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VINE VOICEon March 11, 2012
This is a review of the "Rock Guitar" DVD course by Rock House with John McCarthy. I purchased the "Learn Rock Guitar Mega Pack" version of the course that has the "Beginner," "Intermediate," and "Advanced" DVDs in one package.

You can use this course even if you have never had any guitar instruction previously. This product is cheap: it costs less than ONE HOUR of guitar instruction, while providing enough instruction to keep you busy for one or two years. Since one year of guitar lessons from a guitar teacher can easily cost you between 1000 and 3000 dollars, you will save yourself quite a lot of money if you are able to make it through this course on your own, instead of going to a guitar teacher.

I have many Rock House guitar instruction products (for example, the House of Blues Presents: Blues Guitar Course). As with all of their DVDs, the production values are very high. As with all courses I have seen with instructor John McCarthy, the instruction is very well designed (building from simple to more complex knowledge and skill) and instruction is very effective. In my experience, while nearly all guitar teachers are great guitar PLAYERS, only a few are great TEACHERS. John McCarthy is both.

There is one very big advantage to the Rock House Method: It will get you actually PLAYING guitar in less time than any other training program available. To achieve this end, the course will often skip over, ignore, or greatly simplify knowledge and skills required by a professional musician. But know this: Any information that is missing from this course was carefully considered and left out on purpose. In this way, you will be playing chords and lead patterns very, very quickly. Perhaps you won't know what you are actually doing (as a musician); but you will sound really hot and will have a lot of fun. If you are loving guitar after you finish this course, then you can always learn the skipped material by taking guitar lessons (from a real musican), or via books and other DVDs.

If you just got your guitar and have never before had music lessons, then you can start with this Rock House course. I would recommend finishing the "Beginners" DVD before you take guitar lessons (to save you some money on guitar lessons).

The course covers the following (and a lot more): Parts of the guitar, holding guitar and pick, names of open strings, tuning guitar, reading chord charts and tablature, major and minor open chords, finger exercises, picking, strumming, barre chords, minor pentatonic scale patterns, major scale patterns (modes), blues scales, natural minor scales, harmonic minor scales, lead patterns and rock riffs, blues rhythms, electric guitar techniques (slides, bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato), arpeggios, drop D tuning, multi-position lead patterns, strike picking.

While you might be able to watch and understand all three DVDs in a couple of months, it will (trust me) take you years to perfect barre chords and scale patterns and to master bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and vibrato. Therefore, this Mega Pack could keep you busy practicing for at least a year, probably much more. If you find yourself having trouble with the course, look to the Rock House website for help, or search video websites for additional or alternate guidance.

Most folks start their guitar journey by purchasing a cheap guitar (100 to 300 dollars) then spending a 1000 dollars or more for their first year of guitar lessons. Instead, I recommend that you spend 1000 dollars (more or less) for a good guitar, then spend your first year with this Rock House course. For example, you can find a brand new Fender American Standard Stratocastor for 1000 to 1100 dollars. It will be easy to play, and it will stay in tune (even with all that string bending). Trying to learn on a cheap guitar can be very, very frustrating.

The course books for this product are included as PDF files on the DVDs. You might need to turn off the AUTOPLAY function to access the PDF files with Windows Explorer.

As an alternative to buying this 3-DVD "Mega Pack," you can purchase the course in booklet form (Learn Rock Guitar Beginner (The Rock House Method)). Each of the three books (Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced) comes with a DVD, a printed (8.9 x 11.9 inch) booklet, and a CD with the backing tracks. If you just bought your guitar and are just starting instruction, I would recommend buying the "Beginner" booklet instead of the 3-DVD "Mega Pack."

By purchasing this product, you will be able to use the Rock House website (using the registration number inside the DVD case). From the website, you can get lots more instructional materials, including backing track files (drums and bass tracks to jam with).

Another excellent guitar instruction program for the beginner is "Fender Presents: Getting Started on Electric Guitar -- A Guide for Beginners." If you find yourself having trouble with the Rock House course, try going through the Fender course first.

If you are a patient learner and want a more complete guitar education (with fewer omissions and simplifications) then try the two-year, twenty-DVD "Learn & Master Guitar" course. In my experience, most teenagers just want to rock: they do not have the patience to go through a course like "Learn & Master Guitar." For these eager folks, the Rock House Method is better. However, be warned: You might be physically unable to keep up with the Rock House course at first. The "Learn & Master Guitar" course starts off more slowly, providing training intentionally designed to systematically stretch, strengthen, and gain control of your left hand (especially independent control of the ring finger and little finger). Rock House skips over such elementary training. I think "Learn & Master Guitar" is the best choice for children and for adults who aspire to be excellent guitar players.

There is no music theory in this Rock House course. Therefore, I highly recommend the following additional references: (1) "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory"; (2) the Hal Leonard book "Music Theory for Guitarists" (by Tom Kolb); and (3) "Blues You Can Use" (by John Ganapes). After you finish a beginner's guitar course, try the Berklee Modern Method course (A Modern Method for Guitar - Volume 1: Book/DVD-ROM Pack (Method (Berklee Press))) if you want to become a real musician.

In closing, I really like the "Rock House Method" because it gets folks playing very, very rapidly (while ignoring pesky subjects required by a professional musician). If you wish to make good noises quickly, then this Rock House product delivers. Having fun is the second best motivator for learning guitar; therefore, I highly recommend this product to any beginner.
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on December 26, 2012
This is a really good series for building your foundation.

The only thing I didn't like is that when you buy them as a pack, the small booklets aren't pre-printed like the individual DVDs (they are .pdfs you have to print yourself - on big paper)

The thing that kept this from being 5 stars is that in the upper DVDs John strays from teaching technique and spends a lot of time teaching Van Halen song fragments (and Sweet Child o Mine)... I could see how this might appeal to some people, but I'd prefer learning technique instead (common bends, etc)
Also there are some redundant (exact duplicate) segments between the videos.

Aside from these small areas for improvement, this series is one of my favorites. I watch them a LOT!
(John also has GREAT tone, so they are a pleasure to listen too, unlike some DVDs where you have to stop learning because the guitar is grating on your nerves...LOL)

I would also highly recommend the DVD that is not in this pack, "Lead Guitar Techniques for Creating Solos"
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on November 12, 2014
Lots of material for a very reasonable price. The instructor, John McCarthy, definitely has some chops. He can blaze on the guitar; but he has a very laid-back, friendly manner in his approach to the material which makes it ideal for a beginner. Like all guitar tutorials, you start with the major and minor open cowboy chords, but you are introduced to the minor pentatonic scale and extended minor pentatonic scale relatively quickly. Getting the minor pentatonic scale under your fingers early in one's learning is very important. I think many guitar courses hold back on introducing the minor pentatonic scale and, instead, throw barre chords at the student far too early in the learning process. Barre chords are a real hobgoblin for new guitarists, and often the reason many newbies quit. Learning scales really adds to hand/finger strength which makes the barre chords much easier. Also, noodling around the minor pentatonic scale allows the student to find familiar rock and blues riffs and phrases which inspires the student to practice more. The beginner DVD will keep you quite busy learning the fundamentals, and the intermediate and advanced DVDs have all the techniques you'll ever need to tear up the fret board. There is a lot of material here that will take you much more than a year to get under your fingers, but keep in mind learning that learning guitar is a journey that never stops. These DVDs are not a magic pill; you need to spend time, practice, and take it out of the fret board. Mr McCarthy constantly encourages at the end of every lesson to "Practice this lesson really hard, over and over, until you get really good at it." All in all, an excellent instructional DVD, but as always it's really is up to the student to get the most out of it. Purchase of this DVD also gives you access to the Rock House website which has a guitar forum and printable lessons you can put into a practice log or spiral notebook.
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on May 24, 2013
While I'm new to guitars I'm not a beginner. This 3 disc set is great. The beginner DVD provides all of the basics for a newbie but still gets you playing scales and finger exercises. The intermediate and advanced DVD's go all the way to Van Halen style riffs and soloing. I especialy like the finger excerises to increase dexterity.

This is not music theory or technical guitar playing lesson - rather it is rock based forms and progressions to get you playing faster. The discs also include printable sheet music, tabs and chord charts and scale charts. It also has backing tracks.

My only wish was that it was shot in HD - but that's minor. Great product for a new or beginner/intermediate guitarist.
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on July 2, 2015
I love it and HATE it. John is real good as a guitarist and teacher. The BAD problem with his DVD's has to do with Adobe, PDF's, I-Pods. He sold me a DVD package that says right on the front, "Includes 98-Page Printable Tab Book"!!!!!! That's the problem!!! My computer will not allow me to print the Tab Book. John does NOT reply to my messages to him about this. Its like he went out of business. Even amazon gives me the runaround. John, Amazon, the Seller all do NOT want to help me!!!!! I love the package but I want to get what I paid for. Guess what? THE TAB BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! And I don't want to return it. So now I'm going to sit and wait to see if anything happens on THEIR SIDE!
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on December 26, 2012
For the price it cannot be beat. Very informative and it will take you to a high general level if you practice and follow the lessons. I did not give it five stars because it is similar to the other rock hous lesson series. So if you have another genre of music in the rock house method lesson series, you may want to think about it before buying a different one. Still, I would recommend it!
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on April 7, 2013
I originally had the intermediate and advanced DVDs until they got stolen when my apartment got broken into. Decided to reorder and saw this deal for all three levels and went for it. Only gripe is that we have to print the instructional booklets/tabs/etc. even though they come printed and ready with the individual DVDs.
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on December 29, 2014
Easy lessons for the beginner. I like his style, not too arrogant.
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on December 17, 2014
Good way to learn. I used it and it helped me lots. There is also so website help and PDF files to save so you can learn chords with out the vid. Both work will together. Easy to learn at your own pace. Recommended buy.
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on April 13, 2015
I've been desiring to learn guitar the proper way for a very long time. John McCarthy's the man. If you're looking to build your own style & have fun with your axe, this dvd compilation will do the trick
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