Many years ago the only ways to learn the guitar was to get lessons from a teacher or a friend who knew how to play. Many say that’s still the best way to learn, but the reality of the situation is that’s often not even possible.

Many people who live in more remote areas might not even have a guitar teacher available to them, and looking at the typical guitar lesson cost, you can see why lessons aren’t right for lower income players.

However, as we all know there’s now a wealth of free information available online – though that can present it’s own challenges as many find themselves on an ill-defined path to learning the guitar.

Let’s walk through some of the reasons that an online guitar education can be the way to go in 2021 – but first….

Can you learn guitar online?

There are a lot of old timers who will tell you there are only two ways to learn guitar – a good book, or a good teacher. However, in an increasingly digital world, there are a variety of ways to learn guitar online.

While in person lessons can be helpful in terms of spotting physical mistakes you’re making, such as how you finger notes, hold your pick and so forth, once you’re over that initial hump there’s a world of online learning to be had.

In addition, if you feel like you need a learning path, you can easily sign on for a specific online course, many of which will allow you periodic check-ins with regular teachers, allowing you to pick up on any issues.

Realistically, just with so many other aspects of our lives, anything you can think of can be done online.

Wealth of learning options

One of the things that people talk about in the business world is “analysis paralysis” – which basically means you have so many options to consider, you get stuck trying to pick between one.

For modern guitarists, there is an analysis paralysis effect with the wealth of options you have for learning the guitar online.

The key here is to work out what works best for you, and then follow that path. You of course can take a hybrid approach, but really you want to avoid doing a little of each to the point you’re not making any progress.

Figure out what your learning style is, and then move forward with that until you’re where you need to be.


For visual learners, and those who find it best to have a person to follow along with, YouTube is a treasure trove.

In addition, and maybe it’s biggest perk – YouTube is free! Millions of hours of lessons at your fingertips and the only cost is watching a few ads here and there.

The only criticism I personally have with learning guitar from YouTube is that it can be easy to float from video to video, never really following a defined path that will get you from where you are to where you need to be.

One way around this is to find online courses that share the names of their lessons, build a path of your own from that, and then find good YouTube lessons to cover each of the points.


Another big change in the last few years is the proliferation of top quality guitar learning apps. Only a few years ago the closest you could get to a guitar app was a tuner, and many of them didn’t even use the microphone, just play tones for you to match to.

Nowadays, there are a huge number of apps that will guide you through lessons on very specific techniques and theory points. Some of the best are Guitar Tricks, Jam Play, Fender Play and YouSician. There’s also a wide variety of mac apps that will boost your musical creativity.

While many of these have paid levels, they have the convenience of being literally mobile – which makes it easy for you to take your guitar to a park or a hotel when travelling, and then continue with your course of study on your phone. Very simple.


Back in the 80s, guitar videos were all the rage, but as videos and VHS disappeared, and even DVDs became scarce, many of the companies behind those videos moved online.

Even some of the biggest names who stated out on YouTube can now be found selling their own courses on their websites.

Some of the biggest online courses can be found from the same people who make the apps we covered, such as JamPlay and YouSician, along with some lesser known names as PickupMusic and TuneLark.

With online courses, you typically have a defined path to follow, and you often are assigned a teacher to check in with as you move through the video lessons. This is especially helpful for beginner guitarists who don’t quite know where to start.

This gives you all of the benefits of having actual lessons, but at your own pace and from your own home.


In 2021, we’re long past the stage where things have to be done in person. In fact, if the pandemic has proven one thing it’s how much of our lives can be lead from home!

Learning guitar is just another one of those things – you can of course take lessons in person, but if you want more flexibility, or just need something more affordable, teaching yourself to play guitar using online means is the way to go.

Headline image courtesy of Cams on flickr