The guitar is one of the most popular instruments hands down.
For ages, the guitar has been an instrument that's easy to travel with and can allow you to turn any moment into a musical experience.
Becoming good at playing guitar requires a lot of practice and patience.
But what if I was to tell you that you can greatly reduce the learning curve by taking online lessons instead of going down more traditional routes?
You'll be able to learn at your own pace and follow your own curriculum.
But first thing's first: If you are new to playing guitar and haven't even picked our your own guitar yet, no worries! We'll help you with that process in this article!
Choosing the right guitar
One of the most daunting parts of learning to play guitar is figuring out what kind of guitar you should purchase.
Into Jimi Hendrix? Want to play loud, distorted guitar solos? Then you'll most likely want to go with an electric guitar.
But there are some other reasons you might prefer an electric guitar as well. Let's say you live with a few roommates and practicing a loud acoustic guitar isn't an option at 9pm. Well, the good thing about an electric guitar is, when not amplified, they are very quiet. All you have to do is plug your headphones into your amp and BOOM. Just like that you'll be the only one able to hear your rocking guitar solo.
A lot of the times, you'll be able to find a decent electric guitar for cheaper than a good acoustic guitar as well.
If you are just learning to play, there is no need for you to spend thousands of dollars on a guitar. You can find more affordable options that are perfect for beginners. A Fender Squier or a Gibson Epiphone are great beginner instruments.
The only caveat in price is that, if you do choose an electric guitar, you will need to purchase an amp to go along with it. This is not necessarily the case with an acoustic guitar. But no worries, there are very budget friendly amps (such as this Fender) that cost as little as $60-$70.
It should also be noted that electric guitars are often easier to play for beginners. This is due to the fact that the strings are generally lower, closer to the frets and neck of the guitar.
Acoustic guitars offer deep, rich sounds without the extra expense of buying an amp. That said, if you listen to a lot of rock music, it will be much harder to play guitar solos due to the higher action on acoustic guitars.
If you choose an acoustic guitar be sure to ask the salesperson for one with a low action. They might even be able to lower the action on ones with an existing higher one. This means that the strings are closer to the frets, making it easier to play.
Are you buying for an adult or child?
This is another consideration that should not be overlooked. Guitars come in a variety of different sizes. It is vital that you understand the sizes, especially if you are purchasing the guitar online where you will not be able to try it out first.
Here are the general size guidelines:
- ¼ size- 2-5 year olds
- ½ size- 5-8 year olds
- ¾ size- 8-12 year olds
- Full size- Adults
While size is important, more and more adults are turning to ¾ size guitars. They sound great and are more compact making them easier to travel with. Famous musicians like Ed Sheeran exclusively use ¾ size guitars.
Additional accessories to consider
Metronome: A metronome is a simple device the makes a ticking sound to a certain BPM (beats per minute). It's great for practicing to perfect your musical timing and can be used when recording music, to make sure you're playing perfectly in time.
If you don't want to buy a metronome, if you have a smartphone, you'll easily be able to find a metronome app - there are thousands.
You might enjoy UberChord's '5 Ways to Use the Metronome That Will Change the Way You Play Guitar' article to give you a better idea of ways to use a metronome with your guitar playing.
Guitar strap: Some guitars and beginner kits already include a strap, but if yours doesn't, this might be a useful purchase. Simply, a guitar strap lets you stand up while playing the guitar.
Tuner: Guitars go out of tune often. That's just the nature of them. You can either buy a guitar tuner for cheap, or simply download a free guitar tuner app. Just like metronome apps, there are thousands to choose from.
Guitar pick: This is obvious, right? Sure, but you might've not known that there are many different thickness of picks that will make a difference in how you play. Music Industry How-To Has a great article on pick thickness you should definitely check out.
Tips On Choosing Lessons
Now that you have an idea what kind of guitar is right for you, it’s time to think about how you are going to learn to play it.
While there are people who are self taught, it is far more efficient to take lessons or some kind of course. Not only will you learn faster, you will learn the right techniques the right way, thereby increasing your skill faster.
You have two options when it comes to guitar lessons. You can choose free lessons or paid ones.
Free lessons are best for those who already have a solid foundation to build on. If you are an intermediate or advanced player these types of lessons can help you brush up on your current skills while also teaching you some new ones.
Paid lessons, on the other hand, are best for those just learning the basics. These courses are often more detailed, allowing you to really understand all aspects of what you are learning and build that solid foundation that you need.
Online lessons vs in-person lessons
There are primarily two ways for you to take guitar lessons, you can do it in person or take the online guitar lessons. Each has their advantages and it will be up to you to decide which suits your personal needs best.
In person lessons are an excellent way for you to learn the basics. This includes how to position your fingers as well as the chords themselves.
This could still be true of online courses, it depends on the specific course you choose. Some of them offer video tutorials as well as live lessons. Other online courses are built more to advance your basic skills beyond what they currently are.
One of the perks of online lessons is that they often allow you to go at your own pace. If you have a busy life you might not have time for scheduled lessons and online ones, make learning convenient. It should also be noted that online lessons are typically less expensive than in person lessons.
Best Online Guitar Lessons: Our Choices
If you have decided that online lessons are for you then this next section will help you to determine which guitar lesson sites are going to be best suited to you and your needs.
The following is a list of some of the most popular guitar membership sites and what it is that they offer:
- Cheaper than some of the alternatives
- Quality lessons containing multiple angle views
- Video lessons are downloadable for viewing offline
- Some lessons/instructors are better than others
- Not as much content for advanced guitar players as some of their competition
At GuitarTricks you will have access to thousands of video lessons. There are many teachers here and they teach all different styles of guitar playing. You can also find online guitar tools that can be useful to you.
Some of the feedback they have received shows that some guitar players like GuitarTricks because their lessons are “straight to the point.”
This is very important. I mean, how many teachers have you had that took ages to get to the point of the lesson> GuitarTricks, thankfully, won't waste a second of your time!
Here you will find thousands of hours of tutorials taught by professional instructors. They also have a section that studies popular artists which allows you to learn their “secrets.”
They offer three different quality options for each video as well as one for smartphones. This will allow you to stream the videos regardless of your internet connections ability.
The bulk of the lessons at GuitarTricks are found within the Core Learning System. This will teach you the fundamentals of playing the instrument and will introduce you to rock, blues and country. Once you have mastered those lessons it is easy for you to expand your skills with the many other genres of music offered here.
You will also find lessons that will teach you specific techniques that some of the most iconic musicians use.
This program gives beginners just about everything that they need to learn the ropes of playing guitar. If it had the amount of advanced material that Jamplay does it would be a hard call, unfortunately, they are geared more towards beginners than beginners and advanced students.
GuitarTricks offers a 14-day free trial.
- Ton of good content across genres
- Top notch instructors
- Written tabs and supplementary material for all lessons
- You must have internet access to watch the videos
Jamplay and GuitarTricks are very similar to one another. Both are based on video lessons. The main difference is the site itself and the sheer number of videos that Jamplay offers both beginners and advanced students. This site looks better and the videos are edited a little smoother.
Jamplay has thousands of hours of video lessons with more updates being added every day. They have over 50 professional guitar teachers making the videos which means you are being taught by people that actually know what they are doing. And even if there is one you don’t like, there are 50+ more to choose from.
Each of the instructors have been thoroughly vetted to ensure that they know how to break down lessons into easily digestible chunks. Each lesson is laid out in a step by step fashion that makes it easy to pick up regardless of your skill level.
Here are the genres covered at Jamplay:
- R & B
At Jamplay, you will learn lessons through HD quality video with five different resolution options. Not every computer can handle HD streaming and Jamplay knows this which is why they set things up so that everyone can learn to play the guitar on their site.
They offer some free lessons for those who want to get a feel for what they have to offer without paying for anything. These are some of the best online guitar lessons that are free. They also have live webcam sessions for those that need a more hands on approach.
Jamplay even has a community environment that you can get involved in if you would like. They have forums and live chats that let you discuss your thoughts and concerns with people that are in a position to understand what you are talking about. This is a great way for you to not only make some new friends who share the same interests as you, but it gives you an extra way to learn here.
Jamplay offers some excellent bonus tools as well. For example, they have a chord library with over 950,000 chord shapes. They also have over 500 jam tracks, riff and lick libraries. You will also get a tuner and metronome to help you stay on track.
You will get a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the services there.
- Offers a la carte lessons
- Learn from famous players
- Slow motion video allows you to see details of each lesson
- More expensive than other options
- You can only stream videos not download them
- Limited selection of genres and types
- Not the best customer service
ArtistWorks is set up a little differently than the other sites mentioned on this list. Here you will be able to sign up for a la carte lessons from whichever instructor you prefer based on the type of guitar you play as well as the style you want to learn.
If you like the thought of learning one on one in person, this is pretty close. Many feel it is more like that than the other options online. Some of the instructors are even famous, so this is also a draw for many.
How it works is that you record videos of yourself playing the guitar and send it to your instructor. They then watch it and give you direct feedback on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
While the content here is very good, many have complained about their customer service. Some people have been charged through auto-renew even though that feature has been turned off. Then, when ArtistWorks is contacted about it, in many cases they get no reply for months all while being charged for the service. This could be a problem for those who finish the courses or who don’t like what this site has to offer.
- Social community of people just like you and professionals who are willing to help answer your questions
- Teaches not only lessons but music theory as well
- Instant downloads
- Less content than some other options on this list
- Does not advance students beyond intermediate level
- Needs more videos
Jamorama calls itself the social network for guitar students. It is a place where you can interact with others, make friends and learn how to play the guitar. Unlike most other guitar lesson sites, at this one you can download the videos to your computer. This allows you to watch them even when you don’t have an internet connection.
You will have access to their video library where you can watch video lessons, collaborate with others and share what you are learning with those who are also just getting into the swing of playing guitar.
The lessons are taught with a less formal by-ear method. This gets the students playing the song first and learning the technical aspects of music theory later. While this method of learning is good for some, it is not good for everyone.
The community aspect of the site is a bonus. You not only get to talk to others who are learning like you are, but the experts join in on the conversations every day as well. This gives you the opportunity to pick their brains and ask any lingering questions you may have.
You don’t get nearly the amount of content you do with Jamplay but the content here is good. You will be able to buy courses outright instead of signing up for all the lessons at one time. They also have a chord reference book. This will help you master progressions and put riffs together on your own.
They also have a tuner and metronome that you can use, which is handy.
- Courses are broken up into easily digestible sections
- Guitar lessons are free here
- Lessons are thorough
- Not as much content as other sites
- Only one instructor to choose from
Here is another video lesson site. It is filled with helpful videos that are not just easy to follow but very structured which is good for those just learning to play the guitar. He has different courses for different styles of play as well as different levels of difficulty.
This is a free site so the production value is not as high as on some of the paid sites. Justin does have DVD lessons for people to purchase if they feel the need to.
You are not going to get the kind of content here that you would find on Jamplay. The quality is not as good and there are not nearly the number of videos. There is also only one teacher for you to learn from, which can be a problem if you happen to not take to Justin.
For a free site, however, Justin Guitar is very good. He offers a good beginners course that will teach most of the fundamentals you need to improve your playing ability. The lessons build on one another well so it is easy to follow the courses.
When you compare Justin Guitar to Jamplay, however, I find that it doesn’t quite stack up. The lessons are not quite as organized which leaves something to be desired.
- Free to learn from
- No wasted time in the lessons
- Lesson are short and easy to learn from
- Only one instructor
- Not as comprehensive as JamPlay and others
What most people seem to like about GuitarJamz is the instructor Marty Schwartz. The site is made up of a series of video lessons that are both fun and friendly. These easy to follow instructions are nice and short and don’t waste any time getting down to what is important to the lessons.
Many people have commented on the fact that Marty is also a little on the quirky side, which most seem to like. There is just him as the instructor though just as with Justin Guitar, so if for some reason you don’t like him, you are going to have problems.
The site is also easy to navigate and Marty also sells DVD lessons for those who are interested.
The beginner guitar lessons alone offer over 100 videos for you to work through. This site also offers lessons on blues, licks, music theory, master classes as well as country.
I have found that the best lessons on GuitarJamz are the blues ones. Marty clearly has a good feel for this style. That said, his music theory lessons are also very good. This section covers scales, the CAGED system as well as how to write guitar music. This is handy for those who are interested in writing music as well as playing it.
The GuitarJamz site is well laid out and easy to navigate. The lessons cover beginner skills but I feel that the site is best suited to those who already know a little about playing the guitar. This site does cover intermediate skills but doesn’t have much for expert players unlike other sites like Jamplay.
If you are looking for a guitar site with everything you need to learn guitar, then Jamplay is probably your best bet. I have found that it is my favorite site for quality content and comprehensive lessons. With hundreds of hours of guitar tutorials across many styles and genres, I am very comfortable recommending it to readers for how well rounded it is.
Now that you have an idea of the guitar lesson sites out there, you will be able to choose the one that is right for you and your stage of learning.
Let us know what you think in the comment section below!