Functional Rock Guitar Theory

Will Ripley brings us an easy to follow approach to music theory. Designed for someone just out of the beginner stage of guitar playing, Functional Rock Guitar Theory breaks down the concepts that you will use in your everyday playing. In addition, it is geared towards rock and blues guitar, which means it is tailored to concepts that will advance your playing in those genres!

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Join veteran JamPlay instructor Will Ripley to learn the music theory concepts you need to know to further your knowledge in the genres of rock and blues. This Phase 1 series is focused on the basic, must know concepts that you will use in your everyday playing!

Lessons in this Series:

Lesson 1

Series Introduction

Welcome to Functional Rock Guitar Theory! In the introduction, Will gives you a taste of what you'll find in this basic, usable music theory course.

Length: 3:34 Difficulty: 0.0 Free Sample Lesson
Lesson 2

How to Find the Key of a Song

Will starts this course out with a basic skill that every guitar player uses at some point: Finding the Key of a Song. He gives us some basics tips and tricks to make this an easy task!

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 3

Unlocking the Fretboard

No doubt, one of the most daunting tasks of guitar playing is learning all of the notes on your fretboard. Not to fear! Will breaks down and demystifies this scary process, and you'll have it all memorized in no time!

Length: 12:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 4

The Major Scale

One of, if not THE most important building block of music theory is the major scale. In this lesson, Will discusses the structure and tonality of the scale.

Length: 7:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 5

The Chromatic Scale

What about all of those "in between" notes? The notes not in the major scale? Those are the notes that add interesting color to music. In this lesson, Will shows you the chromatic scale, and gives you a basic way to practice it.

Length: 6:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 6

Understanding Intervals

Being able to recognize intervals and getting used to how they sound is a very key part of making music theory work for you. In this lesson, Will takes a look at how all 12 notes sound against a root note, in this case, the key of C.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 7

How Chords are Built

What are chords? How do they work? How are they built? Will answers these and other questions in this fundamental theory lesson!

Length: 9:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 8

Chord Extensions

Now that we have looked at how basics chords are built, Will takes a look at extensions to chords. These are the notes added to chords that give them specific tones or "colors".

Length: 18:22 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 9

Intervallic Shapes

Being able to figure out your intervals is one of the more useful music theory applications for your guitar playing. In this lesson, Will gives you quick, easy methods for fast location of your intervals!

Length: 11:37 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 10

Pop Diatonic Chord Sequence

Now that we're getting familiar with the major scale, as well as several different chord types, it's time to connect the dots with the diatonic chord sequence. That's right - each note of the major scale gets it's very own chord! Sound complicated? Not to worry - Will makes it easy to understand...

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 11

Stock Pop Song, Part 1

Learning the pop diatonic chord sequence by itself can seem a bit out of context. Will gives us a useful track in this lesson, that will show you what that sequence sounds like in a real song.

Length: 9:58 Difficulty: 1.5 Member Only
Lesson 12

Stock Pop Song, Part 2

Ok, now that you have some context for the chord sequence, let's change keys. Wait, what?? Not to worry! Will has given you all the tools you need to transpose this stock pop song to a different key!

Length: 15:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 13

Blues Theory

In the world of music theory, blues is in a class by itself. In this lesson, Will examines the differences between blues theory and normal diatonic theory.

Length: 9:05 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 14

Assembling Pentatonic Positions

In this lesson, Will talks about what makes up the different pentatonic positions, and how to relate the minor pentatonic to the major pentatonic scale.

Length: 12:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 15

Rock Diatonic Chord Sequence

We've looked at the pop diatonic chord sequence, now it's time to look at the rock diatonic chord sequence. This has different flavor that says nothing other than "rock"!

Length: 9:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 16

Major and Minor Hot Zones

Now it's time to apply some of this theory we're learning, and we find out how much it can help us when navigating certain chord progressions. Changing in and out of major and minor sounding licks and scales will be a lot easier if you know where and what you're playing!

Length: 15:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
Lesson 17

Demystifying Modes

Modes are sometimes a great source of confusion for a lot of guitar players. In this lesson, Will hopes to demystify them a bit by giving straight forward descriptions and examples.

Length: 18:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
Lesson 18


Arpeggios are an important piece of the puzzle when converting music theory to actual playing. In this lesson, Will explains what arpeggios are, and shows you different ways to use them.

Length: 8:48 Difficulty: 2.0 Member Only
Lesson 19

Triad Shapes

Triad shapes are one of the most useful tools in advancing your guitar playing. Learning the various shapes and how to move them around the fretboard will not only enhance your playing, but it will also deepen your theory knowledge!

Length: 16:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
Lesson 20

Putting Triads to Work

Now that you've learned some different triad shapes, it's time to put them into context in a musical situation.

Length: 9:26 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
Lesson 21

How to Use a Capo

The capo can either be a super useful tool, or a complete mystery! In this lesson, Will tries to demystify the capo and gives you some practical uses for it.

Length: 11:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Member Only
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