Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Players

Learning how to play guitar is one of the basics if you want to join a popular music band and getting good online tuition is the best way to start as you mean to go on. Sure you can teach yourself, but it takes a whole lot longer to get to a high standard of playing and you pick up lots of bad habits along the way.

By getting top quality professional guitar coaching from a pro teacher, you will not only learn how to play faster and play better, you will also avoid the pitfalls and bad habits that self taught guitarists tend to suffer from. That's not to say there isn't a plus side to being self taught, since the author is a self taught guitarist and a darn good one at that!

Self Teaching versus Professional Tuition

What I can pass on from personal experience in this article is that while there is a certain satisfaction from learning the guitar by myself from books and watching what I considered to be pretty good guitarists play in bars and copying their stuff, there is a downside in the slow learning process.

It took me many years to reach a level of proficiency where I could join a heavy metal band as lead guitarist and play with confidence in front of an audience.

I'm convinced I could have gotten there a lot sooner had I elected to take proper lessons back then, like those offered by a top tuition site like JamPlay (featured in the advertisement on the right: click the image for more details).

But the past is the past and you can't undo it or take back that time. Once it's gone, it's gone!

So I started learning as a teenager but it wasn't until I was in my early 20s that I had enough technical ability and accuracy to play guitar in a band that demanded more than just amateur playing. Up until then, I had been playing bass guitar in bands where technical ability wasn't such an issue (at least not back then when all I really had to do was stay in time with the drummer and hold onto the root with a few easy runs).

By the time I was 30 I was playing heavy metal lead guitar with speed, accuracy and a pretty individual technique. Guess what I figured out back then as well as knowing full well now?

If I'd have taken lessons, would I have developed my own individuality as a player or would I have become one of the wannabe Van Halen, Page or Blackmore clones that I was teaching as a coach?

My take on things is that these guys I was teaching who were teenagers themselves were way ahead of where I was as a teen for having the lessons for sure. But they didn't have any individual technique. They all sounded the same, played the same notes the same way and had exactly the same (dreadful, in my opinion) over-processed sound from playing through the latest multi-effects pedals.

Getting the Right Electric Guitar Sound

A little more on that, if I may. Call me old school, but I really like the sound of a Strat going through the warm tubes of a Marshall with natural sustain and a little amp overdrive. With that as my starting base, I can make my old Strat sing in a range of great sounds, colours and feels because the sound is controlled by what my left and right hands are doing and not some piece of electronic wizardry parked on the floor!

Sure, I get it that kids want to sound like their heroes and so did I when I was younger, but I didn't have (couldn't afford) amazing gadgets to make my sound. All I had was my guitar, my amp and my creativity. And it's pretty shockingly amazing what that combination can produce. If you are ever in any doubt about that, just listen to someone like Clapton or for that matter Jimmy Page playing with an almost clean sound yet they still get incredible feel from their instruments.

I'll go out on a limb and say you lose that feel when you process your sound!

I've listened to Steve Vai play some amazing guitar and he really looks like he's one with his instrument, but his sound is manufactured by a box of tricks and not by just him and his amp. It's the same with most modern guitarists that stand out from the crowd. The sound is too homogenous and lifeless to match the true feel of just a simple guitar-amp-player combo.

Learning Guitar Playing Technique

OK, enough on the sound thing. It's pretty subjective anyway and what I like and don't like isn't the same as everyone else. Maybe you like the processed sound of a generic guitar (because you can't tell what it is from its real sound), but that's all I'm saying on the subject (for now, at least).

Let's talk about guitar playing technique. By that I mean the way in which you hold your instrument, fret with your left hand (or your right if you're a left-handed player) and bridge, pick strum and/or fingerpick with your other hand.

This is where getting the basic technique is important. It will allow you to be able to play smoothly, make fast chord or fingering changes and create clean and accurate note or chord progressions.

Of course, you should develop your own playing technique as you mature to try and get as individual a sound as you can. Think Eric Clapton again: you can usually tell it's him playing. Or take an old Jimmy Hendrix number and it's obvious that it is him playing.

But before you van do that, you need to be able to play the right way. And the only way of doing that is to be able to watch someone who knows what they are doing and then copying them!

Playing Lead Guitar

The acoustic guitar is a starting point for many guitarists, me included. My old six string was my entry into the world of musicianship on a stringed instrument (I played clarinet before that) and it was one that I could play the songs that were in the charts back in those days.

If anything, the acoustic guitar is probably harder to play than its electric cousin, mainly because the strings tend to be heavier and the fret action a little higher. This means you need to press harder to get a good connection and clean sound and that makes chord changing harder and slower if you are going to make the change cleanly.

However, its also the best learning tool because once you can play this instrument well enough, the change onto an electric axe is smooth and feels amazing because the electric feels so much easier to play! The fret action is generally much lower, the stings generally lighter and the playability is much better all round.

Playing Guitar Chords

Probably the easiest side of playing this instrument is in the chord structure of songs. Once you learn the basic chord shapes (where you place your fingers on the fretboard) for each basic shape, you will be able to play most popular songs.

There are three main basic shapes for major and three more for minor chords which are simply repeated all the way up the fret board to produce every single key from A chromatically to G and A minor to G minor. Once you have these under your belt and are able to change quickly between them, you can then start learning the clever stuff such as major and minor seventh chord shapes, major and minor ninths, suspended, diminished and augmented chords as well as learning how to create amazing effects by hammering on chord notes to alter the sound and style of the chord itself.

Playing Lead Guitar

Naturally, most new guitarists want to progress onto playing lead like their heroes. But if you think you can just grab a guitar and start shredding like Yngwie or Vai, stop and take a moment to figure something.

Those guys and the many guitarists like them didn't just learn how to play with such speed and accuracy overnight. It took years of hard work, long hours of practice every day and the kind of dedication that only truly successful few ever achieve.

Sure you can learn how to run up and down the fretboard like a lunatic pretty fast, but you won't sound as good as the really good players. And to be honest, there's nothing worse than hearing a bad player who thinks they're a great player stand up at a jam session and try to play "Eruption" sounding like a wall of noise rather than a lot of fast, clear and precise individual notes!

Finger Picking Styles

While most popular guitarists play with a pick (plectrum), some move on from there to play a finger picking style that is another way of playing altogether. I personally have moved to this style of play. I especially like it on acoustic guitar and much prefer it for the scope it gives me to create a more interesting sound and style.

It also sounds pretty amazing on an electric guitar as long as you don't over distort the sound because the nuances of the technique are often lost in the fuzziness of that kind of sound. I go back to my tube amp (Marshall 50 combo) and my trusty Strat for this style to really shine. I go for a little amp overdrive and chose the pickup selector position between the middle and back pickups for that classic Strat sound and the result is really nice!

You can and should try this for yourself once you perfect the finger picking technique to your own style and once you do, I'm willing to bet you won't want to go back to using a pick!

Further Reading

OK, I've talked enough about learning how to play the guitar in what was supposed to just be an overview article. Below you're going to find some additional titles that deal with the several important aspects of guitar playing. Just click the title that you want to read and the page will open for you.