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Self-Teaching Guitar Lessons Online: What To Look For

Updated on October 15, 2011

Online guitar lessons have many advantages for beginners – and some disadvantages too. This hub takes a look at the things you should consider if you're thinking about teaching yourself to play the guitar with online lessons.

What Are Online Guitar Lessons?

First of all, what exactly do you get if you choose to learn guitar online? This obviously depends on who you choose to learn from, but most good online guitar courses include instruction in a variety of formats. You'll typically get access to written text, video instruction, audio files (to show you how the music should sound, and also so you can jam along), and sometimes software as well. This gives online lessons an advantage over traditional printed tutor books, as not everybody learns well from following a book. The lessons are delivered in digital format, and can be accessed online through the teacher's site and/or downloaded to your PC.

Some people offer guitar lessons online for free, whereas others charge a fee for their material (this may be a one-off payment, or an ongoing charge). Some of the free material is excellent, and some of the paid material isn't, but in general you do get what you pay for (in particular, many free lessons are not comprehensive, and don't provide the kind of rigorous, logical progression of concepts and techniques that is needed in order to really master the guitar). Remember that even the more expensive online guitar courses are very cheap in comparison to what you'd pay for ongoing private lessons with a teacher!

Choosing An Online Guitar Course - What To Look For

  • Firstly, be sure that the course will teach what you need and want to learn. Online lessons will cover different topics, depending on who the course is designed for. For example, you can find lessons that are targeted at people wanting to learn specific styles, such as blues guitar or folk guitar. Some are also aimed at advanced players, and assume that you already have a good grasp of the basics. If you need beginner guitar lessons, you should look for a course that gives you a solid grounding in the fundamentals of guitar playing, and which covers a variety of musical styles (unless you already know that you want to specialise in a specific style). Once you've got the basics under your belt, you'll be in a good position to pursue more specialised instruction later on, if you wish.
  • The course should also cover at least the basics of music theory (yes, you can learn to play without it, but you'll never be as good a musician as you could be otherwise). If you don't know any theory, or how to read music yet, don't be put off - it's not boring or hard when taught in the right way!
  • Also, be sure that the person delivering the lessons is both a competent guitarist and a competent teacher. Your development as a musician is too important to put in the hands of someone who doesn't know what they're doing! Look for testimonials and reviews from other users, as well as evidence of their expertise and experience in both the performing and teaching arenas.
  • If you opt to buy online guitar lessons, be sure that the vendor offers a money back guarantee. All reputable merchants will let you check out the material to see if it's right for you, and will refund your money (typically for a 30-60 day period) if you're unhappy.

Advantages of Learning Guitar Online

Why do people choose to learn with beginner guitar lessons online anyway? The main advantages of going this route include:

  • You can learn at your own pace – no need to conform to a teacher's idea of how fast you should be progressing
  • You can learn alone without anyone looking over your shoulder (some people can't relax enough to play well in front of a teacher)
  • It is very cheap – free online guitar lessons are available, and the paid options cost very little in comparison to private lessons
  • Video instruction shows you exactly what to do in real time, and you can replay the instruction as often as you need to
  • Lessons are available for just about every guitar style and technique you can think of, as well as more general beginner guitar courses
  • You can access them anywhere where you have a computer an internet connection – great for travelling!

Disadvantages of Internet Guitar Lessons

However, learning guitar online isn't the best route for everyone. Bear in mind that:

  • You need to be self-motivated – will you keep going when it gets tough, without a teacher to prod you on?
  • The quality is very variable – you might end up wading through a lot of substandard material before you find the right course for you
  • You need a computer and internet connection
  • Not everyone likes reading from a screen (though you can generally print out the material if you prefer)
  • Most lessons cater more for popular guitar styles – if you want to learn classical or flamenco guitar, you might be better off with in-person classes from a teacher


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    • GuitarLover profile image

      GuitarLover 8 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comment : ) Yes, I'm self-taught on guitar too - had piano lessons as a kid, but much prefer going my own way these days.

    • qual7868 profile image

      qual7868 8 years ago from Canada

      Great post on how to play guitar. I have been playing for 12 years and self taught myself using the internet and listening to music.