkier, more aggressive sound.

Degrees of Palm Muting

There are various degrees of palm-muting. Some situations call for a heavy, drastic palm-mute. Other musical situations call for a much lighter form of muting. Let your ears guide you. A string sounds increasingly more muted as more hand mass is placed on the string. The volume diminishes more on acoustic guitars with increased levels of palm-muting. If you desire a loud tone with heavy palm muting, you must pick the strings with more aggression.

Palm Muting All Six Strings

Typically, the three bass strings are palm-muted the most. However, you can palm-mute any of the six strings. Often, melodies and solos are palm-muted to create a different texture. Due to their smaller size, it is much more difficult to palm-mute the three treble strings. Spend extra time practicing with these strings if necessary.

Palm Muting Upstrokes

Palm muting with an upstroke is slightly more difficult than palm-muting with a downstroke. The palm must be resting in place before the pick makes contact with the strings when performing an upstroke.

Palm Muting Exercise 1

Practice strumming all of the chords that you have learned in this lesson with the palm muting technique. Strum in steady quarter notes along with a metronome. You can also play along with Mark at 08:02 in the lesson video.

Palm Muting Exercise 2

This exercise is written in measures 73-84 of "Power Chord Practice #3."

Play through the 12 bar blues progression in quarter notes along with a metronome. The first time around, use the two string voicings taught earlier in the lesson. Then, use the three string voicings from this scene. Apply moderate palm muting to each strum. Mark provides an opportunity to play the exercise along with him at 08:42.
Chapter 5: (03:44) Counting 8th Notes Eighth Notes

-An eighth note receives half the value of a quarter note. In a measure of 4/4 four time, a measure may consist of eight consecutive eighth notes. Thus, an eighth note is held for 1/8 of a measure.

-In musical notation, an eighth note is written with a filled in note head. A stem is attached to the note head. A single flag is then attached to the stem. When a single beat is comprised of two eighth notes, the flags are beamed together. Refer to measure 91 of Power Chord Practice #3 for an example of beamed eighth notes.

-Listen at 01:00 in the lesson video as Mark compares the sound of quarter notes and eighth notes.

Eighth Note Exercise 1

This exercise begins in measure 85 on page 3 of the "Supplemental Content." Make sure that you play this exercise along with a metronome to ensure that your eighth notes are played clearly and in time. Also, tap your foot to further internalize the pulse. Mark sets his metronome to 85 beats per minute in the lesson video. You may want to start at a slower tempo. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that rhythm is the single most important part of music!

Eighth Note Exercise 2

For additional practice, play the exercise with palm muting. When palm muting is applied, you must free stroke in a more deliberate fashion. Only the very tip of the pick should make contact with the strings. Otherwise, it might get caught up on a string.
Chapter 6: (08:06) Tie it Together: 12 Bar Blues Riff and Exercise The exercise presented in this scene ties together all of the materials that Mark has presented in the lesson. Before you tackle the exercise, watch and listen several times as Mark provides a demonstration. Make sure that you understand the rhythmic concepts involved prior to hitting the guitar.

Power chords are played as eighth notes and quarter notes within a 12 bar blues progression. Three note chord voicings are strummed on beats 1 and 3. Two note voicings are palm muted on beats 2 and 4. Consequently, right accuracy is put to the test. To add an extra challenge, the type of stroke applied to these beats alternates as well. Accented rest strokes are applied to beats 1 and 3. Free strokes are played on beats 2 and 4.

Since many techniques are involved in this exercise, it will help to play it at a very slow tempo. Mark demonstrates such a tempo at 03:10. Practice the power chord riff with each chord individually. Then, work on smoothing out the chord changes. As a final step, play through the entire 12 bar blues progression as notated on page 4. Mark plays through the final exercise at 05:58. Play along to make sure your rhythm remains steady.

A Few Thoughts on Tempo

Blues songs are played at a variety of tempos. Consequently, the exercise should be practiced in a range of tempos. Gradually increase the speed of the metronome two beats at a time. Then, jump throughout the entire tempo range. Mark plays through the exercise at 120 beats per minute at 07:00. Consider this your goal for the lesson. Playing at this speed requires maximum relaxation of the right hand wrist and forearm muscles.
Chapter 7: (01:46) Wrap Up Preview of Next Lesson

In lesson 11, Mark will explain how the power chord shapes presented in this lesson can be transferred to other positions on the fretboard. This will enable you to play the 12 bar blues progression as well as other rock chord progressions in all 12 major keys. In addition, Mark will introduce a new scale called "E minor pentatonic." Down the line he'll explain how this scale relates to the 12 bar blues progression and other common blues / rock progressions.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

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

jdwiltjamsjdwiltjams replied on April 25th, 2017

Your very thorough Mark, great stuff!!

sch0257asch0257a replied on February 15th, 2016

I don't follow what the numbers mean, root would be which note or chord is being played I get that , e,f,g but 5 6 7 ,they sound good.

sonyaannsonyaann replied on October 26th, 2014

exciting lesson!!

vlader08vlader08 replied on December 15th, 2014

I had more luck than you with this because prior to these lessons i've watched a video on youtube about the Circle Of Fifths and how to create Major Note Scales, for example the E major scale is like so E,F,G,A,B,C,D then E again for a total of 8 notes, now learn the notes on your fret-board because the position for E5 is actually E the root note and then the 5th note in the Major Scale of E which is C. Now for the bar shape of E5 we add the extra E one octave higher which is the 8th note in the Major Scale of E. Hope this helps, please learn your fret-board (i've learned it in 2 days) this will help you down the road with things like this. Rock On! Yours Vlad.

vlader08vlader08 replied on December 15th, 2014

The 5th note in the major scale is B sorry for that :P why is there no edit to posts ?

AlwynAlwyn replied on October 25th, 2014

Hi would also like to know this, understanding why makes remembering a lot easier. Also surprised you haven't got around to annswering this question yet. It was asked a few weeks ago now. Thanks Alwyn

mburskeymburskey replied on January 25th, 2014

Thanks Mark! Tried this one the other day and was a little confused. Repeated it today and got it! Great lesson!

dtutterrowdtutterrow replied on June 16th, 2013

Love the palm muting on the E5

battlerattlebattlerattle replied on May 1st, 2013

when you counted up from the 1 chord (A5) to the IV chord (D5), you counted "A, B, C#, D. Those are the first four notes of the major scale? If so, would that mean the I-IV-V progression for a 12 bar blues in E would be E (I chord), F#, G#, A (IV Chord) and B (V chord)? This has always puzzled me.

rustyh1rustyh1 replied on November 26th, 2012

Another great lesson!

johnmillerjohnmiller replied on November 19th, 2012

Thanks Mark for discussing the importance of the Metronome, playing is much smoother now. ATTEMPTING to play some Pink Floyd, any suggestions? P.S your lessons are incredibly helpful.

firedog4firedog4 replied on November 1st, 2012

That was great.

mlauremlaure replied on December 10th, 2011

It´s taken long until I got the palming with only these 3 power chords!!! Everyday it is getting a bit better, however it does not sound very clear yet! But I am definitely improving and I am really exicted to go through all the lessons - Great thanks to Mark.

jm1968ajm1968a replied on May 27th, 2011

Love the 12 bar blues, but I don't hear the difference with the rest.

moabmoab replied on April 17th, 2011

Howdy - Any particular reason I should focus on barring E5 and A5? I tend to want to use my middle and ring fingers for these chords and find it a more natural transition to D5. This is probably a habit I picked up somewhere. I'll practice the barre if there is some advantage to it in the long run - picking up notes when making other chords perhaps? Just wondering, thanks!

charlieboy22charlieboy22 replied on March 30th, 2011

Hey Mark, I'm having a little trouble with palm muting. I was wondering if you could give me any pointers on how to get the right sound and position

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on March 30th, 2011

Hey Shawn....the left edge of your palm should rest right on the bridge saddles. You'll have to adjust your hand position to get that left edge more in line with the bridge saddles. Dont put your palm edge to far in front of the bridge as this will deaden the strings too much. If you're too far behind the bridge you won't get any muting effect. Work for a nice chunky sound. And try it with different amounts of distortion on your tone. Palm muting can be very effective with clean tones, too. Again the key is getting your palm edge right on the bridge saddles and in line with them.....hope this helps...Mark

charlieboy22charlieboy22 replied on March 31st, 2011

Thanks man I appreciate that. I was just having a little trouble because I have a Fender Squier and the volume tends to get in the way a little bit

scorpio1024scorpio1024 replied on February 27th, 2013

I have the same problem with my palm turning down the volume control on my Fender Squier.

scorpio1024scorpio1024 replied on February 27th, 2013

I have found that it works well if you put the side of the palm on the strings very lightly and stick your pinky out so your pinky doesn't hit the volume knob.

ejr1203ejr1203 replied on December 28th, 2010

Mark - can you further explain what a "perfect fifth" is? Also, is there anything wrong with doing a bar across all 5 strings when doing the A5 & E5 instead of just barring 2 strings at a time for each chord? Thanks.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on March 25th, 2011

I think barring across all five strings is ok as long as you're not adding undue tension in your hand by barring the other strings.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on March 25th, 2011

Hey Ed sorry I haven't replied sooner.....a perfect 5th is an interval (distance between 2 notes) of 3and a half steps. If you would start with the root of a major scale and move to the fifth scale tone that would be the perfect fifth. The thing that's important about intervals is to be able to recognize the way they sound...to me a perfect fifth has a very open and stable quality to it.

dsreed22dsreed22 replied on March 25th, 2011

Hi Mark- fun lesson, I got up to lesson 13 and am going back to earlier lessons to review and reinforce, but mainly to practice more with the metronome. Palm muting - Is it me or is the volume control perfectly in the wrong spot for palm muting? Keep up the good work man - it is so much fun to learn the guitar from you. DR

scorpio1024scorpio1024 replied on February 27th, 2013

I have the same problem.

scorpio1024scorpio1024 replied on February 27th, 2013

I have found that it works well if you put the side of the palm on the strings very lightly and stick your pinky out so your pinky doesn't hit the volume control knob.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on March 25th, 2011

What kind of guitar are you playing?

hoosierdaddyhoosierdaddy replied on March 1st, 2011

great lesson Mark. I found a riff i think every one will enjoy to practice with. It's the opening riff to AC DC's Dirty Deeds. e----------------------------------------------------------------- B--------------------------------------3------------------------- G-------------------------2-----------2-------------------------- D---2------------2-------2--2--------0--2---------------------- A---2------------2-------0--2-----------2----------------------- E---0--------3---0----------0-----------0----------------------- and it just repeats.

hoosierdaddyhoosierdaddy replied on March 1st, 2011

edit.....disregard the tab it didn't come out right when i hit enter lol ,but if anyone wants to know the tab just look for it on a guitar tab site.

ejr1203ejr1203 replied on December 28th, 2010

Hi Mark - I'm really enjoying this! You do an awesome job! I'm having a little bit of difficulty on the palm muting. I seem to get more of a "pluncking" sound when i do it. Any other suggestions? Thanks. -Ed

gibstratgibstrat replied on August 17th, 2010

hey mark you get some good sounding tone in that tom anderson, are you plugged straight in the amp? or effects. its a mesa boogie right???

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on August 22nd, 2010

I used my Mesa Boogie Mark IV for this lesson, with a little bit of crunch, with no other effects. I love my TA!

marknliz69marknliz69 replied on June 4th, 2010

I really enjoyed this lessong. I sort of skipped around a bit when i got bored with practicing my basics, but i seem to be picking it up really quickly. Im an extremely new Beginner but i have come leaps and bounds in the first 4 days i have been learning from your lessons. I wanted to ask you for some advice on purchasing my first guitar. I have really long fingers and huge hands to fit my 300Lb 6'5'' frame. I'm into metal and rock but also i want to play melodic jams as well. I really love the idea of pinch harmonics and i really want to make the guitar cry. The guitars i have been looking at are Epiphone SG's and les Pauls. I am concerned with the room im gonna have for Palm muting and was wandering if there is a guitar perhaps made longer or just has more room to play with when my big hands get moving. I really appreciate your classes and advice. Your an excellent teacher. Love the name too... im a fan :) Thanks, Mark

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on June 9th, 2010

Hey Mark....I would think a Les Paul would be a good choice. It's got a beefier neck and it should feel comfortable in you hands. Don't be too concerned with palm muting...it's just a matter of getting the heel of your right hand on the bridge saddles.

johndunjohndun replied on April 17th, 2010

Hi Mark, I am really enjoying this course very good indeed and easy to follow looking forward to more instruction. Kindest Regards John.

laurolmlaurolm replied on November 26th, 2009

Hi Mark!, I'm still a little confiuse about why 12 bar blues can you explain?, what do you mean by " BAR ". Also when do you know when to change from chord to chord?, thanks.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on December 2nd, 2009

Hey Lauro....let me clear a few things up for you....A bar is another way of referring to a MEASURE. which is the area between two bar lines. The 12 bar blues is a song form of more simply put a chord progression, which consists of the I, IV, and V chord of a particular key. The simplest form has the I chord for four bars (measures), the IV chord for two bars, back to the I chord for two bars, then the V chord for two bars, and back to the I chrod for the final two bars. There are variations that you learn as you become more familiar with the blues, and turn arounds that are use for repeating the pattern.

jmcguirk17jmcguirk17 replied on April 13th, 2010

OK. I was watching Steve Krenz's Spotlight Series on Blues and he advises playing V-IV-I-I in the last four bars. Also I-I-IV-I in the first four bars. He also gets into "always use the flatted 7th, and mostly the flatted 5th." Are you going to get into that stuff at some point? Love your lessons, BTW, so I'd rather hear it from you. But one can become easily confused by the different sequences and priorities of different instructors.

laurolmlaurolm replied on December 7th, 2009

Allright!, I understand!, Thanks Mark!.......

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on December 2nd, 2009

The 12 bar blues example in the supplemental material in this lesson is in the key of A....the I chord is A5, the IV chord is D5, and the V chord is E5.

jndaiglejndaigle replied on November 30th, 2009

To be more precise, the 12 bars start with 19 and end on 30 for the actual 12 bar blues. I mean in the first supplement

jndaiglejndaigle replied on November 30th, 2009

Look at the first exercise. You will see numbers 1 , 2 ... above the notes. Each set is a bar, 1st bar, second bar, etc. There are 12 and repeat, therefore 12 bar blues!

bern16bern16 replied on March 17th, 2010

something is wrong with the video it´s not working

jboothjbooth replied on March 17th, 2010

Which quality setting and scene are you having issues with? I can't seem to find any issues with the video files. Any info would help us troubleshoot this. Thanks!

paolo marchioripaolo marchiori replied on February 11th, 2010

Thanks Mark, love your lessons!!!! Any chance we cold get songs on the "supplemental material" based on the subject of the lesson to practice on? Paolo

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on February 15th, 2010

Good suggestion Paolo....we're having a bit of a problem with licsensing of certain music...but i will find something appropriate for this lesson. Mark B.

peumamanpeumaman replied on November 15th, 2009

In the end of this lesson when you combined rest stroke and free stroke to create accenting and a more dynamic sound, it also looked like you were doing something interesting with your left hand, easing up on the pressure to mute the sound perhaps? I don't think I heard you comment on it, so I was wondering what exactly you were doing. Lessons are great by the way, thanks!

eduartboudewijneduartboudewijn replied on October 24th, 2009

Hey Mark, great lesson, but I got a little bit confused. I learned from my (live) guitar instructor that the 12-bar blues would have a progresson like in this case: A5 (4x), D5 (2x), A5 (2x), E5 (1x), D5 (1x), A5 (2x). It might be a variation on the basic structure or somthing like that, but I'm not sure...

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on November 9th, 2009

Hey Falco...sorry I didn't get bck to you sooner on this. The pattern that your teacher showed you has a very cool variation. It has the IV chord (in this key, D chord) in bar 10..substituted for the V (A) chord. What you can try is in my supplemental material, where I show the 12 bar blues with power chords, try inserting the D5 in bar 10, to hear this substitution.

meganmegan replied on August 28th, 2009

The other day I was reading a post from someone about Dave's lesson on power chords-how she doesn't play hard rock, but learned to have fun with power chords after watching him. Yah, I agree Dave's lesson is good, but I have a similar comment to make here about Mark's lesson. I picked up an electric guitar sometime around Xmas and entered the world of power chords. Because of that I put my guitar away. I don't like power chords. My teacher told me, basically, "bum luck, get used to them." He was nice enough to ask what my problem was, but I just find them boring. Anyway, Mark's teaching the rest stroke made all the difference for me. Something clicked and I found a way to enjoyable music making. I am still reluctant to take power chords very far and would rather spend time on improving precision at picking and finger independence. But here at least is a place to start. Palm muting, too, no. Don't like, but for a different reason. If you ask me this is a more advanced technique because it seems so individual and related to interpretation. I have been working on Wish You Were Here- the front solo is fine, but the palm muting (in my sheet music) in the rest of the song kills me. It'll be another year before I can play that stuff in a way that I feel sounds good. But thanks for the awesome making of meaning.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on August 28th, 2009

Hi Megan...good to hear from you again. Ineresting comments. My response would be that power chords have there place in certain styles, mainly rock. If your desire is to play rock, in any era, you need to get comfortable with them. I think they're a lot of fun to jam on. There are many easy tunes to play with power chords, and you can really make awesome statements with them. I have a new lesson coming up that expands on this one. Give it a shot. As far as palm muting is concerned, here again, another important technique to get comfotable with....in all styles. And I don't really consider it an advanced techniqe. give it a little time and focus and you'll start to feel it. Good luck, keep practicing...and I'll talk to ya soon....Mark B.

warcrapworldwarcrapworld replied on August 22nd, 2009

Hi Mark, i have been trying to play some movable 3 strings power chords up and down the neck but i have some problem because my pinky is a bit broken so i can not barre with it. Say if i play a 3strings A5 from the 6th ~4th strings, i am able to barre the strings with my index finger perfectly, but when i then try to barre the E and A notes on the 5th and 4th strings with the pinky it just wouldn't work so i learn to barre them with my ring finger. I would like to know if that's alright as when i play the chords this way my thumb joints to the palm seems to get sore quite easily. I want to know if that method is ok and the pain is only temporarily? regard BEn

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on August 22nd, 2009

Hey Ben...I can suggest two options: Use your ring finger to barre the two top strings of the power chord, and hopefully this will get comfortable over time, or use your ring and pinky fingers to fret (not barre) the two notes on the two top notes of the chord. I use this fingering a lot, and for me it's real comfortable. Let me know how it goes....Mark B.

warcrapworldwarcrapworld replied on August 22nd, 2009

thanks Mark, i think i will stick with the ring finger barre method for now because i found it a bit difficult when i tried to do some fast power chord changes. Hopefully the pain will ease out eventually. I was scared that i might be doing the wrong posture if i use the ring finger so i wanted to make sure it will do no harm or limit me anything. BEn

rossetta stonerossetta stone replied on June 19th, 2009

Hi There joining jam play from overseas and I just loving it. This first lessons are clearing up the missing things my teacher just don`t cover. Looking forward to get to next level.... bye for now

korkkork replied on May 18th, 2009

Hey Mark, first up your lessons are simply great, enjoyable and fun to go with. Regarding the 3 note power chords, I am having a hard time with the barre on the E5 and A5, either it's lots of buzzing or I put down a third string which is not the intention if it. Is it ok to use two fingers for these chords like in the D5 or is there a specific reason why the E5 and A5 are done with a barre? Using two fingers works much better for me.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on May 18th, 2009

Hey Jan....two fingers are good for now...but keep practicing the barre on the E5 and A5. It keeps your other three fingers available for other riffs off the power chord. Plus it's a good way to get your index into shape for more difficult barre chord forms. On the D5, you want to use your index and middle fingers.

arfisherarfisher replied on April 28th, 2009

Hi Mark - Really enjoy the lessons. In the supplemental material (and music I buy) I find that I tend to focus on the TAB notation and largely ignore the notes on the stave - I tend to use the stave to get the timing of the notes. What advice would you give please? Keep up the great work. Tony

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on April 28th, 2009

Hey Tony....what you're doing is a good approach. The standard notation will show you the rhythm, and if you can read rhythmic notation, you're in good shape. The tab will show the notes on the fretboard and in what position. You'll see tablature that has rhtthmic notation combined on the same staff, and this simplifies the reading process. But I would also suggest you work on your reading skills on standard notation only. Try the Hal Leonard method or Mel Bay. This would help if you want to read music from other instruments, or if you want to read classical music, or charts for jazz bands, or show music.

arfisherarfisher replied on April 29th, 2009

Thanks Mark, I will look-up these guys

drenycdrenyc replied on April 24th, 2009

HI, Mark, I was just wondering what instructor would be good to advance with into PHASE2, after going thru your beginner series?? -DRE

gone workingone workin replied on April 5th, 2009

Awesome. You do great lessons. I agree that the addition of the on-screen Chord Chart is super practical. I saw your fingers dancing along in the intro and will have to really look to see the additional fingerings in the vid because they sounded so bloody good. Mark, are you going to do a lesson where you show precision muting with the right hand as in the case of some steep bends so that no other strings make noise (not in this lesson). It looked like you were going to cover that here, but not yet. Thanks for whatever you put up. It's all great and digestible.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on April 6th, 2009

Hey Greg! Good to hear from ya again. This involves some more advanced technique, but as the series goes on I'm sure I'll touch on this...stay tuned. Mark B.

kvdalykvdaly replied on March 28th, 2009

Any chance you can post the tab for the music from the Welcome section?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on April 2nd, 2009

Hey Kevin...glad you liked the intro....it was just an impromptu jam loosely based on Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin....with a few liberties taken...Mark B.

kevinacekevinace replied on March 30th, 2009

Unfortunately not...we can't create the tabs for the introduction music for each lesson we have.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on March 30th, 2009

I will check with Mark and the administrators on this. If they think it should be added, it will be up in a few days to a week.

den9355den9355 replied on April 2nd, 2009

Thank you Mark. I reslly enjoyed that lesson. I never learned the proper technique for palm muting but your lesson answered my question. Looking forward to the next lesson

jdorsmanjdorsman replied on March 28th, 2009

Great lesson Mark, good to see you rocking here again! And nice t-shirt! Looks somewhat familiar :) Also, I love the chord chart, makes it real easy to play along. Keep up the good work.

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

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

Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 5

Left Hand Technique

Mark explains proper left hand technique from the ground up.

Length: 10:36 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 17

The Key of D Major

Mark explains the basics of D major.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 20

The Movable Minor Pentatonic Scale

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

Length: 32:31 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 22

Blues Boogie Shuffle

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

Length: 42:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 25

The Key of A Minor

Mark covers the key of A minor.

Length: 29:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 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

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 JamPlay.com'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.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

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

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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Trace Bundy Trace Bundy

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

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Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

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Kaki King Kaki King

In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

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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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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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Rich Nibbe Rich Nibbe

Rich Nibbe takes a look at how you can apply the pentatonic scale in the style of John Mayer into your playing.

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Erik Mongrain Erik Mongrain

Erik expounds on the many possibilities of open tunings and the new harmonics that you can use in them. He explains what...

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Calum Graham Calum Graham

Award winning, Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Calum Graham introduces his Jamplay Artist Series, which aims to transform...

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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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Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

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

Kris Norris Kris Norris

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the...

Free LessonSeries Details
Glen Drover Glen Drover

Lesson 25 from Glen presents a detailed exercise that firmly builds up fret hand dexterity for both speed and accuracy.

Free LessonSeries Details
Allen Van Wert Allen Van Wert

Allen shows you the 24 rudiments crucial to developing finger dexterity. This is a short lesson but the exercises here can...

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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 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...

Free LessonSeries Details
Prashant Aswani Prashant Aswani

Do you want to play more musical sounding solos? Do you want to play solos with more emotion behind them? Maybe you're the...

Free LessonSeries Details
Brendan Burns Brendan Burns

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

Free LessonSeries Details
Jane Miller Jane Miller

Jane Miller talks about chord solos in part one of this fascinating mini-series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Emil Werstler Emil Werstler

Emil takes you through some techniques that he uses frequently in his style of playing. Topics include neck bending, percussive...

Free LessonSeries Details
Brent Mason Brent Mason

Learn Nashville style country guitar from one of the most recorded guitarists in history. Check out rhythm grooves, solos,...

Free LessonSeries Details

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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.

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Track Progress
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Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
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Greg J.

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

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


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