In recent years we’ve seen a dramatic shift away from in person guitar lessons, with many players preferring to opt for online guitar lessons.
In some cases those who used to teach in person lessons are now teaching 1:1 classes via teleconferencing software, and while this may be convenient, we’ve learned that there are now better ways to accomplish online learning.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review we will be covering the 7 best online guitar lesson programs on the market today.
When reviewing these platforms, we were looking for ease of use, quality of instruction, production quality, and how well they kept us engaged.
Keep on reading to find out more about what we learned when covering these lesson systems.
Our Top Pick was Fender Play. Fender Play offers both a great website and an app for a full 360 approach to learning, and uses a combination of almost all the techniques that the other providers do in the convenience of one app to bring you a holistic approach to learning the guitar, bass, or ukulele.
Our Best Budget choice goes to Yousician. Yousician offers fun lessons that are easy to follow, and feel really slick to use. It has an excellent free mode, but offers fair prices if you choose to upgrade.
Our Editor’s Choice was Guitareo. It was a little more expensive than some of the others, but the high quality production, and well built website make up for that. It offers a simple interface that won’t overwhelm beginners, and tons of great content.
Best Online Lesson Reviews
Fender Play is available on iOS and Android, but also offers a slick desktop experience. After logging in for the first time we were directed to choose a “path”. We first had to select from acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, or ukulele. For the test we went with electric guitar, but we were pleased to see that there were other instruments included in the price.
We then had the option of choosing from one of 5 different styles of music – rock, blues, folk, pop, or country. We loved that we were able to take the lessons in our preferred style – this is much more likely to keep beginners engaged and interested.
Fender Play offers a lot of freedom once you’re in the course. It doesn’t take on a linear approach, which let us choose which lessons we wanted to take at any time – a big plus for experienced players. If you choose to follow the path as prescribed, you’ll work through 8 different levels, each increasing in difficulty over the last.
The video lessons were enjoyable. The instructors speak clearly and explain the concepts well, and the production value is excellent, with multiple camera angles providing closeups of the fretboard while they explain.
When it comes time to review progress, Fender has implemented a really nice AI system that listens to your playing in order to provide feedback. It’s not quite as direct as a live instructor, but it’s a close second.
One of our favorite parts about Fender Play was the music selection – they base their lessons on real songs in your chosen genre, which we found to be a great motivator when it came to logging in and practicing.
Verdict: Fender Play offers a slick user experience, using tried and tested methods of learning. The whole app is very much devoted to learning the craft, and while there are some nice extras like tuners, and metronomes etc., they work in support of the material, and aren’t the focal point. Overall, it’s a great way for players of all abilities to learn online.
Yousician is a fun app based learning system that offers both video and AI based lessons. The lessons are appropriate for guitarists of all abilities thanks to the fact that they’re broken up into 10 different levels. Yousician offers many of its features for free, including the video lessons, but if you want real songs and not muzak, you’ll need to subscribe.
We found that the lessons were well structured, and progressed in a really logical manner. This is great for beginners looking to get a strong grasp of the fundamentals before attempting more difficult lessons.
The interface was easy to use, and really engaging. At the beginning of each section there was a video lesson explaining the principles of what we were about to learn, and providing ample demonstrations. Once it was time for us to practice, we moved into practice mode, which brought up a moving stave and a bouncing dot over the correct notes, much like a sing-along movie.
In practice mode we were able to alter the tempo in order to properly learn each passage before moving on to the review. On the free version, you have to successfully complete each section before it allows you to move on, but in the paid version you can pick and choose.
Like the Gibson app, Yousician is heavily gamified, which does increase the appeal, especially to younger players. We actually found the instructional portion of Yousician to be even more robust than the Gibson App, too, making it a good all rounder.
It sadly doesn’t feature a desktop version, and is only available for mobile devices, with this largely being down to the AI tech requiring a microphone.
Verdict: Yousician is a great choice for a casual lesson program that you can dip in and out of, or follow to the letter if you choose. The interface is fun and easy to use, and the selection of songs on the paid version of the app is fantastic. Even the free side of the app provides enough content to get started, and supplement a more robust program like Fender Play.
Guitareo joins its sister apps Drumeo and Singeo in providing simple, yet effective lessons to those looking to learn an instrument, in this case, guitar. The instructors were likeable, and did a good job of teaching in an easily digestible manner.
The home page was pretty spartan, but ultimately this made it easy to navigate. On the courses page we were able to choose from a range of ability levels, including 3 at the beginner level, 3 at the intermediate level, but unfortunately just 1 at the advanced level.
Guitareo really excelled with the beginner level lessons, including bare bones basics like how to hold and strum a guitar, things intermediate and advanced players might take for granted, but day 1 beginners may need real help with.
Like all good online lesson sites, it did allow us to choose from a range of several hundred songs. Songs mode was super simple, but really effective, with closeups of the strumming hand, the fretting hand, and lyrics and chords progressing along the bottom of the screen to follow along with.
We found that Guitareo did a good job at taking a concept and helping us work through it, and eventually put the theory we learned together at the end.
The video recording quality was excellent, with everything in full HD, and set with backdrops that felt modern, and appealing to look at.
Verdict: Guitareo isn’t the flashiest, but it offers solid instruction and a straight forward, easy to use platform. It has tons of content, which should keep you busy for months, even if you practice every day. The instructors are knowledgeable, and they do a great job of explaining difficult concepts in a simple way.
At first, we found the Gibson App a little confusing. The landing page felt more like Netflix than a guitar instruction site. Gibson seems to have put a lot into additional entertainment content, that while nice, isn’t strictly related to guitar instruction.
To access the actual lessons, we needed to go into the learn mode, which completely changed the appearance of the app. We really liked the graphic design, and the visual flow of the lesson structure once we found the correct section of the page.
The structure starts out with basic skills. Next, it gave us the option of choosing a lead guitar path, or a rhythm guitar path. This was an interesting approach – while jumping immediately to one or the other can offer some gratification if you see yourself sticking with one style, it didn’t come across as the most logical way for a beginner to start their journey.
Once we selected a path and picked a lesson, we were presented with a moving stave with tablature on it. This scrolled across the screen during the level, and to “score points” we had to hit the correct note at the right time. Gamification is big in learning right now, and Gibson have attempted to gamify the process of learning guitar.
There was an extensive collection of songs to learn alongside the lessons. For each song we were able to choose from the 4 different difficulty levels, referred to as Rookie, Campfire, Garage, and Rockstar. We did like that it offered simplified ways to play popular songs, as well as providing the correct way to play them, too.
Verdict: The Gibson App is still very new, and interestingly, the app store still retained reviews from their old, defunct app, so take those ratings with a pinch of salt. We found it to be fun and engaging to use, and a great way to learn songs, but beginners looking for solid structure should definitely look elsewhere.
GuitarTricks.com offers more than 11,000 lessons taught by 45 different instructors covering 12 different styles of music, and all of those lessons you can download for free. While variety is good, we actually felt that there was an overwhelming amount of content on this site.
When signed in, you can choose from beginner lessons, or lessons for experienced players. We did like this as there was no sifting through dozens of links trying to find a useful lesson for players with more experience.
These video lessons covered theory and technique, and while the instruction itself was very good, the production value was pretty weak, and actually looked quite dated. It’s a shame, because they offer such a broad depth of instructional material, but it’s simply not all that engaging.
Outside of the theory and technique, there is a library of more than 1000 songs from various popular artists. Within this library are lessons in how to play the songs, which was our favorite part about the whole site. Learning with the Guitar Hero style moving staves from Gibson and Yousician can be fun, but it’s hard to pick up on nuances that way, while the GuitarTricks videos taught us exactly what we needed to know.
The Jam Station backing track library was another great tool that we found ourselves spending a lot of time with. This was a bank of pre recorded backing tracks to play along with and practice. The downside being that it had no AI feedback, so there was no measurable gauge of progress.
Verdict: Overall, GuitarTricks.com is a good option for visual and auditory learners looking for online guitar lessons. The quality of the instruction is excellent, and the platform is very user-friendly. Of course, the main downside is that the production quality felt a little dated, and while the interface was easy to use, it wasn’t as slick as some of the others we tested.
Justin Guitar was founded by Australian musician and guitar teacher, Justin Sandercoe. This program offered 3 levels of instruction; a course for beginners, techniques for intermediate players, and Style modules for advanced players.
The base lessons with Justin Guitar were free, which we really liked. Despite the fact that it’s free, Justin delivered quality lessons. We found him to be very personable, which is always a plus if you’re going to be listening to the same person for hours and weeks on end.
The lessons are structured in much the same way as a YouTube playlist, with tabs and chord sheets available to download and play along with. Sandercoe is clearly passionate about guitar, and we found that he explains concepts well, but much like GuitarTricks, the format is dated, and much of the early content was recorded in fairly low resolution.
As well as theory lessons, Justin Guitar also provides lessons on how to play real songs, and even just certain sections and solos of popular tracks.
Justin Guitar recently released an app, which is a big improvement on the desktop site. Like some of the others, it has an AI driven feedback function that can listened in as we played to provide real time feedback.
The app is easy to navigate, and while it did give us the freedom to skip sections, it also prefaced our selections with a recommendation that we complete the theory sessions before jumping into the practice.
The app also contained lessons for a number of popular songs that were appropriate to each level, which was nice to see.
Verdict: Justin Guitar’s standard desktop site offered good instruction, but the layout, interface and video quality often made it felt like it was trapped in 2010. We did enjoy the lessons, and of course, Justin Sandercoe does a great job of explaining everything. The companion app is a big improvement over the website, but it’s worth noting that it isn’t free to use.
JamPlay has its own distinctive style, which is really a product of its time, with the site having been running since 2006. The homepage was set up with drop down menus running along the top of the interface, which in our opinion, made it quite difficult to navigate.
While the home page wasn’t great, we did quite enjoy the main lesson pages. They have HD video right in the center of the screen, with up to 3 different angles being shown simultaneously. On the right was the scene selection, which let us skip ahead to any part of the song we wanted to learn. At the bottom we were able to choose from either notation or tabs with a bar running across to show us where we were.
JamPlay has a huge catalog of instructors to choose from, and even gave us the option to choose lessons from a specific instructor, which was a neat feature – so, if you like the way one of them teaches the material, you can follow all of their lessons without having to search.
There were modes for beginners and advanced players, so JamPlay does work for players of all abilities. They had hundreds of songs to learn from a wide range of artists, with one of the biggest selections of any of these systems. In fact, JamPlay was one of our overall favorites when it came to learning individual songs.
Because of how long they’ve been running, JamPlay actually has a huge following and a forum full of active members, so if community is important to you when learning guitar, JamPlay might be a great option.
Verdict: JamPlay has stood the test of time, and after 18 years online is still going strong. We found the lesson quality to be great, but we did feel that the dated homepage really lets the site down, making it difficult to navigate, and visually unappealing. If you can get past the homepage, though, you’ll be rewarded by good instruction from a wide range of qualified teachers.
There are so many online guitar lesson programs around and so many of the share similar features that choosing between them can be hard. Below we detail some of the things you should be looking for when choosing your online lesson source.
Video Production Quality
If you’re a visual or auditory learner and you’re opting for the traditional video style of online instruction, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a few things when it comes to the quality of video production.
First, make sure they show multiple angles while the instructor in demonstrating the techniques or passages. This will allow you to see not only how they finger the notes, but also the strumming pattern and technique that they are using.
Next, make sure they record in the highest quality possible. 1080p should be the minimum, but 4K is best. This helps to ensure that you can see everything they are doing in as much detail as possible, and should you want to play it through a bigger screen, a higher resolution will allow you to retain that clarity.
Guitar Hero was a huge hit that inspired tons of people to take up guitars in real life, and some developers saw the opportunity to cross this type of interactive experience into guitar learning. By receiving points based on how well you perform the song as the app listens to you play, you end up with a tangible target to beat the next time you play.
Having a bank of lessons based on popular music always helps to increase engagement and interest in learning guitar. It’s important to learn scales and modes, but putting your theory into practice with real songs can help to bring it all together.
Look for programs with a large number of songs in genres and styles you like if you enjoy learning from the music that inspires you.
As is true for in person lessons, you should always look into the credentials of the instructor you’ll be learning from. Check to see if they have any formal education in guitar instruction, or whether they at least have experience as professional musicians.
Learning from players with bad techniques will only further your own flaws, and ultimately the program won’t make you a better guitarist.
If there’s anything that the majority of guitar lessons have in common, it’s that they aren’t cheap. Whether you have to pay a monthly subscription, or a lump sum once a year, you might find yourself unhappy with your purchase after you make it.
With that in mind, it’s important to check whether your chosen program offers a free trial. Typically, the longer the better, with some providers, like Fender, offering as long as 3 months free.
When signing up to a free trial, be sure that the terms are transparent. Often free trials require signing up to a 12 month subscription, and you’ll likely be charged the entire year’s fees.In many cases annual memberships cost well over $100, and you’ll be debited as soon as the trial ends, regardless of whether or not you want to continue.
Final Thoughts on the Best Online Guitar Lessons
Online guitar lessons are redefining the concept of the self taught guitarist. With these awesome programs, new players can take themselves from complete novices to competent players faster than ever. While learning guitar has never been a race, if by speeding up the pace of learning, these lessons can increase enjoyment of the instrument for new players, that’s fine by us!
To summarize, our top pick, Fender Play, offered such a huge range when it came to video lessons and other resources that it’s our number one recommendation. Yousician, our best budget choice, is a great option if you’re looking to brush up your technique using a fun (and free) mobile app. Finally, our Editor’s Choice, Guitareo gets our recommendation for its clean layout, simple instruction, and abundance of resources.