Chances are at one point or another, you've either purchased an instrument or considered doing so with the intention of learning to play it; most of us, however, never get around the the learning part. The internet is a glorious fount of freely available information, and it's slowly filling up with excellent tutorials for getting good at just about anything—including playing a new instrument. Hit the jump for a handful of great resources for getting started with a new instrument online for the low, low price of free.
Hit Up YouTube for Free Tutorials
As free hosted video sites proliferate around the web, more and more people have begun using them to share their skills with the world at large. Just spend a few minutes on YouTube searching for a musical topic of interest and you will find tons of videos to suit your interests, from how to play drums to how to play piano. You're likely to find the most videos, though, focusing on playing the guitar.
Improve Your Guitar Chops with iTunes
The second most popular podcast on iTunes is Beginning Guitar 101, a free instructional video from iVideosongs. The site itself is chock full of instructional videos that you can pay $5 to $10 for, but iTunes features six instructional videos for the beginning guitarist to devour for free. Then, of course, if you're hooked, you can head to the site for more. [via]
Learn Guitar on Your iPod
Web site and now software iPlayMusic (original post) offers several free videos for the beginning guitarist through their freeware iPlayMusic player. iPlayMusic requires a registration to get started, and it's put a commercial face on a lot of its videos, but the free beginner tutorials are a great place to get started; even better, they export for watching on your iPod on-the-go.
Learn to Read Tablature
The best way to get up and started in no time is by learning how to read tab (a simple notation for translating what you're supposed to play that's way less complicated than reading music) and then finding a good tab site or two. Honestly, whenever I'm searching for tabs I just hit up Google and grab the first or second result. That said, I'm a big fan of sites like Ultimate Guitar for their auto-scroll features, which scroll the page for you so you don't have to stop playing. A lot of tab sites are riddled with pop-ups, but sometimes that's the price you pay.
Learn the Drums While Playing Video Games
One of the coolest things about the video game Rock Band is that—while the guitar bears no relevance to actual guitar playing—you can actually learn a little something about drumming by playing Rock Band. No, Rock Band isn't exactly "online" (though you can play with friends over Xbox Live), but Wired has rounded up some great tips for Rock Band drummers looking to hone their skills (original post).
As you can tell, the hobbiest's instrument-of-choice is definitely the guitar, and you're likely to find a lot more guitar-centric how-tos than the rest. However, with a little digging—and YouTube really is your friend for this—you can get a basic understanding of and get started with just about any instrument. If you've got your own tried-and-true resources for honing your musical talents online, share it in the comments.