Classic Rock Guitar


Authored by Joe Musella


Course Code: OGUIT-225

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Learn composition, melodic soloing, chords, and licks in the styles of the classic rock guitar masters: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Page, as well as modern masters Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson.

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This course begins with a primer on the blues foundation of rock, covering minor pentatonic scales, 12-bar blues chords and rhythm, classic rock tunes that use the 12-bar form, and licks and scale sequences over the 12-bar blues. Then every week, students will study the selected works of a different classic rock master, including Clapton's "Crossroads" and "Layla," Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary" and "All Along the Watchtower," Gilmour's "Comfortably Numb" and "Money," Beck's early blues work and later rock fusion tunes, and Page's "Good Times Bad Times" and "Kashmir," to name a few.

Through this analysis, students will learn methods of improvisation, phrasing, scales, chords, rhythms, fretboard mastery, and sound conception that are essential classic rock guitar techniques. The course will also explore modes and their use in rock improvisation.

By the end of this course, you will be able to: 

  • play several riffs, licks, tunes, and solos from some of the most well known classic rock tunes

  • learn techniques and licks from recordings of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), The Allman Brothers, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)

  • play pentatonic scales in five positions up the neck, and use those scale fingerings while soloing

  • play the dorian, mixolydian, and aeolian modes in several positions

  • improvise over modal progressions

  • emulate guitar tones and sounds found on several well-known classic rock recordings

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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: The Minor Pentatonic Scale, Basic Solo Technique, and the Blues Influence on Classic Rock

  • The Minor Pentatonic Scale
  • Minor Pentatonic Scale Rhythmic Groupings
  • The Blues Progression
  • Real World Blues Examples

Lesson 2: Eric Clapton: Bluesbreakers through Cream

  • Biography
  • "Steppin' Out"
  • "Crossroads"
  • "White Room"
  • "Badge"

Lesson 3: Eric Clapton: Derek and the Dominos and Solo Work

  • "Layla"
  • "I Shot the Sheriff"/The Natural Minor Scale
  • "Old Love"/Aeolian Mode
  • "Cocaine"/Mixolydian Mode

Lesson 4: Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin

  • Biography
  • "Good Times Bad Times"
  • "What Is and What Should Never Be"
  • "The Ocean"
  • "Ten Years Gone"

Lesson 5: Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin—Open Tunings and Acoustic Work

  • "Dancing Days"
  • "Kashmir"
  • "Over The Hills and Far Away"
  • "The Rain Song"—Original Page Open Tuning

Lesson 6: The Allman Brothers and the Major Pentatonic Scale

  • Biography
  • The Major Pentatonic Scale in Five Positions
  • Combining Major and Minor Pentatonic
  • "Blue Sky"
  • "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed"
  • "One Way Out"
  • "Melissa"

Lesson 7: Modes for the Rock Guitarist

  • What Are Modes?
  • Modes in Position (Vertical)
  • Modes Up and Down the Neck (Horizontal)
  • Sequences—Triplets and Sixteenth Note Patterns—In Position and Up and Down the Neck
  • Modal Jam Recipe/Create Your Own Modal Jam

Lesson 8: David Gilmour and Pink Floyd

  • Biography
  • "Time"
  • "Money"
  • "Another Brick In The Wall" (Part 2)
  • "Comfortably Numb"

Lesson 9: Jeff Beck

  • Biography
  • "Rock My Plimsoul"
  • "Freeway Jam"
  • "Cause We've Ended As Lovers"
  • "Come Dancing"

Lesson 10: Jimi Hendrix

  • Biography
  • "Purple Haze"
  • "Red House"
  • "Little Wing"
  • "The Wind Cries Mary"

Lesson 11: Jimi Hendrix

  • "All Along the Watchtower"
  • "Spanish Castle Magic"
  • "Bold As Love"
  • "Voodoo Chile"

Lesson 12: Modern Masters

  • Joe Satriani: "Flying In A Blue Dream"
  • Eric Johnson: "Cliffs Of Dover"
  • Steve Vai: "For the Love of God"


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Guitar Chords 101 and Guitar Scales 101 or equivalent knowledge is required. Students should have at least one year of playing experience and the ability to play some scales and chords on the guitar. Guitar tablature and some chord blocks, in addition to traditional notation, will be used throughout the course.


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record video while performing with a backing track for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)


  • Recommended: Application that allows you to change the speed of an audio file without changing the pitch, as well as set custom loop points, such as Moises, Amazing Slow Downer, most DAWs, etc.


  • Electric or acoustic guitar


  • Students are required to capture their instrumental performance, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • Instrument connected directly to audio interface (recommended electric option; alternatively, the microphone options below can be used with amplified instruments)
      • XLR microphone and audio interface (recommended acoustic option)
      • USB microphone
      • Built-in computer/mobile device microphone
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (recommended option; required if multitracking and/or input monitoring a microphone)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need XLR/instrument cables and a microphone stand.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Joe Musella


Joe Musella is a guitarist and music educator active in the Boston music scene. His rock quartet, the Joe Musella Group, performs internationally. Musella's recent collaborations include recording with Joe Vitale, the current drummer for Crosby, Stills and Nash, and with their bass player, David Santos. Other guitar work includes playing for theater productions and with the bands Freestyle and the Ginamark Band. As Assistant Professor of Guitar at Berklee, he developed and teaches the popular Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin course, and is developing a course on Eric Clapton. He is also a Berklee alumnus, and studied with Charlie Banacos and Mick Goodrick.

Kevin Belz


Kevin Belz is a versatile and well-rounded musician with years of playing experience, including extensive touring both internationally and nationally. Some of the names he has recorded with and/or played with include New Orleans piano great and legend Henry Butler, Susan Tedeschi from the Derek Trucks Tedeschi band, Blues great Duke Robillard, Ellis Hall of the Tower of Power band, Mighty Sam McClain, and Handy Award nominee Toni Lynn Washington, to name a few. He has shared the stage with Blues legend, BB King, Buddy Guy, and Ray Charles. He has also toured, performed, and recorded with “ The Commander Cody Band”  playing a mix of Country, Western Swing, and rockabilly.

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Along with his full schedule at Berklee as Assistant professor in the Guitar Department teaching Jazz, Rock and Blues styles, he also has a full schedule of playing live shows and records in and around the New England area. He has been a regular faculty member at Berklee College for the past 18 years. Read Less

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Classic Rock Guitar can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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