8 Best Online Guitar Lessons (2020) – Honest Reviews
The first online guitar tuition sites which started back in the early 90s have evolved with the internet. Nowadays, guitar lesson sites offer engaging interactive courses and lessons, huge communities, mobile apps, and many other additions that help with the learning process.
Top 3 - Online Guitar Lessons
700+ popular songs
High profile instructors
Different sites focus on different approaches to teaching, as well as different styles of music. While the big sites most often offer extensive acoustic and electric guitar coverage, finding advanced bass lessons is more difficult. Also, lessons on 6+ string electric guitars and ukuleles are somewhat scarce.
8 Best Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners & Advanced Players
Here are my reviews of the best online guitar lesson platforms (paid & free), which are suitable for learning on both acoustic and electric guitars.
Table of Contents
- 8 Best Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners & Advanced Players
- Why Learn Guitar Online?
- Paid Lessons vs. Free Lessons
1. Guitar Tricks - $19.99/mo
GuitarTricks was launched in 1998, the same year Bruce Dickinson recorded Chemical Wedding and Metallica went back to garage with Garage Inc. More than 20 years later, GuitarTricks has around 1.9 million active users, a huge song library, and an amazing roster of top-tier instructors.
The GuitarTricks online platform is well-designed and simple enough for first-time users. It is focused on song lessons and courses that cover specific areas of theory, technique, or genres.
There are 700+ songs in the library divided into five difficulty ratings (one to five guitars in ascending order of difficulty). Each song lesson is divided into parts, allowing you to skip parts that you already know. You can slow each segment down to 50% of its original speed and loop the segments as you wish.
The beginner segment is designed around the Core Learning System. It starts with Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 that teaches you about tuning, basic chords, and strumming patterns. The second part of the Core Learning System covers barre chords, power chords, tips on reading music, basic scales, and more.
The advanced segment offers players a deeper and more comprehensive approach to blues, country, and rock. The lessons in each genre include both lead and rhythm technique. There are also lessons on typical chords and scales, styles, and extensive artist studies.
Additionally, you’ll find a wealth of tips on how to pick the right gear. GuitarTricks also offers lessons for other genres such as metal, funk, jazz, bluegrass, and more. There are no lessons for the bass guitar.
GuitarTricks has a fantastic roster of instructors, many of whom recorded and toured with the biggest names in the music business. 1-on-1 lessons with them are available with the Full Access add-on that launched in early 2019.
There’s also a free app for iOS and Android. However, the app only offers basic lessons and features for free. To get more, you’ll have to subscribe.
Full membership at GuitarTricks costs $19.99 per month or $179.99 a year. If you use the SAVE20 promo code, you get 20% off the yearly subscription. Full Access Plus and Pro are billed separately, if you opt for them. Finally, GuitarTricks offers a free 14-day trial period.
You can also read my full review of GuitarTricks.
2. JamPlay - $19.99/mo
JamPlay started in 2006 and is among the older guitar lesson sites that are still in operation. Size-wise, it is the smallest of the “big three”, ranking behind GuitarTricks and TrueFire. JamPlay boasts more than 500,000 members and an impressive library of around 5,500 lessons by around 90 teachers and instructors.
The JamPlay site is divided into four main phases. The first phase or Beginners is where inexperienced players can learn the ropes. Next up is Genres and Skills is where you can learn all about technique and specific styles. Further on up is Songs where the song library is located. The fourth phase of Songwriting is for players who are interested in learning the craft of songwriting.
The lessons on JamPlay start with an introductory page that lists everything you need to learn a particular song or technique. The multi-view lesson video takes the central portion of the screen. The individual views are Student’s, Teacher’s, and Close up. You can rewind, loop, and slow down the lessons.
JamPlay has around 90 instructors. Some of them are specialized in certain genres or types of lessons, while others can be found all around the site. The highlight feature of this excellent platform is the Artist Series where famous musicians teach their songs and give tips and tricks on their style. Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Nick Catanese, and Glen Drover are the most prominent guitar instructors.
JamPlay has a sizable bass section as well. Billy Sheehan, David Ellefson, and Bryan Beller are the most prominent bass teachers in the Artist Series.
You can also access some pretty neat online tools if you join JamPlay. These include an online tuner, a comprehensive chord library, chord finder, and training games. JamPlay also offers a free app for Android, iOS, and Amazon Kindle.
The monthly fee is $19.99 while a yearly membership will set you back $159.95. Have in mind that you will need separate accounts if you want to learn both guitar and bass. JamPlay has a free 7-day trial and two promo codes. Clicking here would auto apply the coupon which will get you 10% off any membership cost, while clicking here gets you 20% off the first month of the monthly plan.
Read my full review of JamPlay here.
3. Fender Play - $9.99/mo
Fender Play is among the newest major online guitar learning sites around. It was launched in 2017 to high acclaim and great reviews. Naturally, the site lacked a bit in content and quality at the start, though most of the wrinkles have since been ironed out.
The Fender Play platform has a decent amount of lessons and a sizable song library. It offers lessons for acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, and ukulele.
The site looks on par with the most popular online tuition platforms. Everything you need is located in an elegant menu at the top of the page and is accessible in several clicks. The distinct advantages of Fender Play are the crisp design and intuitive page layouts.
The video lessons are not that much different from those found on GuitarTricks and JamPlay, though they have a slightly simpler video player. For example, there is no loop function and you can only rewind or fast-forward 10 seconds at a time. On the other hand, all video footage is done in 4K and from multiple angles.
Fender Play’s team of instructors is small and populated by young teachers. There are no celebrity tutors, though Fender’s in-house team is highly knowledgeable and skillful.
Beginner players are the focus of Fender Play, as most of the lessons cover simple techniques and concepts. Many song lessons are also geared towards inexperienced players. Some of the song lessons only explain the main riff or the main melody line of a particular song. The platform still doesn’t have that many advanced technique and theory lessons.
Fender Play covers rock, country, folk, blues, and pop for acoustic and electric guitar. Bass players can choose between funk and rock, while ukulele players only have access to a general course. Fender Play lets you learn all four instruments with one subscription. You’ll also find a very useful app for Android and iOS.
As a relatively new platform, it only costs $9.99 a month or a lump sum of $89.99 for the year. The free trial period used to be 30 days but has since been cut to 14 days.
You can read my full review of Fender Play if you want to know more.
4. Justin Guitar - Free
Justin Guitar was launched in 2003, a year before YouTube and three before JamPlay. The platform started out with free lessons intended to promote one-on-one online lessons with the site’s founder, Justin Sandercoe. In 2006, Sandercoe began uploading his lessons on YouTube, which have amassed an impressive 100 million+ views over the years.
The site was overhauled for 2019, so it now features a modern layout more akin to other major guitar learning platforms such as GuitarTricks and JamPlay. The site is easy to navigate and features neat drop-down menus where songs, techniques, and theory lessons are sorted.
Sandercoe’s lessons, of which there is more than 1,000, cover a wide range of topics, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Though professionally done and executed, they’re not filmed in a professional studio like those of other major online guitar platforms.
Justin Guitar still uses YouTube videos as the sole source of video lessons. While great and informative, they do lack some key features as found on other platforms. For example, you can’t loop portions of the video and there’s no multi-angle view. Bass and 7-string players are out of luck as Justin Guitar is all about the 6-string guitar.
The beginner section contains a huge number of lessons on everything from how to hold the guitar to how to play popular songs. Sandercoe presents the lessons in a friendly, easy-going manner which is devoid of any patronizing tone or gestures. Advanced guitarists can also benefit greatly from Justin Guitar, as the Musicianship section offers some in-depth lessons on songwriting, complex theory concepts, and advanced techniques.
It is worth mentioning that Sandercoe worked with many famous musicians, Katie Melua among them. His site is also praised by the likes of Mark Knopfler, Tommy Emmanuel, and Steve Vai.
There are also a number of tools and apps available from Justin Guitar. Guitar Note Trainer and Time Trainer Metronome are free, while you’ll have to purchase the Blues Lick app. All three are only available for iOS. Justin Guitar is free to use, though you can donate as much as you see fit. Some lessons in Musicianship do cost $9.99 a month or $99 for permanent access.
5. Jamorama - $99.95 Once
Jamorama started out as a free online guitar lesson site and its format remained largely unchanged throughout the years. The platform is led by Mark McKenzie, a guitar instructor with over 20 years of teaching experience.
The entire site went through a facelift in 2016 for a more streamlined contemporary look. The site is now a lot cleaner-looking and easier to use. The top menu bar contains all the important shortcuts and links, letting you navigate the site with ease.
Video lessons are one of Jamorama’s main features, similar to the older and bigger platforms such as JamPlay and GuitarTricks. They’re filmed in high quality and are very informative. Many lessons also display a chart of chords used, as well as scrolling chords near the bottom of the page.
The video player is nice, slick, and very easy to use. You can play and pause and use the seek bar. However, it does lack some important features and options. For example, you can’t loop the video and there’s no way to slow the video down to better follow a complicated part of the lesson.
To capitalize on the large community built up around the site, McKenzie devised a system of badges and achievements for completed lessons and courses that you can show off in your profile. The Jamorama community is quite big and active. It works sort of like Facebook in the sense that you can befriend other users, join groups, and like posts.
Mark McKenzie, who goes by the name of “The Guitar Guy” on YouTube, is the only teacher featured on Jamorama. He mainly uses an acoustic guitar for his lessons, though beginner electric guitar players can benefit a lot from them as well. It is worth noting that the platform doesn’t have any bass lessons.
Jamorama leans towards beginners, which one can tell with a quick glance over the curriculum. Most of the lessons, both technical and song, are made with beginners in mind. Intermediate players can also benefit from the platform, particularly its social component and included online tools such as metronome, note finder, and tuner.
Some of Jamorama's beginner-centric lessons are free, and you can choose to pay a one-time $99.95 fee for full lifetime access to its premium lessons.
6. ArtistWorks - $105 Quarterly
Started back in 2008, ArtistWorks is one of the most versatile online music learning platforms that cater to a wide range of instruments. However, in this review, we’ll stick to the guitar portion of the site.
The site is neat and clean, though it might take a bit longer to get a hang of it than GuitarTricks or JamPlay. But, once you get familiar with everything, ArtistWorks becomes one of the easiest sites to navigate.
ArtistWorks is exclusively dedicated to technique and theory lessons. This means that guitar and bass players who are looking for step-by-step song lessons are out of luck. However, the quality of lessons offered is very high.
The video lessons are shot professionally in the studio and easy to follow. The video player, though smooth and intuitive, does lack some advanced options found on the top-tier platforms. However, you do get complete tabs and note sheets for every lesson.
ArtistWorks is clearly more for beginners than advanced players as the majority of the courses, regardless of the instrument, cover only the fundamentals of theory and technique. That being said, each lesson is professionally designed for maximum impact.
The coolest thing about ArtistWorks, though, is that students are able to exchange videos with their celebrity teachers. For example, if you take up Paul Gilbert’s “The Rock Guitar with Paul Gilbert”, you’ll be able to shoot a video of yourself playing the technique from a particular lesson and post it on the site for Paul to review and answer. Gilbert’s ArtistWorks lessons are considered among the best online lessons around.
Intermediate and advanced players can get their money’s worth with ArtistWorks, too. There are dedicated courses and lessons on complex techniques and musical theory that will take you quite some time to get through.
Bass players are also well provided for. Some of the most prominent teachers in the bass section include John Patitucci, Nathan East, and Missy Raines.
ArtistWorks doesn’t offer any additional tools such as metronomes and chord books. Also, there are no dedicated apps for mobile.
The Basic plan costs $105 for 3 months. The Select plan costs $179 for 6 months. The Unlimited plan costs $279 a year. Only Select and Unlimited plans allow video submission. There are no promo codes or free trials.
7. TrueFire - $19/mo
TrueFire has been around since 1991 or the earliest days of the internet. It is by far the oldest surviving guitar learning platform while also holding the title of the biggest platform in terms of the number of available lessons and courses – over 33,000. The platform also has over a million active users, which only GuitarTricks can match.
There’s nothing to worry about the age as the site has been modernized and overhauled several times during its existence. Currently, it has a modern, streamlined appearance with a smooth main menu bar at the top of the screen. You can easily access any course or lesson through the main menu.
Each lesson contains a video and additional info and course materials on the same page. The quality of the video and teaching style depends on when the lesson was recorded. Regardless of how old they are, the lessons are done professionally and easy to follow. There is no way to tell what player or video resolution options to expect before opening the lesson.
The old video player (still in use on some lessons) offers basic controls, such as play/pause, rewind, fast-forward, loop, and speed. On the other hand, the new SoundSlice player adds interactive notation and tablature on selected lessons.
Inexperienced players are very well provided for, where a wide range of courses and lessons are to be found in the beginner section. Courses by TrueFire’s education director Jeff Sheetz are particularly popular.
TrueFire truly shines in intermediate and advanced guitar and bass lessons/courses that number in the hundreds for each. Some of the celebrity teachers include Tommy Emmanuel, Robben Ford, Steve Vai, Stu Hamm, Ariane Cap, and Andrew Ford.
TrueFire offers numerous extras, though most of them are hidden behind a paywall. The free ones include practice journal, guitar tuner, chord chart, and scales chart. You can also access some interactive channels hosted by some of the teachers for free. At the other end, you’ll have to pay extra for all other add-ons, such as interactive jam tracks, exclusive teacher channels, and more.
The monthly subscription costs $19 and the yearly plan $199. For $1,999 you can get unlimited lifetime access.
8. Andy Guitar - Free
Andy Guitar is a one-man online guitar teaching school that in many ways operates similar to Justin Guitar. Like the other more prominent platform, Andy Guitar is based on YouTube videos and free to use. It’s been around for a while and offers hundreds of lessons geared mainly towards beginners. The platform has a loyal and pretty active community.
The lessons on Andy Guitar are organized in courses that cover beginner, lower-intermediate, and intermediate tiers. However, there aren’t any comprehensive courses for advanced players.
Each lesson is centered on a short YouTube video with Andy Crowley, the platform’s founder and owner. His style is easy going and engaging. Crowley is an experienced and accomplished guitar instructor who prefers the motivational style of teaching.
Apart from the single-angle YT video, each lesson page also contains a list of used chords with diagrams and a short textual summary of the material covered in the lesson. Many of the lessons also feature play-along videos for further exercise.
The quality of lessons is on a serious level, though it lacks a little when compared to the meticulously crafted courses and lessons on ArtistWorks, GuitarTricks, JamPlay, and TrueFire. The basic YT player is very simple and you don’t get a multi-cam view. There are no interactive tabs or chord charts under the video. Also, the lessons are filmed in Andy’s room instead of a professional studio.
In terms of styles covered, Andy Guitar concentrates on rock, finger-style acoustic guitar, and acoustic blues. There is also a free 10-day ukulele course. Bass players are out of luck as Andy is mostly an acoustic guitar player. On a similar note, there are no lessons for extended range electric guitars or heavy metal techniques and songs.
Being a one-man show, Andy Guitar offers a much smaller song library than GuitarTricks. However, the covered songs are very well explained. Andy also runs a weekly guitar show with new episodes uploaded every Sunday.
Andy Guitar also has a set of premium courses and lessons that your basic free membership doesn’t cover. Also, there’s a free app available for iOS and Android. Signing up is completely free and you only have to pay for the premium stuff.
Why Learn Guitar Online?
Learning guitar online is a great way to advance your guitar and bass playing skills. There are many great online teaching platforms and well-designed comprehensive courses out there, covering everything from absolute beginner to pro levels. This type of versatility is extremely hard to find in one-on-one lessons.
If you feel anxious or pressured when you have to play in front of a teacher, online lessons are the way to go. The teachers and instructors in recorded online lessons can’t see or hear you unless, of course, if you sign up for interactive live sessions.
Online video lessons nowadays offer much more options than your standard YouTube video. You can slow the video down without lowering the pitch, which can be a lifesaver for tricky passages and solo licks. Also, some platforms offer lessons with real-time scrolling tablatures and chords directly below the video, making it even easier to follow the lesson. Interactivity is one of the key features of good internet-based guitar lessons.
Also, taking online lessons is a great choice for all working musicians with busy and unpredictable schedules. If you can’t commit to in-person lessons on a regular basis, the internet’s your best friend. Paid courses and lessons are available to you at any time of the day or night. You can learn and practice at your own pace without pressure.
Many guitar learning sites have extensive communities where you can connect with like-minded guitar players. You can exchange your experiences, tips, and tricks on everything guitar and bass. Many players have found jam partners and bandmates through forums and chats on online learning sites.
Folk, blues, country, pop, and rock genres are routinely featured on all prominent guitar learning sites. Some sites also delve into jazz, funk, metal, bluegrass, reggae, surf rock, and other styles.
Some platforms offer lessons and courses composed and recorded by prominent musicians. If you’re into shred rock, a course by Paul Gilbert or Steve Vai would be a real treat. Likewise, Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel of Machine Head and Nick Catanese of Black Label Society have all done lessons and courses for popular guitar lesson sites. Billy Sheehan, John Patitucci, and Stu Hamm are among the famous bass players who’ve taken up online teaching in recent years.
Finally, some sites allow you to record yourself practicing and upload the video for the teacher to review and give you their personal feedback. This is particularly convenient for players who are serious about taking their craft to the professional level and making a living as a musician.
Here's an informative YouTube video from someone who learned the guitar using online lessons.
Paid Lessons vs. Free Lessons
Free lessons and free tuition sites are a great option, especially for players on a tight budget. Reputable free sites do offer good info and lessons and are easy to get around. Many of them have sizable forums and communities around them. All in all, they are a solid way to start your guitar journey.
Prominent free guitar learning sites are mostly created and led by accomplished musicians and teachers with successful careers in the music business. These guys are professional, dedicated, and most importantly, passionate about teaching music.
However, free tuition sites are run by very small teams. Oftentimes, it will be just one teacher running the show. The teacher might also double as the vlog host, blog writer, forum moderator, CEO, and whatnot.
All that additional work takes away a lot of time and energy. The lessons are streamlined and geared towards simplicity and undemanding shoot. As a consequence, they may lack depth and finer pointers as found in a paid lesson or course.
Free tuition sites are often, quite understandably, limited in terms of the player level they cater to. Beginner lessons and simple songs for acoustic guitar are the mainstays on free sites. Although some teachers do offer electric guitar lessons and courses, and possibly a decent coverage of the intermediate level.
You will be hard-pressed to find comprehensive ukulele, bass, or extended range electric guitar lessons on free sites. The song libraries are usually very small and slow-growing.
Free sites are also often limited in a technical sense. Many free platforms don’t support live one-on-one sessions or other forms of student-teacher interaction.
Finally, there is little instructor diversity on free sites. While sites like TrueFire, ArtistWorks, and JamPlay feature dozens of teachers specialized in certain types of lessons and styles of music, free guitar lesson sites tend to rely on only one guy and his knowledge.
Learning guitar online is a great way to learn to play. You can do it in your spare time and you don’t have to mess with making appointments with a teacher and fitting that into their availability and your schedule. Online tuition sites nowadays offer everything you might need. You can find comprehensive beginner, intermediate and advanced courses for pretty much any style. These include lessons for bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and even ukulele.
Online guitar learning sites also offer mobile apps, free online tools, live jam sessions with teachers, and much more. Some sites let you upload videos for review by teachers and other sites employ popular musicians. Some of the biggest sites have hundreds of thousands of students that frequent the sites and forums daily, so you can also make friends while learning to play the instrument of your love.
When looking for the best online guitar lessons, consider your skill level, preferred style of music, budget, and whether you’re looking to learn technique or songs.