In-Person, Online, or DIY: What’s the Best Way to Learn Guitar?

19713904_a6092fe9ee_oThe guitar is a beautiful instrument which lends itself flawlessly to expression and creativity. Adaptable and versatile, it allows the intent and emotion of the artist to flow through it, AND it’s easy to begin. After learning only a few easy chords you can not only play songs, but write them! Once you get the hang of it, playing guitar allows you to emulate your heroes. Many of your favorite songs are simple to learn on guitar, and it’s a wonderful feeling to play for your friends and family.

With its frets, many chords and alternate tunings, learning guitar can seem intimidating at first. Unlike piano, the scales are not set out in straight, obvious lines, and chord patterns can be difficult to master at first. Luckily, learning guitar does not depend on your ability to read musical notation, or ‘notes-on-staff’. Instead, you may prefer tablature, which marks the notes to be played on lines representing strings as you would see on the guitar itself.

Whether you’re interested in learning acoustic, electric, or bass guitar, you need to begin with some sort of instruction. There are many options available: online guitar lessons (YouTube, for example), private Skype lessons, books with audio discs, DVDs, or a traditional private tutor. When seeking instruction for yourself or your child, deciding what is the best way to learn guitar can be difficult, so let’s go over the options in more detail.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

At-your-leisure learning, whether through books, CDs, DVDs, MP3s or online guitar videos, is a flexible and convenient way to begin.


  • Due to the plethora of materials and teachers, you can sample many media and teaching styles easily to find what works best for you.
  • Lessons can happen any place or time you find convenient.
  • You can decide precisely what you would like to learn, and take as much time as is needed to master it.
  • In most cases, DIY is the least expensive option for beginners.


  • If you are practicing incorrectly, there’s no one to correct you.
  • Progress can be slow due to not being motivated by a teacher and not having a set schedule.
  • Important skill building may be missed when you are creating your own lesson plan ad-hoc.

Remote Instruction

Online guitar lessons via video calls provide an alternative to in person lessons, where you can communicate in real time with your teacher without leaving your home.


  • Great for students with mobility issues or tight schedules.
  • Assistance is available as you learn, and you progress at your own pace.
  • The selection of teachers is not limited to those in your geographical area.
  • Often this option is cheaper than private lessons.


  • Internet connections and software are not always reliable.
  • It can be quite difficult to learn guitar when your only model is a reverse image of what you’re trying to play.
  • It may be difficult to catch subtle mistakes when your teacher is not actually there with you.

Group Instruction

In larger towns and cities, group lessons are sometimes offered at community centers or after hours in schools. Often high school or college students, or retired musicians, provide weekly lessons to a small group.


  • Learning with others can be enjoyable, especially if you find a group which fits your age and skill level.
  • Unlike online guitar lessons, there is a teacher on-site to help you correct mistakes.


  • There is little personal attention. Your teacher may not catch your mistakes, leaving your skills sloppy and incomplete.
  • There can be many distractions as it’s easy for a group to get off topic.
  • Much of your time may be devoted to solving other people’s problems.
  • You have little input into what you’re learning.
  • Everyone moves at the same pace, even if you are capable of learning more quickly, or need more time.

Private Lessons in-Person

One-on-one learning with a skilled teacher focused on you, your interests, and your progress.


  • Your teacher is a professional who can bring all the benefits of years of practice to you.
  • All of their technical skills and tricks are at your disposal.
  • You set the pace. You can choose between styles and methods, notation or tablature, and which songs you want to play.
  • Regular lessons and homework keep you on track and motivated to do your best.
  • The education you receive will be complete, and will give you the skills you need to become truly talented.


  • One-on-one lessons are generally the most expensive option.
  • You’ll need to find someone in your area whose schedule is compatible with your own.

Whether you choose online guitar courses or a more tailored experience, learning guitar is a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. Remember to take pride in your accomplishments and have fun. The best way to learn guitar depends on your goals and what will best help you to achieve them. Good luck!

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