The Best Way To Learn Guitar – Guitar Learning Methods Evaluated

Best Methods To Learn GuitarSo, you decided to pick up guitar. First of all, as a guitar player and teacher, I’d like to congratulate you. From my point of view, playing the guitar and being involved in guitar music is one of the most fulfilling things in life that I wouldn’t want to miss for anything. With that being said, the journey of learning to play the instrument is not always free of obstacles. One of the first things that you need to figure out is the best way to learn guitar for YOU. That’s right, whatever is best for you may not be the right way for someone else and vice versa.

Especially nowadays, with the abundance of online courses and digital media, you might feel overwhelmed. After all, the last thing you want is spend a ton of money on something that turns out to be ineffective, or worse, a hoax.
In the following I will try to help you to get started in the process. Together, you and I will look at the benefits and disadvantages of each guitar learning method, compare them to each other and most importantly, try to objectively assess which one is right for you. There is a lot of information and therefore I structured this article so it’s easy to digest and navigate via clickable bookmarks in the Table of Contents below:

1. Different ways of learning the guitar
2. A Word of Caution
3. Learning on your own or with guidance
4. Comparing guitar learning methods
5. Video Discussion: Best Way To Learn Guitar for YOU!
6. Conclusion and Recommendations

1. Different ways of learning the guitar

So, in a first step let’s take a closer look of all the guitar learning methods available to you. In general, I would categorize them into two main categories: learning guitar online and learning guitar traditionally (not online). For each of those buckets, we have sub-categories, because there are obvious a number of different ways how to learn to play the guitar online – the same is true for the traditional methods.

However, we can also look at this from a completely different, and arguably, more important angle. Ask yourself a simple question: how do I learn new things best? Just by myself and at my own pace, or rather when I’m being supervised, guided and under some pressure? Think about that for a little while and then we will come back to this a little bit later.

For now, let’s talk about each guitar learning method we will be evaluating and comparing to each other.

1. Individual Face-to-Face Lesson with a Teacher: This is how I started out teaching guitar. And to keep it short, to me, this is possibly still the best way to learn the guitar, strictly from an efficiency perspective. You meet with a good guitar teacher whom you trust on a regular basis and he provides you personalized guidance. He can correct you immediately and show you in person what you need to do. No other guitar learning method can hold up to this standard. However, the downside to this approach are cost, logistical inflexibility, a rigid schedule and the pressure.

2. Face-to-Face, small group setting with a teacher: This can work, but even in a small group setting, all it takes is “one weak link” – meaning, one person who doesn’t keep up with the schedule (for whatever the reason may be) will have a negative impact on the learning dynamics and inevitably affect the other students. But clearly, this can save a lot of money, because you can split the cost of a teacher between you and the other students.

best way to learn guitar fast

3. Face-to-Face, large group setting: Right off the bat, I will have to tell you that I am not a huge friend of this model. These huge class-like settings are highly ineffective and this type of environment is simply not conducive to a productive learning experience.

4. Individual Online Lesson with Teacher: This can be very effective, no doubt. You get all the advantages that we discussed under #1, but your teacher likely won’t care if you’re sitting on the sofa in your jammies while he’s teaching you the best way to learn guitar chords or something else. Based on what I’ve seen out there, though, these lessons are still rather pricey.

5. Books, DVDs, Guitar Tabs, etc.: Frankly, this is how I learned to play the instrument. Is it the best way to learn to play guitar? I don’t know. It requires a lot of discipline and effort, it’s almost a little bit like working on a research-paper. You need to put things together by deduction and trial and error. While nobody looks over your shoulder and puts pressure on you, you also don’t get crucial feedback when you make mistakes.

6. Online Courses and Guitar Learning Programs: I don’t need to tell you that this is obviously a very popular way to learn guitar these days. It’s convenient and caters to the lifestyle that many of us live. Here is the problem, though: the plethora of online guitar learning advertisements doesn’t make it easy to weed out the scams and mediocre programs from those offers that are actually useful and can help a new guitar player to get and stay on track. I’m concerned about many prospective students who fall for offers that are just too good to be true – such as “The Best Way To Learn Guitar – Learning Guitar In Your Sleep” and alike. On the other hand, there are some very good online programs available to you, and we will be discussing some of them in the last chapter in more detail.

2. A Word of Caution

I just like to tag on to something I just mentioned above regarding scams, schemes and things like that. Because let me make one thing very clear: Irrespectively of what type of method you end up choosing and no matter whichever option you decide is the best way to learn guitar for you, they all have one thing in common: you will have to put in the effort! There is no way around it. Don’t fall for false promises and don’t spend money on products that simply can’t work (you can’t learn guitar in your sleep, you can’t learn guitar by buying the ominous DVD that suggest that you won’t have to practice if you make a purchase right now….you get the point, right?).

Learning guitar is like learning any other new skill. It requires commitment, passion, and discipline to be successful. And by the way, it only has very little to do with “talent”. So if you think you’re musically not talented, or if others suggested that to you, remove that thought from your brain! Right now!

So again, the bottom line is, you need to practice, that’s the only way to learn to play the instrument.

3. Learning on your own or with guidance

Alright, time to further elaborate on what we had touched upon earlier. Did you give this some thought? Because we need to figure out what learning approach is most compatible to your personality. Here is the thing: even if it turns out that you’re better off learning without a teacher, we will still have to figure out what is the best way to learn guitar on your own.

So, in light of what I just said, what kind of person are you when it comes to learning new things? Are you in general better off just trying to figure things out by yourself and do things on your own schedule?

Or do you need a certain degree of pressure to get things done? Somebody who checks in with you and keeps an eye on how you’re progressing along? Well, let me ask you very directly – do you need a nip in the butt at times to get going?

Be honest. There is no wrong or right answer to this. You just need to figure out what you’re most comfortable with. Because that will ultimately help us determining what is the best method to learn guitar for you personally.

No worries, we will get back to that. No need to make a decision right now. But please keep pondering as we dive into the next section.

4. Comparing guitar learning methods

Best Method To Learn GuitarBelow is a table where I tried to compare and evaluate the different guitar learning models to each other. “To each other” is the key-phrase here! Because the rating scale and values were strictly applied from a comparison point of view. Let me give you an example. I rated “Efficiency” for the method “Face-To-Face, Individual Teacher” with a “3”, which is the most favorable rating. Why? Well, compared to all other alternatives, this is by far the most effective method for the reasons I explained above. HOWEVER, if you were not to compare this method to the other ones, but look at it strictly from your personal perspective and preferred learning method, you may have given this a different rating. For example, if you hate learning with a teacher breathing down your neck, correcting you all the time, him coming to your house (or you to his), getting scolded for not having your homework done……well, you would have likely given this a “1” (which is the least favorable rating) instead of a “3”, right?

Therefore, please keep this in mind as you look at the comparison table below and my ‘relative’ ratings.

best way to learn electric guitar

5. Video Discussion: Best Way To Learn Guitar for YOU!

6. Conclusion and Recommendations

Wow, I threw a lot of information at you, trying to explore the best ways to learn guitar. You made it so far, thank you for indulging my ramblings. I hope I was able to help you in the decision making process.

Before I’ll let you go, here are some final thoughts, conclusions and recommendations.

Let’s look at three fictitious characters, all of whom are prospective guitar students, trying to figure out which is the best way to learn guitar. Their names are Jane, Jill and Joe (I’m always soooo creative…hahahaha)

Jane is in her 50ies, the kids are out of the house. Time and money are not an issue, she lives close to the city. She has tried several times to pick up the guitar, trying all different kind of things, such as YouTube, online courses and she also has a DVD set called “Best Way To Learn Guitar Easy And Fast”. She started that course but only made it to Lesson #3 after which she lost interested.

Considering all the above, my recommendation for Jane would be to find a good guitar teacher and get individual face to face lessons. Alternatively, an online guitar teacher could work well, too.

best way to learn guitar chordsJill has a completely different situation. A go-getter at her full time job, plus a family of 4. Not much time left for anything, let alone incorporating a rigid schedule. Flexible time management is key. She’s obviously very disciplined, structured and has no issues trying to figure things out by herself.

Given Jill’s circumstances, the best way to learn guitar for her would be an online option where she’s in full charge of the learning pace. Something like the Beginners Guitar Course Online or similar programs might just be the right choice for her.

Now we have Joe, a retiree. Joe has Internet access, but that’s about it. He’s still trying to figure out how to properly install “AOL” on this thing he calls “the machine”. Joe likes personal interaction and works best when he’s not the center of attention – and when gets clear guidance from a supervisor. He’s very cost conscious, but has a highly flexible schedule.

In his situation, while likely not the best way to learn the guitar in general, it would make sense to look for Face-to-Face lessons in a small or large group setting.

Now, please take these three characters as for what they are – some rather broad generalizations. Of course, there are many more nuances of live circumstances and situations, but I hope you were able to follow my thought process that I was trying to demonstrate via these three examples.

Online Guitar Learning Programs I can personally recommend

Have I checked all the offers that are available on the Internet relative to learning the instrument? No, of course not. But I’ve tried dozens of online guitar courses and programs which I thought had enough merit to check them out in more detail. This may sound brutal, but most of them are useless, at least in my opinion. I will refrain from naming them here, but rather do the opposite and focus on two specific offers that I can wholeheartedly vouch for when it comes to the best way to learn guitar online – and it really doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for the best way to learn electric guitar or acoustic guitar. These two suggestions will work for all players and types of guitars:

Option 1: The Free-of-charge Online Beginners Guitar Course

Beginners Guitar CourseThis is a guitar program that I personally developed based on my experience as a guitar teacher. I started out giving face-to-face lessons in my 20ies. I can’t do that anymore so I had to think about another way to teach guitar. That’s when I came up with the Beginners Guitar Course. It is completely free of charge, no membership and no registration. With that being said, it is strictly a beginner’s course and conceptually developed to bring you as close as possible to the best way to learn acoustic guitar.

Option 2: Jamplay, the most endorsed guitar learning portal for guitarists of all levels and musical preferences.

Hands-down, there’s a reason why Jamplay is the number one. There’s nothing you can’t find there. The quality of the guitar lessons is second to none. Thousands of teachers catering to virtually all playing levels and genres, it can’t get any better than that. And the best part is, Jamplay is very affordable with their flexible plans – there’s something for all budgets. Go check it out, I guarantee that you won’t regret it. I can personally vouch for them. AND: I have a bunch of exclusive JamPlay Coupons for you to make it even more affordable. Click on the banner below for all the details and remember to use your discount codes:

33C6CE10% off all guitar products (monthly, quarterly, yearly)
1BA1E2 – 25% off first month

So, that’s it. I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, just leave a comment below. I’d be happy to help and give you my honest opinion. Thanks for reading.




Published date: April 18th, 2016 by Ulrich Peise

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