7 Best Online Guitar Lessons in 2021

Best online guitar lessons

If you’re like me, then you spent one day a week in an in-person guitar lesson after school from elementary school, all the way through high school.

That’s a lot of time to build faith in the efficacy of traditional guitar lessons. So my initial reaction to the idea of online guitar lessons is somewhat doubtful.

In-person guitar lessons give you a chance to build a working relationship with an expert in guitar.

They allow the teacher to make both physical and theoretical corrections on the spot and give the student the opportunity to ask questions when they arise.

I assumed online guitar lessons would lack all of these things until I began to research and try things on my own.

Not to mention the recent events of the past year, which forced every traditional guitar teacher to adapt to the world of online guitar lessons.

With that being said, let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular online guitar lesson platforms out there. At the end of the article, I’ll discuss some of the advantages of learning guitar online as well as some things to keep in mind when making your decision.

I have them ranked from greatest to least great, based on my own reviews and experiences with each one.

Best Online Guitar Lessons 2021

1. Guitar Tricks

Coming in at number one on my list is Guitar Tricks and for good reason. This platform has been around for the longest, so they’ve had the most time to refine their platform.

A subscription to Guitar Tricks will cost you $19.95 per month if you signed up today. Overall, this platform offers thousands of video lessons in enough styles to keep advanced-level guitarists busy.

Pros:

  • Affordable monthly or annual membership plan
  • Massive library of lessons, songs, and interactive tools
  • Reputable teachers
  • Long-standing platform with a proven track record
  • Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Some styles in Guitar Tricks have less available lesson content than their competitors. For example, JamPlay has better instruction in classical guitar and songwriting.
  • No available lesson content for bass guitar

2. JamPlay

JamPlay is a great online guitar lesson platform. There’s no getting around it. I went back and forth between the top two for a few days before finally deciding. It’s just that close.

JamPlay has thousands of instructional videos, interactive tools, and reputable instructors. What’s really cool about JamPlay is their philosophy. Their ultimate goal is to take complete beginners and turn them into creative musical artists. 

For me, this was very cool to see built into a course curriculum.

Pros:

  • Affordable monthly or annual membership plan
  • Massive library of lessons, songs, and interactive tools
  • Bass Guitar lessons are offered
  • Based around the idea of developing artists and not just guitarists
  • Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Might seem a little complicated due to the abundance of material and the layout of the website
  • Many styles are offered, but some styles don’t have nearly as much content as others

3. TrueFire

This platform functions in the same way as both JamPlay and Guitar Tricks. TrueFire offers thousands of online courses, tutorials, and tools to give you the absolute best experience possible. 

Some might say that it’s overpriced compared to other platforms and I have to disagree. It might be more expensive, but it gives you what you pay for.

A TrueFire membership grants you access to an interactive jamming app on top of countless video lessons and tutorials from reputable guitarists.

The idea that it’s overpriced probably comes from the TrueFire Channels, which you have to pay an extra fee for per channel.

You’d have to pay extra for any live zoom conference with Andy McKee or Tommy Emmanuel anyway though, so is it really asking for too much?

Pros:

  • Access to countless video courses in a multitude of styles
  • Also offering lessons in Bass, Banjo, Harmonica, and Ukulele
  • High profile instructors
  • Free 14-day All-Access trial period
  • Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players

Cons:

  • While the majority of the content comes with the All-Access membership, you have to pay extra to access the TrueFire Channels, and these costs can add up quickly
  • The artist courses are designed more with intermediate and advanced players in mind, so beginners will have to work their way up

4. ArtistWorks

In the world of online guitar lessons, ArtistWorks has created a system of teaching that places emphasis on student-teacher interaction. In my opinion, this is what’s missing from most other online guitar lesson platforms.

On this site, you pay for a 1-6 month-long course with any one of ten instructors. Keep in mind that these aren’t just any ten instructors either.

You may not recognize their names unless you’ve been around the guitar world for some time, but these guys are masters of their craft.

Every course is like a masterclass. So teachers post their instructional videos, students then submit their progress or questions, and then the instructors respond with a video critique or answer to the question posed.

In my opinion, this site may be slightly more expensive than its competitors, and it may feature a great deal less content, but it makes up for it all in quality of education.

ArtistWorks is a great option for anyone who feels like they might need a teacher’s guidance as they work through lesson material.

Pros:

  • High profile, master instructors
  • Individual feedback for every student
  • Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players, depending on which course you sign up for
  • Lessons offered in multiple styles of guitar including beginner acoustic, bluegrass, rock, electric country, blues, fingerstyle jazz, classical, jazz, dobro, and lap steel
  • Good option for players of all levels

Cons:

  • No library of standalone lessons or song tutorials, only what is available in each course
  • The cost might deter those looking for an affordable option
  • No available interactive practicing tools

5. JutinGuitar

JustinGuitar is one of the longest-standing online lesson platforms available. Its courses are structured very well and are designed with the complete beginner in mind.

What I find most intriguing about this site is that almost everything is completely free, with the exception of a six-month membership which gives you access to all of the music theory instruction as well, and it’s only $9.99.

This makes JustinGuitar a great option for anyone looking to get started learning guitar on a budget.

That being said, however, you won’t be getting any instructor feedback or fancy practice tools, and you won’t have the option to learn from different instructors.

Pros:

  • Well thought out, logical progression of course curriculum
  • Almost everything is completely free, so it’s the most affordable option
  • Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players
  • Long-standing platform with a proven track record

Cons:

  • There’s only one instructor, so it might not suit everyone’s style of learning
  • Some styles of guitar are underrepresented

6. Fender Play

Out of all the platforms on this list, Fender Play probably has the most widely recognizable name. Fender has been around since 1946, but in the world of online guitar instruction, they’re new to the crowd.

This platform looks good and operates well. It’s user-friendly, with apps for several different devices, and has a clear, progressive course curriculum for brand new guitarists, covering lessons in blues, folk, country, pop, and rock.

If you’re an experienced guitarist, you probably won’t find anything new or challenging here, and if you’re a brand new guitarist, you might only find the material on Fender Play useful for a few months, assuming you’re practicing every day.

Pros:

  • Logical progression of course materials
  • Affordable, with a free trial period included
  • High-quality production of video courses
  • Large library of songs to learn

Cons:

  • Best only for complete beginners, as even the later courses cover rudimentary concepts and overly simplified versions of songs
  • Only five major styles are offered

7. Yousician

Yousician is an app with an interesting take on learning a new instrument. The app teaches you new melodies and songs through gamification.

Essentially, the app will play a backing track and listen to you while you play along. Yousician displays a live feed of guitar tablature, showing notes and rhythms you get correct and incorrect.

It’s basically like a live version of Guitar Hero, but with a real guitar. The idea is similar to the Suzuki method of learning by watching and doing, but gamified.

This makes learning the guitar accessible to anyone from little kids to adults, as long as you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and pay for a monthly membership.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable, with a free 15 minutes per day option
  • Large library of songs to learn

Cons:

  • No instructors, no feedback
  • No apparent course curriculum, which will leave holes in a beginning student’s knowledge base
  • The app can teach you to play notes correctly, but there is no musicality involved – which is the actual basis for playing any musical instrument

What Are the Advantages of Online Guitar Lessons?

Affordable

There’s no getting around this. No matter what way you try to sell it to me, online guitar lessons are flat-out way more affordable than traditional in-person guitar lessons.

Honestly, the average monthly subscription to an online guitar lesson platform will cost about the same as a few overpriced coffees or a couple of trips to your favorite fast-food restaurant or home delivery.

If you can afford these things on a monthly basis, you can probably afford online guitar lessons.

Time Efficient

In today’s busy world, time is everything. I spent an extra 2-3 hours just traveling to and from my in-person guitar lessons as a kid.

Imagine being an adult and having to sacrifice that kind of time (thanks mom) just for a hobby. Online guitar lessons allow you to stay within the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to go out and fight traffic.

Just break out your guitar, take a seat on your couch and start learning. Most video lessons are short, so this amps your time efficiency up even more, given the fact that it’s easier to retain information in smaller chunks.

So take it one or two video lessons at a time, and you’ll have retained more information in a few days than you would by just taking in-person lessons once a week.

Progress-Based and Student-Centered

This is a big one. There are a lot of guitar teachers out there who teach to serve their ego and not to guide newcomers into the wonderful world of guitar.

Have you ever taken guitar lessons and gotten bored with the monotony of weekly exercises and rudimentary music? Have you ever had a teacher who pushed you through the material before you felt you had the chance to understand it?

I’ve been guilty of pushing students too hard, and I’ve been pushed hard myself. It just takes the joy out of playing!

Taking online guitar lessons gives you the luxury of moving at your own pace without the outside pressure from a teacher to work harder or practice more.

The only pressure comes from your own desire, excitement, and love for playing. There’s no better state of mind to embrace when you’re learning something new.

Accessible

Not only are you able to take guitar lessons from the comfort of your own home, in a judgment-free environment, but all you need is a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and internet access.

If you’ve got those two things, the websites and apps for almost every single online guitar lesson platform are very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Interactive Tools At Home

I remember having a folder full of sheet music along with a workbook which I would carry with me to and from my guitar lessons.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but imagine if that folder could replay any point in my lesson for me to rewatch. What if that workbook could take those chords I just learned, and perform a backing track for me to practice improvising over?

A person learning to play the guitar online.

Most online guitar lesson platforms come with tools to help you keep track of your progress, and organize your practicing.

You’ll often find glossaries to boost your music vocabulary, as well as chord finders and scale finders – not to mention apps and features that allow you to practice improvising at different tempos, in different keys, and in different styles.

This is stuff that (as much as it pains me to say it) a traditional in-person guitar teacher can’t give you to take home.

Some Disadvantages of Online Guitar Lessons

Requires self-discipline

I could talk about self-discipline all day long. You can always hire a teacher from one of these platforms to meet you weekly online and guide you, track your progress, and help you set goals, but without some external guide, you’re literally on your own.

It’s not impossible. People actually do this and are extremely successful!

Requires self-awareness

One thing that holds true among every musician is that we can either be our biggest critic, or our own biggest fan. Online guitar lessons aren’t always able to give you the validation and reassurance that you’re on the right track.

I know JamPlay has a test-your-skills feature, but other than that, you’ll likely have to pay someone to meet with you individually to get that professional opinion on your playing whether you sign up for online guitar lessons or not.

Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Making Your Decision

Consider your own interests

The first step in deciding whether or not a lesson program is right for you is knowing what type of music you’re interested in. Do you like jazz? Rock? Pop? Blues? Knowing what you like to listen to will only help you in the long run because it gives you direction.

Most online lesson platforms provide seemingly endless options. You can take lessons in styles ranging from classical to heavy metal (albeit those two styles aren’t always polar opposites).

If you get into a lesson program without knowing what you’d like to eventually play, then you’re likely in for a world of boredom and frustration. So make sure to think about this, and don’t be afraid to dream big.

Who your instructor will be

There’s nobody quite as detrimental to your motivation as Joe Schmoe down at the local guitar shop. While your own level of commitment and motivation plays a big role here, a bad teacher can kill it in a second.

I’ve heard too many stories about guitarists quitting lessons because they’re bored or because they’re being pushed too hard by their instructor.

Taking online guitar lessons gives you some insight into the mind of your instructors ahead of time. You’ll be able to read about their background and experience.

You might even know some of them already! The best part is that you can try out as many different teachers as the platform can offer you.

The bottom line here is that everyone learns differently and at different paces, so take the time to try different instructors out until you find one that you enjoy learning from.

The course curriculum

One of the biggest motivation killers for any student is having no sense of direction. Practicing small, meticulous technical things is important, but knowing what all of that work is going toward makes a huge difference in your daily motivation to continue.

If you’re a complete beginner, you might be thinking that there’s no way you can know whether or not a curriculum is effective. In truth, the proof is in the pudding.

If you’ve gone through a few lessons, have practiced regularly, and still can’t play something on your guitar, it’s probably time to try a new course (unless you’re taking a theoretical course).

Most online guitar lesson platforms have loads of different courses to choose from, and they’re designed to help you progress quickly and efficiently. It also helps that most of them offer a trial period for you to test the waters. Some platforms even offer a money-back guarantee.

How much you’re willing to spend on a lesson program

On average you could expect to pay $20-$40 per week if you’re taking traditional in-person guitar lessons. That’s at least $1000 per year for average guitar lessons.

If you want to guarantee higher quality in your instructor, then you’ll likely end up having to pay twice (or even four times) that amount.

Now, with that level of instruction, you should definitely be receiving the best on the market, but you could also pay rent on a second apartment with that kind of monthly investment.

Online guitar lessons present a new and unique way of getting around the massive cost of traditional lessons. You could pay the same amount of money per month as you would for a single hour-long lesson, and receive an incredible level of value more.

So when considering whether or not an online platform is right for you, I would suggest comparing it to in-person lessons and not to another website. They’re all priced similarly.

User Interface

I’m not the most computer-savvy person out there, so when it comes to anything technology-related, it needs to be very easy to use.

If you plan on spending a lot of time using a program or website, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration in the long run if you either learn how to use it to the very best of your abilities or find a program that’s extremely easy to use.

Guitar Tricks learning interface.
Guitar Tricks learning interface.

Be sure that it’s easy to navigate. I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve had a little bit of trouble figuring out where to begin when it comes to online video lessons.

In some cases, downloading the app after creating your account will save you a lot of time and frustration. Then it’s as simple as opening the app and logging in.

Easy to follow lessons

Many online guitar lessons are simply structured and not difficult to follow along with. The beauty of it is that they’re usually not longer than ten minutes, focusing on one or two very simple things at a time.

This helps with time efficiency as well and gives you exactly what you need in order to practice and improve quickly. There’s nothing quite as annoying as a teacher who rushes through a bunch of material and expects you to keep up.

Tools to help you progress through manageable goals

Most, if not all online guitar lesson platforms will provide you with tools you can use in order to maximize your overall experience while learning guitar.

Whether it’s something as simple as a diagram of the fretboard, or an interactive app that lets you jam with real musicians, you should make sure whatever lesson platform you’re looking into paying for has something you can use beyond watching video lessons.

How much time you’re willing to practice

Of all the things you need to consider before spending money on an online guitar lesson program, this one is of the absolute most importance.

You can have the best instructors in the world with perfect lesson plans, at an affordable price, but if you don’t put in the time to practice, you’re not going to see any results, and that’s the best way to judge a lesson platform – give it your absolute best and then judge based on your results.

If you’re not planning to practice very often, then you might not need to pay for the most expensive platform on the market.

But if you’re planning on practicing for a few hours every day to get the absolute most out of whatever platform you choose, then maybe you can justify spending a little extra cash every month.

Things You’ll Need to Get Started

Guitar

This seems a little obvious to say, but don’t pay for an online guitar lesson subscription unless you own a guitar. For complete beginners, I always suggest getting a nylon string acoustic.

The strings are gentler on the fingertips, and there’s less neck tension to deal with. This way, students can learn good technique without having to strain their hands too much.

Some teachers would say that you should start with a steel-string acoustic guitar to help develop your hand strength.

The problem with this idea is that in developing your hand strength, you also learn the bad habit of squeezing the neck of the guitar way too much, and this becomes something you’ll have to un-learn later on.

If you want to work on your hand strength, get a stress ball and squeeze it regularly, or go to the gym and practice holding your body weight from a pull-up bar.

If you’re only interested in playing electric guitar, you might just want to pick up an electric guitar with an amp.

Case

You might be taking guitar lessons in your living room, but there will come a time when you need to take your guitar out of the house somewhere.

Don’t be that person who carries their guitar around without a case. If you want to protect it long-term, then you’ll need a case.

If you have the money, I recommend a hard shell case of some kind, but if not, anything is better than nothing. A simple gig bag will suffice.

Tuner

There’s nothing quite as annoying as a guitarist who doesn’t play in tune. Having a tuner will help to ensure you’re in tune with the video lessons you’ll be going through online.

Sometimes if something doesn’t sound right, you may not be doing anything wrong other than being out of tune. So make sure you have this essential tool at the ready. Tune before every practice session, and throughout as needed!

Pencil/Paper (staff/tab/chart)

Depending on what you’re studying, you may want to have something handy so that you can take notes as you learn.

Some blank staff paper will be handy if you’re learning to read music, blank tablature paper will be useful if you’re trying to remember scales or melodies, and blank chord charts are great if you’re taking notes on new chord shapes.

If you’ve gone paperless, a simple notes app on your phone or tablet will be better than nothing. Anything to help you keep track of your lessons outside of the platform will help you along the way.

Picks

These are essential if you’re not playing fingerstyle guitar, and if you are, make sure you’ve got a good nail kit, or have no nails on your picking hand.

A great attitude

This is the most important thing to bring with you into your guitar lessons. There’s nothing that will impact your experience more than the attitude you carry, so make sure it’s a great one!

How to Choose the Best Online Guitar Lessons For You

Selecting the best online guitar lessons for you is as easy as knowing what’s best for you. If you’ve never played guitar before, you’re a self-starter, very disciplined, and plan to practice every day, then I’d recommend any of the top five options on this list.

They all have great courses for complete beginners and will get you playing music in a very short amount of time. When it comes to learning any new instrument, you’ll get out of it whatever you put into it.

If you’ve been playing guitar for a little while and would consider yourself to be either an intermediate level or advanced level player, I would still recommend any of the platforms within the top five of this list simply due to the overwhelming amount of content available through each.

If you’d prefer to have a dedicated teacher, I would consider ArtistWorks before anything else, but if you prefer to teach yourself, then JamPlay, Guitar Tricks, TrueFire, and JustinGuitar will provide you with just about all you need.

If money is your biggest concern, I highly recommend JustinGuitar. Otherwise, every other guitar lesson platform is priced about the same, at around $20-$30 per month.

If you’re looking for your best options for a specific style of guitar, I suggest visiting each site and trying it out for yourself. They all have a free trial option for a reason!

Final Thoughts

Learning guitar has been the best thing that’s ever happened in my life, and I hope this guide has helped you in your own guitar-learning endeavors.

The world of online guitar instruction is better now than it ever has been, and as long as you’re consistent and motivated to learn, you’ll be jamming like the pros in no time!

Scroll to Top