So about 6 months ago I started learning guitar exclusively online, I had no prior musical experience and wanted a hobby that I could do at home.
I have a young family so I don’t get a lot of time for myself so it was important that the way I learned guitar worked in alongside this. I started looking at guitar lessons online and found there are a lot of options but I was skeptical of all of them as I wasn’t sure you could actually learn to play the guitar without a teacher.
In the end, I took the plunge, bought a guitar, the Seagull S6 (click here to see why) and decided to learn using the Justin Guitar Beginner Course which is 100% Free.
Now 6 months later I believe I can answer the question, do online guitar lessons work? Online guitar lessons do work. They successfully offer the ability to learn guitar in your own time. They break down often complex techniques into videos that you can pause and rewind until you fully understand them. They are an essential form of learning guitar in the modern world.
I share my experiences below about why they work, how often you should practice to be successful, how long it will take you and where are some of the best places to learn for 100% free.
Read on to learn more.
Do Online Guitar Lessons Work?
As I previously mentioned, I have been learning to play guitar for 6 months at the time of writing this. I have learned exclusively online using the lessons in the Justin Guitar Beginner course and had no prior musical experience.
The course took me 5 months to complete and I documented all my progress on my YouTube channel. If you visit my Guitar Journey page here on this blog you get to see all of my progress.
After the first month of learning online I had reached this level in regards to songs:
I wasn’t just learning songs however, I was actually learning a lot more than this. To give you an idea, below is a brief idea of what you get to learn over the 9 stages that Justin has in his beginner course.
|Stage 1|| Chords: D, A, E, |
4 Bar Strumming
|Stage 2|| Chords: Am, Em, Dm|
Playing with a metronome
|Stage 3|| Chords: G, C|
Names of open strings
|Stage 4|| Chords: G7, C7, B7, Fmaj7|
|Stage 5|| Chords: A7, D7, E7|
The Note Circle
|Stage 6|| Chords: F, |
Using a capo
Picking individual strings
|Stage 7|| Chords: Asus4, Asus 2, Dsus4, Dsus2, Esus4|
Notes in open position
|Stage 8|| G Chord variations|
12 Bar Blues style
|Stage 9|| Chords: D/F#, G/B, C/G|
Power chord shifts and palm mutes
Applied fingerstyle patterns
12 Bar Blues variations
Minor pentatonic pattern
Basic blues improvisation
Consolidation phase (final 10 songs you can see in my video further below)
As part of the final stage, one of the requirements is to be able to play 10 songs all the way through. In the video below you will see excerpts of those songs and how far 5 months of learning guitar got me.
By no means is my playing perfect but I have now reached a level where I can learn some songs and can play them all the way through. This makes picking up the guitar a lot more fun but what I have found is that in order to develop your playing there is a lot more to learning guitar then just songs. Developing an understanding of rhythm, strum patterns, dynamics, chord shapes and percussive elements for example.
If you are looking to learn online I would recommend that you take Justin’s course or one that is similar. The structure and the pace of the course will help you tackle areas of learning in a way that creates ‘easy wins’ like teaching you to play songs appropriate to your level.
Creating a habit when learning an instrument is also hugely important, the sooner you make it part of ‘what you do’ then the sooner you will reach your goal of being able to play the guitar. This can appear difficult if learning online because you rely solely on yourself so it comes down to self-discipline.
I didn’t know how to play guitar when I first started and now I can (some might argue that point haha). I am still a beginner but I have learned the most important lesson, that online guitar lessons work’.
You won’t get feedback from a guitar instructor online unless you choose to have lessons over Skype for example, in real-time. But then you if you did that you also won’t have the flexibility of learning whenever you get 5 minutes.
You also won’t be able to pause, rewind and watch a section over and over so that you can break it down and get to grips with it. I do this all the time when using the course, it is hugely valuable. Imagine asking a guitar teacher to do this, they would likely go crazy and think you are pranking them.
Suffice to say, I think not only do online guitar lessons work they are also an extremely efficient, effective and successful solution to learning guitar and highly recommend them if you are looking to learn guitar.
How Often Should A Beginner Practice Guitar?
Knowing how long to practice helps you to progress quickly, avoid frustration and more importantly help you enjoy your guitar learning journey.
One of the most important aspects of practicing is consistency. It will be so much more effective if you can regularly practice days in a row rather than infrequently. For example, if you practiced on a weekend for 5 hours and then didn’t touch the guitar until the following weekend then your practice won’t be effective as someone who is practicing 5 days in a row for an hour a day.
Why is this? Well, it is to do with muscle memory, repetition and time away from the guitar. So if you play a large amount and then left it for 5 days, using the example above, then you will have to spend time getting your fingers used to playing again.
Whereas if you were playing every day your fingers will be used to moving around the fretboard as it wasn’t that long ago that you were playing last. The muscle memory is there and the everyday practice is compounding this and helping each practice to be more effective.
I have tracked my progress learning guitar online and kept a record of my hours and if you want to see what amount of consistent practice can achieve then read my article here How Often Should A Beginner Practice Guitar? Where I go into detail to give you an idea of what you could achieve.
How Long Will It Take to Learn To Play Guitar?
At what point would you consider that you have truly learned to play guitar? It is a hard question to answer specifically and even harder if you have just started to play.
The reason I say this is because there are a vast amount of routes you can take with the guitar. For example, you may want to shred the guitar as a lead guitar player and move quickly around the fretboard but as time goes on you may become really interested in rhythm guitar or fingerpicking on an acoustic.
When I first started learning, I wanted to learn all of the styles I listed above and without the structured course I think I would have ended up jumping from one style of playing to another. I quickly realized, however, that without learning the fundamentals then I would not understand what each of those styles entailed.
We all have different goals but what I can tell you, from my own experience learning online, is that building a ‘foundation’ of knowledge can help launch your guitar journey and confirm where your true interests lie and accelerate your learning.
I was learning and practicing guitar for 4 to 5 hours a week approximately and when you take into account all the time I spent absorbing guitar-related material it totaled around 150 hours of learning.
What was really interesting was that I wrote an article close to the start of my whole journey called How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?. Using scientific resources online and books I read, I did about research over a month period and was eventually able to boil it down to 6 stages.
The first stage was ‘The Basics’ and took 150 to 300 hours depending on your consistency, focus and concentrated time spent practicing effectively. Now compare that to my results and I was at the quickest end of that scale, perhaps even ahead of it.
This is from a guy now in his 40’s, not some young child with incredible brain plasticity. Mines more like a cracked piece of playdough that has been out in the sun too long.
Without a doubt, the two things that helped me achieve those results quicker than the time scale were:
- A structured course of learning
Does Guitar Learning Get Easier?
When you first start learning guitar it can feel like a big obstacle in front of you. I was watching videos on YouTube before I bought my guitar of all these great guitar players like Paul Davids, Anyonecanplayguitar and the guys from the Andertons Music Co.
Illusions of grandeur had filled my head so that when I first picked up the guitar I thought that I would quickly get to grips with playing and be able to play some songs. It didn’t happen that way but looking back it’s a good thing.
Once I settled down, absorbed myself in the journey and came to the realization that my progress would not be at the speed of lightning, it all became clearer and more enjoyable.
I started to make progress on the course I was following online, it felt like, at times, that I was flying through. However, when I got to the last 2 or 3 stages of the course my progress had stalled and it was taking a long time to get through each stage.
This was frustrating and wasn’t the only plateau I went through on the course but was the biggest one up to that point. The only way I got through it was to practice on the areas I was weak on and fortunately because I was following a structured path online it was clear what I had to do.
For example, when I struggled with F barre chords, I worked on 1-minute chord changes. When I struggled with songs and techniques, I broke down the section of the song and practiced my weakest area and then linked it in with the part of the song I had learned.
My point is, don’t stop working on your areas of weakness, by doing this and overcoming them you can prove to yourself that it is possible and you will gain confidence in your ability to play and learn guitar.
These ‘wins’ along the way not only help you to become a better guitarist but more importantly, and to answer the question of this section, make learning the guitar easier. How? you may ask.
Well, you gain confidence in your ability to overcome difficulties in learning along the way. An extremely valuable skill and one that will make you a more resilient and ultimately make learning the guitar easier.
The most rewarding things in my life have come on the other side of a difficult struggle and learning guitar is no different.Almost everyone, ever?
This mindset change is what elevates your guitar playing because you have the ability to take on bigger challenges and succeed along the way.
At the time of writing this article, for example, I have been learning a song called ‘Anji’ by Davy Graham. It is an English folk song from the 1960s and not only is it a fantastic song but it is also one that incorporates lots of techniques, it was used as a kind of ‘benchmark’ at the time for aspiring guitarists.
It has pull off’s, hammer-ons, bends, alternating bass lines, fingerpicking to name a few and all at the speed of 188bpm. It has proved to be a big challenge for me but I feel like I am learning so much and have been breaking down each section over and over again to help me learn it.
The good news is I am making progress but it has been slow, but that’s ok because I trust the process. I trust the process because I have been using online guitar lessons which broke down learning and helped me realize that it is possible.
If you are a beginner and wondering at exactly what point does learning guitar get easier then I have a full-time line breakdown with videos on my progress here answering that exact question Does Learning Guitar Get Easier? Yes, Here’s Why.
Free Online Guitar Lessons
I did a lot of research when looking for online guitar lessons. I was looking for a structured way of learning online. So it was important to me that there was a step by step process that I could follow.
I wanted to be able to ‘pick up where I left off’ with ease and not have to think about where my learning was going but just trust the process and the guitar teacher.
All this being said, it isn’t easy to find 100% free guitar lessons online. If you search for that phrase in google, the results will show many that have a couple of handfuls of free lessons to ‘hook you in’ and then you will need to pay.
Many of them offer fantastic value and are worth paying for as you get to learn from experienced guitar players and teachers on so many areas of the guitar.
When you are first starting out, however, you aren’t even sure if you will stick this hobby of learning to play guitar so you want something cheap or next to no cost.
So I researched the topic of 100% free guitar lessons with structure and created a resource for it here Where To Learn Guitar With Structure For Free Online. I continue to research the topic today as I learn to play guitar and also users of this site have contributed to it too. It is a rolling resource, so bookmark it if interested.
If you are a beginner and just want the best free structured guitar course that takes you from the absolute beginning (but also many other areas, check out the lessons map here) then that is an easy recommendation. It would be the Justin Guitar Beginner Course. It is packed full of lessons