The guitar is the absolute best instrument you could learn for many reasons. It’s mobile, cheap, and just awesome. The guitarist in the band always gets the most kudos, no question about it 😉
But is it possible to teach yourself guitar from home? Well, let’s see.
Getting a guitar is not enough, you also need to learn how to play it somehow.
My name is Tom Fontana, I've been a guitar teacher for over 20 years now and own TheGuitarLesson.com, so I have a decent amount of experience with teaching guitar both privately and online.
Let me tell you what I believe to be the best way to learn guitar in 2024 as efficiently as possible.
Get a teacher? Buy a book? No way!
Teaching yourself how to play the guitar has been revolutionized by online guitar lessons. Actually, the old ways of learning to play are quickly becoming obsolete.
Online guitar lessons are the way to go if you want to teach yourself guitar at home:
- Online lessons are cheap. Lots of lessons are free, and the better ones only cost a few bucks per month.
- 0-24 hour access. You won’t need to schedule with a live teacher or travel anywhere.
- Always with you. Online lessons are there with you, wherever you have an internet connection. On your PC, iPad, cell phone, wherever.
- Edited for quality. The best online lessons have been edited to bring you only the best material.
Here is a quick comparison chart between your options. Have a look, and take your pick.
|Thousands of video lessons + extra material
|Private lessons 1x-2x per week
|Few hundred pages of reading
|Online guitar tools
|$0 - $15/month
|$250 - $500/month
|$10 - $20
Steps to Teaching Yourself How to Play Guitar
Learning to play guitar is no brain surgery. If you take a methodological approach, follow a program, and stick with it, you will learn to play guitar. There is no question about it.
- Get a guitar 🙂
- Sign up for a single online lesson program.
- Practice at least 1 hour per day.
That’s it, no hocus-pocus.
Once you get step number 1 out of the way, step number 2 may take a bit of time. You’ll need to find an online course you will stick with. You mustn’t jump around between courses.
Lots of beginner guitarists try to find an easier route when things get a bit more difficult. They leave one course in hopes of finding an easier one. We've all been there.
Learning has its difficulties at times, but jumping around will make it worse. Stick with a program, and you’ll get past the difficulties quicker than you think!
I'll tell you which online lessons I can recommend later.
9 tips for learning to play guitar by yourself
If you're all set to start your guitar journey and have made the decision to learn it on your own using online lessons, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you start.
1. Get a guitar you love and keep it where you can see it.
Let's start with something simple that works wonders. When you shop for a guitar, make sure you buy one that you find beautiful. It can be an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, it doesn't really matter. Falling in love with your guitar is the first step toward wanting to play it often.
You also want to get a guitar stand and keep it out where you can see it, which will also get you to grab it more often.
2. Learn to read guitar tablature
Learning how to read tabs early on will really help you in learning guitar. What are tabs? They are an easier type of written music notation for guitar.
Tabs are everywhere, they are more popular than standard music notation for guitarists. You'll be able to find the tabs to any song ever written after a Google search, which makes learning the songs you love so much easier.
3. Learn the basic chords perfectly
You might be surprised to find out that by using a few basic guitar chords, you'll already be able to play thousands of songs on your guitar.
Teach yourself those chords and practice them diligently to perfect them.
4. Learn a few strumming patterns
There are only a finite number of chords and notes, but playing them differently varies music in infinite ways. Learn not 1 or 2, but as many strumming patterns in as many styles of music as you can.
This will make you a versatile guitar player.
5. Changing in between chords
Learning how to change between chords will seem difficult at first, but it's just a matter of practice. Learn the basic chord shapes first, then learn to change in between them.
You'll be doing it blindfolded before you know it.
6. Aching fingertips
Your fingertips will hurt at first, which is normal. With enough practice, you will develop hardened skin on your fingertips. These are called calluses.
When you initially start learning guitar, you'll only be able to play for 10-15 minutes before your fingers hurt so much that you need to stop. The more you practice, the thicker your calluses become, and the more you'll be able to play.
7. Leave music theory for later
In my experience teaching beginners, I've found that few things turn newbies off more than music theory. It's logical really. Why do you want to learn guitar? To play songs.
Music theory will become important later on, but at first, it's important to start enjoying the music you make as soon as possible.
8. Learn songs from day 1
Ok, on day 1 you won't be able to play much, but you get the idea. Playing your favorite songs is fun! It's the reason you decided to teach yourself how to play guitar, right?
There are loads of popular songs that are easy to play, even for early beginners.
9. Practice regularly
My music teacher in middle school kept nagging us about how much we should practice at home. I didn't care back then, but I now know that sufficient practice is the only way to learn guitar. Or anything for that matter.
Creating a weekly practice schedule that you stick with is a good idea. Routines are good for keeping yourself in check and accountable. But if you enroll in a course, you'll have a set curriculum to follow every day of the week.
Now with that said, it's OK to skip a day or two and just play what you love, but you want to push yourself and learn new things to get better and better.
One hour a day isn't much, but life gets in the way sometimes. Even on days when you can't find the time, commit to playing for 10-15 minutes.
After reading the tips above, I also want to tell you about a few things you must avoid.
Be careful! There are pitfalls to teaching yourself guitar online!
Here are the most common mistakes people make when they want to learn guitar online. Be smart, read them, and don’t make these mistakes yourself:
- No structured learning. There is a HUGE problem with browsing YouTube and random sites for single lessons. They are not structured. As a beginner, finding a guitar course you will stick with is absolutely vital.
- Not learning songs. You will need to practice as much as you can, and the key to making your practice sessions fun is learning songs. Mundane exercise drills will get boring quickly. Practicing songs won’t. Find a course that incorporates songs into its curriculum.
- Jumping from site to site. It’s natural to look elsewhere when you get stuck somewhere. After all, there are thousands of guitar videos/articles out there, maybe the others are easier... No, you’ll need to resist this. Find a good course that is to your liking, and stick with it. Remember that when you can’t play something, it’s only a matter of practice. If you start jumping in between websites, you will get stuck and not progress.
- False promises. Don’t believe ads that claim to turn you into a guitar god in a week. Or a month. That’s just marketing. Wondering how long it’ll take to teach yourself guitar? Here are the details, for real.
- Lack of practice. You can't outsmart this point. Nobody can. If you don't practice regularly, you won't succeed. Period. Keep in mind that the diligent guitarist will always be better than the talented guitarist.
- Avoiding difficult lessons. As with everything worthwhile in life, learning guitar takes dedication. Don’t avoid the more difficult things, like barre chords, guitar theory, and other things you won’t pick up in a day. Stick to your course curriculum.
- Not tuning your guitar. This one’s easy enough to remedy. Tune your guitar, otherwise, it'll sound terrible.
And now, the SECRET to learning guitar!
They practiced. A lot.
Some even practiced 14-16 hours a day...
Do you want to teach yourself guitar? Practice as much as you can, practice the right things, and you’ll become a great guitarist, who others will look up to and say,
"Wow, I wonder how he learned to play so well?!"
Here are 2 sites I can recommend to beginners. Check them out and start learning guitar: