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The 50 Best Guitar Songs Ever (From Different Eras & Genres)

best guitar songs

Everyone’s list of the “best guitar songs” will be different, but there are certain moments in history when we all seemed to fall in love with the same music together. These songs have stood the test of time, and become enshrined as the classics of guitar repertoire.

Although the following list is by no means comprehensive, it is a representative sample of some of the best guitar songs of all time – including everything from classical to rock.

The 50 Best Guitar Songs of All Time

Before we dive into which songs made the list and why, check out this clickable infographic for a preview of 25 top guitar songs.

Best Acoustic Guitar Songs

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd


This popular song was destined to some form of greatness because of Pink Floyd’s established reputation. The fact that the main acoustic guitar riff is so playable has also helped this song become a staple for many beginning guitarists.

Fire and Rain – James Taylor


This song was one of the singles off James Taylor’s second album that made him particularly famous in the 70s. To this day, he still frequently plays “Fire and Rain” in concert. It’s known to both older and younger audiences who are familiar with his music.

Hotel California – Eagles


A reflection on the excesses of the Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle, this song features both acoustic and electric guitar work that stands out and complements each other.

Blackbird – Paul McCartney


An ode to struggling Black women in Detroit, the unassuming charm of this song makes it a favorite for beginning guitarists. The unusual left hand intervals make it challenging but not unattainable.

American Pie – Don McLean


An enchanting (and sometimes cryptic) ode to Rock ‘n Roll history, this song is still popular as a tune for beginners to learn their basic guitar chords on.

Wonderwall – Oasis


Released on their second album, “Wonderwall” has become Oasis’ biggest hit. It’s the most streamed song released before 2000, and it’s the archetypal example of 90s pop chord playing.

More Than Words – Extreme


Ironically the most popular song of a much heavier band, this song was released in 1991 and has since forced its writers to embrace their softer side. Known for their heavy, funk-metal style, Extreme reached a much wider audience with this vulnerable ballad.

Dust in the Wind – Kansas


Another crowd pleaser on this list of best guitar songs, “Dust in the Wind” particularly hit a nerve during the spiritual seeking of the hippy era. The intro has charmed fingerpicking beginners since the song’s release.

Redemption Song – Bob Marley


Taking inspiration from Marcus Garvey, Bob stripped away all the rich instrumentation of his reggae roots and reduced this song to simply the acoustic guitar and singing. The song has remained popular both as a protest song and a staple among beginning guitarists.

Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel


This song begins with a simple but haunting guitar hook that is immediately recognizable to fans of the folk-pop duo. Paul Simon’s fingerpicking technique remains a great teacher for beginners of the craft.

Best Rock Guitar Songs

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin


The song every guitar teacher gets tired of teaching, but still listens to in secret and quiet admiration of its epicness.

Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns ‘n Roses

Another perfect example of a heavy band whose most famous song is a vulnerable love song. This one somehow manages to maintain its epic rock quality amidst all the intimate lyrics.

Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix


This is one of several songs Jimi did that changed rock history. The raw power that he holds together with his indescribable talent made this a piece that captured the imagination of rock guitarists for generations.

I Love Rock ‘n Roll – Joan Jett


A perfect integration of power chords and simple blues licks make this an ideal introduction to rock guitar. It’s also great for getting people to sing with you in a bar!

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream


Another song that is often used to introduce rock guitar to beginners, this song has a soulful punch that continues to draw Clapton fans back to his early days.

Back in Black – AC/DC


Of the tremendous library of ridiculously catchy riffs in the AC/DC canon, this one stands out near the top.

Seven Nation Army – Jack White


Many millenials who didn’t grow up with the early rock records find this song to be the gateway to the rest of the rock experience. Easy to play, easy to love!

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana


This is another song that is famous partially because of its poignant lyrics that spoke to the rebellion of a generation. It’s also a perfect song to learn power chords on.

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple


This song gets a bad rap because so many guitarists know the first hook but not the rest of the song. The rest of the song is certainly worth a listen, though!

Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne


This song has both one of the easiest power chord riffs and one of the hardest guitar solos. It’s a song that fans love to sing and guitarists love to play!

Best Folk Guitar Songs

Sweet Home Chicago – Robert Johnson


This unassuming folk blues song comes to us only from field recordings, but it was incredibly influential on many British rock stars. Johnson’s raw guitar style and troubled lyrics heavily influenced the Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and others.

The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Bob Dylan


This unapologetic protest song summarized the rebellion of the hippy generation and became a folk standard that is still sung and played to this day.

If I had a Hammer – Peter Paul and Mary


Sung by many folk artists, this metaphorical song served as a rallying cry for social change and remains a campfire favorite.

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright – Bob Dylan


One of Bob Dylan’s more personal songs, the intricate fingerpicking in this tune lends a unique quality to lyrics about love gone wrong. Have a listen and you’ll quickly find out why this made our list of best guitar songs. 

Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie


Many audiences wonder if Arlo made up the verses on the spot. In any case, the 16 bar guitar loop is the jumping-off point for a lengthy political rant that anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy.

Scarborough Fair – Simon and Garfunkel


Based on an English poem, this song is accompanied by Paul Simon’s mysterious fingerpicking and a vocal melody that many remember as a childhood lullaby.

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell


This song is definitely a foot-stomper! It has had activists singing the charged lyrics since its release – at the height of the environmental movement in 1970.

Mr. Bojangles – Jerry Jeff Walker


This song was written in New Orleans when the composer was arrested and put in a cell with a street dancer. The story has been a favorite among folk artists since its premiere on a radio show in 1968.

Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt


First recorded in 1937 by the Hot House Band, this is one of Django Reinhardt’s most famous tunes. It’s also a standard introduction to gypsy jazz.

Guitar Boogie – Arthur Smith


This song was first released in 1945 and has since been played by many other thumb-picking greats, including Tommy Emmanuel.

Best Classical Guitar Songs

Asturias – Isaac Albeniz


A landmark of the classical repertoire, this piece is more reminiscent of flamenco traditions from Andalucia than the northern Spanish region of Asturias. This is probably because it was given its name by a German publisher after the composer’s death.

La Catedral – Agustin Barrios-Mangore


The masterpiece suite by a South American composer, La Catedral is a musical illustration of a grand building and a service within the building.

E Minor Bouree – J.S. Bach


This piece is a popular selection from the Lute Suite in E minor. It often tricks beginners because it sounds good at a slow speed but it’s meant to be played rather quickly.

Etude in A Minor – Dionisio Aguado


Often the first piece a classical student will ever see, this simple fingerpicking etude is a great introduction to the process and pleasure of classical guitar!

Recuerdos de la Alhambra – Francisco Tárrega


This piece is the most legendary of tremolo classical guitar pieces. Using a technique that involves rapidly plucking a single string, the difficulty of this song is matched only by its profound beauty.

D Minor Chaconne – J.S. Bach


One of the most profound pieces in the classical repertoire, this piece was originally written for violin. It has since been transcribed for pretty much any other instrument that has a virtuoso to play it, and guitar is no exception!

Mazurka Choro – Heitor Villa-Lobos


This prolific Brazilian composer had many great pieces, and this one is the first in a suite called “Suite Popolaire Bresilienne.” Give it a listen and see if you can resist the urge to learn all five movements.

Prelude from the E Major Lute Suite – J.S. Bach


One of the most famous and uplifting pieces in classical repertoire, this piece falls under the fingers almost serendipitously and fills a room of any size with the warmest musical bath you can imagine.

Study in B Minor Opus 35 no 22 – Fernando Sor


A gem of the beginner’s classical guitar repertoire, this is a piece that teachers often introduce to their students. Give it a listen and you’ll see why it’s so unforgettable!

Romanza – Anonymous


“Romanza” is another charming piece frequently learned by beginners. The gentle repetition of fingerpicking over the beautiful Spanish melody make this a favorite for both players and audiences.

Best Electric Guitar Songs

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers


Mournful and rich in feeling, this guitar riff is great for getting early picking techniques going. It’s also an excellent choice when you want to play something recognizable to a lot of guitar fans.

Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits


This is a favorite of music lovers and musicians alike! It includes a rhythm riff that’s not too difficult, along with some solo passages that will give any player a run for their money.

Gravity – John Mayer


John said he was particularly proud of this song because he felt he could apply the lyrics to any situation he found himself in. The soulful guitar work captured the interest of many electric guitarists, both aspiring and established.

La Grange – ZZ Top


This band had a knack for writing hooks, and Billy Biggons had a knack for playing crazy blues solos. Both are reasons “La Grange” made it on our list of the best guitar songs of all time!

Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd


Anyone who has played in a band has probably heard more audience members scream “Freebird” than any other song in history. Most people actually request it as a joke!

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles


The fact that the lyrics of this song refer to a guitar is almost accidental among its deep reflective nature. Maybe it’s a factor in the song’s popularity with so many guitarists.

Eruption – Eddie Van Halen


“Eruption” ripped open the gates to progressive guitar playing. The song still stands as a staple for aspiring electric guitar virtuosos to master.

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry


This pioneering piece opened up the sound of early rock to wider audiences. It’s another favorite song for electric guitarists to learn.

Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan


This song can be difficult to learn at first because of its muting techniques, but it brings along the full power of the Texas Blues to anyone who masters it!

Layla – Eric Clapton


“Layla” is revered for both its powerful lyrics and its captivating virtuosic guitar hook. Clapton fans expect to hear it at every concert.

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best guitar songs of all time, what would you add? Let us know in a comment below!

These are the songs that inspired most kids to pick up an axe in the first place. If you’re interested in learning the guitar, this list will give you some easy songs to start with as well as some masterpieces to aspire to.

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The 7 Best Guitar Picks for Every Kind of Guitarist

Cool guitar picks

The best guitar picks are the ones that help you achieve the tonal sound you’re looking for, while providing just enough grip and comfortability.

When you take a trip to your local music store or shop for guitar picks online, you will run across thousands of options. Don’t be intimidated! Every guitar player starts off trying a variety of different types of guitar picks.

Guitar picks are made out of many different materials including nylon, plastic, wood, stone, or metal. Some picks are floppy and some are stiff. They can also be small or large in size.

The cool guitar picks on this list each provide a great deal of tonal variation. So if you’re trying to get a nice and bright, jangly sound, or a darker, more muted sound, there is a guitar pick on this list for you!

The 7 Best Guitar Picks for All Guitarists

1. Sharkfin Guitar Picks

Sharkfin - Cool guitar picks

Sharkfin picks give you a lot of versatility, and the way they’re cut provides an easy grip. With a sharkfin pick, you get the traditional sounds that come from a regular pick, in addition to unique tonal qualities brought to you by the knurled edge.

You will be able to achieve different effects by dragging the knurled edge along your strings or brushing them as you strum. These unique guitar picks usually run between $1-$2 and are sold by Landstrom, Dunlop, and others.   

2. Stubby Picks

 

Stubby - best guitar picks

Its small size, hardness, and overall look make the stubby a necessary addition to this list of cool guitar picks. The stubby pick feels comfortable and has a bit of a rough grip which makes it easier to hold.

Numerous brands make stubby picks, such as Dunlop and V-Pick. You can find them for a little over a dollar, then try out multiple brands to see which one you like the best.

3. Nylon Flex Guitar Picks  

Nylon flex best guitar picks

This is a great option for guitarists who want a really floppy pick for strumming, and many reputable brands sell them. The Herco Flex 50 specifically produces a nice, bright tone and gives you all the flop you could need. It also has just enough grip to not slip from your fingers.

A Herco Flex 50 should run you about a dollar, though sometimes the thicker versions cost a bit more. If this option isn’t available at your local music shop, a good runner-up to this model would be the Jim Dunlop Nylon 60mm pick.

4. Star Picks

Star pick - Cool guitar picks

You should definitely consider adding a Star Pick to your collection of best guitar picks. The .73mm pick is an excellent choice from Star Picks because of its hardness. A hard pick produces a bright, biting sound. Some players prefer a pick to have that bite when it comes to playing solos, because it makes the solo pop out of the mix a little more.  

When using a naturally bright guitar like a Fender Statocaster, hard picks are great for getting a little extra tone above the rest of the band. The Star Pick has these advantages, but also seems to grip to your thumb pretty well. It has a small star cut-out which makes it really easy to hold. These unique guitar picks are fairly cheap, usually costing a little less than a dollar.

5. Tortex Picks

Tortex - best guitar picks

The Tortex picks by Dunlop come in a variety of colors and thicknesses, and are fairly inexpensive. Many guitarists like the feel of this pick. You will notice a considerable change in tone when using it, but you may like it if you’re into a more mellow tone.

When you’re using a Tortex pick, the tone does not really become muted, but the ringing quality of some strings are brought down. So if you have a guitar that seems a little too bright, the Tortex might be the perfect pick to help take away some of the harshness.

There are a couple other comparable picks that don’t darken the tone, such as the Clayton 1.07mm pick and the Dunlop Ultex pick. The Clayton is especially easy to keep a grip on.

6. Metal Thumb Picks

Metal Thumb Pick - Cool guitar picks

Metal thumb picks are probably one of the most useful and unique guitar picks to own. These metal finger picks are perfect for boosting the volume on your guitar just a little bit. For only a dollar you can’t go wrong.  

Some people find that using a regular pick is difficult because they are easily dropped, or they get cramps in their hands. The advantage of using a thumb pick is that it doesn’t fall out of your hand when you play.

You can find these cool guitar picks in metal, plastic, and some that are a hybrid of plastic and metal, although the hybrid picks tend to be more expensive. One good thumb pick to check out is the Dunlop 3040T.

7. Felt Picks

Felt picks - Cool guitar picks

Even though they’re marketed for ukuleles, felt picks are very useful for guitarists as well. Felt picks typically run around $1-$2, which is a bargain for the cool tonal variety they bring to your playing.  

The muted sound that you get when playing with a felt pick is truly unique. It’s not muted to an extent that you can’t hear your instrument, but it certainly changes the tone and can make your guitar sound like a totally different guitar. This pick would be very useful in recording sessions if you’re trying to go for the sound of two different guitars, but only have one.

Final Tips

No matter what type of guitar or genre of music you play, there is something on this list of best guitar picks for everyone. Most types of guitar picks run for less than a dollar, so if you can afford it we recommend buying a bunch and trying them all out.

If you want to start out small, try the thumb pick and felt pick first. These guitar picks are the most distinct in the tonal sounds they create, so you’ll be able to really experience and appreciate the variety that different guitar picks can provide.  

This selection of cool guitar picks should give you plenty to try out and practice. You can find them at your local music store or online. Remember that a good guitar teacher can help you learn proper picking and strumming technique, and TakeLessons is the place to go if you want to find an experienced guitar teacher in your area.  

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches acoustic, bass, blues guitar and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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Guitar vs Piano: Which Instrument Do Musicians Prefer? [Vote]

Guitar vs piano

So you want to learn a musical instrument and you’ve narrowed it down to the guitar vs piano. Which one should you play?

One of the biggest advantages to playing the guitar is its quick learning curve, but an equally excellent reason to learn the piano is its layout that helps you understand music theory.

If you’re debating between learning piano vs guitar, here are five important factors to consider about the pros and cons of each instrument.  

Already made up your mind? Cast your vote below!

 

Which instrument do you prefer: guitar or piano?

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Guitar vs Piano: Which is Better?

The Learning Curve for Piano and Guitar

learning piano vs guitar

Piano – Learn Notes and Scales First

As a beginner pianist, you’ll most likely learn how to play melodies before you learn chords. You’ll learn notes and scales first. Then, you’ll make different combinations of those notes to form chords.

Dealing with scales before chords in this way allows for a more chronological approach to music theory. In contrast to changing keys on the guitar by simply using a capo, on a piano you’ll have to use theory to transpose the key.

Don’t be intimidated by all this, because the piano lends itself toward music theory very well; the linear layout of the instrument is the perfect visual aid. However because you’re learning theory, playing your favorite songs on the piano can take longer than on guitar.

Guitar – Learn Chords Quickly

Students who want to start playing songs right away typically lean toward the guitar vs piano. The guitar is an integral part of most pop songs, so it’s easy to find songs you can play once you learn the right set of chords.  

Also, if you find that the key needs to be changed to fit your vocal range, you can simply attach a capo to the guitar and use the same chord shapes. While using a capo isn’t necessary to change keys on the guitar, it’s a simplified option that many guitarists use.

Affordability of the Guitar vs Piano

price of guitar vs piano

Guitar – $100 to $1,000

A good starter guitar typically costs between $100-$200. Guitars have become more affordable over the years with competition between local and online music stores. But before buying a guitar, it’s highly recommended that you play it first.

If you happen to be able to afford a guitar between $300-$500, you’ll see a significant improvement in playability and sound. There are many quality guitars available in this range. A guitar in the $500-$1,000 range would be best fit for a more advanced guitarist.

Piano – $100 to $1500+

A good beginner keyboard can be found between $100-$200. Factors to consider in this price range are the number of keys and whether they are weighted or non-weighted keys. As a beginner pianist, you can learn just fine on a 61-key keyboard.

As you develop though, the songs you’ll play will require a greater range on the piano. That’s when a full size, 88-key keyboard or digital piano would be needed. Digital pianos are generally around $500-$1,500 and are designed to more closely replicate acoustic pianos in sound and feel.

Lastly, if you can afford it and have room for one, acoustic pianos are the way to go. These start at roughly $1,500 but the unrivaled tone and feel make it worth the investment if you are really serious about learning piano.  

Reading Music for Guitar vs Piano

learning piano vs guitar

Guitar – Chord Charts and TABs

Chord charts are the main form of notation for reading chords on the guitar. They are quick and easy to learn how to read. Chord charts indicate when to play a chord by showing chord names above the lyrics.

The other notation most widely used on guitar is tablature notation, also known as TABs. TABs is a notation that is specific to guitar because it resembles the instrument closely. The six lines represent the guitar’s six strings, and the numbers indicate which fret to press down.

Learning how to read TABs is simple and allows you to mine the databases of endless pop and rock songs online. However, one downside to chord charts and TABs is that they are not as precise as standard notation.

Piano – Reading Standard Notation

Chord charts are also used for reading music on the piano. But in addition, the piano staff is added underneath the chord names. In this way, notation for the piano is generally more complex.

Standard notation is fairly easy to learn on piano because the two closely resemble each other. Just like the notes on the piano ascend from left to right, the notes on the staff ascend from low to high. So if a goal of yours is to learn sheet music, you’ll achieve that early on in piano lessons.

Portability of the Guitar vs Piano

guitar vs piano

Guitar – Travel Friendly

The guitar is one of the most portable instruments. Even the bulkiest guitars can be taken on road trips and public transportation. Airplanes widely consider guitars a carry-on item that can be stored in overhead compartments.

In addition there are a wide variety of travel, mini, and backpacker guitars that are very small and lightweight. As long as you have a good guitar case, you should be able to take your guitar with you anywhere!

Piano – Portable Options are Limited

There is a wide variety of piano sizes to choose from to suit your needs. If you’re looking for the smallest and lightest possible option, you can turn to midi controllers that range from a couple octaves to all 88 keys. However, these must be plugged into a computer which produces the sound.

The next size up are keyboards that also range from a couple octaves to 88 keys. They are generally a little bigger and heavier than midi controllers, but are easier to transport than most digital pianos (which is the next size up).

The largest options are acoustic pianos, which include a variety of upright and grand pianos. Their weighted keys give you more expressiveness and greater potential for dynamics, but keep in mind that you will have to sacrifice the convenience of a portable instrument.

Best Musical Genres for Piano and Guitar

Learning piano vs guitar

Piano – Classical

Classical musicians often start learning piano vs guitar. Because of the instrument’s rich history in classical music, students can expect to encounter classical compositions early on in the learning process.

Just like the guitar though, the piano is a very versatile instrument that can be heard in many other genres of music. Pop music in general seems to more commonly include keyboards than guitars.

Guitar – Rock

Most rock enthusiasts prefer the guitar over the piano. Guitar is the quintessential rock instrument. Early rock and roll pioneers who played the guitar include Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. They paved the way for later “rock guitar gods,” from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page.

When people think of rock music, they think of distorted electric guitars. This is such a specific sound that the guitar holds the market in, but it’s also an extremely versatile instrument. That clean, acoustic guitar sound is popular in other genres as well, such as country music.

Take a Lesson!

By now you can see the pros and cons of learning piano vs guitar. To help you reach a decision about which is better for you, consider these five factors: learning curve, affordability, music notation, portability, and your desired musical genres.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to decide is try out both instruments. On TakeLessons Live, you can try beginner-level classes for free in both piano and guitar. Try it today!

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Three Legit Places to Find the Best Free Guitar Lessons

where to find free guitar lessons

Looking for free guitar lessons that actually work? If you want to learn the guitar, but aren’t sure where to start and don’t have a lot of money to spend – you’re in luck! There are various methods of learning the guitar and many of them are free.

Some free guitar lessons aren’t as beneficial and worthwhile as others, however, so it’s important to do your research beforehand. As a beginner, it’s crucial that you learn the correct techniques so that easy mistakes don’t become bad habits later on.

Keep reading and we’ll break down three of the best places to find free guitar lessons so you can begin playing immediately. These resources are reputable and will give you the foundation you need to become an excellent guitar player.

3 Best Places to Find Free Guitar Lessons

TakeLessons Live

free guitar lessons online

TakeLessons Live is a fantastic option for beginners to find free online guitar lessons. It offers live group classes that give you a solid foundation of guitar skills. You can sign up for whichever classes interest you, and learn techniques that will help you throughout your entire musical journey.

The best part is that you have access to a live teacher so you can ask questions and get instant feedback. There are many options for dates and times of classes, so you can easily find one that works with your schedule. There are also multiple instructors to choose from.

These online classes give you the benefits of a classroom setting, without ever having to leave your home. Plus, your first month is completely free so you can try out as many classes and teachers as you like.

SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons to Learn Guitar Online

YouTube

free guitar lessons on youtube

With over a billion hours of video content, YouTube has something for every type of guitar student. Videos are pre-recorded so they’re accessible at all times and there’s no limit to how many you can watch, making them another excellent option for beginners. Here are a few channels where you can find free online guitar lessons.

5 YouTube Channels with Free Online Guitar Lessons

  1. Justin Sandercoe – Justin has over 750 guitar lessons on his YouTube channel, and there is something for every level of guitar player.
  2. Guitareo – This channel has tons of lessons to get you started with the guitar, as well as more advanced topics such as how to play blues guitar or rhythm guitar.
  3. GuitarJamz – GuitarJamz helps you do exactly what it says: jam on the guitar. The videos start off with the basics and then apply what you’ve learned to well-known songs.
  4. Rock on Good People – This helpful channel teaches various guitar techniques and licks. Some interesting interviews will also help you stay motivated to continue your guitar journey.
  5. Andy Guitar – Andy has various courses that are perfect for beginners. They include everything from playing your first major chord to how to choose the right guitar for you.

These are just a few of the top guitar channels on YouTube. There are many more to choose from, so find the one that works for you and your learning style.

[Note: One common challenge with pre-recorded lessons is that there is not a live teacher to interact with, or ask questions. This can be difficult when you’re stuck on a difficult concept.]

Local Music Stores

free guitar lessons at local music stores

Another option for guitarists is to visit a local music store. Many music stores offer free guitar lessons and workshops to their patrons. Stores such as Sam Ash and Guitar Center have monthly events at their various locations.

These include everything from demonstrations on how to use the latest gear, to technique workshops, and more. Classes such as these are helpful to students because they can ask a teacher questions and work alongside other students.

Find out if there’s a music store in your area and ask about the dates and times of classes they offer. Unfortunately, students in rural areas might not have access to a music store. If you’re in a similar situation, try going back to #1 on this list. Taking online guitar classes is an excellent alternative.

Now you’re ready to get started with free guitar lessons. There are many benefits of playing the guitar. It helps reduce stress, improves mental health, and is just plain fun. Plus, free guitar lessons make learning the instrument that much sweeter.

Whatever reason you have for learning the guitar, it will be well worth the effort. Whether you choose online guitar classes, YouTube, or a local music store, you won’t regret the decision to learn this popular and versatile instrument. 

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20 Different Types of Guitars & The Legends Who Played Them [Infographic]

Different types of guitars

While certain types of guitars are standard in modern culture, the instrument has a wide variety of expressions that is nearly impossible to tame. From the ancient Greek kithara to the guitar-like lute from pre-modern Spain, the many different types of guitars vary just as much as the people who play them.

Some types of acoustic and electric guitars are more common than others. Steel string dreadnought acoustics and Stratocaster-style electrics are likely to be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the guitar. But some guitarists find they can’t do what they want with just 6 strings. 

In this article, we’ll start with the most common types of guitars, and then move toward the most exotic. We’ll also share the moments that made these guitars legendary.

*Click the “Play” button next to each guitar to hear the legend who played it!*

20 Different Types of Guitars – Acoustic & Electric

#1 Fender Stratocaster

  • Guitar Type: Solid-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Eric Clapton

It’s hard to overstate the influence of the Stratocaster. A tremendous pedigree of electric guitarists have made history on this type of guitar. It’s been reissued in hundreds of different designs and is by far one of the most popular types of electric guitars. The slanted, double-cutout body and three-pickup control setup give the Stratocaster both a visual signature and sonic versatility.

This guitar probably had its first major introduction to the public from Buddy Holly, but Clapton was one of its most influential proponents. Check out this clip from the song “The Weight” where Clapton pulls the soulful voice of this guitar into its full bloom.

#2 Martin D-45

  • Guitar Type: Steel String Dreadnought Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Neil Young

For most guitar enthusiasts today, this is what “playing the guitar” means: the snap and brightness of a 6-string steel, which has strong projection and durability. Many guitarists favor the versatility and clarity of dreadnoughts, but especially singer-songwriters.

The Martin D-45 is one of the most common types of acoustic guitars. Check out Neil Young playing a well-loved song that he added to the Rock n’ Roll tradition, below.

#3 Fender Telecaster

  • Guitar Type: Solid-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Buck Owens

The foundational favorite of country and rock guitarists, this model is known for its single cutaway body, 2 single-coil pickup system, and characteristic “twang.” Modern country greats like Brad Paisley have predecessors like Buck Owen to thank for popularizing this guitar. Check out Buck and his band playing “Act Naturally.”

#4 1969 José Ramírez 1a “AM”

  • Guitar Type: Classical Nylon Acoustic Dreadnought
  • Legend Who Played It: Andres Segovia

Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz and fingerstyle genius Earl Klugh favor classical guitars for their round, sweet tone and stability when playing complex lines. These tend to have higher actions (the distance between the strings and fingerboard) and wider necks than many other acoustics.

When played with the correct nail technique, they create an unmistakable tone that has been enjoyed by European audiences since the 1600s. For a taste of the secret sauce, listen to the grandfather of modern classical guitar playing the legendary tremolo piece, “Leyenda.”

#5 Gibson ES-175

  • Guitar Type: Hollow-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Wes Montgomery

The Gibson ES-175 has become the iconic example that represents an entire class of guitars: hollow-body electrics. The rich, mid-range tone of these guitars was made legendary in jazz by players such as Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery. (Although the guitar has subsequently found its way into a myriad of other popular styles). Check out the haunting ballad “Round Midnight” below.

#6 The National Style O

  • Guitar Type: Resonator Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Son House

Resophonic guitars, made mostly by European companies, were favorites of the 20th century Bluesmen. Every legendary country, blues, and rock musician drew inspiration from players of this style.

Son House was one of many legendary examples of Bluesmen who used open-tuned, resonator guitars. With their raw feeling and creative exploration with bottleneck slides, these players set the precedent for the coming generations of popular musicians. Keep in touch with the roots and watch Son House play “Death Letter Blues.”

# 7 Fender Precision Bass

  • Guitar Type: 4 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: James Jamerson

Some discover the bass as a first instrument, and others as a crossover from the guitar. Jamerson actually started on the upright bass as a classical player on his path to becoming the legendary bassist that drove dozens of Motown hits.

His unmistakable warm, round tone was a combination of the bass’s design and special modifications like flatwound strings and foam mutes. The hearts of many were won by his melodic bass style and thumpy drive as a rhythm player. Numerous legends even as great as Victor Wooten trace their devotion to bass to Jamerson’s influence.

#8 The Höfner Bass

  • Guitar Type: 4 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: Paul McCartney

The tone of this bass is instantly recognizable to any Beatles fan. The emphasis in the mid range and the plunky attack gave a unique flavor to dozens of Beatles songs, such as “When I’m 64.”

Paul also liked the balance it created on stage, given the fact that he played left handed and the bass was a symmetrical body design. See this late performance of “Don’t Let Me Down” to feel the magic for yourself.

#9 Maton EM-TE

  • Guitar Type: Electric-Acoustic Dreadnought
  • Legend Who Played It: Tommy Emmanuel

Maton guitars are typically outfitted with an internal microphone as well as a piezo saddle pickup. This allows for tremendous variety and clarity in the percussive tones Tommy Emmanuel gets out of his guitar, while leaving his fingerstyle tone beautifully intact.

Be prepared to be blown away by his performance of “Mombasa,” and let your imagination stretch what you thought was possible with an acoustic guitar.

# 10 The 12 String Guitar

  • Guitar Type: Steel String Dreadnought Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: John Denver

Known for his melodies and lyrics, John Denver arranged his songs with an extremely wide instrumental palette. At heart, he was just a guy with a guitar singing to people, but the use of a 12 string brought a twist of flavor to his repertoire. Check out the orchestral version of “Annie’s Song” and be inspired.

# 11 Gibson Lucille

  • Guitar Type: Semi-Hollow Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: B.B. King

The Gibson Lucille possesses a slightly more moderate tone than the full hollow-body, while still blending acoustic sweetness and electric drive. This unique guitar has other special modifications too, like the elimination of the f-holes to reduce feedback. B.B. King, also known as the King of Blues, has a legendary affection for this and many of his other guitars.

# 12 Gibson EDS-1275

  • Guitar Type: Double-Neck Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Jimmy Page

Though innovators like Michael Angelo Batio and Justin King have branched out into their own uses of double neck guitars, Jimmy Page’s live performances of “Stairway to Heaven” made the heroism of the double neck guitar a fundamental part of rock history. The legend is available for all to experience in the performance below.

# 13 The TRB JP2

  • Guitar Type: 6 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: John Patitucci

For those who just can’t get enough notes, the 6 string bass is a platform of the imagination. Heavily used in both metal and jazz, one of the first recognized 6 string bass virtuosos was John Patitucci. Patitucci played for Chick Corea on many of his influential albums.

The additional scale length on the high C string gives melodies a quality that is hard to find on any other instrument, and the low B can…well, shake the floor. Experience Patitucci’s fusion style with his electric quartet playing “Ides of March.”

# 14 The Twang Machine

  • Guitar Type: Cigarbox Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Bo Diddley

The Twang Machine is just one of the many examples of unconventional body types. Having both the look and sound of a tin can, this unique guitar was one of the many showman tactics that made Bo so popular. Check out this performance at the presidential inauguration concert of 1989, when he’s still in great form!

# 15 The Purple Rain Guitar

  • Guitar Type: Special Body Electric, Telecaster Style
  • Legend Who Played It: Prince

The late legend played a sizable collection of uniquely styled guitars. Taking the visual appeal of the guitar to another level, Prince had several special body designs made especially for him.

Having spent a lot of his career experimenting with symbols that expressed his values, Prince’s singular body designs pointed not only to his artistic flair but also to his personal beliefs. Watch him play his famous “Cloud” guitar in the video of “Purple Rain” below.

# 16 Martin LX1E

  • Guitar Type: Miniature Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Ed Sheeran

In popular music, it’s the little things that count. Tons of artists are competing for the narrow band of sounds available in the pop genre, so finding a secret weapon that helps you stand out from the crowd can go a long way. Ed Sheeran has the gift of bringing a unique flavor to his radio work as well as his live shows.

His signature mini-Martin is a key tool, and it’s one of the more unique types of acoustic guitars. It draws audiences in with an effect that can only be described one way: if you want to be heard in a loud room, whisper. The piezo pickup is also great for looping percussion. Check out Ed’s live version of “Tenerife Sea” for a taste of how it all works.

# 17 The ESP MX220

  • Guitar Type: Active Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: James Hetfield

In an era where Metal was just beginning to distinguish itself from Hard Rock, Metallica guitarists were leaning toward using active pickups to define their sound. Active pickups have a brighter sound and compress the signal to give the tone more sustain.

This sound gave 80s thrash metal bands greater control of dynamics through effects processing, and greater ease with speed techniques like shred picking. The look of this guitar also became a signature for Hetfield, as you can see in this live rendition of “Enter Sandman.”

# 18 Epiphone Zenith

  • Guitar Type: Tenor Guitar
  • Legend Who Played It: Ani DiFranco

Even at her commercial peak with “Little Plastic Castle,” Ani DiFranco was never an A-List celebrity. Anyone seasoned in the culture of singer-songwriters would tell you that her individuality as an artist surpasses that of most folk legends in the 60s, and her guitar technique is a marvel of spontaneity.

She would also most certainly win the Guinness Record for most guitar switches per show, and her Epiphone Zenith would be one of the more interesting guitars in the line-up. Rather than trying describe it, watch DiFranco playing her fan favorite “Little Plastic Castle.”

#19 Ibanez TAM 100

  • Guitar Type: Active 8 String Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Tosin Abasi

Certain players have been able to define the creative direction of a genre purely on the basis of their ability and artistic vision. Tosin Abasi is one such artist who brought the use of 7+ string guitars into greater favor among progressive metal players. For guitarists who just can’t get enough notes, this guitar itself can be the inspiration for the music.

#20 The Hamer 5-Neck

  • Guitar Type: Multi-Neck Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Rick Nielsen

Cheap Trick’s lead guitarist developed a guitar with 5 necks modeled after different sounds he liked: a 12 string, a Les Paul Junior, a Fender Stratocaster, a whammy bar neck, and a fretless electric.

The Hamer 5-Neck is certainly one of the most outlandish types of electric guitars. Though admittedly unwieldy to play, many electric guitarists will identify with the hunger to have access to more sounds. Watch Ricky capture the vibe in this classic performance of “Surrender.”

Each of these guitars is famous because a great player created a moment with an audience that carried that memory with them long after. If you’re a guitarist, remember to take every opportunity to explore the different types of guitars on your journey.

Taking a look at the many types of acoustic and electric guitars out there will help you expand your creative horizons, find an instrument that captures your unique sound, and deepen your experience as a guitarist. Feeling inspired to take guitar lessons? Check out the guitar classes at TakeLessons Live for free today!

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Video Guitar Lessons

Video guitar lessons

A quick search for “video guitar lessons” will reveal thousands of results on how to play the guitar. For many students it can be overwhelming to sort through countless video lessons to find the one with the information they’re looking for. As a beginner, it can also be difficult to determine when you are or aren’t getting accurate information.

Although there certainly isn’t a shortage of video guitar lessons out there, you shouldn’t rely on pre-recorded lessons alone to learn how to play the instrument. In this article, we’ll explain five ways that learning from pre-recorded video guitar lessons can hinder your progress.  

5 Things to Know About Video Guitar Lessons

They’re a One-Way Conversation

Beginners to the guitar need feedback and constructive criticism, but video guitar lessons are a one-way conversation. You can’t stop mid-lesson if you have a pressing question to ask, or need clarification.

Perhaps the most important aspect of in-person lessons with a guitar teacher is that you have an informed pair of eyes watching you play. When something isn’t going the way it needs to, you have an outside observer who can point it out to you. With a teacher’s guidance, you’ll begin to learn to correct mistakes on your own.

Lessons Aren’t Tailored to Your Individual Needs

Pre-recorded video guitar lessons are specifically made to be applicable to thousands of students with different learning styles. But the most effective guitar lessons aren’t one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter plans taken one after another. Each student has different ambitions and will need different “stepping stones” to achieve them. 

What one student finds impossible to overcome, another student might breeze through with little thought. Without a good teacher to help plan a course of action, students frequently jump between pieces that are either too easy or too difficult. They have trouble gradually building their skills. A teacher will notice where a student’s struggles lie and recommend music to practice that will build those skills.

You Might Pick up Bad Habits

When learning a new chord or song, beginners tend to play however it feels “right” to them. If playing with a certain fingering feels correct, a student has no reason to think they should be playing it differently. Even if they notice something is off, on their own, they rarely know what to replace the incorrect habit with.

This is another reason why it can be dangerous to learn the guitar without any feedback from a live instructor. A teacher is often the sole voice of clarity for students who naturally revert back to motions that their hands are familiar with.

If you’re learning from video guitar lessons alone, it can be easy to fall into the habit of playing something the wrong way, just because it “feels easier.” When working with a private teacher, you’ll learn new ways to to master tricky concepts more efficiently.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things to Look for in a Guitar Teacher

You Might Become Discouraged

When attempting to learn the guitar from videos alone, self-taught students are more prone to choosing a song that is too difficult for their skill level. These students often get frustrated and discouraged when their playing doesn’t sound as good as they want it to right off the bat.

In the rare case that a student begins with something easy, they frequently move on too soon and jump to something much harder right away. Ninety percent of the time when you speak to people who have given up the guitar, it’s because they tried to teach themselves. 

Don’t Miss Out on Music Theory!

Music theory is a necessity when learning how to play the guitar. Most video guitar lessons either focus on a specific technique, or exclusively on theory. But to really understand music theory, it has to be tied into the music!

Students understand theory best if it’s a part of their musical language and expression from the beginning. If as a beginner, you focus on watching YouTube tutorials for all your favorite songs, you are bound to miss out on a deeper understanding of the music itself.

Learning music theory is like learning a foreign language. Because music theory can be difficult to understand, it’s best to learn in an interactive environment where you have the ability to ask questions. Try taking online music theory classes from a live instructor and you’ll find yourself learning much quicker than with pre-recorded lessons.

In Conclusion

With the help of a guitar teacher, you have a much greater shot as musical success. Video guitar lessons are best when used as a supplemental tool in between private lessons. Your teacher can help protect you from bad advice, which is abounding online (some of which can even cause injury).

Don’t keep trying to press forward on your own when excellent, reliable help is so readily available! Find a trusted and qualified guitar teacher near you and start your guitar learning journey on the right foot.

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical and acoustic guitar instructor in Athens, GA. He holds a Bachelors and Masters of music in Guitar Performance, and has been teaching guitar since 2011 to students of all ages. Learn more about Kirk here!

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What is a capo

What is a Capo? Everything You Need to Know Here.

What is a capo

A capo is a helpful device that allows you to easily change the key of a song while using the standard “open position” chords that every guitarist knows. With a capo, you can play those same chords in any fret position along the neck of the guitar. Keep reading to find more answers to all of your capo-related questions!

What is a Capo?

A capo (pronounced “cape-oh”) is a small clamp that you can attach to the neck of the guitar at a specific fret. What does a capo do? It keeps all of the guitar’s strings depressed at that specific fret, all of the time. The parts of the capo that squeeze the strings against the fret board are made of rubber, so they don’t damage the wood on your guitar. 

Let’s say you attach the capo at fret two. It will squeeze down all of the strings at fret two and keep them pressed down. So it’s like you’re playing a note at fret two with your finger, but on all six strings simultaneously.

If you were to lay your index finger across all six strings at fret two and press down hard enough so that all the notes at fret two sounded clearly on each string, that technique would be called a “barre.” This barre technique is used by guitarists all the time, but if you are just beginning you may not have tried it yet and when you do, it will take a few weeks to master.

Attaching a capo is a much easier way to achieve the same result. You could say that the capo produces a permanent barre at a specific fret. Now let’s look at what exactly happens when you have a capo attached to your guitar.

How Does a Capo Work?

Let’s use the capo attached at fret two as an example again, although you can put the capo across any fret. Once the capo is on, when you play your strings open, the notes that sound are not E, A, D, G, B, and E (the notes of open strings six through one). Instead, they are F#, B, E, A, C#, and F#.

We say these notes are “one tone higher” or a “whole step” higher (the distance of two frets) than the normal open string notes. If you think of fret three as if it were fret one, and form a C chord as you normally would (but above the capo), it will sound as a D chord.

If you played a song with Am, G, and C chords (which would be in the key of C major), you will hear Bm, A, and D chords (which would move the song to the key of D major). Every time you move the capo one fret higher, you have raised the music by one key. The most common reason for changing the key of a song is to make it easier to sing in your vocal range.

To hear the sound of a guitar with a capo on, listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. The capo is on fret seven and it gives the guitar a bright, mandolin-like quality. The chord progression would be in the key of D major, but with the capo on, it comes out in A major.

Who Should Use a Capo?

For beginners, using a capo means that you can play more songs with a limited knowledge of chords and delay learning those difficult “barre chords” you may have heard about. But capos are not just for beginners.

Many songwriters use capos so they can play chords in the style they’re accustomed to anywhere along the neck of the guitar. By moving the capo, they can easily try singing a song in different keys until they find the one that works best for their voice.

In fact, flamenco guitar players routinely use a capo in the first few frets for two reasons – to play songs in the traditional keys, but also for the way the capo tends to push the strings closer to the neck, making chords and fast melodic runs easier to play. Try this if your guitar is a beginner model that is a bit more difficult to play.

SEE ALSO: 5 Guitar Gadgets That Will Change Your Life

Which Capo is the Best?

There are a few different capo designs. One of the best capos is the Shubb, which retails for about $16 on Amazon. It’s made of rugged steel and clamps on very securely. This is handy because if you accidentally bump the capo while playing, it won’t pop off and ruin your performance.

If you’re on a budget, one of Amazon’s best sellers is the UGY plastic capo which retails for about $7. This capo uses a spring action and can be attached or moved very quickly by squeezing two levers together. There are many manufacturers making capos in this style.

A third option is the Dunlop elastic capo, starting at around $3. It uses a stretchy elastic cloth that attaches to a rubber coated, pole piece. Several holes are provided along the elastic to allow for different tensions, as the neck gets wider the higher you go.

Whatever style you prefer, you need to make sure you order the right one for the type of guitar you have. If you order the wrong one, it won’t squeeze the strings correctly. A “steel string” guitar capo has a slight curvature to the part that lies across the fret board, as the fret board on a steel string guitar is slightly convex. A “nylon string” guitar capo is wider and very flat.

Many beginning guitarists often ask their instructors, “What is a capo?” Now that you know what a capo is and how to use one, you’ll be on your way to playing more songs than you thought you could! You’ll also be able to more easily play and sing along at the same time.

Although the capo can be a very helpful tool, try not to rely on it too much. It’s still very important to expand your knowledge of different chords on the guitar. Need some help mastering some of the more challenging chords? Check out TakeLessons. Our expert guitar instructors can help take your skills to the next level!

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MikeJ.

Mike J. teaches acoustic guitar, bass guitar, blues guitar, classical guitar, as well as country guitar in Ogden, UT. He received his Applied Music Degree from Mohawk College and has gone on to receive many certifications and awards since then. Mike is a full time music instructor with over 30 years of experience teaching, performing, and writing music. Learn more about Mike J. here!

How to Tune a Guitar

How to Tune a Guitar – Easy Tricks and Pro Tips

How to Tune a Guitar for Beginners

What’s the first thing you should do every time you pick up a guitar? Resist the urge to shred for a moment, and make sure you’re in tune. This guide will teach you exactly how to tune a guitar using different methods like a pro.

If you’re just beginning to play the guitar, an out-of-tune instrument can be incredibly frustrating and make every note sound like a mistake. Knowing how to tune a guitar properly will ensure that you always sound your best when you play.

How to Tune a Guitar

The mechanics of tuning a guitar are simple. To adjust the pitch of a string, turn the string’s corresponding tuning key on the head of the guitar. (Hint: here’s our guide to the parts of a guitar).

Turning the tuning key away from you will tighten the string and raise its pitch. Conversely, turning the tuning key toward you will loosen the string and lower its pitch.

How to Tune a Guitar using Standard Tuning

Most guitarists tune their instruments to “standard tuning.” If you’re just beginning to play and aren’t sure which tuning to use, you should stick with standard tuning for now. As you get more comfortable with your instrument, feel free to experiment with other tunings to keep your practice fresh.

The strings on the guitar are numbered one through six, starting with the highest string.

Guitar Tuning Notes

You’ll commonly name the strings in ascending order, starting with string six: E, A, D, G, B, E. Take a look at this image to see which note each string should be tuned to. Note that your highest and lowest strings are both E, the same note spaced two octaves apart.

Each note corresponds to the pitch your string should produce when played open, without holding down any of the frets. When you’re tuning, it’s best to start with the sixth string and work your way down.

How to Tune Guitar with a Chromatic or Pitch Tuner

When you’re learning how to tune a guitar, it’s very important to have a reliable method of finding the right pitch for each string. Most guitarists either use an electronic tuner, app, or another instrument. Each method comes with pros and cons.

For most beginners, using a tuner is the simplest way to find the right pitch for your guitar. Tuners come in a few different varieties. Chromatic tuners “hear” the note you’re playing and display the pitch your string is currently tuned to. You will be able to see if your guitar is sharp or flat, and also see when you’ve adjusted the string to the correct note. Here’s a video to show what this process looks like-


Pitch tuners play the pitch for each string and you must match each note by ear. You can also get a tuning fork, which you strike to produce the correct pitch for your guitar string. If you happen to be near your computer when the need to tune arises, it’s also easy to find a free online guitar tuner, like this one by Fender.

If you do decide to invest in a tuner or tuning fork, ask yourself if you’re a more visual person or if you’ve developed an “ear” for musical notes and intervals. Visual people and beginning musicians will benefit greatly from the use of a chromatic tuner, and over time may begin to develop a better ear for music by using a tuner as a guide.

If you feel confident in your ability to hear and distinguish pitch (or if you like a challenge), you might be happier with a tuning fork or a tuner that plays pitch.

SEE ALSO: 5 Basic Guitar Chords and 20 Easy Songs for Beginners

How to Tune a Guitar Without a Pitch Tuner

If you find yourself playing solo without a tuner, you can make a guitar sound decent by tuning it “to itself.” Check out this helpful tutorial, or follow the steps below.

Start with your sixth string held down on the fifth fret. You’re now playing an A on your E string. Adjust your fifth string, the A string, until your A string played open matches the pitch of the E string played on the fifth fret. It can be helpful to hum the correct note as you tune your open string, so you can better hear if your string is tuned too tight or loose.

Next, tune your D string to match the pitch of your A string played on the fifth fret. You can continue tuning each string to the fifth fret of the string above it, except for the B string. To tune your B string, hold the G string down on the fourth fret. As long as each string is tuned to the correct interval from the next string, your guitar will still sound fine by itself.

How to Tune a Guitar by Matching Pitch with a Keyboard

If you don’t have a guitar tuner handy, but you do have access to a piano, you can use the piano to find the correct pitch for your guitar. Tuning to a piano or keyboard is a great way to get the right pitch for your guitar, and is especially useful if you will be playing along with a pianist or other instrument.


Just tune your sixth string to the E two octaves below middle C. From there, you can tune your guitar to itself or continue to match each pitch to the right notes as you go up the keyboard.

Alternate Guitar Tunings

What do Joni Mitchell and Black Sabbath have in common? It’s all in the tuning! Both artists often used alternate tunings to get unique sounds from their guitars. Once you have a good idea of how to tune a guitar, it can be lots of fun to experiment with alternate guitar tunings. There are hundreds of possible alternate tunings for the guitar, but two of the most common alternate tunings are Drop D and Open G.

Drop D Tuning

Tuning your guitar to Drop D is pretty simple. Start with your guitar in standard tuning, and just tune your sixth string down a full step from E to D. Famous songs in Drop D tuning include the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”, and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.

Open G Tuning

If you love Keith Richards’ guitar playing in the Rolling Stones, you’re already a fan of Open G tuning. In Open G, your guitar strings are tuned to the notes of the G chord, so when you strum open you’re already playing a complete chord. Starting from the sixth string, tune to the following notes: D-G-D-G-B-D.

How Often Should I Tune a Guitar?

Guitars are very sensitive instruments. The wood in your guitar expands and contracts slightly due to changes in temperature and humidity, which change the tension in the strings and cause them to go out of tune. You might even notice your guitar going out of tune as you play it, particularly if you tend to play very hard or frequently bend pitches.

Due to the guitar’s sensitivity, it’s best to tune at the start of your practice, and again any time you sense that it doesn’t sound quite right. You will notice even professional musicians occasionally need to take some time during performances to tune a guitar.

How Can I Make My Guitar Stay in Tune Longer?

Keep your guitar in tune longer by changing your strings regularly. Depending on how often you play, you might want to change your strings anywhere from once a month to once a week. When you’re not playing, store your guitar in a hard case in a cool, dry place to avoid changes in heat and humidity.

If you follow these tips but still have issues with your guitar going out of tune, there may be an issue with your instrument’s intonation. Intonation refers to your instrument’s ability to hold pitch. Intonation may be affected by wear and tear as you play your guitar or the way your guitar was manufactured. Visit a local guitar shop and ask them to take a look at your guitar’s intonation and they should be able to help you find the right solution to your tuning woes.

how to tune a guitar infographic

How to Tune a Guitar Step-by-Step:

  • Step 1: Start by tuning the low E String.
  • Step 2: Next, tune the A String.
  • Step 3: Tune the D String.
  • Step 4: Tune the G String.
  • Step 5: Tune the B String.
  • Step 6: Tune the High E String.

Free Online Guitar Tuners

There are a number of great free online guitar tuners you can use to help you tune your guitar. Here are a few of our favorites:

8notes.com – You can use this tuner to hear the correct pitch, or activate your computer’s microphone to enable pitch detection.

JamPlay – This free online guitar tuner from JamPlay also allows you to tune by ear or use your computer’s microphone for pitch detection.

TrueFire – TrueFire makes a great free guitar tuner you can use on your computer in addition to their fantastic Pro Guitar Tuner app.

GuitarTricks – This tuner uses real guitar tones so you can match your instrument to its sounds.

Now that you know how to tune a guitar, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time. Need some more help with basic guitar skills? Check out the online guitar classes for free at TakeLessons Live. You’ll learn how to play different chords, new strumming patterns, and some of your favorite songs!

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alternate guitar tunings

Step Up Your Game: 4 Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

alternate guitar tunings

Whether you just started guitar lessons or you’ve been playing for a while, you may be itching to learn some new songs and take on some new challenges. You might be wondering: where can I go from here? That’s where alternate guitar tunings come in! With this guide from Michael L., you’ll learn how alternate guitar tunings can take your playing to the next level…

One of the amazing things about the guitar is its versatility. Not only can you play rhythm and/or melody in different genres, but you can also change the tuning (or the key) to create different atmospheres.

Here’s the deal:

Not all songs are written to be played in standard E-A-D-G-B-E tuning, so if you want to expand your range as a guitarist, you need to learn play some alternate guitar tunings.

Alternate guitar tunings, or open tunings, allow you to play new songs and explore new music styles. Essentially, alternate guitar tunings will expand your range and skill set.

If the only alternate tuning you know is Drop D tuning, then this tutorial will introduce you to some new concepts. We will focus on three open tunings: Open G, DADGAD, and Open D.


Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

Drop D Tuning

You may already be familiar with drop D tuning: Take your low E string and tune it down a whole step to D. In this tuning, you can play power chords by barring the low three strings.

Drop D tuning is usually associated with metal music, but you can also play other songs like the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and “I Might Be Wrong” by Radiohead.

Open G Tuning

Open G tuning requires three strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down a whole step to D, and the A string down a whole step to G.

Now when you strum the guitar, you’ll play a G chord. This tuning makes the guitar resemble a banjo, except with a banjo, the low G string is a high G string and the low D is not there. You can play some banjo songs in this tuning, substituting the high G with the low G offers a new sound on some traditional banjo songs.

I primarily use this tuning for blues, folk, bluegrass, and rock, but I’m sure you can find other genres to play in this tuning. A couple of songs that use this tuning are “Poor Black Mattie” by R.L Burnside and “Death Letter” by Son House (or covered by White Stripes).

The beauty of open G tuning is that you can strum the bottom five strings together and play a melody with any of the strings as long as the note is in the key G. You can also get any major chord you like if you barre the fretboard on the corresponding right fret (the chord is based off the notes on the G strings).

If you want a minor chord, barre the fret but play a half-step lower, on the B string. Alternating between the low G and D strings gives you fun bass lines, too.

If you would like to learn more chord shapes simply look online for “banjo chord chart” and apply those shapes to the guitar in this tuning.

DAGAD Tuning

DADGAD is very similar to open G. For this tuning, just tune the fifth string back up to A and the B string to A. This tuning opens the door for some really neat sounding modal music.

You can play folk music, like Paul Simon’s version of “Scarborough Fair” and “Armistice Day”, some rock music like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir“, or even nu-metal like Slipknot’s “Circle“.

Open D Tuning

Open D tuning requires four strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down to D, the G string to F#, and the B string to A.

Now, when you strum the guitar, you’ll get a D chord. Again, I mostly use this tuning for rural music (blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, etc.) This tuning is also my favorite to play the slide guitar.

Go ahead and strum steadily on the low D string while playing melody notes on the high D and A strings, and tell me that’s not one of the most sultry sounds you’ve heard! A couple of my favorite songs in open D are “Blind Willie McTell” by Statesboro Blues and Bob Dylan’s “Corina, Corina“.

As with open G, you can find any major chord by barring the corresponding fret (the chord is based off the note on the D strings). If you want a minor chord, play a half-step down on the F# string.

Here are a couple of open D chords, besides barre chords, to get you started.

G7 A7
—3— —2—
—2— —0—
—1— —1—
—0— —2—
—2— —0—
—0— —2—

I hope this gives you some new ideas on how to approach the guitar. Have fun with these alternate guitar tunings. They changed the way I think of guitar and I hope they do the same for you, especially if you’re a fan of delta blues and folk music!

If you need help with any of these alternate guitar tunings, ask your guitar teacher to go over them during your next lesson!

Want to ramp up your guitar skills at home? Try one of our free online group classes

Willy MPost Author: Michael L.
Michael teaches ukulele, guitar, drums, and music theory in Austin, TX. He studied music theory and vocal performance at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy. In addition to private lessons, Michael teaches music to special education students in Austin public schools and foster children with Kids in a New GrooveLearn more about Michael here!

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online guitar class

I Tried an Online Guitar Class and Here’s What Happened…

online guitar class

Have you ever wondered if you can really learn guitar online? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try an online class but weren’t sure if it was right for you. Check out this video testimonial and find out how you can try a free online group class!

If you didn’t already know, you can take live, online guitar classes right here at TakeLessons! In the new TakeLessons Classroom, you can connect with a teacher and take a lesson on your computer or mobile device. The best part? You don’t even need to leave your house to boost your guitar skills!

If you’ve never taken an online class, you may have some questions about how it works. In this video testimonial, learn all about the new TakeLessons Classroom and find out if online classes are right for you!

Desi M. enjoyed her class on easy guitar chords for beginners. As a mom, she loved that the TakeLessons Classroom was easy to set up and convenient to use at home.

Desi: The best thing about the online course was that it was first offered for free to try it out. Setup was easy, I just needed to find a quiet spot, and in a full house with kids, that’s hard to do! Which also leads to the convenience part of taking an online course: You can’t really bring your children with you on lessons, depending on the instructor and/or classroom setting, so being able to take a free lesson while watching your kids in the next room is amazing. 

If you’re unsure about online classes, I recommend trying a class for yourself. You never know where it may lead you, and even if you decide you prefer in-person lessons, you’re still going to learn from the experience.

Check out the video for Desi’s full recap of her online class experience.


Have you taken an online class? We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments below!

Are you interested in trying a live, online class? In addition to guitar, we also offer classes in singing, piano, language, photography, crafts, and more. For a limited time, you can try a class for free. Check out the class schedule, here

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