You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos

Go from zero to guitar hero, in this hands-on introduction to one of the most beautiful-and versatile-musical instruments out there.
Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 442.
  • y_2024, m_7, d_23, h_8
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_37, tr_405
  • loc_en_CA, sid_7776, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 10.83ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Testing I enjoy this course. I am writing a test so I can see where all my reviews are located.
Date published: 2024-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Snorefest Over a third of each 'lesson' is just a talkfest about obscure guitar history and not about how to actually play the guitar. The whole course could be condensed into about an hour of actual lesson time.
Date published: 2024-03-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A total waste of time if you want to PLAY guitar I bought this course a couple of years ago and it was so confusing that I never got very far. Since then I’ve taken lessons and have learned to play at an advanced beginner or intermediate stage. I thought I’d go back and see if this course might be useful now. I’m five lessons in and don’t think I’ll waste anymore time. Too much time on obscure book references, too much time on music theory, too much time on reading music - which if you don’t already know you will be totally lost. All things considered, this is one of the weakest offerings The Great Courses has. YouTube videos will help you learn to play guitar more practically, and there are some much better apps and video courses that actually have you playing songs you know and love. If I hadn’t purchased this one so long ago I’d ask for my money back. A total waste of time.
Date published: 2024-01-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mis-Leading Title - Un-Interestting Content After 2-1/2 hours of "instruction" on Learniing to Play Guitar, I conclude that this course is un-focused and mis-titled. What has been presented so far could easily be presented in a fun half hour by cutting out the ramdom music thoery and solo acts by the presenter, then concentrating on the Guitar. It's slow to the tune of "Boring" and too broadbased to do anyone any good for practical Guiatr playing. It's more a lecture around music and the guitar, but not learniing to play a guitar.
Date published: 2023-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid Beginner Lessons I bought this course many years ago and got halfway through it and gave up. I put it in a large storage bin along with about 30 other beginner-intermediate guitar learning books that I also never finished. I recently decided that I was going to learn to play guitar with discipline this time. Of all the learning books I had, I for some reason pulled this course out with the DVD's and took out a notebook. I wrote down the date and what disc and lesson I was currently working on and made notes for myself. This time I managed to finish the course in about a month's time. I am an advanced beginner. I realized the second time around that the instructor teaches you had to play the exercises and then shows you what you can do with the exercises to play riffs and melodies. You are not expected to mimic what the instructor is doing at the end of the lesson. He is a professional guitarist with 40+ years of experience. He is just showing what you can do with more experience when you put the whole exercise together. My first time around with the course I got frustrated thinking that I had to play what the instructor was playing at the end of each lesson. Also, I did not fully understand some of the lessons the second time around, but I did the best I could and moved on to the next lesson. I still learned more as I was moving on even though I did not perfect the previous lessons. I did not let that hold me back. For me, the lessons were fairly easy early on and then got harder toward the middle of the lesson, (where I quit the first time), and then got a little easier during the second half. This course is about GUITAR THEORY. It is not designed to teach you how to play songs on the guitar. There are millions of YouTube sites that will teach you how to play beginner guitar songs. This is hands-on learning GUITAR THEORY. The instructor talks for about 10 minutes at the beginning of each lesson as a point of guitar history and the famous guitar players. Yes, it makes the course a bit longer, but the short history lessons are interesting. Just keep your guitar in the guitar stand while he is talking, so that you are not anxiously awaiting to start the lesson with your guitar in your lap. I now have enough confidence to move onto more advanced books. Don't quit out of frustration. The guitar is difficult for most people to learn. You have to have the discipline to stick with the lessons and practice.
Date published: 2023-10-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Frustrating This course was a history lesson. I made the purchase to learn the guitar and how to play it. I ended up going to YouTube and eventually hanging it up. I do plan to pick up the guitar again but with someone who doesn't take me over the river and through the woods.
Date published: 2023-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I think 1 star reviews doth protest too much I am not a beginner, but being self taught their are many holes in my playing. I thought it was time to fill those holes. Lots of people complain about the history lessons. I took copious notes during those history lessons and requested most of the books the teacher mentioned. I play fingerstyle and I think this would be valuable to someone who can play with a pick wanting to learn fingerstyle. Or someone that can play classical wanting to be able to riff, etc. Couple reviews mentioned learning Mel bay style. That's how I learned. That is 6 books of learning just 1st position, no theory, nothing a guitarist would really need. If you can't learn something here, the failure is your own, there is no magic formula. It takes work,
Date published: 2023-05-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Better off with a Mel Bay course Terrible guitar course, teacher is boring ,I should have purchased a Mel Bay course.
Date published: 2023-04-16
  • y_2024, m_7, d_23, h_8
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_37, tr_405
  • loc_en_CA, sid_7776, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.09ms


Discover the joy of playing, reading, and understanding music from a master teacher, in this hands-on course.


Colin McAllister

Most importantly, good technique allows us to express our musicality without inhibition.


University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Colin McAllister is the Music Program Director at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He earned his master's and doctorate degrees in Musical Arts at the University of California, San Diego, where he studied guitar with Celin and Pepe Romero, interpretation with Bertram Turetzky, and conducting with Harvey Sollberger and Rand Steiger.

Dr. McAllister has taught the guitar and performed professionally as a guitarist for more than 25 years. He has made more than 1,000 appearances with organizations including the San Diego Opera, the San Diego Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony. Dr. McAllister is also a member of the jazz ensemble Hennessy 6. In 2016, he entered an artist partnership with Taylor Guitars.

Dr. McAllister has recorded on several record labels, including Albany Records, Tzadik Records, and Naxos. He also pursues research interests in 3rd and 4th century religious beliefs related to apocalypticism and early medieval commentary on the Book of Revelation.

Dr. McAllister lives in Manitou Springs, Colorado, with his wife Barbara and their children. In addition to his academic studies in music and the apocalypse, he has climbed more than 35 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, along with Mount Whitney in California and three high volcanoes in Mexico.

By This Professor

Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos
Playing Guitar like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance
Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos


Guitar Basics: Play a Song in 60 Seconds

01: Guitar Basics: Play a Song in 60 Seconds

Discover how you can play a simple song on the guitar in just one minute. Then study the parts of the guitar, and how to hold the instrument. Play G and C major chords, and review the classic bass line from the song you learned. Finally, practice your song, combining your bass line with a four-note melody.

31 min
Tuning Up, Reading Music, and Dexterity

02: Tuning Up, Reading Music, and Dexterity

Consider important principles of musical learning, the essence of practice, and the importance of performance. Investigate how to tune your guitar, and learn a useful warmup. Observe how pitch and rhythm are notated (written), practice E and A minor chords, and work with a musical number using the chords you've learned so far....

38 min
Classical Guitar Position and Posture

03: Classical Guitar Position and Posture

Explore body posture with the instrument; then, practice your warmup using alternating fingers. Grasp how written music is divided into "measures" and "beats". Learn fuller versions of G and C major chords, see how they are written in the tablature form of notation, and add a melody to the song from the last lesson.

38 min
Learning How to Practice the Guitar

04: Learning How to Practice the Guitar

Look deeper into how to practice and master each element in the learning process. Explore "shifting"-moving the left hand position in guitar playing. Then grasp how the lower three strings are notated, and practice moving between chords on the instrument. Play a major scale, and use it in the song "Shifting Sands".

33 min
Playing Fingerstyle Guitar

05: Playing Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn about three legends of "fingerstyle" guitar--the technique of playing with the right-hand thumb and fingers. Practice the basics of right-hand fingerstyle technique, with alternating fingers. Study the notation of open strings; then extend your fingerstyle to "fingering" chords. Play a G major scale across three strings, and use your fingerstyle in a song.

37 min
Playing Rhythm Guitar

06: Playing Rhythm Guitar

Discover the leading lights of "rhythm guitar", a playing style where the guitarist provides the rhythmic foundation for a band. Review your fingerstyle technique, and play arpeggios (broken chords). Learn to play eighth-notes, and "¾" or waltz-like rhythms. Practice a two-octave scale, some melodic patterns or "licks", and put these elements together in today's song.

34 min
The Pentatonic Scale

07: The Pentatonic Scale

Look into the remarkable guitar-playing of Eric Johnson, and his use of the pentatonic (five-tone) scale. Learn a left-hand exercise for "walking" across the fretboard; then study half-step intervals on the guitar and how to read them. Investigate syncopated strumming patterns, the two-octave pentatonic scale, and how to use them in improvising.

25 min
The Blues Scale and Lateral Stretching

08: The Blues Scale and Lateral Stretching

Enter the world of the blues, and learn about some pioneering pre-war blues players. For left hand technique, practice a "lateral stretching" exercise for flexibility. Add the A7 chord, along with syncopated blues strumming patterns and the A blues scale. Last, play "Blues for Art", incorporating your new strumming patterns and the blues scale.

35 min
Planting for Control and Accuracy

09: Planting for Control and Accuracy

First, contemplate the principles of tonal beauty, as taught by the great Romero brothers. Study the technique of "planting", an aid for technical accuracy. Learn the D and A major chords, and how to read key signatures. Then play a new melody in D major, and accompany it in fingerstyle using your new chords.

28 min
Guitar Tremolo: Gaining Speed

10: Guitar Tremolo: Gaining Speed

Here, encounter two classical guitar titans, Agustín Barrios and Andres Segovia, and grasp their contributions to the instrument. Study tremolo, which gives the illusion of a sustained note. Learn to read sixteenth-notes, add the E major chord, the major pentatonic scale, and use your tremolo and finger technique in the "Raindrop Etude".

30 min
Legato and Power Chords

11: Legato and Power Chords

Begin with legato technique (also called "hammer-ons" and "pull-offs"), a way of smoothly connecting guitar tones without plucking the string. Then add the two-note "power chord" to your repertoire, a key chord for rock music. Practice some patterns ("licks") using the minor pentatonic scale, and put all of these elements together in a rock song.

24 min
Travis Picking for Folk, Country, and Rock

12: Travis Picking for Folk, Country, and Rock

Trace the remarkable life of Merle Travis, who pioneered a distinctive and highly influential fingerpicking style. Refine your descending legato technique ("pull-offs"), a great exercise for strength and finger independence. Study the "Travis picking" style, practice some melodic licks using pull-offs, and try Travis picking in the blues tune "Dusty Blue".

28 min
Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

13: Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hear classic road stories of some great guitar players, as they point to the collaborative roles of the guitar. Learn the B7, C7, and G7 chords ("dominant seventh" chords), and grasp their role in musical harmony. Play the scale of E major across all six strings; then use your legato technique, dominant sevenths, and E major scale in accompanying a singer.

33 min
Finger Independence and Chord Theory

14: Finger Independence and Chord Theory

Explore harmonic tension and resolution, and the dominant and tonic chords, through compelling examples in the music of Richard Wagner. Practice an important exercise for independent movement of the left hand fingers. Discover how three-note chords ("triads") can be constructed from the notes of the scale. Finally, play an original song using the material from this lesson.

32 min
Crosspicking and Bass Lines

15: Crosspicking and Bass Lines

Uncover the legend and innovations of Doc Watson, the great bluegrass player who was brought out of obscurity by a chance meeting. Study the challenges of playing with a pick while moving across the strings. Then taste "barre" chords, a useful technique you'll explore further, learn the C major scale, and try a tune inspired by Johnny Cash.

26 min
Piano-Style Guitar and Fingernail Care

16: Piano-Style Guitar and Fingernail Care

Investigate the musical effects created by the fingernails versus the fingertips, and grasp the basics of nail shaping and care for guitar playing. Then study chord "qualities" (major, minor, diminished), and look at common chord patterns and sequences. In today's song, practice "piano-style" guitar, playing melody and accompaniment simultaneously.

27 min
Syncopated Strumming and Movable Scales

17: Syncopated Strumming and Movable Scales

Begin with some memorable stories that illustrate the challenges of performance. Practice "chromatic octaves", for hand coordination and flexibility, and learn to read "dotted" eighth notes. Experiment with different ways to play common chords, study "movable" scales (that use the same fingering pattern), and use these elements in an original tune.

29 min
A New Pentatonic Scale and the Capo

18: A New Pentatonic Scale and the Capo

Explore the work of composer John Cage, as it points to the value of musical "silence"-the space between notes. Then learn to read musical "rests" (silences in the music). Study how to use the capo, a device used to shorten the guitar's string length. Continue your work with "movable" pentatonic and major scales, and revive your "Travis picking" skills for today's tune.

32 min
Barre Chords: Movable Chords

19: Barre Chords: Movable Chords

Delve into the original style of jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, and the story behind one of his greatest hits. Then go deeper into barre chords, one of the most challenging guitar techniques. Learn "movable" chord shapes, using the same fingering for multiple chords, and practice two-octave arpeggios (broken chords). End with a reggae-style song, structured in "A-A-B-A" form.

34 min
Flamenco Technique: Rasgueado

20: Flamenco Technique: Rasgueado

This lecture explores the flamenco style, highlighting the career and historic innovations of Paco de Lucia. Study the flamenco strumming technique of rasgueado. Learn to harmonize melody notes, practice movable A, Am and A7 chords, and expand your work with arpeggios. End with a flamenco-tinged song, using your new rasgueado, chords, and melodic technique.

30 min
Playing with Natural Harmonics

21: Playing with Natural Harmonics

Learn to play the beautiful, chiming guitar tones called harmonics. First, explore the lives of some great players who featured them. Then play harmonics on all six strings, and see how they're notated. Practice four-note diatonic seventh chords, and investigate modes, permutations of the major scale. Use your new chords and harmonics in the tune "Harmonic Landscapes".

30 min
Jazz Harmony and Dorian Mode

22: Jazz Harmony and Dorian Mode

Take the measure of guitarist Charlie Christian and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, each of whom transformed jazz and their instruments. Grasp how to work for greater speed and accuracy when playing melodies. Learn "movable" chord shapes for major and minor seventh chords, practice the Dorian modal scale, and use them in a minor blues tune.

34 min
DADGAD Tuning and Lydian Mode

23: DADGAD Tuning and Lydian Mode

Take a look at the far-reaching influence of acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges, and his ingenious use of alternate tunings of the instrument. Continue with a two-part cross-picking exercise, for hand dexterity. Practice the Lydian modal scale. Then explore alternate tunings, focusing on Michael Hedges' "D-A-D-G-A-D" tuning, and use it in the song "Alpine Sunrise".

25 min
Taking the Guitar to the Next Level

24: Taking the Guitar to the Next Level

Trace the career of violinist Malcolm Watson, as it illustrates principles of success for musicians, and consider seven habits of highly effective guitar players. Then learn the technique of artificial harmonics. Add half diminished and full diminished chords to your repertoire, play the Mixolydian scale, and finish the course with a jazz and flamenco inspired song.

38 min