Today’s new players are coming up at what is probably the best time in history for learning an instrument. Not only is affordable gear becoming significantly better, but access to information and instruction is much more readily available, and still, a lot of people who are thinking of getting lessons still find themselves asking “can you learn guitar online?”.
In years gone by, learning guitar happened in one of two ways. Either you got lessons from an instructor or a friend, or, you taught yourself by ear or with books. If you went down the path of teaching yourself, you probably longed for some way of verifying whether you were actually getting it right, and that’s where online lessons come in.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ll be looking into whether it’s possible to learn guitar purely via online means. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, some of the best methods, and we’ll also share some tips for success. If you’re new to guitar or just looking to sharpen your skills, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
- Can You Learn Guitar Online?
- Pros of Learning to Play Guitar Online
- Cons of Learning to Play Guitar Online
- What Are the Best Methods to Learn Guitar Online?
- Our Tips for Successfully Learning Guitar Online
- Final Thoughts on Learning Guitar Online
Can You Learn Guitar Online?
For those of you wondering whether you can teach yourself to play guitar online, you’ll be pleased to know that yes, it’s absolutely possible to learn how to play the guitar using online resources. There are now a number of different ways to learn, between courses, lessons, and even advanced tabs and sheet music.
Pros of Learning to Play Guitar Online
There are a huge number of pros when it comes to learning guitar online. In fact, in many ways, learning online can be even better than 1:1 instruction with a guitar teacher.
This is especially important for those who get their first guitar for a birthday or Christmas gift – with online guitar learning, you can get started with your journey immediately after unboxing your guitar, with no waiting around.
In addition to this, you can immediately transpose your lessons into real world playing. If you’re getting lessons from an instructor, you may have to travel home afterwards, wasting valuable time before getting an opportunity to consolidate your lessons and lock in the muscle memory.
In person guitar lessons cost on average about $60 per hour, while learning guitar online can in many cases be absolutely free. YouTube is full of excellent resources for learning guitar, all of which come at absolutely zero cost to you.
Even if you decide to opt for a paid course, once you have access, you can usually spend as much time as you like reviewing those lessons, bringing the average cost per hour down significantly over a personal instructor.
Even if you opt for a virtual instructor over Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or any other teleconferencing software, hourly fees tend to be much less than in person guitar lessons.
If you choose to learn guitar in person, you’re tied to the schedule of the instructor. Not only that, but you may find yourself having to travel to get to your lessons. This can be a huge inconvenience for anybody who relies on public transportation.
With online guitar learning methods, you can practice whenever it’s convenient for you. 3AM and you can’t sleep? You can pick up your guitar and practice. You’re on vacation or on a business trip away from home? With online guitar courses you can take a lesson any time, anywhere!
It goes without saying that learning guitar is a lot more fun when you’re learning your favorite styles of music. When you opt to learn guitar online you can easily find lessons geared towards your favorite genres. If you want to learn metal, there are metal guitar for beginner courses everywhere. The same goes for blues, jazz, rock, and any other style you can think of.
Not only are there tons of choices when it comes to genre, but with online learning you have significantly more choice when it comes to learning methods and instructors, too. If you’re opting for an in person instructor, you’re typically limited to teachers within your locale.
However, with online learning you can choose a method that suits your learning style, and if you still want interaction with a real teacher, there are thousands of instructors from all over the world who teach over the internet, giving you much broader selection to choose from.
Self Paced Learning
When you learn guitar online, there is no pressure to progress at any specific pace. You can spend as long as you like learning specific techniques and not worry about whether or not you’re getting value from your lessons. Not only that, but if you’ve had a busy week at work and you simply haven’t had time to pick up your guitar, with online learning it’s really easy to pick up exactly where you left off.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you find that you’re progressing extremely quickly, you might find that having an in person guitar teacher is slowing down your journey. If you’re mastering lessons right away and you have to wait a week between sessions, this can have a detrimental effect on your progression. With online lessons you can blast through the fundamentals and head straight for the advanced stuff whenever you’re ready.
Simple to Revisit Old Lessons
If it’s been a while since you picked up a guitar, having access to online guitar lessons or courses means you can go back and recover old ground without having to spend extra to learn the same lesson again. This is especially handy if you’re trying to learn a new song that perhaps uses a technique you learned a while back but haven’t yet had a chance to use in the real world.
Cons of Learning to Play Guitar Online
As highlighted above, there are a huge number of positives of learning guitar online, but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution for everybody.
Lack of Feedback
One of the best things about learning with a real instructor is the fact that they can provide real time feedback as you practice the techniques they’re teaching you. Without this you have no real way to know whether you’re progressing well, or whether you need extra work on certain areas – it’s entirely up to you to figure that out, and it can definitely harm your progression.
No Way to Ask Questions
If you’re learning from YouTube, an app, or an online course, it’s impossible to ask questions relating not just to your technique and playing in general, but also about equipment. While this kind of information is available online, it will require time and effort for you to research, whereas a live instructor could point you in the right direction immediately.
Not only that, but if you go to one of the many online guitar forums, or sites like Reddit or Quora to ask your questions, you’ll likely find that you get tons of different answers, many of which will be contradictory, and this can leave you even more confused than you were to begin with.
No One to Correct Poor Technique
With online learning, you may end up spending additional hours trying to grasp something that could be fixed and learned in minutes with an experienced instructor there to guide you. An in person guitar teacher can (and should) be observing everything about how you interact with the guitar, and from this, they should be able to provide valuable technique pointers that can correct a plethora of issues, from poor intonation to fret buzz, feedback, and many other problems.
Issues With Structure
It’s true that many online guitar courses do now offer a solid structure and a pathway to progression, but if you’re learning from tabs, or dipping in and out of YouTube videos to learn guitar online, the lack of structure will very likely slow down your progression. Like many, you’ll likely end up just learning to play basic versions of your favorite songs, but you’ll struggle when it comes to musicality and improvisation.
A lack of accountability is one of the biggest issues with learning guitar online. Without having an instructor holding you accountable to learning the techniques and practicing between lessons, the vast majority of people will eventually skip sections, many of which are fundamentally important, to get to the fun parts (like learning songs).
While learning songs can definitely be a motivator, properly learning the techniques is a vital part of becoming a well rounded guitarist, and without someone holding you accountable to this, you are far more likely to fall into the trap of deciding that the theory isn’t all that important.
What Are the Best Methods to Learn Guitar Online?
As we’ve highlighted several times, there are a good number of ways to learn guitar online. Here are some of the most popular methods.
One of the most popular ways to learn guitar online at the moment is via mobile apps. Some of the biggest names in music have launched their own apps designed to help anybody become a better guitarist.
Mobile apps tend to offer some of the best structure of any online guitar learning experience, and thanks to the technological advances that have come with modern devices, many feature AI that can listen to your playing and provide real time feedback. This has allowed app developers to gamify the learning process, which studies show is an effective way to encourage continued practice.
Many of the mobile guitar lesson apps offer free or discounted trial periods prior to committing to a subscription, making them a great way to see if online learning is suitable for you before spending any money.
Some of our favorite apps include:
· Fender Play
· The Gibson App
YouTube is one of the world’s most popular websites, and it has become a fantastic place to learn guitar online. YouTube is free, and there are thousands of experienced guitar teachers providing lessons and instruction on the platform.
Whether you’re looking to learn theory, techniques, or specific songs, you’ll almost certainly find what you’re looking for on YouTube. The biggest downside to learning guitar on YouTube is the lack of structure. It can become very easy to get pulled down the rabbit hole, jumping between videos, dipping in and out of different lessons from different instructors, etc.
If you still want to learn guitar from a real instructor in real time, but you can’t travel to lessons, and you have no way for instructors to get to you, then you might find video lessons to be a good compromise. Many guitar teachers advertise their services online, and they typically charge less than they would for a face to face lesson.
With a video lesson, you’ll follow along with your instructor over a webcam session, and they can provide some feedback and direction as you play, giving this method a distinct advantage over most other types of online learning.
The downside is, of course, that you do lose some of the flexibility you’d find with other types of online learning, as you’re still limited by your instructor’s availability.
Tabs, Chords, and Sheet Music
In the past, being self taught meant either listening to a song and learning it by ear, or pickup up guitar books and learning that way. Today, using online chords, tabs and sheet music sites is the modern equivalent. Tab sites are usually free, although some do charge for premium content, and they have tens of thousands of songs to choose from.
Interestingly, it’s now possible to learn guitar using your Playstation or Xbox! While spending your time on Guitar Hero isn’t likely to help you get any better, investing in the game “Rocksmith”, just might!
Rocksmith is an interactive video game that uses a special cable that effectively turns any electric guitar into a game controller. It works on a similar principle to Guitar Hero, but instead of mashing buttons to match colors on the screen, you’re actually playing along to real songs on a real guitar.
This game does feature interactive lessons, as well as challenges based on popular songs, so it’s quite easy to put what you learn into practice right away.
It’s worth noting that some people find that latency can be an issue when playing Rocksmith, so bear that in mind before deciding that this is the path for you.
Our Tips for Successfully Learning Guitar Online
Several of the KGR team are self taught players who used online methods to learn the guitar. Between us, we’ve come up with a list of 4 tips to give you the best chance of long term success.
Create a Structure
Structure is the most important thing when it comes to learning guitar. You can have the best gear, the most expensive lessons, etc., but if you don’t have structure, you’re setting yourself up for failure right away.
We suggest carving out a specific time every day, and practice in short bursts. If you set a goal of 7 hours practice each week, ignoring your guitar until Saturday and trying to cram it all into 1 day just won’t work. If you mark in your calendar to practice for 1 hour at the same time every day, you start forming the type of habits that lead to sustainable success.
Take Your Time
Patience is a virtue when it comes to learning guitar. Don’t skip ahead to the advanced stuff when you’re still at the beginner level, and don’t underestimate properly learning the fundamentals if you already have a little experience.
Follow the structure of the lessons to the letter, and we can guarantee the results will show in time.
Be Your Own Player
As with all things in life, everybody progresses at different rates when it comes to learning guitar. If you are learning at the same time as a friend, don’t compare your journey with theirs. Celebrate each other’s wins and successes, but don’t lose focus on your own development.
Spending time worrying about falling behind almost always leads to a breakdown in structure as learners decide they want to skip ahead in order to catch up to someone else, or to where they feel they should be at, and as we highlighted, structure is the single most important key.
Finally, please don’t quit. Whether you’re frustrated at a lack of progress, or feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, there’s almost always a way to overcome. We emphasized the importance of structure, but it doesn’t have to be set in stone.
If you find your structure isn’t working for you, then adapt. Is 1 hour of practice a day not achievable? Cut to 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes. Quality of practice and consistency will always win over quantity. You’ll have far more breakthroughs if you’re able to ensure that you properly stick to a realistic schedule.
Final Thoughts on Learning Guitar Online
Learning guitar online is not only possible, but it can be a far better option that in person lessons for many players. It’s convenient, it’s affordable, and it’s ultimately a very flexible method.
No matter which method you choose, be it an app or game, a course, video lessons, YouTube, or tabs, the key to learning guitar online is always going to be consistency. Set your goals and stick to the practice regimen, and the results will speak for themselves.