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Is Learning To Play Guitar From the Internet Good or Bad?

Updated on October 18, 2015
After One Lesson on YouTube
After One Lesson on YouTube

Self-Teaching, Does it Work?

Absolutely! Of course it is possible to teach yourself. Whether it's online, books, CD's, or DVD's it is certainly possible that a person could learn how to play the guitar on their own.

That being said this article addresses of the problems many of my students have run into trying to teach themselves by any method but mainly online these days (because it's free!!!), and why they ended up paying for private lessons.

So Much Instructional Material Online, So Little Time

Where To Begin?

It's amazing the proliferation of online guitar instruction, mainly from YouTube and Tab sites. Hundreds of thousands of pages exist out there offering free lessons on everything from beginner to advanced guitar. Almost any style you can think of and somebody (thousands of them actually) will have posted information on that particular subject.

The problem is that there is so much bad material out there that is out and out wrong. These days anyone with a cellphone can post an alleged "instructional" video. Whether they know a thing about guitar or not, there it is ready to confuse the heck out of the unwary novice. Tab sites are usually so far off the mark that it's a joke. Here is where complete amateurs post their "uh,I think this might be right..." versions of songs.

This is an invitation to extreme frustration. All I can say is don't be one of those people who after trying to learn on your own gives up and then assumes that they can't learn, or that they just don't have any musical ability. Most people do find it difficult to do this on their own and give up up because it sounds bad to them. If only they had someone to tell them "no, it's ok this is to be expected and you are progressing so don't stop now."

There are of course thousands of great sites and instruction out there online but the problem for a beginner is how to wade through the crap to get to the good stuff. Lest one thinks I am totally against online learning, I am not. There are some really amazing resources with solid information to be found. I myself have even posted some instructional material of my own.

So, even if you've found some really great sites what now? Lets's compare the difference between having a qualified instructor and the do-it-yourself method.


  • How do you know if the information is correct?
  • Is the information complete?
  • How do you know if you are doing things right?
  • How do you get motivated?
  • How do you keep motivated?
  • You can't ask questions
  • No feedback
  • Random information
  • No goal setting

Since the online lesson doesn't know where you skill level is currently at you have to take it as it is.

Private Instructor

  • Modifies approach to your learning style.
  • You can ask questions.
  • They can demonstrate many approaches
  • Instant feedback
  • You can play together
  • Lesson plans
  • Sets goals
  • Ties up the loose ends
  • Motivator
  • Provides shortcuts

The added bonus is that acquiring skills via private instruction will make it much easier for you to tell if an online guitar lesson is worth anything. Plus if you decide to post your own videos you will know what you are doing.

Private Lessons Work

Because everyone learns differently, having an experienced instructor who can customize their approach to each student's interests and learning modes will create a consistent more focused improvement. Through their years of experience an instructor helps you avoid mistakes they may have made when they were first learning.

There is also the fact when you are first learning sometimes it will sound terrible to you. It's nice to have teacher tell you that it's ok and it's part of the skill aquiring process. Otherwise a lot of students think that they don't have the ability and quit because no one is telling them that they are on the right track.

This as opposed to randomly learning licks and tricks from all over the net because then what you end up with is a pile of scattered information with nothing helping you tie it all together.

In fact, once you start getting a solid foundation then you can tell which are the good sites to learn from and can actually pick up some pretty cool stuff on the internet. And those books and DVDs will start making more sense too.

To get an idea of what a Guitar School or private instructor might offer might have to offer check out this site: Guitar School

Note: I might want to avoid any ad that uses words like "weird trick" as in:

Learn How to Play Guitar in 5 Seconds With This One Weird Trick.

Ain't gonna happen!

If you can't play good yet at least look cool.


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    • Guitar Wizard profile image

      Mark Edward Fitchett 2 years ago from Long Beach

      Same here. Although there were some books available I really benefited from the one-on-one instruction. And wearing out those records.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      When I started learning the guitar (45 years ago) the only options were to get a teacher or to stick a record on the turntable and work out notes and chords yourself. I think there are some great videos on YouTube, but like you say, sometimes they’re just plain wrong. I think beginners should learn properly with a tutor, and that should put them in a good position to be able to judge which resources are useful and which aren’t. Great Hub, voted up.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      The guitar takes patience and practice there is no instant guitar players. I hate tab and still like notes the best. Nice hub, Stella