Most people have a particular genre in mind when deciding they want to learn how to play guitar. There is a song, artist, or style that is behind the desire and serves as a motivating factor to push someone in the direction of guitar lessons.
I know for me, I wanted to play in the band at my church. The musicians were so talented, the electric guitar was loud, they played the occasional pop song, and put their own rock ‘n’ roll spin on a lot of the worship songs that were popular at the time.
A lot of guitar players cut their teeth on the stage of a church alongside other established musicians who are either employed by the church or volunteer their time as a means of giving back.
I started as a teenage volunteer back in 1999, came on staff in 2006 as music director, then eventually became the director of training and development. One of my primary roles was onboarding new recruits and providing what were basically music lessons to these volunteers.
Believe it or not, this was a fast-paced job. Another role of mine typically entailed me learning a new song and having to teach it to an entire band just a couple hours later. During this time, I borrowed a lot of material and methods from other resources and I often directed people to these online resources so they could continue their education. These resources also helped me when I needed to learn a song quickly enough and thorough enough to be able to play it, transcribe it, direct it, then perform it – all within a handful of days or even hours.
One thing that you will find a lot of when it comes to worship guitar lessons is free content. Giving and serving is at the heart of the Christian faith, so it would stand to reason there would be a lot of free resources to make playing worship music on the guitar or any other instrument highly accessible.
However, sometimes bills have to be paid, employees need to be compensated, and expensive license fees paid out to copyright holders. Don’t be surprised if you have to dish out some cash for some lessons, downloads, sheet music, or other resources.
Without further ado let’s dive in, starting with the quick list (in no particular order) and then round up our recommendations at the end:
Cost: No subscription model; downloads and Worship Leader course are a la carte, learning is free.
- Free lessons
- Affordable resources
- Patches for Helix and other effects processors available for download
- Not quite as much content as a paid site
WorshipTutorials.com is usually going to be the first thing that pops up in your Google search. These guys are right up the road from me in the great state of North Carolina at New Hope Church in Durham. They provide resources for people wanting to learn guitar, musicians who play for their church, worship leaders, and creative arts teams. In other words, they have something for everyone.
Brian Wahl and Brian Fuller are the two guys largely behind Worship Tutorials and they primarily play guitar, so this is a great resource for guitarists – acoustic or electric. There are free resources as well as tools for purchase including Helix patches, bumper music, pads, chord charts, and more.
For starters, WorshipTutorials has a free beginner guitar course. Simply create an account and register. There are 19 lessons that go from the very basics all the way up to playing songs. Other lessons include learning chords, theory, techniques, and lead guitar. Most of these are free with the occasional $0.99 or $1.99 for the capo cheat sheet or chord number system.
There is also a free course on how to set up your electric guitar. A setup is needed periodically for a guitar to play at its best. It involves intonation, adjusting the neck and bridge, and making sure all the electronics and moving parts are working properly. If you are an electric player, it’s well worth it to learn how to do this yourself. It costs between $50-$75 at a shop to do a typical setup or you can learn to do it yourself by reading our article here How To Do Your Own Guitar Setup.
For those of you who are involved in ministry as a volunteer or if you are on staff, there is a ton of content on this website and the YouTube channel for you. There is the Worship Manual which is a full course on being a worship leader. Worship Leader Wednesdays are weekly vlogs on leadership in the creative arts. Then there’s the Sunday vlog which goes behind the scenes at New Hope, as well as a Leadership blog.
Some of you electric guitar players may be familiar with the Line 6 Helix effects processor (click here to check the price on Amazon) and if you are looking at getting involved in the worship team at your church, I would highly recommend looking at one of these things. Worship Tutorials has a ton of Helix patches for sale and for free to add to your library of sounds. This is a very, very useful tool for volunteers that don’t have the time to find that perfect sound for a particular song or set.
Other than Helix patches, there are also patches for the Line 6 HX Stomp, The HX Effects, and the Line 6 HD500x. You can also find Kemper Performance files for the Kemper guitar amp which gives you a particular sound for a specific song.
And finally, for those with a Fractal Axe effects processor, there are presets foro the FXIII and the AX8.
Most worship teams in modern churches are known for incredibly high production standards and some have completely moved away from amps on the stage. Effects processors are the way to go and sites like Worship Tutorials are a great place to help guide you through the technology if you are new to it.
WorshipTutorials is really a one-stop-shop for guitar players that are getting ready to join a team or already on one. Hopefully, for those reading this, that is the end goal. If you aren’t sure that playing in a band or joining a worship team is for you, that’s okay, too. There are plenty of other resources out there for you if you simply want to learn how to play worship songs on your guitar at home, for your family, or with friends.
Cost: $30 per month; $69 per quarter; $180 per year; additional resources for purchase.
Team Pricing: $11/month per user (3-5 people); $10/month per user (6-9 people); $9/month per user (10-20 people)
- Inexpensive with affordable additional resources
- Discounted team pricing
- Not much material beyond intermediate level
- Some of the songs to learn are a bit dated
Musicademy started as a music school in 2003 and is now an on-demand lesson website. It has a lot of content for musicians of all kinds. For guitar players, there are a lot of lessons that can be downloaded and some of them are free. If you still like DVDs, those are available for purchase as well.
The lessons for download are very affordable. For example, Part 1 of Beginning Worship Guitar is a 10-hour course for $4.75. For the most part, lesson downloads are going to be around that $5-$7 range.
When navigating the courses, users will find lessons that are song-based on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass. Lessons are also categorized by beginner and intermediate in both acoustic and electric. One will also find lessons about overall musicianship which is a very helpful subject to study when looking to play with other musicians.
Besides purchasing lessons and DVDs, there are three subscription models from which to choose: $30 per month, $69 per quarter, or $180 per year. If you are even close to being serious about learning to play worship music on guitar, the year subscription makes the most sense as it is discounted by 50%.
While there is not much in the way of advanced guitar concepts, that is not necessarily a negative. Although I may list it as a con, for someone who has been actively engaged in live music performance, it’s a bit redundant to subscribe to a lesson website. After so long, the only thing that will expand your skills is continuously playing with and being around other musicians.
Cost: $12.99 per month for an individual or $9.75 per month with an annual subscription. Monthly subscriptions are also available for teams.
Team Cost (annually): $15 per month (3 users); $25 per month (6 users); $40 per month (10 users); $55 per month (16 users); $75 per month (25 users).
- Many different pricing models
- Good resource for a small team
- Song-based tutorial site
- No actual lesson material beyond basics
- Doesn’t cater well to larger, more advanced teams
Worship Artistry is a video-based lesson website specific to those wanting to learn worship songs. There is beginner content for, as they say, “people who have never heard music before” that will get you up to speed so that you can start learning songs as soon as possible.
If you have never held a guitar before and need help shopping for one, the FAQ section even has a miniature guide to buying your first guitar.
After the basics have been nailed down, the rest of the lesson content is songs. Their library is growing each week in order to keep up with new songs being released, and they have a place where songs can be requested if you can’t find what you are looking for in the archives.
While this at one point was really just a guitar lesson site, they now incorporate other instruments so that an entire 5-piece band can learn songs together. Along with the acoustic and electric guitar, the other instruments that are catered to are drums, bass, and keys.
Each instrument is broken down into song sections – intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. – and can be played at both full speed and half speed. The lessons can be accessed via the mobile app as well and you get all the chord charts, tabs, and lead sheets that go with each song.
Individual plans are $12.99 per month or $9.75 per month annually, and users can be added. The more users, the cheaper the per-person rate is. There are plans for 3, 6, 10, 16, or 25 members.
Like Musicademy, this is a great site for beginners and weekend warriors with not much experience playing guitar with a group. More advanced players may not be served as well by the services provided here.
Cost: $15/month or $11/month annually for an individual. Monthly subscriptions are also available for teams.
Team Cost (annually): $24 per month (up to 4 users); $39 per month (up to 10 users); $61 per month (up to 20 users); $90 per month (up to 35 users)
- Large song library
- Keyboard patches for download
- Great rehearsal tool
- Better for a team as opposed to an individual
- No lessons outside of the song tutorials
Worship Online is another full-band lesson website covering lead and rhythm guitars, bass, keys, and drums. One additional band aspect covered by Worship Online is multiple vocal parts. For guitar players, all skill levels are covered, tabs are provided, and guitar effects are part of the instruction as well.
The pricing model is pretty close to Worship Artistry with monthly and yearly plans. $15 for an individual doing month-to-month, $11 for the year. The other pricing groups are for up to 5 members, 10 members, or up to 20 members with the per-person rate being less for each one respectively. A 14-day free trial is available.
Other than song tutorials, there are keyboard patches for download, along with a blog and a podcast. These resources are available separately from membership. Patches will range from about $1.99 to $8.99 and the podcast can be subscribed to via the website through iTunes.
As with other similar services, they provide an app which is always helpful for musicians on the go, at rehearsal, or in the green room. If you are a fan of Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation, then their catalog is sure to have the songs you are wanting to learn. There is even a feature that allows for creating and sharing set lists to keep everyone organized and on the same page for a weekend service
This site is mainly for those who are involved in a team or leadership. Although you can join as an individual, a solo student won’t get as much out of it as a team would.
Cost: $20/month for an individual; $120 annual pass; monthly subscriptions are also available for teams.
Team Cost (annual): $240 for 5 people; $499 for 10 people; $999 for 25 people; custom plans also available for larger teams
- TONS of content
- Great for all skill levels
- Ideal for those wanting to pursue worship ministry further
- Can be difficult to navigate due to amount of content
- No downloads for effects processors
The Worship Initiative is a project started by Shane & Shane. The website is massive and so many aspects of worship music are covered here. It’s more than just a lesson website; it’s a full-on headquarters for an entire worship ministry.
Yearly subscriptions are going end up saving 50% over a month-to-month option, so it’s almost a no-brainer to go with an annual pass if you know you will be using this anywhere close to six months. $20/month vs. $120/year per individual, and there are options for 5, 10, or 25 people. A custom plan can also be crafted based on your specific team needs.
There’s a lot of content here, so let’s start at the top with the song list. The library is huge and can be browsed by what’s trending, popular, or new. You can also search by topic, by scripture, or by artist.
The “Craft” section is the workshop of the website. Here you will find videos specific to guitar, bass, drums, keys, and vocals, along with tech and production, the Nashville Number system, and leadership.
Under the “Heart” tab, you will find classes that go deeper with the leadership aspect of music ministry as well as theology, sermons and talks from the Linger Conference, and various vlogs and podcast episodes. Finally, there is a massive collection of devotionals. If the Craft section is the what, the Heart section is the why.
A video collection of live sets can also be perused which can serve as entertaining and inspirational if you are looking for ideas as a musician. A student of the worship arts can also find themselves spelunking in the “more” section where you can find multitracks, merch, music, and the devotional app.
Another members-only perk is the ability to submit your own songs and have them recorded by the Worship Initiative. For more info on that, visit the songwriting page.
As you can see, this an all-encompassing service and is great if you want to learn to play worship songs on guitar, or if you want to take it further and dive headfirst into music ministry. If you are already involved in a team, this is a great resource for you as well and could be worth mentioning to your team. This site certainly has all the bells and whistles to go along with the lesson videos and tablature. Currently, a 7-day trial is available.
Here’s how I would wrap up all 5:
- Worship Tutorials: Best all-around for guitarists
- Musicademy: Best for beginner guitar players
- Worship Artistry: Most current song library
- Worship Online: Best rehearsal tools for amateur bands
- Worship Initiative: Most content for musicians and worship teams
Since a few of these are very similar in pricing and offerings, you may be having a hard time deciding which one to go with. Based on what I see, the two bookends of this article are the ones to look at: Worship Tutorials and The Worship Initiative.
Worship Tutorials is probably going to be the best bet for most guitar players wanting to learn how to play worship music. Guitar as an instrument is the centerpiece, and the downloads that are available for electric guitar players are a great perk. You can get a lot out of the website and the YouTube channel without spending any money.
Worship Initiative is probably the next step if you are wanting to take what you are learning musically and apply it in real life. There is a lot to learn on this website and a ton of great lesson content. If you are just getting started, Worship Initiative may be overkill. However, if you are involved in a team, this has to be one of the best online resources for you. You will get just about as much value out of it as an individual as a team would.
Options 2, 3, and 4 of this list are great options as well and will provide about the same value. You will just need to go through and browse their options to see what’s best for your needs. The thing to pay most attention to is the song list and see which library appeals to you most.
There’s a lot of great music out there in the Christian worship genre, especially for guitar players. Online communities are growing all the time, so there is sure to be a place for you no matter your goals, aspirations, or skill level.