Jon MacLennan


Tommy Emmanuel's CASE AGAINST Practicing

blues Apr 16, 2024

I was listening to an interview with the great Tommy Emmanuel the other day and heard something really fascinating…

The interviewer asked him about what his practice sessions are like.

Let’s be honest, as guitarists we want to know these things. We want to peek inside the minds of these legends. Learn their hacks and get their secrets. There’s got to be some mystery or magic behind the curtain that we’re missing, right?

Many times there is. That’s why it’s super important to be careful who you listen to. But anyway, despite what many people might think Tommy would say like: 

Well, it’s 20 minutes of ear training, then it’s 15 minutes of major scales… blah blah blah


What Tommy actually said was, he puts his guitar strap on, stands up, pretends there’s an audience in front of him, and just plays songs relentlessly without stopping.

His practice is like a show.

You see, there is this awesome feeling that you...

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Master Joe Perry’s Iconic Rock Riffs with this Sweet Emotion Guitar Lesson

rock Apr 14, 2024

The year was 1975 and famously Aerosmith at this time was living a pretty debaucherous lifestyle…

And this led to boiling tensions in the band.

But out of their unwavering dedication to the music…

Some amazing tracks came out of this period for them.

Today’s riffs are from the classic album Toys in the Attic.

And this song all started with a grooving bassline that Tom Hamilton stumbled upon one day in the studio. 

I’m going to break it all down for you step-by-step in this “Sweet Emotion” guitar lesson!

Who wrote Sweet Emotion?

The song "Sweet Emotion" is a classic rock anthem written by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton, members of the American rock band Aerosmith. It was released in 1975 as part of their album Toys in the Attic. The song has an infectious groove, of course, powerful vocals from Steven, and some epic guitar riffs.

Recorded at the Record Plant in New York City, "Sweet Emotion" features Steven Tyler on vocals, Joe Perry on...

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What Every Guitarist Should Know About Bar Chords

theory Apr 11, 2024

If you hate and avoid bar chords, today I want to share with you a lesson that just might change your mind…

In fact, learning this one concept can completely re-frame how you view the guitar neck.

Did you know the ENTIRE fretboard can be organized and mastered for RHYTHM and LEAD with bar chords?

Yup, the same old bar chords that many intermediate players call “boring”

Big mistake…

I dive deep into how this works in my CAGED guitar system program. But this is something you won’t learn on YouTube or anywhere online.  

But the masters know this…

Today I want to give you a glimpse into this new mindset.  

You’ve got to first start with how bar chords work

Then you can see how this powerful concept helps you crack the fretboard code.

So tune up, and let’s dive and see how bar chords are awesome.

Bar Chord Theory

The first step to mastering bar chords is understanding how they work. You want to see the theory behind...

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Stevie Ray Vaughan's Gutsy Move When A String Breaks Live

blues Apr 11, 2024

There’s this mind-blowing video one of my students sent me of Stevie Ray Vaughan breaking a string onstage.

It’s from his concert film Live in Austin. Which I would consider required viewing for every aspiring blues guitar player.

He’s in the middle of wailing a solo on the song “Look At Little Sister”. The band is digging in. Stevie’s at the helm playing breathtaking licks. He's commanding the stage with a thunderous presence.

But then suddenly... something happens…


You see, a tiny flashing glare from a steel string going haywire in the air. 

If you’ve ever broken a string…you know…it just SUCKS. There’s no other way to put it.

So what does Stevie do?

He switches to the other strings and keeps on shredding! Pushing and pulling on the notes to bend them and compensate for any tuning issues that often arise when you break a string.

Then his brilliant guitar tech, René Martinez, deserves a massive...

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5 Blues Scales Every Guitarist Should Know

blues Apr 02, 2024

Ever wanted to be able to play screamin’ blues solos anywhere on the neck?

Well, one of the keys to becoming a blues guitar master is learning how to solo and tap into specific sounds on the guitar neck. 

Now I often use the words sounds and scales interchangeably. This is because I think of each scale as a sound. For example, the major scale has a specific sound to it. While the blues scale has a very different sound.  

If I used a painting analogy these scales are like colors I can paint with. Sometimes I want green. Sometimes I want bright blue. If I have these sounds worked out on my instrument. I can dial them up and express whatever I want. 

And so that’s what I’m going to share with you today in this lesson, where I walk through the 5 blues scales every guitarist should know. Including one at the very end that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. 

I’m going to show you the scales, talk about the theory behind them, and...

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The Ultimate Wild Thing Guitar Lesson (Troggs, and Jimi Hendrix)

rock Mar 30, 2024

Today I want to share with you a song that started off as an underground garage rock anthem...

And then went on to become a Woodstock showstopper and change rock and roll history forever...

It’s a 3 chord masterpiece...

It's a perfect example of less is more.

So grab your guitar and let's dive into this "Wild Thing" guitar lesson.

Who wrote Wild Thing?

“Wild Thing” was written by Chip Taylor (real name James Voight, brother of actor Jon Voight), he wrote the song under the pseudonym "Chip Taylor" in 1962.

The lyrics are intentionally ambiguous and open to interpretation. Some view it as a celebration of youthful freedom and untamed energy, expressed through themes of dancing and having fun. Others interpret the lyrics as metaphorically alluding to sexual desire, with lines like "wild thing, you make my heart sing" and "I think you move me." The open-ended nature of the lyrics contributed to its widespread appeal.

The Troggs' version was recorded at Decca Studios...

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Hey Jude Guitar Lesson (Beatles)

rock Mar 24, 2024

A few years back I got a call for one of the most exciting recording sessions of my life

It was here in a recording studio in Hollywood, California. As I walked into the studio carrying two guitar cases (one in each hand). I set them down and a guy walked up to me and put out his hand and said, “Hey what’s up I’m Jules.”

I shook his hand and that was when I first met and recorded with Hey Jude.

Jules is one of the nicest guys I ever worked with. If you want to hear the song we recorded that night I’ll link it up below. But today I want to share with you a tune that Paul McCartney wrote for him that has moved the world.

So grab your guitar and let’s dive into this “Hey Jude” guitar lesson.

Who wrote Hey Jude?

"Hey Jude" was written by the legendary English rock band The Beatles. It’s a timeless classic that was released as a non-album single in August 1968. While officially credited to the Lennon-McCartney partnership, "Hey...

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The ULTIMATE Kashmir Guitar Lesson (Led Zeppelin)

rock Mar 19, 2024

I’m sitting down to write you this while stuck in the Haneda airport in Tokyo Japan…

My flight just got delayed, and I still have a long and tiring travel day ahead…

But while in Japan…

Some cool things have happened…

Like I got to go to the world’s one and only Fender store.

They had all kinds of old-school Fender ads on the walls:

Take a look at this staircase that leads up to the custom shop floor:

Not bad eh?

Well, this brings me to today’s lesson…

I’d like to share with you a song that was inspired during a drive through a desolate desert area of southern Morocco. 

It’s one of Led Zeppelin’s most mysterious and hypnotic songs. In fact, Jimmy Page even said that he wished Led Zeppelin was known more for this song, than “Stairway To Heaven.”

The riff is in an unusual open tuning and I’m going to break it all down for you step-by-step in this “Kashmir” guitar lesson.


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Hold On Loosely Guitar Lesson (38 Special)

rock Mar 17, 2024

On the journey to becoming a great rock guitar player, there are many skills and techniques we need to develop...

In this post, I want to share with you some of those crucial areas to focus on so you can get the songs of the songs we all know and love. Specifically in this lesson, I’ll be addressing things like power chords, palm-muting, and how to “lock in” your eighth-note rhythms.

So grab your guitar, get tuned up, and let’s dive into this “Hold On Loosely” guitar lesson!

Who wrote Hold On Loosely?

"Hold On Loosely" is a classic rock anthem by the American band .38 Special, released in 1981 on their album Wild-Eyed Southern Boys. The song's origins go back to guitarist Don Barnes, who was facing personal struggles in his marriage. He confided in co-writer Jim Peterik, expressing his wife's lack of support for his musical aspirations.

From this raw emotion, the first line, "Hold on loosely, but don't let go," emerged. It captured the essence of...

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Paint It Black Guitar Lesson (Rolling Stones)

rock Mar 04, 2024

In 1966 the Rolling Stones were at a pivotal period in their musical evolution.

They were starting to break away from their earlier rhythm and blues roots. And were venturing off with experimental sounds.

Brian Jones, a founding member of the band, had come up with this awesome riff, after picking up a sitar and being inspired by Eastern music.

Today I want to break it all down for you step-by-step in this “Paint It Black” guitar lesson.

Who wrote Paint It Black? 

"Paint It Black" is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1966. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the primary songwriting duo of the band, and is credited to Jagger/Richards.

"Paint It Black" was created during a pivotal period for The Rolling Stones. The band was transitioning from their earlier rhythm and blues sound to a more psychedelic and experimental style. 

It all started when Brian Jones, a founding member of The Rolling Stones, stumbled...

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