As far as modern music goes, the guitar is one of the most common instruments you’ll hear. Whether it’s straight-up rock, pop, jazz, metal or punk, there’s a good chance you know the twang or crunch of a guitar when you hear it.
If learning guitar has been on your bucket list for a while now, it’s never too late to pick it up. As the saying goes, the best time to start is yesterday, the second-best time is right now. The question then becomes, what’s the best way to learn?
Ultimately, what’s right for you will be a personal choice. With that in mind, here are some options for absolute beginners, as well as novice players looking to increase their skill level.
Get in-person lessons
This is probably the most obvious way to get started, but not always the best. Getting lessons from an established guitarist is a great way to learn the fundamentals of playing guitar.
There are a bunch of different ways you can approach lessons. Your closest guitar or musical instrument store will likely run them and if they don’t, they should certainly be able to point you in the right direction. Google is also a great way to find independent teachers or specialised music schools in your general area.
Depending on the teacher you have, the cost of lessons can be an expensive, ongoing fee. On average, you’ll be paying around $40 per hour, but more experienced teachers can charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour or beyond.
How successful lessons can be for your overall development will depend greatly on the teacher you have and how well their teaching style gels with the way you learn best. In other words, it can be a bit of a balancing act and having a bad teacher could be enough to turn you off the whole thing. If this happens, it could be worth trying a different teacher or moving on to a self-taught method.
If you’ve been around the block and already know your way around a guitar and the basics of playing, lessons can be a good way to break through to the next level, as long as you find can find a teacher who understands what you need and can teach you in a style that works for you.
The beauty of living in the modern age of technology is that teaching yourself virtually anything is easier than it’s ever been. Here are a few ways to go about it.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, chances are you’ve heard of Fender. The company has been in the guitar game for 75 years and is responsible for some of the most iconic and influential guitars spanning just about every genre of music. If you don’t recognise the name, you’d definitely recognise its guitars.
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to teach yourself guitar is with the company’s app, Fender Play, a complete online learning app for guitar, bass, and ukulele. It combines video lessons with step-by-step learning guides that are great for both beginners and established players looking to hone their skills.
The great part about Fender Play is that it takes a song-driven approach, so you can choose from thousands of modern or classic tracks to learn. Not only will you be learning important techniques, skills and theory, but you’ll also be learning some of your favourite songs at the same time, so it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly grinding through the same scales over and over again.
It also includes a new feature called Feedback Mode, which actually listens to your playing and provides an overall score, along with detailed, note-by-note feedback.
You can try it free for 7 days, after which you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee of $25.29, or an annual fee of $164.99.
There’s practically an endless stream of YouTube channels that teach guitar techniques, theory, songs and more. The advantage of these is that you can access them for free, but they often lack the extra resources that platforms like Fender Play provide or the real-time feedback an in-person teacher can give.
But if you’re keen on learning an obscure song you can’t find anywhere else, chances are someone’s done a guitar cover of it and uploaded it to YouTube.
There are a plethora of guitar books out there that can be great for learning the fundamentals of playing the guitar. They’re mostly fine, but they can be hard to interpret and are often theory-heavy. It can also be tricky to learn without at least seeing how it’s done on video.
This is a little tip for the established player looking to get better. I’ve learned during 20 years of playing guitar that nothing gets you more amped to improve your playing than getting a new guitar or amp. Especially if it’s a style you’ve never tried before — playing new gear is a great way to not only hone your skills, it also gets you excited about it.
It also helps if picking up and playing is as easy as possible. For me, it’s having my favourite guitar on a stand next to my practice amp so all I have to do is pick it up and plug it in.
Another option could be getting something you can pick up and play immediately, like Fender’s new Acoustasonic Player Telecaster, which is an acoustic and electric guitar in one. This “New Hybrid” creates a range of sounds with a collection of iconic acoustic voicings and big electric tones that can be played solo or combined by turning its “Blend Knob”.
And if you need a hand picking your very first guitar, the Find Your Fender tool is a great way to get started. It’ll ask you about the kinds of music you’re keen to play, the types of tones that are most appealing to you and even the colours you like to find your perfect match.
Fender also offers beginner bundles for electric bass, ukelele and more if you’re keen to get all the gear you need to start making some noise all at once.