Last Updated Jun-20-2018.
After the usual update – we still rank GuitarTricks as the number one solution for beginners and intermediates alike. Keep reading to find out why!
Trying to start learning (or get better at) guitar? We commend you – as you can probably imagine, guitar is the most difficult instrument to master… but if you have a good online course to follow, it can be one of the easiest to start learning.
Your guide for training is here – we’re not going to teach you guitar, but we’re going to go over how you can learn for a very low price per month.
Below, you’ll find a couple of things. To start, we’re going to go over whether you should use a teacher or an online course. Then, we’ll explain why you want to pay for a course (instead of just using a free one), and finally, we will give you the top 3 beginner guitar courses with our thoughts on them.
And last but not least, we’ll tell you the prices of each one. (Click here to jump to pricing.). If you are too eager to start and do not want to waste time reading, refer to the list above as a starting point.
Ready to get shredding? Read on.
Getting lessons from a teacher is superior to learning on your own. That much is obvious – instead of struggling through the basics, you have an expert telling you exactly what to do and correcting your mistakes.
The problem is that both acoustic and electric guitar lessons for beginners are pretty darn expensive. The cheapest you’ll find is $40/hour, and that is on the lower end of the spectrum. Even if you go just once per week, that’s still an extra $160 per month. Not everyone can afford that.
The middle ground is an online course. You have “teachers” that explain everything through your screen, and the good courses will show you exactly what your hands should be doing. You don’t get the mistake correction that you’d get from a teacher, but you do get the actual teaching.
If you have the money to spend, a teacher is always better. If you’re looking for a cheap solution under $20/month, read on.
There are free courses out there. You can find them by doing a simple Google search.
The issue with these online training is that they’re not perfect, and when it comes to guitar, everything has to be perfect. Leaving gaps in your knowledge will lead to you being unprepared to play your favorite songs, which is the goal for most aspiring musicians.
If you’re absolutely dirt broke, then a free course for starters is the way to do. But we’ll warn you in advance – you’ll be pulling your hair out at every turn, and it will take you a lot longer to learn guitar overall. (If you’re a beginner, you might not be able to get past the beginner concepts with a free course.)
Now, if paid online guitar courses were in the hundreds of dollars, we’d say sure – go for a free one. But considering how cheap they are on a month-to-month basis, there’s no reason to stick with a free one, even if you just started.
The great thing about paid courses is that they’re under a lot of scrutiny from the musical community. If one pops up and it’s bad, users will review it all over the web, and it will eventually fade into oblivion.
On the flip side, if a guitar course is good, you’ll know. The course will have tons of users, and the reviews (even on forums) will all be beaming.
Below are two of the top options… plus one that seems popular, but is actually pretty bad – the creators prop it up by spamming positive reviews across the web. The good ones are #1 and #2, and the bad one is #3. Read on, or click here to see the prices of each.
GuitarTricks is often seen as the king of online guitar courses – and for good reason. Launched in 1998, it’s the oldest and most comprehensive guitar tuition site around, boasting an archive of 11,000 guitar lessons, with more than 700 songs.
The website is slick and easy to navigate, while the video player – after a 2016 revamp – is simple to get to grips with, and offers advanced functions such as slow motion and A/B looping, while the videos themselves are filmed in super-clear 4K.
Instructors are plentiful – there are 32 of them, all of which are experts in their own styles of guitar music, and the majority are professional recording and touring artists. For complete beginners, the easy-going Lisa McCormick takes the Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 course, which gives you a solid grounding in the instrument, and actually starts you playing simple songs with backing tracks from the first few lessons!
But it’s not just beginners who are catered for, as advanced players can explore foundation courses for three different styles of music: blues, country or rock, with two course levels per style. Aside from learning techniques, there is also a bank of 700 different song lessons, covering artists like The Beatles, Blink 182, Pearl Jam and Metallica, although you can check out the full song list here.
One slight drawback is that of the 700 songs, some less popular bands feature more than some guitar icons. For example, you will find no specific songs from Iron Maiden, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, or Joe Satriani (although you will find ‘style lessons’ to cater for these artists). Still, with 700 different songs covering a full spectrum of styles, you’ll never be bored on GuitarTricks.
Throw in an active community, regular blogs, huge variety of acoustic guitar lessons and electric guitar lessons and a host of useful tools, and it’s clear to see why 1.9 million guitarists use GuitarTricks.
Pros: Unrivaled list of lessons; Solid instructors; Great guitar lessons for beginners and advanced players; Excellent website design
Cons: Needs more songs from iconic bands/artists
JamPlay remains one of the most comprehensive and long-running online guitar schools around and, while it falls a little short on lessons when compared to GuitarTricks, it has several unique features that make it a very serious contender.
One of these is the amount of instructors – there are 82 of them! And it’s not a case of quantity over quality, as the majority of JamPlay tutors are professional artists who are members of iconic bands. For example, the Megadeth songs are taught by former Megadeth shredder Glen Drover; Staind lessons from Mike Mushok; and Machine Head lessons taken by both Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel! You also have a huge roster of other familiar guitarists, including Nick Catanese, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, Brent Mason, and Dave Isaacs.
The feel and format of the lessons is also very polished, with an easily navigable site, a comprehensive and customizable lesson dashboard, and an advanced video player. The videos themselves are filmed in high definition, with multiple angles on screen at one time to aid tuition.
There’s no shortage of things to learn either, with more than 5,350 different lessons, and a big range of song lessons – artists covered include The Beatles, Fall Out Boy, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top, Eric Clapton, Nickelback, Goo Goo Dolls, System of a Down, Korn, Black Label Society, and many more.
It’s not solely the heavier styles of music that are catered for, as JamPlay offer tuition on an unrivaled menu of styles – blues, fingerstyle, classical, jazz, pop, bluegrass, country, and surf among others. Check out their full list of styles here. If you are wondering if there are suitable acoustic guitar lessons for beginners on the site, just check out the list.
There’s a lot to keep you coming back to JamPlay – Live Q&A and Live Courses, for example, where a JamPlay instructor streams lessons live, focusing on a certain style or technique. There’s a big schedule to check out. There’s also full tablature, a lively community, and an array of tools to help you along.
Pros: Huge roster of notable instructors; Lots of lessons and guitar styles; Slick format; Live Courses
Cons: Some song lessons aren’t complete
Compared to JamPlay and GuitarTricks, ArtistWorks does things a little differently – with the focus on the community and instructors, instead of on learning individual songs. But, for some, this is an excellent way of learning the guitar – especially when you take into account the instructors on offer!
For example, students enrolling on the Rock Guitar course will be tutored by none other than Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X) – who is considered a true great and has consistently been voted as one of the fastest guitarists of all time. Paul is probably one of the best teachers to have when it comes to online electric guitar lessons. Electric Country guitar lessons are taken by one of Nashville’s leading guitarists Guthrie Trapp; flatpicking virtuoso Bryan Sutton is in charge of Bluegrass Guitar lessons; while Nathan East – one of the most popular and recorded bassists of all time – is just one of the bass instructors for ArtistWorks. It’s hard to rival this kind of instruction.
What makes it all the more special is you get personal video feedback from your tutor, thanks to the innovative Video Exchange feature. This feature adds a new dimension to online learning, and allows students to film and upload videos of themselves playing to the Video Exchange, before the instructor gives video feedback full of tips and advice. There’s also a huge archive of these exchange videos, so you can watch how others cope with the lessons and see what feedback the instructor offers them.
In addition to the regular acoustic and electric guitar lessons and unique Video Exchange aspect, ArtistWorks focuses on the community side of learning guitar, and provides a variety of ways to keep in touch with your expert tutor and friendly, like-minded fellow students – dedicated forums, a Shoutbox chatroom, and an active Facebook community.
Pros: Superb expert instruction; Video Exchange feature; Active community
Cons: No full songs to learn; Format takes a bit of getting used to; Less on offer for advanced players
While the lack of songs will put some guitarists off, the expert tuition and Video Exchange is well worth the price of the course alone. You can read more about ArtistWorks in our full review or click here to sign up.
GuitarTricks is $19.95 per month. There is a 14-day free trial so that you can see if you like it, and there’s a 60-day guarantee, so even if you use it for a month and a half and realize it’s not for you, you can still get a refund.
JamPlay is $19.95 per month, but you can buy three or 12 months at a time to bring that price down. Click here to see the discounted prices. You can also use coupon code [7A508817CB] to slash 25% off of the first month. And again, there is a free trial, but the trial is for only seven days.
Artist works is $35 per month for each module that you decide to sign up for.
No teacher? Pick a course and get going!
Guitar is hailed as one of the best instruments to learn because of how easy it is to get pretty good. Within a couple of weeks at GuitarTricks or JamPlay, you’ll be good enough to play some of the basic classics.
Within a few months, you’ll be good enough to play the more advanced ones.
Are you going to be ripping out improvised solos after a few months? No. Nothing comes that easily, but you’ll propel yourself along at a breakneck pace if you use one of the good programs instead of a free one.
Click here to sign up to GuitarTricks – 14-day free trial
Click here to sign up to JamPlay – 7-day free trial