It has been a long, long time since I first learned to play guitar.
I mostly taught myself how to play.
What I remember being most challenging was knowing what to work on during my practice times.
I didn’t want to work on the wrong things and waste my time.
The best way to learn guitar varies from person to person.
The key is to spend your limited time practicing things that will help you improve.
That’s what we want to help you with today. Keep reading to learn about different ways to learn guitar and how best to combine the different methods to compliment your learning style.
Table of Contents
What Is the Best Way To Learn Guitar?
The best and most efficient way to learn how to play guitar on a basic level is to consistently practice. Through playing, the secrets of music theory, guitar techniques, and little tricks you see pros perform will eventually reveal themselves to you.
Even though there are no shortcuts to mastering guitar skills, you can avoid common mistakes and accelerate your learning process with the help of music lessons, online tutorials, and various helpful tools such as guitar-learning apps.
How I Learned To Play Guitar
As a self-taught guitarist with (now) close to two decades of experience, I am constantly discussing the best methods of learning to get better at the guitar with my friends and peers.
Even though the learning process is completely subjective, based on your drive, talent, and willingness to put in hours of work, there are easier and harder ways to get to the end goal of grasping the basics.
I attended several music schools, most of which coached elementary guitar and music theory. I have also subscribed to a few online music lesson platforms. These can be efficient methods, especially if you’re looking to specialize in, say, rock guitar, or acoustic blues.
Save for a few YouTube tutorials, these “free lessons” are usually made by amateurs. But I still managed to at least get inspired from some of them.
Over the years, I tested dozens of guitar apps, from simple music emulators and gamified applications to digitalized lessons. These can be good if you already know the bare bones of guitar play.
The only sure-fire way to learn how to play guitar is to start playing and consistently practice, even if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Below I’ll dive a bit deeper into each of these guitar learning methods and outline their advantages and drawbacks.
Guitar Lessons & Schools
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face mastering the guitar is pinpointing what you should be learning. Is it chords, scales, and the ever-boring music theory? Or should you instantly try to cover your favorite songs?
Fortunately, that’s not an issue if you’re attending music classes based on curriculums created by professional guitar instructors.
Guitar lesson platforms may differ in approach, but they all teach the very basics of guitar playing. Additionally, you can usually choose between participating in lessons online or physically, if you live nearby. Most online lessons are also hosted in both individual and group settings.
Moreover, there’s always more to learn, and each coach or instructor brings something new to the table. If I had to recommend one platform, it would have to be GuitarTricks purely because they have dozens of certified guitar teachers, each specializing in a different field of guitar.
The only drawback of guitar lessons and schools is that they can cost quite a bit.
Online Tutorials And Free Resources
Not all beginners can afford or feel comfortable spending upwards of $20 per month on lessons that may or may not work out for them. The beauty of online guitar tutorials, how-tos, and similar resources is that they’re free and accessible to anyone.
One of the best things about being a new guitarist in recent years is that nearly all high-profile guitar teachers have their own social media channels where you can access at least some of their lessons.
About 6 to 7 years ago, YouTube for one was filled with amateurish tutorials and explainer videos, which made searching for credible information arduous and time-consuming. But today, plenty of professional instructors offer free videos.
The issue with these new professional but free lessons and tutorials is that they’re often just snippets, or better said ads, meant to promote their owners’ platforms. You won’t get an in-depth analysis of guitar modes and scales, chord breakdowns, or comprehensive explanations in most cases.
Guitar Learning Apps & Tools
Modern technology paved the way for virtual chords and tabs, as well as gamified guitar emulators, tuners, and a barrage of other accessories that can all teach you something new about guitar playing.
No matter how they’re dubbed, guitar learning tools can’t be put in the same basket as instructors showing you a certain technique or coaches driving you to get better. Use these apps as ancillary means to supplement your progress.
As Zig Ziglar said, “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” Even if it may not seem intuitive, you can practice playing your guitar even if you don’t know a single technique, chord, or even note.
My first guitar practice experience was strumming the E string along to System of a Down’s Science. I had no clue what a riff was, let alone how to play the right ones, but I could try to follow the tempo I was hearing.
With a bit of trial and error, I eventually stumbled upon a few notes that felt right. Before long, I realized that you can press and play multiple notes at the same time. This process of discovering what can be done on a guitar is priceless, and the knowledge you accumulate this way sticks for life.
The more you learn, the more exciting playing a guitar becomes. In a few weeks, you’ll start noticing patterns between certain notes and strings, and voila, you’ll learn your first chords.
This is precisely how music theory was invented. People tested the possibilities of what feels right and simply named what they were doing.
The main reason I recommend practicing more than any other method is because I realized that first-hand experience and knowledge are far more profound than knowledge that others pass on to us, at least when it comes to guitar playing.
And in the beginning, it’s mostly about getting your fingers used to moving in ways to which they are unaccustomed. The means lots of finger exercises for guitar and running scales or practicing basic chords.
Best Way To Learn Guitar: Final Thoughts
Before we part, let me accentuate that the process of mastering any skill, including guitar play, is completely subjective.
Some musicians may thrive as self-taught guitarists while others may hit a wall within just a few days. One guitar lesson platform may not suit your needs, but the next one might. You may like certain social media channels teaching guitar and find every other useless.
The best way to learn how to play guitar is to explore all of these possibilities until you find the method that works best for you.