Functional Rock Guitar Theory

Skill Building Guitar Course from Will Ripley

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!

21 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

97% Appoval

169 of 172 of our members have given this their approval.

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Full Course Breakdown

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!


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.

3:34 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson

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!

10:50 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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!

12:54 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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.

7:30 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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.

6:38 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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.

14:30 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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!

9:44 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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".

18:22 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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!

11:37 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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 in this lesson.

12:36 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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.

9:58 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


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!

15:44 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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.

9:05 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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.

12:04 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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"!

9:02 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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!

15:38 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


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.

18:48 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



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.

8:48 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


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!

16:22 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


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.

9:26 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


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.

11:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

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  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Playing since 1995
  • 222 lessons at JamPlay
Will Ripley is a passionate guitarist who performs, teaches, and manages a successful music business. His wild stage presence and undeniable guitar skills transcend vibe and waveforms of the highest levels of energy.. His talents however, are directly related to years of staying “on the grind” and “paying his dues”. He has played with many bands, produced, composed and collaborated both solo and with top level musicians. He is a sought-after studio musician and works creatively with other musicians.

Coming from a blues and classic rock background, Ripley discovered 90?s rock in his late teens. Ripley’s style is unique. He’s been described as combining the blues guitar playing of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix with big riffs that are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine with the booty shaking rhythms of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and N.E.R.D. Ripley also has a soft place in his heart for pop music ranging from The Beatles to Stone Temple Pilots to Kelly Clarkson. In addition to creation and production of music, Ripley teaches guitar using a method he developed through his education and over countless sessions with learners of all ages and levels. This led to the development of a successful series of recorded lessons called Guitar Goals available from his website. As the founder of the Will Ripley Guitar School he has begun expanding as a franchise into other cities which has 1 location currently – the Vancouver Guitar School. Students the world over can learn guitar using this effective, rewarding, and enjoyable style at their own pace – with epic results! Ripley seeks participation in authentic, professional-level music, with like-minded, enthusiastic, high-achieving musicians. With dreams of creating legendary songs, Ripley is open to new band mates, songwriting partners, and recording opportunities.
Reviews & Feedback 97/100 with 172 ratings

will is such a great teacher,


finally learned nashville system numbers meant


finally someone to help unmush my head


I've got a good grounding in theory, but, it's incomplete. And having taught myself, I haven't applied to guitar in the way it sounds like this gent can help me to do.


I've take a good deal of Will's acoustic guitar course and he is a great teacher. Clear, concise and fun to learn from. I'm looking forward to taking his Rock Guitar Theory course (using my new Schecter Demon 6 that I just bought!) as well as


I’ve been playing guitar for years without knowing theorie. Will explains very Wells complicated things. I also enjoy his blues lessons


some of this stuff can get confusing. I find that if I try to jump ahead I get frustrated.


This is stuff,,,(good stuff), that I already know. I enjoy hearing different ones explain it, plus it's review for me, which is also necessary. I love the way Will explains things, good teacher!