This is going to be one of the major topics discussed in this website here, since it deals with the core of what we are all about – effectively learning how to play the guitar.
The guitar as an instrument is a very versatile instrument, and as such it draws a big and diverse crowd of enthusiast people who are eager to learn and to master the instrument. From Blues enthusiasts, to Jazz, Rock, Metal, Folk, Classical, and countless more styles which can be artistically incorporated by the guitar and in so many ways.
With styles diversity, comes diversity in people as well, and not all the people are the same.
In this article we will be discussing the diversity of “methods” used in order to learn this instrument, most notably these three:
- Guitar Lessons Online
- Private Guitar Lessons in Real Life
- Self Taught
These are the major methods used to learn how to play the guitar. Other methods include (which we won't be dealing with here):
So let's begin by analyzing each method individually, and highlight its strengths and weaknesses and understand the differences between them …
The Self Taught Method
- Cost: 0-30$
- Difficulty: Very Difficult
- Effectiveness: Very Low
- Convenience: Very Convenient
- Accessibility: Very High (in your own comfort home)
- My Overall Personal Rating: 3 / 10
Self taught guitar players are so many. It is the most popular method due to its very cheap price (can be totally free if you don't invest in any kind of books or apps and stuff), highly accessible and convenient because you can pick up your guitar anywhere you want, anywhere you go, and learn on your own personal pace and liking, and just do whatever you want on the guitar. It can be really fun at the beginning, but not for a long time.
The core problem with this method and why I rated it so low, is because it leaves you prone to so many fundamental mistakes that gets so difficult to correct later on, and have no specific route to follow in terms of, what to learn first, and what's next, where to begin and where to continue, and stuff like this, which is so fundamentally important that I can't imagine someone without this kind of knowledge and guidance can get even close to advanced level on guitar.
Sure, some people just want to learn the chords, play casually, strum the guitar and play popular songs near the beach or a campfire, maybe sing along too, that is totally fine and acceptable, and those people can be self taught without a problem and achieve their guitar goals in a matter of months and years, and be happy with themselves and the people around them will be happy to hear them.
But that's about it. Your progress stop here. Maybe if you are a guitar'aholic and are so dedicated and spend countless hours each day playing guitar on your own, you might achieve this level of advance guitar playing on your own in terms of, technical ability and musical ear, even compose your own songs and solos, but even then your musical
product won't be near as sophisticated as a conventionally well taught guitar player that probably also know a lot on music theory, scales, theories behind chord progression and different styles, and more.
How to be self taught guitar player?
There are many ways to do it, and if you still insist on being a self taught guitar player due to money issues, time, and convenience, then I'll show you below how most people do it:
- If you have absolutely no background or previous experience with guitars, STOP here. Do yourself a favor and save yourself the frustration, search within your local area for a medium to good guitar instructor, and tell him that you are interested in doing a few guitar lessons for total beginners (from 4 to 12 lessons – this usually means 1 to 3 months), these lessons will revolve around the basics, which includes the correct techniques for posture and holding the guitar, right and left hand positioning, picking and fingering, and maybe even learn your first beginner song.What's also important is that you will be getting instantaneous feedback on how you are performing, and immediate correction of basic mistakes like fretting in a bad angle with your fingers, chocking the neck of the guitar, laying the guitar too low on your leg, bending your back, and lots more similar mistakes which are VERY COMMON for total beginners and will make it impossible for you to progress beyond first or two tries.You will find lots of free videos online talking about these issues, but never you will get the “feedback” part like with a private guitar teacher.
- Assuming you are on a level past the point 1 we talked about above, from here you can progress by first learning how to read tabs, then going to guitar tabs website, download the tabs that you want, and simply play them on your own pace, slowly, step by step, until you become satisfied with your sound.
- Watching videos on Youtube about certain guitar topics, or how to play specific songs, techniques, etc, is also another option to bring with you along with playing tabs.
- Use the website here to teach yourself the guitar. We publish lots of awesome articles each week (which basically deals with playing the guitar for beginners to intermediate-advanced level), these articles may contain essential information on any guitar related topic, tabs for songs or exercises, various guitar instructional or non-instructional videos mostly from youtube, free lessons with analysis (like here, and here), important links every guitarists needs to know, and lots more.
- Use and utilize free guitar communities like facebook groups, google plus communities (join our community here), guitar forums, to your advantage.
- Try asking fellow guitar advanced players from your friends and family to kindly teach you few licks or exercises.
Basically, that's it. Progress depends on each person individually, how much he spends into playing, and his dedication. If you are one of those self taught guitar players, we'd love to hear your experience and your opinion on the subject in a comment below, did you take few guitar lessons online or real life? did you have previous background in music which helped you learn guitar on your own? all alone all the way? anything you say is welcome.
Private Guitar Lessons
- Cost: 80$-200$ Per Month
- Difficulty: Normal
- Effectiveness: Very High
- Convenience: Not Convenient
- Accessibility: Not Easily Accessible to Anyone
- My Overall Personal Rating: 8 / 10
Given the right circumstances, the right tutor, and the finance, private guitar lessons is the best way to learn guitar and just about any instrument. Hands down. You've got a person who is expert on guitars, who have went through learning the guitar all the way to the highest levels, and probably have also took a course or two on how to actually “teach” this stuff (yes, there are courses like that), to sit in front of you and teach you everything you need to know about guitar playing. Easy, effective, and fast.
However, there are few problems with this method, which are concluded in the lines below:
- Finding the right tutor – It can be challenging to find a guitar teacher nowadays, who is more focused on actually helping you than getting paid. I've seen lots of teachers waste countless hours on useless material and training sessions that could easily be implemented privately at home, or you can easily learn it alone, and charge tons of money per lesson. Aside from wasting time, some teachers might be good guitar players, but have little to no clue on how to “teach”. I knew teachers who taught advanced techniques to beginners – an unforgivable mistake! Simply WRONG.
- Money, money, and money – It costs a FORTUNE to learn guitar this way. it costs an average of 30$ per 1 lesson today with the proper guitar instructor, multiply that by at least 4 (4 times a month, once per week), and you get around 120$ a month. Which translates to, 1440$ a year! That is huge amount of money, not affordable by every one.
- Requires traveling every time – Since most guitar instructors have a studio at home, and requires you to visit them for the lesson, unless you pay them extra to come to you, sometimes the right instructor for you does not necessarily live next doors. He might be living in the next town or city, and you will be needing some kind of mobility to reach them. Again, not available to everyone, and costs additional money and time.
Aside from that, if money isn't a problem to you, and you are highly mobile and highly dedicated, and all you want is to learn guitar the fastest and most effective way, then this method is recommended for you. But first, do a research on your local guitar teachers to find the best one, and start your journey to becoming a guitar god.
- Cost: 15-20$ Per Month
- Difficulty: Normal
- Effectiveness: High
- Convenience: Very Convenient
- Accessibility: Highly Accessible
- My Overall Personal Rating: 9 / 10
I don't know how much “new” this method is, but when I started learning the guitar, in like the year 2000, I had no idea such thing existed. And seeing the starting date of most online guitar teaching programs, which is somewhere between 2000 and 2010, this method can indeed be considered a “new” one.
Also, internet back then was very slow and very hard to get, not easily accessible to everyone like today, so it makes sense that there weren't many of these programs around back then.
However, today is a new era, the era of the internet and fast communication, the era of google and social media, internet is as fast as it can be, and easily available to most of us. Many of these programs online have started to flourish, and are gaining more and more popularity and followers each single day, and rightfully so. Below, I will show the advantages and disadvantages of this method.
- Finding the right program for you – Although many of these programs offer kind of “similar” content to specific range of skill levels (for example, the beginner to intermediate level content isn't much different anywhere you go), a lot of these programs offer trial period, so you can have full access to them for a limited number of days, and actually test their content and see if it fits your personality or not. I don't recommend programs that does not have some level of “try before buy”, all the programs that I recommend (which can be found here, and will add more with time depending on people's requests, and popularity) have trial period and money back guarantee, which I think is essential because, if you are not learning, why you should be paying, right?
- Very cheap – Compare it with private lessons in real life, and you will find that you will be saving up to a thousand dollar a year. Especially if you choose the yearly subscription, which is also a solid and more financial option.
- Convenient and Accessible – Only with access to internet, you can learn anywhere you want, including in your own comfort house and room.
- Effective – These programs (at least the ones I reviewed and tested) hire professional guitar teachers, that have a long experience of playing and teaching guitar, and this is their main career. Aside from that, since these programs revolves mostly around lessons in the form of recorded videos that can be played back any number of times that you want, they get a lot of time to sit, think, and “plan” what is the correct sequence of lessons to each individual or each skill level. In other words – They have the best system, structure, and coherent sequence of lessons for everyone.
- One disadvantage though I'd like to mention is, due to the nature of these programs, you don't have an active, real-time feedback that can monitor every action you make on the guitar and make corrections if needed. However, Jamplay for example, have live Q&A sessions, live chat and video chat, and are now starting to consider private 1 on 1 tutoring (only yesterday I got their email that included the survey about this, and asked my opinion about it), which allows for their professionals to monitor and see how each member is performing and return the proper feedback. Though, not as effective or as consistent as a real life private instructor of course, since in these sessions there are more than one member live and playing, still a very nice gesture and useful addition to the program that I haven't seen anywhere else.
So overall, guitar online lessons today is a very popular approach, very effective in terms of progress, time, and money, and suitable for all types of guitarists. Very versatile method as well, and offer a lot for a relatively very cheap price. I highly recommend it for all levels of guitarists up to advanced, advanced-expert.
Are you an expert already, but want to continue learning?
The only way to continue from here, is by finding a really good guitar virtuoso and instructor, in real life, and do “masterclasses” together. One example to this is the following masterclass classical guitar lesson:
Only this way you can push your skill to higher limits, learn highly advanced techniques and tricks to further improve your playing, and eventually become a virtuoso yourself. They may cost you a lot of money, but if you are already on this level of playing, then every penny you pay to further improve yourself is worth it in my opinion.
I hope in this article I have managed to shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages on each guitar learning method, and the differences between them, and maybe helped you better decide what is the right approach for you depending on the goals that you have set for yourself for playing the guitar.
For feedback or if you want to share your opinion with us about any of these methods, or share your personal experience going through one of them or all, you are more than welcome to leave a comment below and open a discussion.
Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever method you have chosen for yourself!