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Guitar Lesson Resources

Updated on May 12, 2022
Jon Green profile image

For many years I taught guitar and music theory at college, learning some short cuts along the way.


* in under 30 years.

As a Guitar teacher I'm often struck by the speed that people are learning at in this internet age - when I started playing there were no guitar tabs, no video or DVD lessons, and any Play-in-a-day books were mostly in Latin. Friends with electric guitars plugged into some old radio, at considerable personal risk.

So now most of the material you need to learn guitar or bass guitar is free - some of it may be misguided or too complex, but at least it hasn't cost you anything.

There is still a place for private or group lessons with an actual teacher, though maybe a series of three followed by a break is enough - mainly to save you time and prevent bad habits forming.

Learning strategies:

  • A new development is the online guitar academy. If you're into jazz guitar, this is probably the way to go. Jimmy Bruno and Martin Taylor each have their own online academies - you get access to video lessons, and can submit examples of your own playing for them to comment on. It's cost-effective, at about $60 for three months. I've checked out the sample lessons, which is well worth doing - and they both seem to be fantastic courses.
  • Guitar DVDs are a mixed blessing. I think they work better for the more experienced player, but I'll review some of the best DVDs here.
  • Guitar software. I have never really found this easy to get on with - but the new GuitarPro 6 is great. You can download a trial version on the net.
  • This software does many things - essentially it edits and plays back guitar tab, with multi-tracked parts - so it can function as a basic recording studio. You can also use it as a chord dictionary that will play back chords for you, and there is a songbook of guitar songs to improve your playing.
  • You can print out chords, guitar tab and standard music notation and use it to learn how to read music. It's about £50 in the UK, and may be the most cost-effective investment you could make in terms of learning guitar.
  • You can download a free trial version first and see if you like it. I found it very easy to use, even without a manual - once I realized all the important stuff was on the top menu bar! Interestingly, there have been about 3 million downloads of this software trial version so I guess it's doing fairly well as a platform.

Update, 2022

The guitar lesson material has increased exponentially over the last year. Here are some recommendations:

  • Tim now features a melodic jazz chord dictionary, with tab examples and some video. It's really, really good! I'm using the pdf version, but it's also available in print.
  • Robin Nolan Gypsy Jazz lessons on Youtube
  • Jimmy Bruno videos on Youtube. Funny, cranky, wonderful player.
  • John Nathan Cordy videos on Youtube. Great playing and (honest) gear reviews.
  • iReal b jazz standards app. Perfect for practice, chord charts, learning songs.
  • Rich Severson on Youtube. Great jazz player and demos of archtop guitars.

DVD material

I have checked out probably 100+ instruction DVDs, and I'll try and create a forum on this hub to share your impressions of how good they are - mainly because they are mostly far too expensive to take a chance on. While I think that DVDs are a very valuable resource for guitarists,there are some problems which I would summarise as:

  • Great players are often not great teachers
  • related to that - they go way too fast and don't explain things clearly
  • theory is often scanty, and assumptions are made about the student's theory understanding
  • DVDs are usually very expensive - have a look at Amazon and you'll see what I mean
  • The latest DVD I have been working with is by Vic Juris - All That Jazz. Although it's mainly for the more advanced player it's an excellent and comprehensive look at jazz guitar techniques.
  • Ronnie Earl - Blues with soul is a very good DVD, mainly looking at useful chord forms for playing blues, soul, funk. Recommended.

Recommended DVDs

Let's start with the good, the bad, and the incomprehensible.

The Good

Currently I'm watching Johnny Hiland- Chicken Pickin' Guitar from the Hot Licks series. After the annoying intro that Hot Licks are so keen on, there is a quick performance of the hybrid picking style: that is, a country style where pick and fingers are used together. Whenever you see this technique in action with a good player it is so impressive. I've failed to master it myself, but I can see why it is so effective - Danny Gatton used it too, another master of the Telecaster. Though I've been playing for a very long time, I learned some good stuff in the first 5 mins.- result!

Hopefully as a guitar player you will not be narrow-minded stylistically - if you are, this will really hinder your development as a player. Although this is a country music title, any rock or blues player will find a lot of great riffs and techniques here. It's tricky stuff, but quite well explained and demonstrated. One word of caution - a lot of this material involves string bending, and this will only really work well on a Telecaster or Stratocaster with light-gauge strings (9-46)

Larry Coryell Jazz Guitar Vol.2 - not for the beginner, but packed with great info and great playing in jazz standards and bebop jazz styles. A bit too fast, but excellent standard. More useful than Vol.3 - which I didn't care for much.

Vol.1 has some useful modal examples, where the modes are linked to a scale form- much the easiest way to understand them.

Jimmy Bruno - Inside Outside Jazz Guitar - very useful material, also very good- No Nonsense Jazz Guitar. A great player who tries to keep it simple.

Danny Gatton - Telemaster and Danny Gatton 2 - Strictly Rhythm Guitar (both Hot Licks series)

Danny was a fantastic player in many styles, mainly country, jazz and blues. Sadly, he is no longer with us - but at least we can still appreciate his talent. If you don't want a nice Telecaster after watching these, there's something wrong with you!

Robben Ford - Back To the Blues - another brilliant player, equally adept at jazz and blues, with a natural and really effective teaching style. Highly recommended.

Also Robben Ford - Highlights (Warner Bros) is very informative. Great use of jazz and blues chords, excellent voicings and explanations.

Joe Beck - Jazz guitar video is an older release, but containing many excellent chord progressions

Greg Koch DVD on Blues playing is good too - mainstream rock and blues with a high level of playing expertise, some jokes.

The Indifferent

Herb Ellis - Swing jazz DVD (REH Video) Although Herb is a really good player, there is not enough explanation or breakdown of the examples. There is a tab booklet with transcriptions of the playing examples. So it's OK, but not indispensible - although you can get a general sense of what to do playing jazz guitar.

Internet resources - guitar and gear reviews, free video lessons. - literally thousands of songs in chords and lyrics format - another source of great free video lessons - interactive chord generator and chord and scale information - essential viewing.

Youtube - check out Ted Greene videos, also for one of the best players ever.

Youtube - Bireli Lagrene - great gypsy jazz playing - great songs resource - everything joni mitchell, a terrific site.

Ted - rare footage of one of the best players ever, playing jazz, blues and baroque music with equal brilliance. Genius is an overused word - see what you think!

Tim All-round great player!

My Other Hubs

There are about 130 guitar related hubs I've posted here at You can use them to ask questions on theory or technique, or suggest new subjects.They include playing in different tunings like DADGAD and Open G, slide guitar, general theory and improvising on guitar. Also, easy music theory, jazz chords.

House of Blues Blues 1

This blues for beginner DVD starts very slow, looking at open chords A D E Am Dm Em. Screen shots of the neck are good, with a split screen showing the neck and the neck from a player's perspective, that is from behind the neck. The level is so basic it would suit a total beginner. Guitar tab is covered, and explained well. Basic boogie parts are covered, shuffle rhythm.

Minor pentatonic scales are next. At this point it gets harder quite quickly, as the scale pattern is shown all over the neck, probably too much info at this point. Then a lot of technical info about solo playing and guitar techniques. The section on barre chords is good, and one of the most useful parts of the DVD.

All in all, this is a pretty good DVD - but only really useful for the complete beginner.

Older video material

Often you can pick up videos very cheaply, as guitar stores are trying to shift them quickly. Titles to watch for - Joe Beck Jazz guitar video, Joe Pass videos, anything by Robben Ford. Assuming you like blues and jazz playing.

Bass Guitar

I haven't seen the Jaco DVD yet, but I hear it's very good. Many guitarists would really benefit from an understanding of basslines, as in a duo or trio setting you may have to cover them yourself, at least partially. Taken to the extreme, Tuck Andress can play bass, chords and lead lines at the same time, and this is also a feature of Martin Taylor's playing. And, it's fun!


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