The Dorian Mode (Guitar Lesson)

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Brad Henecke

The Dorian Mode

Brad moves on in his modal lesson series to explain the Dorian mode. This lesson includes 2 backing tracks.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 22:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:17) Introduction Music Brad improvises a lengthy solo using the A Dorian mode. How would you descibe the overall sound of this mode? Feel free to learn the licks Brad plays and add them to your own arsenal.
Chapter 2: (11:03) Learning the Dorian Mode Note: Brad mispronounces the name of this mode. It is pronounced as follows: door-ee-an.

In Lesson 22, Brad introduced the seven modes of the major scale. You learned that a mode can be built from each scale degree of the major scale. Brad demonstrated these concepts using the G major scale. The first mode built from the G major scale is referred to as the Ionian mode. “Ionian” is simply another way of referring to the major scale.

In this lesson, Brad introduces the second mode of the major scale. If we begin and end the G major scale with the second scale degree, the A Dorian mode is formed. This scale is spelled as follows: A, B, C, D, E, F#, G, A. Although this scale contains the same notes as G Major/Ionian, it has a complete different sound. This is the most important concept to grasp in relation to the modes. When a mode is created from a parent major scale, the interval relationships change within the scale. This alters the overall functionality of the scale. For example, the note "A" is the root of the A Dorian mode. The third scale degree, C, is a minor third from the root. This gives the Dorian mode a distinct minor flavor.

Take note of the whole and half step patterns contained within the Dorian mode. It is not important to memorize this pattern. However, you must know that the whole and half step relationships within the mode have a large bearing on its overall tonal color. If a scale pattern begins with two whole steps, it will always have a major quality. If the scale begins with a half step then a whole step or vice versa, the scale will have a minor quality.

Note: Open "A Dorian Mode" in "Supplemental Content" for the order of whole and half within this mode.

Fretboard Pattern for A Dorian

Note: Open the Supplemental Content tab for a fretboard diagram of this mode. A yellow circle indicates the root note of the mode.

There are five distinct fretboard patterns for every scale/mode played on guitar. The Dorian mode is no exception. The pattern introduced in this lesson is the most commonly used pattern for the Dorian mode. For this reason, it should be mastered before learning the other 4 patterns.

This particular pattern begins in fifth position. A position shift occurs within the pattern on the 4th string. Shift your first finger down to fret the note on the 4th fret. The second finger then frets notes at the 5th fret. The pinky frets the 7th fret. When you reach the second string, the pattern returns to fifth position. Watch Brad closely for a clear demonstration of how this pattern should be fingered.

Note: Check out Matt Brown's Phase 2 Jazz lessons for the remaining patterns of the Dorian mode.

Primary Triads

For every tonality used in Western music, three primary triads define basic harmonic relationships within the tonality. For example, the primary triads for a major/Ionian tonality are I, IV, and V. In the key of G, these chords are G, C, and D.

The primary triads for the Dorian tonality are i, IV, and VII. Lower case Roman Numerals indicate a minor or diminished chord. In A Dorian, these chords are Am, D, and G.

Chapter 3: (02:13) Lead with the Dorian Mode In this scene, Brad demonstrates how the A Dorian mode is used to improvise over the primary triads of the Dorian tonality. He adds a few additional chords to the primary triads in this progression. The III chord, C, and the v chord, Em, are added to increase the harmonic interest of the progression.

Practice improvising over this progression to develop your own Dorian Licks.
Chapter 4: (04:33) Using Modes Learning the modes of the major scale involves learning some basic music theory. Regardless of whether or not you are trained in music theory, your ears are always the best guide when determining whether a scale works over a certain chord progression. When you first begin to solo over any progression, use your ears to determine whether a certain scale is a plausible choice when improvising over a progression. If the scale you are using sounds bad, don't use it. It's as simple as that.

Using the Dorian Mode in a 12 Bar Blues

The A Dorian mode presents a viable scale option when improvising over a 12 bar blues progression in the key of A. Frequently, guitarists will use the Dorian mode as well as both major and minor blues scales in the course of a single blues solo. The F# note in the A Dorian mode is the third of IV chord D. A D chord is spelled D, F#, A.

Compare how a Dorian scale relates to the A minor pentatonic scale. Essentially, A Dorian is an A minor pentatonic scale with two notes added. These notes are B and F#. Both of these added notes are consonant over the chords in a twelve bar blues progression. These will add additional color to your blues solos.

Listen closely as Brad uses the A Dorian mode to improvise over a 12 bar blues in A.
Chapter 5: (01:09) Final Thoughts Thanks for watching this installment of Brad Henecke's discussion of the modes! In the next modal lesson, Brad will introduce the Phrygian mode. This particular mode is built from the third scale degree of the major scale.

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.

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

thanks Brad!

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

thanks Brad! greetings from Mexico

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

thanks Brad! greetings from Mexico

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

thanks Brad! greetings from Mexico

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

thanks Brad! greetings from Mexico

jhjamjhjam replied on December 24th, 2014

i like the way thgis instructor keeps the topic simple.. diagram very important as well as speed as to which he explains the shown diagram while playing the scale

nbcline81nbcline81 replied on July 21st, 2014

This is the most distracting lesson I've viewed on the site. They need to remake it and at least pronounce modes correctly and more importantly AGREE ON THE MODE DISPLAYED!!!!

Winnie SandyWinnie Sandy replied on July 7th, 2014 I think he meant the Dorian scale is A off a G major scale :/

rckmsnrckmsn replied on March 23rd, 2014

the doryan scale in the key of g is d????

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied on February 12th, 2014

Hey someone answer this for me - What chords can you determine from the A dorian and A minor pentatonic scale - The chords of the format Major min min maj maj min dim and so on of the G major scale?? Will the same chords(ofcourse one can switch the progression but) be used for all the modes of the g major scale ??

satchfansatchfan replied on February 8th, 2014

Don't you know how 'Dorian' is pronounced properly?

dbernettdbernett replied on January 16th, 2014

It all became clear after watching this. Part I Part 2

ktrockktrock replied on July 23rd, 2013

That backing track to the A Dorian is cool.

bluenose1875bluenose1875 replied on October 20th, 2013

This teacher needs some lessons

jhenriksenjhenriksen replied on November 25th, 2012

Why doesn't someone review this stuff before putting it online. Brad starts out saying "the second note of the G Major scale is D" which is clearly wrong and confusing. Then he continues to say he is demonstrating the D Dorian Mode when in fact he is demonstrating the A Dorian Mode. How are we supposed to learn from an instruction who keeps providing wrong, confusing and misleading information. Modes are difficult enough without having to spend time trying to figure out if the instruction is incorrect or if we're just not getting it. Someone at Jamplay has to review these lessons or it will be out of business soon.

ausmattausmatt replied on January 27th, 2013

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. We're not talking about the "D Dorian mode". This is the G Major scale that we're basing this on. A Dorian is correct. If modes aren't confusing enough to you, I'm afraid this won't make it simpler. I know what your saying Brad. Many won't.

restrummerrestrummer replied on July 12th, 2012

Why don't we just play the G major scale starting at the 2nd note

ausmattausmatt replied on January 27th, 2013

You are......Good point! You are just using a different pattern. If you change the root note or the note you start at, and play the notes in the major scale, you are playing a different mode.

floorshakerfloorshaker replied on July 25th, 2010

Hi Brad. My first time with modes. Can you clear this up for me please. Do you mean that in a chord progression, when you hear a major chord you play the Ionian scale and then when you hear a minor chord you play the Dorian scale? Thanks

Bass TrackerBass Tracker replied on January 25th, 2010

you really confuse me with your speaking, I think you Pronounce words wrong, It might just be me,, and my English,, but just a thought , after listening to your videos.

dmvelzendmvelzen replied on January 16th, 2010

Is the shifting up from the the G major scale 1 position to the A note really necessary? Isn't it just possible to play the same G major scale and accent the A notes? As I am seeing that the A Dorian scale is the same as the 2nd position G major scale, but with different root notes.

blueguitar420blueguitar420 replied on June 23rd, 2009

why is the called the D dorian rather than the A dorian mode

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on June 24th, 2009

That a Good Question .You Are right! It is In the Key of (A ) I made a Mistake with my speaking .Alote of times I refer to the modes from the key of ( C )Because there are no sharps and flats to mess with your mind.when you build the Dorian mode starting on the second note of the ( C ) major scale, the dorian mode is in the key of ( D )anyway It would be the (A) Dorian Building it from a (G)Major scale . thanks for pointing that out

guitarfoolguitarfool replied on June 14th, 2009

Well, a break through for me! I play all sorts of music,,acoustic, like bob dylan, jim croce,,blues,,,rock,,,I'd like to learn heavy metal,,I wonder sometimes,,,when will I pick the music that I will stick with? Maybe never, but it's always been my goal to sit down and just jam playing lead guitar. Now I feel with brad's lessons I'm getting somewhere,,,hell yes, this is fun...sit in my garage,,up in the mountains,,,with a cold beer,,,and jam,,,heeeehaaaaaa. this lesson was really good, thanks! Buzz (aka guitarfool).

dash rendardash rendar replied on March 29th, 2009

Here's a great song written in F Dorian - "This Heaven" by David Gilmour. There's a couple of key changes and the outro is G Aeolian, but most of the track (and the main riff) is F Dorian. Great to practice along to. :)

dash rendardash rendar replied on January 15th, 2009

Here's one thing that's always puzzled me. You can play A Dorian over a track, or alternatively use A minor pentatonic pattern 1, since they both work, and because A minor pentatonic 1 uses a subset of the notes from the A Dorian scale. But similarly, if you were to play, say, A Aeolian, you could also play A minor pentatonic 1 in the same place, because A minor pentatonic 1 is just a subset of notes from the A Aeolian scale, and to my mind, is a better fit than the A Dorian. Now, if you tackle it from the other way around and think about how, say E Aeolian relates to A Dorian. They are 5 frets apart, or two 'positions'. Now, if you can play E minor pentatonic 1 at the same place as you could play E Aeolian, doesn't that mean that you could also play A minor pentatonic *pattern 3* in place of the A Dorian. Certainly, it's still true that A minor pentatonic 3 is still a subset of the notes in A Dorian. So, this is where I get confused. Which pentatonic pairs best with each mode? Does that make sense? Sorry for the rambling!

dash rendardash rendar replied on February 20th, 2009

In case anyone is interested, this topic has now been covered in the forum at If you handle a little theory, it's worth checking out post #13 in that thread.

mcranmcran replied on November 13th, 2008

oh yeah a slow mo on the vid would be good so I can steal your licks

mcranmcran replied on November 13th, 2008

The way i remember dorian is that you just play the major scale a full step down from the root note. E.g - for A play G major, for B play A major, for D play C major, ect.

will315will315 replied on November 6th, 2008

So the Dorian mode is the G major in the second position?

fenderboyfenderboy replied on November 6th, 2008

well why dont you edit ur video this video will make students mor confusing

rodrigo17rodrigo17 replied on July 31st, 2008

why not use the Am scale oR Am pentatonic scale on a music with the key of Am?

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on August 2nd, 2008

You can use the A minor scale as well. Good Question! You could try mixing the two scales. Different scales give you a different flavor and more notes to choose from.

dfrye4dfrye4 replied on July 15th, 2008

I'm way more confused than ever. Someone should edit for mistakes it's really tough on those just starting

drakumeldrakumel replied on March 14th, 2008

In whole lesson brad says over and over again D DORIAN mode and really i cant understand it.If the scale begins from the second note o G MAGOR IONIAN this note should be A and not D .Pls answer me to that ,if its simply a mistake or something else is happening here.THX

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on March 15th, 2008

Just a Mistake . When i teach scales. I most of the time teach it in the key of C Major .Because there are no sharps and flats .In the key of C , D would be the 2nd note of the scale and that is where you would build the dorian scale from . I must have been thinking in the key of C . anyway your are right, if i was building the dorian scale from the G Major scale the second note would be ( A) So it is the (A Dorian ) .

rblgeniusrblgenius replied on February 24th, 2008

I learned this mode that the A string there was a note on the 6th fret and the 8th fret, not the seventh but the rest was the same. When i go through the A scale step wise, yours fits so I don't know why I learned it the other way.

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.

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This lesson covers the absolute basics of rock guitar. Learn about the electric guitar, pickups, amplifiers, changing strings, and more.

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Lesson 5

Blues and Scales

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Tricks and Lead

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Jammin' with Scales

This lesson details how to improvise with the blues scale.

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3 Songs

In this fun lesson, Brad Henecke teaches you riffs from 3 classic rock songs.

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Power chords help give rock music that "punch you in the face" feel. Learn basic power chords in this lesson.

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2 New Songs

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Lesson 11

Pentatonic Scale

Brad teaches the first pattern of the minor pentatonic scale and explains how it relates to the blues scale.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Second Pattern

Brad covers the second pattern for both the minor blues and minor pentatonic scales.

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Lesson 13

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Learn the classic rock song "Message in a Bottle."

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Lesson 14

Third Pattern

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Lesson 15

Colorful Chord Tension

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Lesson 16

The Fourth Pattern

Brad covers the fourth pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

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Lesson 17


In this lesson Brad demonstrates how to play the Beatles song "Daytripper."

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Lesson 18

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Brad demonstrates the 5th pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. He also discusses practicing and memorizing them.

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Lesson 19

"Brown Eyed Girl"

Learn the classic rock song "Brown Eyed Girl" in this episode of Rock Guitar.

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Lesson 20


Brad introduces you to the importance of phrasing. Quality phrasing is essential when performing any melodic line.

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Lesson 21

Basics of Tapping

Tapping is an idiomatic guitar technique that offers a unique sound.

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Lesson 22

Intro to Modes

Learning the modes is essential to the development of your scale vocabulary.

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Lesson 23

Understanding Chord Shapes

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Natural Harmonics

Learn the right and left hand mechanics involved in playing harmonics.

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Lesson 25

Advanced Harmonics

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Lesson 26

The Dorian Mode

Brad moves on in his modal lesson series to explain the Dorian mode. This lesson includes 2 backing tracks.

Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

Phrygian Mode

Brad explains and demonstrates the Phrygian mode.

Length: 13:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Lydian Mode

Brad continues his discussion of the modes. You will learn the Lydian mode in this lesson.

Length: 9:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Mixolydian Mode

Brad explains the Mixolydian mode and its practical applications.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

The Aeolian Mode

Continuing with his modal lessons, Brad Henecke teaches the Aeolian mode.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

The Locrian Mode

The final lesson in our modal series covers the Locrian mode.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

The Ace Zone

Brad teaches some licks inspired by Ace Frehley of KISS. Incorporate these licks into your own solos.

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Lesson 33

Learn Licks

In this lesson Brad Henecke teaches you some fun licks that can be used in your own guitar solos.

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Lesson 34

Blues Licks

Brad Henecke demonstrates some cool blues licks.

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Lesson 35

Modes and Scales

Brad Henecke provides an alternate way of comparing modes and scales.

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Lesson 36

A Different View

In the last lesson, Brad Henecke compared some scales that are major or dominant in quality. Now, he repeats this process with minor scales.

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Lesson 37

One String Scales

This lesson is all about 1 string scales. Learning scales on 1 string is essential to your knowledge of the fretboard.

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Lesson 38

One String Ionian Mode

Brad demonstrates a one string version of the Ionian mode. This lesson demonstrates the importance of horizontal scales.

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Lesson 39

Aeolian Mode on One String

Brad continues his discussion of single string scales. He explains how to play the Aeolian mode across a single string.

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Lesson 40

Octave Scales

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Lesson 41

Using Octaves

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Lesson 42

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Brad introduces the harmonic minor scale. He explains how it can be applied to the solo break in "Sweet Child O' Mine."

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Understanding Time Signatures

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Diminished Chords

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Open G Tuning

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Drop D Tuning

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Lesson 51

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Lesson 52

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Gear and Effects

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About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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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 92 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

Mike H.

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

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

Greg J.

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

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


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

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

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