The Best Online Guitar Lessons in 2019: rated and ranked right here!
We have carefully reviewed and tested numerous sites purportedly offering the best online guitar lessons in 2019 and have managed to sift them down to just six for you to take a look at and possibly try yourself. Take a good look at the six online guitar courses we have reviewed below and make the most of some of the free trials we have found for you before you dive in with two feet. So, without further ado, here are what we consider to be the best online guitar lessons that the internet has to offer:
When so many reviews start off with a blanket statement along the lines of “Guitar Tricks is THE online guitar lesson platform to beat,” critical reviewers are then tasked with finding ways of disproving it. And time after time, we come back to you and say, “Well, I checked and triple-checked and – I’m sorry – it’s still the best.”
However, that’s not to say Guitar Tricks is perfect, starting with the slightly confusing difference between the Free 14-Day Trial and the 60-Day Risk-Free version. If you sign up for the month-to-month plan ($19.95), you’re on the 14-Day Trial. If you sign up for the annual plan ($179) – the all-in option – you have 60 days to decide if you “learned to play guitar.”
Nevertheless, Guitar Tricks probably has the easiest, most intuitive interface. Their Core Learning System is most likely the most effective beginner program available on the web. Their content and educational mission is strictly guitar based – no bass or ukulele lessons. And their library of songs is almost certainly the strongest of any other platform. In terms of value, Guitar Tricks is the total package.
From this reviewer’s angle, the Guitar Tricks Video Channel is what gives them an edge on the competition. Focused on slightly advanced techniques and skills, the channel offers a seemingly endless number of lessons such as: Turning Simple Open Chords Into Beautiful 7th Chords. While Guitar Tricks makes a point to assure you that advanced music theory is absolutely not necessary to get the most out of their platform, it’s nice to know that it’s available.
READ our FULL Guitar Tricks review here
Therefore, utility may be Guitar Tricks’ most impressive attribute. A number of lesson platforms either try to do too much (TrueFire) or too little (Jamorama), but Guitar Tricks has found the perfect balance of content and instruction that’s neither lacking nor overwhelming.
If you prefer a step-by-step system to follow, Guitar Tricks lessons get progressively more difficult. Everything else you need to learn is here: Multiple camera angles, guitar tabs, and jam tracks. From Campfire Strumming to Sweep Picking with Scales, Guitar Tricks covers all the technical and creative aspects of learning guitar. The only drawback to their program might be the song-oriented aspect of learning the instrument. What if you want to do something other than learn Hendrix solos? Don’t worry – Guitar Tricks has you covered.
Again, we must be reminded that Guitar Tricks does have limitations, one which being the rather narrow scope of sticking with the Core Learning System, which explores the foundations of Blues, Country and/or Rock. You can navigate to different styles directly from the home page, “Learn Styles of Guitar”, but they’re not truly integrated into the system. So for example, if you want to focus on Surf music, you’re forced to bounce around the platform to find lessons.
The instructors are knowledgeable and likeable. Twenty bucks per month is exceptionally affordable for face-to-face tutoring. In addition to its content, Guitar Tricks offers the gold standard of online toolboxes, featuring a range of basic web apps, e.g. tuner, metronome, scale finder, fretboard trainer.
If you’re looking for basic to advanced online guitar lessons, you’re most likely looking for: Simple user interfaces, capable instructors, a variety of guitar resources, and conditional free trials – plus, of course, paid memberships. And Guitar Tricks checks all the boxes. It really is as simple as that.
With over 3 million users, Guitar Tricks is the most popular online platform, ostensibly for beginners. Some sites may be more popular than others, but don’t trust the old “three million guitar players can’t be wrong” wisdom. There is only one best online guitar lesson service – the one that’s right for you.
With that in mind, out of all the online lesson platforms reviewed below, Guitar Tricks is probably the first site you should visit – as a measuring stick of sorts. Think of it as a rite of passage. And you would be doing yourself a disservice by not at least signing up for the 14-Day Free Trial. You’ve nothing to lose and a ton of guitar-playing knowledge to gain.
- Complete beginner friendly
- Enormous archive of lessons
- Tons of songs
- Ease of navigation
- One-on-one instruction
- Total value package
- Extra costs for certain features
- Narrow focus of the Core Learning System
As Fender guitars have always been accessible to the everyman, likewise, the online lesson platform is designed for anybody and everybody who wants to play a song on guitar – now – as opposed to learning chord progressions or general music theory. Once Fender Play gets you acquainted with the fundamentals of guitar technique, i.e. fretting a note and plucking the string, you’ll be theoretically be playing the riff from “When I Come Around” in roughly 7 minutes.
Fender Play’s free 14-day trial is the gateway plan into Monthly ($9.99 per month) and Annual ($89.99 per year) subscription options. The app is available on desktop, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Guitar, Ukulele and Bass lessons are included with all subscriptions.
You get access to their song and skill lessons in the following categories: Basics, Chords, Exercises, Glossary, Technique, Theory, and Tone.
Adopting an alternative approach to levels of playing, hundreds of instructional videos and exercises guide new players down a Learning Path drawn from their musical preferences. The Fender Play path covers the basics of skills and techniques in your desired genre, again, with the motivation of playing popular songs, which are integrated into steps along the path.
Designed with the complete beginner in mind, Fender Play focuses on fundamentals such as “What is a Pivot Finger?” and “First Time Chords: C & G”, coaching players through the process of building dexterity and muscle memory. Having said all that, Fender Play does offer intermediate and advanced exercises, lessons, and tutorials – they’re just not advertised on the front page.
There are different courses for Rock, Blues, Folk, Funk, Country and Pop, but you’re not required to stick with a particular path. If you find the early stuff too easy, simply pop over to a different level and find something that interests you.
A variety of expert instructors teach lessons in split-screen and from a unique player-perspective angle. Each lesson features simple, step-by-step instruction along with tips and tricks. Unlike many online guitar platforms, Fender Play does not have a dedicated community support forum, although you can search the main Fender forums for topics of interest.
READ our FULL Fender Play review here
Users should also get a heads up about the administrative differences between signing up for Fender Play from the website (fender.com/play) vs. from the app. Long story short, if you signed up from the website, that’s where you’ll manage your subscription (billing, renewal, cancelation). If you subscribed from the app, you will manage your subscription through your iTunes or Google Play account settings.
Given Fender’s elite status in the world of modern guitar, it’s fair to assume that Fender Play would match the same standard of quality found in their instruments – and it does. The website interface is eye-catchingly minimal. The app is easy to install and use. Multi-angle 4K video lessons support the cohesive aesthetic corresponding to the Fender brand. Like holding a genuine Stratocaster in your hands, Fender Play has that classic, unmistakable vibe of the real deal.
Overall, Fender Play is great for complete beginners but not very challenging for intermediate to advanced players. If you’re just starting out, have limited aspirations for playing guitar – and a fetish for all things Fender – the branded online platform may be great value. Otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
- Great for beginners
- Sleek interface and presentation
- Thorough instruction in fundamentals
- Fast-track to playing your favorite songs
- Not very challenging for advanced players
- Website vs. app confusion with subscription management
Guitar Player Magazine calls TrueFire “the planet’s largest and most comprehensive selection of online guitar lessons”, and with 40,000+ lessons covering virtually every style and skill level – plus 820+ courses and 30,000+ interactive tabs – it’s really hard to argue that claim.
There’s a lot of stuff on the home page, which isn’t always a great sign. As other reviewers have noted, perhaps TrueFire has too much content, which may or may not be an overwhelming experience for a beginner.
TrueFire employs the Learning Path strategy – their branded, accelerated, hands-on study plan. The Course Recommendation Wizard will evaluate your playing ability and preferences, but you can skip it and explore on your own through your browser and within the TrueFire app which is available on Android and iOS. All course programs come with video guitar lessons, tab charts, jam tracks as well as text commentary from the instructor.
For $19.95 a month, you’ll get access to that boatload of content. For a whopping one-time fee of $1,999, you’ll get lifetime access. You might need a lifetime to exhaust all the content.
In addition to guitar, TrueFire offers instruction in bass, banjo, ukulele, and dobro. Believe it or not, they also offer drum lessons. And they really seem to be pushing the pricey Individual and Ongoing Private Lessons, which offer personalized assessments, customized lesson plans, access to TrueFire’s complete library of streaming video lessons.
The problem with TrueFire (and certain other platforms) is they make some quite outlandish promises.
It doesn’t seem possible for anybody other than some one-in-a-million prodigy to simply pick up a guitar, watch a few lessons, and blaze through “Enter Sandman” without knowing just a little bit about chords and scales – to say nothing of boring exercises. As the popular meme says, “That’s just not how any of this works.” And if any player thinks they’re going to get better without practice, they’re in for a rude awakening. In this light, perhaps TrueFire is making promises it can’t keep.
READ our FULL Truefire review here
For example, if you look at TrueFire’s catalog of lessons, do you really think learning guitar is going to be so easy that you’ll be able to follow Robben Ford, Tommy Emmanuel, or Steve Vai, if you haven’t struggled through at least a little bit of theory?
On the other hand, TrueFire has a couple of things going for it that other online platforms don’t, starting with their 30-day All Access Trial, which doesn’t require a credit card or automatically upgrade at the end of the trial. However, there’s a limited amount of free material. Meanwhile, the Private Lesson program offers access to a dynamic range of killer instructors.
Likewise, be advised that private lessons are not included in the All Access membership. Some people might balk at the prices. For example, you’ll pay $39 for a one-time private lesson with top Jazz player, Doug Munro. Honestly, that’s probably a pretty good deal – and supporting great instructors like Doug Munro. Without them, we’re stuck with fly-by-night YouTube clips.
Overall, the monthly subscription is probably a solid value buy, as long as you’re disciplined and dedicated to progression. That said, casual beginners would be better off getting a foundation somewhere else, and then coming back to TrueFire.
A few rhetorical questions for you. Answer as you please.
Do you live and breathe guitar? Do you have the discipline and desire to become an accomplished guitar player? Are you seeking the type of guitar lessons that will push you to greater heights?
Arrive at the landing page for ArtistWorks and it should be obvious – this is serious. Take a quick peek at the list of 9 master instructors – and it should click. “Oh…this is for players who aren’t messing around.” And if the roster of course tutors isn’t convincing, just navigate to the pricing plan – ArtistWorks is by no means a bargain basement learning platform.
ArtistWorks offers instruction for all styles of guitar music – focusing on blues, country, jazz, classical, fingerstyle and more. It’s more of an “academy” that caters to a wide range of instruments, including piano, percussion, brass, and woodwinds. Guitar is only one flavor on the menu.
ArtistWorks’ Video Exchange® Learning Platform is designed to provide a comprehensive music education – without the hand-holding – by elevating sophistication through simplicity. There’s no toolkit or fancy web apps. You won’t be asked to self-evaluate your playing abilities. The presentation is academic: Here’s the lesson, here’s your world-class instructor, and here’s what it’s going to cost you. And honestly, that’s extremely refreshing in the guitar lesson world.
There are two basic features to ArtistWorks lessons: professional video lesson and the Video Exchange. First, access the library of lessons from the course tutor. For further instruction, film yourself playing with the lesson and upload the video to the Video Exchange for the instructor to provide feedback.
Here’s the problematic part. Every video exchange between teacher and student is linked together on the site and viewable by all other members, which could be a red flag for a player with performance anxiety. Do you really want a bunch of people to see you fumbling through a string-skipping exercise?
Compared to some of its competitors, ArtistWorks feels like an exclusive boarding school for gifted students, with tuition fees to match the institution’s prestige. After all, nobody really values anything that’s free. The price tag should encourage students to squeeze every last penny out of their guitar lesson dollar.
There’s no ArtistWorks free trial, so you’ll be forced to trust the skimpy free sample lessons on the website to see the format and how it works. The Basic 3 Month plan for $35 a month gets you unlimited access to the video library, and 5 video exchanges per month. The Basic 6 Month plan for $30 per month gets you 12 video exchanges and 25 bonus jam tracks.
If you know that ArtistWorks is THE site for you, the Unlimited 12 Month plan seems like the true value deal. For $279 per year, you get unlimited access to lessons, the full Video Exchange archive, unlimited submissions to your instructor, as well as bonus content and more backing tracks.
Generally speaking, ArtistWorks is slanted towards complete beginners, but many lessons focus on fundamental skills that will improve your playing in the long run. In other words, you’ll be learning the proper way of doing things, as opposed to the quick, easy, and convenient shortcuts and whatnot.
ArtistWorks’ faculty can’t be overstated or underestimated – just have a look at a few names – all of whom are considered virtuosos: Paul Gilbert (Electric Rock Guitar), Martin Taylor (Electric Fingerstyle Jazz), Chuck Loeb (Electric Jazz Improv Guitar), Nathan East (Electric Multi-Style Bass), and John Patitucci (Jazz Electric Bass, Acoustic Upright Jazz Bass).
You’re in master class territory, but don’t be daunted or discouraged by the heavyweight names and bone-dry lessons titles. ArtistWorks is a great site for the determined beginning guitarist with ambitions for proficiency.
In other words, if you just want to strum out a couple of jams, head over to Fender Play or Jamorama. If you want to learn the instrument with the intention of writing and performing original material, ArtistWorks is likely to be a more suitable online option.
- Unmatched roster of instructors
- Solid fundamental learning environment
- Super straightforward approach to online lessons
- Strong motivation to stick with the program
- Video Exchange system is questionably embarrassing to new players
There are two outstanding qualities about JamPlay that jump off the computer screen. First, its humble presentation is very easy to navigate. You’ll have no problem with the dropdown menu, and the lack of a sidebar is a refreshing change of pace. Second, there’s something here for everybody – from Day One beginners to highly experienced session musicians.
The difference maker here is the quality of content. Though subjective and intangible, JamPlay just looks like they know what they’re doing, and that promotes a certain type of confidence that translates to a positive and beneficial learning environment. As a very experienced guitar player, if it were my hard-earned money at stake, I’d be taking a very long look at what JamPlay has to offer.
Unlike most platforms, JamPlay no longer offers a free trial period, and membership prices are two mouse-clicks deep on the Lessons page.
If you’re willing to risk a money-back guarantee, $19.95 a month gives you access to over 6,000 lessons, song library, all Master Courses, Live Courses & Archives, and many more pops and buzzers – complete in a mobile friendly package (iOS, Android, Amazon apps). Simply put, there’s a lot of content on JamPlay – and they add over 10 hours of new lessons every month.
READ our FULL Jamplay review here
The Standard Yearly membership ($159.95) includes all membership features plus the free Guitarist Toolkit – containing more jam tracks, lessons, tabs and Guitar Pro format files. The Pro Yearly ($299.95) membership includes all seven Toolkits and personal consultation services.
As to be expected, JamPlay covers a wide range of styles from Blues and Fingerstyle, right the way through to Flamenco and Folk. To be fair, bass lessons are available, but JamPlay’s content is mostly guitar. You can learn songs, study techniques, practice exercises, and brush up on music theory – it’s all here.
Other reviewers have praised JamPlay’s beginner program, which appears to dutifully cover all the bases, adding structure and guidance with a touch of motivational inspiration. However, my gut reaction to JamPlay is that it is geared more toward serious and disciplined guitarists with knowledge beyond the beginner “I Have Never Played” and “I Am Self-Taught” stages of proficiency. That said, they do have a range of beginner courses on offer as can be seen in the screenshot below.
Generally speaking, the user interface is easy to navigate. The majority of videos are filmed in high-definition – most lessons are split between a variety of different angles: player view, teacher view, and picking hand close-ups. Of course, you get access to a range of tools such as the chord database with 900,000 voicings.
In the grand scope of things, JamPlay stands out from the competition, again, in two ways: (1) JamPlay’s task-based Live Courses include full tablature, real-time interaction with instructors, and guided homework each week. (2) Daily Live Q&A with instant access to a pro teachers, streaming every day and available anytime.
Speaking of pro teachers – and another thing pointed out by other reviewers – JamPlay has an impressive compilation of lessons from big name players, including but not limited to: Kaki King, Phil Keaggy, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Lita Ford. This in and of itself should be a selling point for more experienced players.
Overall, JamPlay is probably the only other site that genuinely gives Guitar Tricks a run for its money.
6. Jamorama Guitar Lessons
To be frank, by branding themselves as “The Social Network for Guitar Students”, Jamorama tells you almost everything you need to know about the platform. Look no further than the landing page. If you believe that “Learning guitar is better with community” you’re more likely to be interested in a kind of Facebook for guitar – that just happens to have monetized beginner and intermediate lesson plans.
Supporting the primary functions of a social network, Jamorama members create their profiles, add friends, write status updates, like admin posts, receive notifications, share photos, join groups and chat with sympathetic guitar students. Meanwhile, “integrated gamification” – otherwise known as a point system – is designed to keep students on a social learning path.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the learning path moves at a glacial pace, starting with a five-week introductory course taught by Mark McKenzie, Jamorama’s congenial Head Guitar Instructor, covering the absolute Ground Zero of guitar fundamentals. By Week 5, you’ll be slow-strumming a two-chord progression and maybe – maybe – scraping through the main riff of “Pretty Woman”. While everybody learns at an individual pace, that doesn’t seem very challenging. However, that’s most likely the point.
Let’s try to stay positive here and talk about the good stuff. Straight away, the site looks really nice. It’s easy to navigate. Jamorama is almost exclusively geared toward the total novice on acoustic guitar – early lessons tackle simple chords and basic guitar maintenance. The vibrant and bustling community aspect is a unique and compelling support system for beginners. There’s no way you’re going to be overwhelmed by the amount of content. The blog features some very entertaining content that mostly talks about playing guitar, which a lot of guitar players like to do.
The Basic membership is free, but you’ll pay in order to access courses, lessons, and jam tracks. If this sort of thing appeals to you, then $99.95 for a lifetime membership may be money well spent.
Breaking from the traditional review format, let’s save everybody some time and break down exactly what you get:
The bottom line here is very clear. If you’re a beginning guitarist in the earliest stages of development, looking for a fun, socially interactive way of learning guitar at a very leisurely pace, then Jamorama may be what you’re looking for. Everybody else, however, can take a pass.
- Visually appealing
- Designed specifically for beginners
- Fantastic community atmosphere
- One-time, Lifetime membership fee
- Not much happening for experienced guitarists
- Limited content
- Lack of interactive teaching opportunities
What are the Major Benefits of Guitar Lessons Online?
Considering the depth of educational options on the Internet, benefits abound in the world of online guitar lessons. First, the absolute convenience of round-the-clock access to knowledge is self-evident. You get libraries of content, plus tools and resources at your fingertips. Meanwhile, in many cases, you’ll be able to hire a virtual instructor – if you feel that’s necessary. All you need – besides a desire to play guitar – is an internet-ready electronic device that’s connected to the web and a guitar – oh, and a method of payment.
Another benefit of online lessons is the flexibility and freedom to learn at your own pace, while reaching for structure and support – if you need it. A good guitar lesson platform has an open-door policy, with teachers giving lessons and then hanging out in the background, saying, “We’re here if you need us.” For people who need a more traditional learning background with a student-teacher environment, many online guitar lesson platforms are more than happy to play the role of caring and invested tutor.
Online Lessons Vs. One-on-one Instruction
By design, online lessons eliminate any social anxiety that may arise from one-on-one instruction. Sure, there’s a human being on the other end of the video monitor, but you can put them on pause anytime you like. That’s not possible in real life.
One of my dear friends, who happens to be a guitar teacher and a monster player, once told me that more than half of his students spend more time listening to him play than actually trying to learn what he’s doing. Also – this is really important – you need to like the person who’s doing the teaching – and that’s where online lessons really excel. Every platform has a directory of qualified and capable instructors to choose from. So-n-so’s mannerisms don’t do it for you? Find another tutor.
Online lessons theoretically never end. That is to say, you could live several lifetimes and not cover every available resource, whereas live instruction reaches a point where a teacher may have run out of things to teach you. Of course, most experienced tutors will have a solid course of instruction, you’ll need a football team worth of players to match what you can get online – at a fraction of the cost. And even though I hate to badmouth teachers, potentially taking money out of their pockets, in today’s current climate, you’re going to want to see some dramatic results for $25 an hour.
Prior to the internet, we had two choices: take lessons from a teacher or go it alone. That system worked for a long time. Things are different now.
What’s the Best Online Guitar Course for Me?
It’s up to you to first decide what you want to do on guitar – and then proceed accordingly. Then it’s important that you do a little investigation. The best course is going to cater specifically to your aims. And fortunately, there are various types of affordable (and some, not-so affordable) lessons that have already aligned with your ambitions.
If you’re just looking to have some fun and maybe develop a new hobby or pastime, Fender Play is geared toward the casual beginner. If you have ambitions of proficiency, ArtistWorks might be right up your alley. Even if you haven’t decided what you want to do on guitar, Guitar Tricks is great for helping you visualize the possibilities – while learning how to play some of your favorite songs.
Another issue to consider when evaluating online guitar lessons is where you are in terms of development. Absolute beginners should stick to the tried and true platforms – the hand-holders, for lack of a better term – while intermediate to advanced guitarists might want to rock up on JamPlay or TrueFire, whose content is exhaustive and constantly growing.
What is the Average Cost of Online Guitar Lessons?
It’s hard to quantify the average cost of online guitar lessons because each platform has its own quirks and tics – plus there are promo codes and special offers. Roughly speaking – emphasis on “roughly” – the average cost of online guitar lessons is 20 bucks a month, although you can save some money by going with a yearly vs. monthly subscription. And let us take our benchmark – Guitar Tricks – as an example. The month-to-month plan is 20 bucks, all in. The yearly plan saves you about 60 bucks a year, so you pay $15 a month – and they throw in a bunch of “free gifts”. (P.S. TrueFire and JamPlay have similar offers.)
Are Online Lessons a Good Way of Learning Guitar?
In a word, yes. Online lessons a fantastic way of learning guitar. I’m now a couple of decades into my life as a guitarist and I’m still finding new things that I want to play. Guess where I find them? Online. Now, I’m not taking lessons per se, but I am basing my own instruction off what I find available on certain websites. If I were to start taking lessons, I’d almost certainly take them online. And it gives me a twinge of envy to look back on my own guitar evolution and think back to how much faster I would have progressed if I’d had the internet and online lessons at my disposal.
Generally speaking, there’s really no downside to online lessons – unless of course, you absolutely need to have an instructor sitting across from you. Some people prefer that method and there’s nothing wrong with it.
If there could be one universal truth about learning to play guitar, at some point in every aspiring guitar player’s life, they will be forced to confront their ambitions. You will knowingly or unknowingly decide what – exactly – you want to do on guitar. And your decision doesn’t really matter, whether you want to strum along to a few Dead jams or become the latest and greatest fingerboard hotshot. Everything follows from that singular ambition – that simple question: What do you want out of your guitar experience?
Unfortunately, once you’ve decided to learn guitar, you have a bunch of other decisions to make, first and foremost, how are you going to learn? It used to be that guitar players had two distinct choices: Take lessons vs. self-taught. Nowadays, online lessons form the foundation of a third choice – a hybrid of self-education through online learning platforms such as Guitar Tricks and JamPlay.
There’s a misguided idea that self-taught players are giving themselves a “free education”. First of all, there’s nothing free in this world. In many cases, the self-taught acquisition of skill is simply the cheaper version. More importantly, self-taught players incur a price in the form of time – something that none of us have in abundance.
There’s no hard and fast rule that everybody is required to check out online lessons. There’s nothing stopping you from getting all your instruction from free YouTube videos. However, every guitarist – from total beginners to life-long masters – with a vested interest in getting better, shouldn’t pass up a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the infinite library of knowledge that’s literally at our fingertips.