Jon MacLennan


How to play “Sweet Home Chicago” as recorded by Magic Sam on guitar

blues Jul 22, 2023

Today I want to share with you how to play Magic Sam’s version of “Sweet Home Chicago.”

This tune is a blues standard and is one that comes up countless times in blues jams. It’s also great for playing with friends as it follows a standard 12-bar blues chord progression. 

Sam was an influential American blues guitarist and singer. He was born on February 14, 1937, in Grenada, Mississippi, and became known for his distinctive guitar style and soulful vocals. 

It’s incredible how well he could really sing and play guitar! He also played a crucial role in shaping the sound of Chicago blues in the 1950s and 1960s.

Sam began playing the guitar at a young age and was heavily influenced by blues greats such as Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and B.B. King. 

He moved to Chicago in the mid-1950s, where he quickly became part of the vibrant blues scene. Sam's guitar-playing style was characterized by its energetic, innovative, and expressive...

Continue Reading...

Cold Shot Guitar Lesson (Stevie Ray Vaughan)

blues Jul 20, 2023

Today I want to share with you how I play “Cold Shot” as recorded by Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. This song is a masterclass in how to play high-level blues guitar. It showcases Vaughan’s incredible chops and unwavering blues groove. 

So grab your guitar and let’s dive into this “Cold Shot” guitar lesson.

Who wrote the song Cold Shot?

The song "Cold Shot" was written by Michael Kindred, also known as Michael Kamen, and bluesman W.C. Clark.

It was originally released by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1984 as part of their album Couldn't Stand the Weather.

The song became one of Stevie Ray Vaughan's most popular tracks and a staple in his live performances.

What tuning is Cold Shot in?

Stevie Ray Vaughan often tuned down half a step for many of his songs. This is what he did on “Cold Shot”. The correct tuning is as follows:

Eb - 6th string (tuned down to Eb from E)

Ab - 5th string (tuned down to Ab from A)

Db - 4th...

Continue Reading...

How to Play Can’t Find My Way Home on Guitar

fingerstyle Jul 20, 2023

Today I want to share with you how to play “Can’t Find My Way Home” on guitar. This song has a beautiful chord progression to it that has been used in countless classic rock songs. Once you learn this progression you’ll immediately start to recognize it as a familiar sound from other songs as well.

There are many ways to approach the guitar part in this song, in fact, all of the other lessons online focus on playing this song with a flatpick. However, to me, it sounds like fingerstyle on the recording. So for this lesson, I will be focusing on a fingerpicking approach. This approach is very similar to how Eric Clapton later played many tunes from his iconic Unplugged record. 

Who wrote Can’t Find My Way Home?

"Can't Find My Way Home" is a timeless classic, written by Steve Winwood and originally performed by the band Blind Faith. It was first released on their self-titled album in 1969. "Can't Find My Way Home" has been covered by a ton of great...

Continue Reading...

How to Play Fast Car on Guitar

fingerstyle Jul 15, 2023

Today I want to share with you how to play “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman on guitar. If there's one song that beautifully encapsulates the essence of Tracy Chapman's profound storytelling and soul-stirring melodies, it's undoubtedly "Fast Car." 

This timeless fingerpicking tune resonates with people from all walks of life, and you only need 4 chords to play it. Whether you're new to this style or a seasoned player looking to add this classic to your repertoire, this post will guide you through the fingerpicking and strumming for "Fast Car". Plus show you to harness the emotive power of this remarkable tune.

So make sure you’re tuned up and let’s dive in!

Who wrote Fast Car? 

"Fast Car" was written by Tracy Chapman, an American singer-songwriter and musician. Born on March 30, 1964, in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman rose to fame in the late 1980s with the release of her self-titled debut album, which included the iconic hit song "Fast Car."

Released in 1988,...

Continue Reading...

Learn People Are Strange with this Step-by-Step Guitar Lesson

fingerstyle Jul 13, 2023

Today I want to share with you how to play “People Are Strange” as recorded by The Doors on guitar.

This song is a great one to help elevate your fingerpicking guitar skills. However, it can also be played with a flatpick as well, but Robby Krieger played it without a pick. He used his fingers instead.

Krieger developed a distinctive and influential guitar style that has had a lasting impact on rock music. His approach blended various genres, including blues, rock, flamenco, and jazz, resulting in a unique sound that helped define The Doors’ music. 

Krieger's playing incorporated fingerpicking, flamenco-inspired techniques, and occasional slide guitar parts. Plus his jazz background allowed him to explore complex chord progressions and voicings, expanding the harmonic palette. 

Overall, Krieger's guitar style was a fusion of diverse influences, making him a highly influential guitarist in the world of rock music. In this lesson, I’ll be taking a...

Continue Reading...

Shape of My Heart Guitar Lesson: Tips and Tricks for Success

fingerstyle Jul 11, 2023

Looking to add a beautifully hypnotizing fingerpicking song to your repertoire? 

Well, this guitar lesson for “Shape Of My Heart” has you covered. 

Who wrote Shape of My Heart?

"Shape of My Heart" was co-written by two incredible musicians Sting and Dominic Miller. It was first released as the fifth single from Sting’s fourth solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales in August of 1993. 

The song features a captivating chord progression and also incredible harmonica playing from Larry Adler. The following year the song even landed itself in the French action-thriller film Léon: The Professional.

How hard is it to play Shape of My Heart on guitar?

Let’s get straight to it, in this post I’ll break down the main 8-bar chord progression and fingerpicking patterns used by Dominic Miller in the nylon string guitar part.

Dominic Milled uses a classical guitar and spread chord voicings, which we’ll dive into below, to create a big...

Continue Reading...

How to Play Deep River Blues on Guitar

blues fingerstyle Jul 08, 2023

Today I want to share with you a guitar lesson on how to play “Deep River Blues”. This song goes back far into the roots of blues music. But it is a timeless classic that audiences have loved for generations. My goal is to peel back the layers on this song and show you how to play this classic blues all by yourself.

I will be taking a fingerstyle approach for this guitar lesson. Following in the footsteps of Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Tommy Emmanuel. 

So make sure you’re tuned up and let’s get started!

Who Wrote Deep River Blues?

"Deep River Blues" is a classic traditional blues song that has been covered by a number of great artists over the years. It is a spinoff and essentially the same song as "Big River Blues". It is a traditional blues song that has been recorded and performed by various artists over the years. The origins of the song are unclear, as it has been passed down through oral tradition and adapted by many different...

Continue Reading...

The ULTIMATE Ain't No Sunshine Guitar Lesson (Bill Withers, John Mayer)

fingerstyle Jul 06, 2023

Looking for a great song to elevate your fingerpicking skills and jam with friends?  

This “Ain’t No Sunshine” Guitar Lesson has got you covered.

Who wrote "Ain’t No Sunshine"?

“Ain’t No Sunshine” was written by Bill Withers and was first released as a single off his 1971 album Just As I Am. The record was produced by Booker T. Jones and features some fantastic musicians, including Stephen Stills on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson Jr. on drums.

It was recorded in Los Angeles with overdubs later done in Memphis Tennesee, and became a breakthrough hit for Withers’ career.

What is the key of Ain't No Sunshine?

“Ain’t No Sunshine” is in the key of Am and features a looping 8-bar chord progression. The song is blues-based and is a great one to know because it's frequently played at jam sessions. Additionally, the chord progression is relatively simple and easy to pick up, as it's just 8 bars...

Continue Reading...

How to play Lonely Stranger Eric Clapton Guitar Lesson

fingerstyle Jul 04, 2023

Improve your fingerpicking with this guitar lesson on how to play “Lonely Stranger” as recorded by Eric Clapton. 

This song is a unique hybrid of rhythm & blues, piano-style gospel chord progressions, and fingerpicking. 

Lonely Stranger" is a heartfelt ballad featured on Eric Clapton's iconic "Unplugged" album, released in 1992. The song showcases Clapton's ability to evoke deep emotions through his soulful guitar playing and heartfelt lyrics.

As part of the "Unplugged" session, "Lonely Stranger" stands out for its intimate atmosphere, recorded live in front of a small audience. The song reflects themes of longing, isolation, and the struggles of being a wandering soul in search of connection.

Clapton's delicate fingerpicking technique and subtle chord progressions contribute to the song's melancholic tone. In this post, I’ll share insights into his guitar style, and break this tune down step-by-step.

What key is Lonely Stranger in? 


Continue Reading...

5 Beginner Fingerpicking Blues Licks

fingerstyle Jul 01, 2023

When it comes to playing fingerstyle blues guitar or just fingerstyle guitar in general, one of the most important areas to develop is the fingerpicking hand thumb. You want to focus on independence with this finger. The more a player develops this the more full sounding they are able to play. It takes time, but step-by-step is the best way to put this together.

In this post, I want to share with you 5 beginner fingerpicking blues licks. Each lick can be practiced like a fingerpicking exercise and will help you develop this exact type of thumb independence. 

This style has been used in the blues by many great players like John Lee Hooker and Hubert Sumlin, to even rock n roll musicians like John Fogerty with CCR. Have a listen to tunes like Suzie Q. or Green River to hear this style in rock as well.

Playing this pedal tone blues style is a captivating technique that adds depth and character to your blues playing. By maintaining a steady bass note (pedal tone) while...

Continue Reading...

50% Complete

You're Seconds Away

Enter your best email address to get an instant download link + exclusive content direct to your inbox every week.