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Online Guitar Lessons – Cutting Through The Crap

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First, I’ll say that I think the best way for me to learn guitar was to find a teacher I like and take one on one lessons. But that can cost a lot of money (I know, I’m doing it and at $50 per hour lesson, it ain’t cheep). So, I decided to take a look at online lessons as a supplement to my one on one lessons. That way I can cut back the number of times I meet with my instructor.

The problem is, there are so many online “systems” out there. And worse than that, probably 99% of the sites you land on are just fake review sites who’s only purpose is to pitch “a system that they truly believe in.” Sure, they’ll start out telling you how you “shouldn’t believe the hype… blah blah blah” but then they always end up back on one particular system as being the best. It seems like the king of this technique is Jamorama. I mean, when Jamorama’s own advertising sites use headlines like “Jamorama Review Scam” they’re pretty much acknowledging that most of what you find on the web is BS. One headline even reads “Don’t buy Jamorama until you read the shocking truth about Jamorama!” (hmm, now that I think about it, this posts’s title sounds like one of those sites) And of course, once you go to that website, guess who their recommended system is.

Just take a look at a few of these and you’ll see they are basically the same website over and over:

Now, I’m not saying they don’t work.  In fact I don’t know if they’ll work and that’s what I want to find out.  So, over the next couple weeks I’m going actually try to wade through all the BS and find a system that works for me. I’ll post my thoughts on the different lessons I try out and let you know an actual opinion about them. Of course, they will be my opinions and may only apply to me since everyone has different preferences and learning styles. But at the very least you can get one unbiased review.

Do you have any suggestions?  Are there any online lessons that worked for you?  Are online lessons BS?


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25 Responses to “Online Guitar Lessons – Cutting Through The Crap”

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  1. James says:

    I use guitarinstructor.com. It’s owned by hal leonard, so the tabs are killer, but it’s their video lessons that rock. I prefer the ones from Tom Kolb, Wolf Marshall, Doug Boduch, Troy Stetina, and especially Greg Koch. Those have onscreen tab and look like they were made just for the site, whereas the ones with the “rock stars” are pulled from DVDs. While those are cool too, they don’t have tab so it’s a little harder to follow.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      I’ll check that one out as well. I hadn’t heard of it before.

      Thanks for the recommendation and comment!

  2. GuitarDaddy says:

    Great Post! First, I agree 100% about finding a 1-on-1 teacher. Without a doubt you will learn faster. Online lessons are 1-dimensional, by that i mean they are directed from the computer to the student. The problem surfaces when the student has a question that the online lesson does not address…and a personal teacher would be able to answer that question. That said, I am also looking for a way to shave the cost of the personal tutor, so I will be following your blog for the results of your testing!
    .-= GuitarDaddy´s last blog ..Take A Good Look At This Face… =-.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      I agree with you completely on the 1 dimensional aspect of any online or DVD lessons. Beleive me, when I’m with my instructor I ask a lot of questions and have him go over things 2-3 times… and then have even more questions the next time I see him.

      That’s why I’m thinking of these online lessons as a supplement to an actual teacher. The lessons will either cover things he’s already taught me, in a different way (after all nobody teaches in the same way) and that will reinforce what I’ve learned. Or, they will give me a heads up on things my instructor will be teaching me at some other point. And in both cases I can always ask my teacher about things I learned on the online lessons.

      Either way I think if you can afford the one-on-one lessons, that is the way to go. I just want to find out which lessons would be best for me if I didn’t have a teacher to go to.

      Thanks again!

  3. Sam says:

    http://justinguitar.com/

    I’ve learned a ton from that site, and it’s totally free! Free meaning no payments, no fees, no nothing, ever, unless you want to donate.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      I came across that site a few days ago and looked around briefly. From the couple videos I watched, it seemed like they had a “and to get even deeper into this, buy my DVD” pitch at the end. So you can get the basics, but to go any further you need the DVD.

      But like I said, i didn’t get to far into the lessons. I’ll have to take another look.

      Thanks for the suggestion and comment.

      • P Phillips says:

        Justin Sandercoe is a pretty good teacher. He’s an instructor at the guitar institute in London, his site was set up to help teach kids who cannot afford lessons but have access to the Interweb (like at school). He has a really good section on transcribing worth checking out. Also, his blues lessons are good. You can buy the lessons but you can watch them for free on the Web. I ended up donating to his site and also to some of his charitable concerns. Very good site.

        Cheers!

  4. Robert says:

    Hi, great blog.

    When I turned 50 two years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I’ve been a carpenter all my life (still am) but the approach that I have been taking is to teach my hands and fingers the ‘mechanics’ of it instead of just learning songs. The best place that I have found for learning the ‘hows and whys’ is Guitar Principles by Jamie Andreas. I did buy 2 of her books, Principles for Correct Practice and the one on Chords and Rhythm. Her website has a wealth of free advice and essays and you can sign up for a free e-newsletter as well as there is a forum that is free.

    In the last 2 years, I have collected tons of videos and lessons from online that do help, but by understanding the actual mechanics that are involved with the very complex things that you are asking your fingers and arms to do, her site and insight really helps.

    Another site that has been really fun is Mike Herberts 6-string-videos.com. Mike has a very relaxed and easy to follow way of showing how to play songs and you can sign up for free email video lessons.

    I also do keep a shortcut on my desktop to Justin’s site to catch his videos now and again.

  5. Effects Bay says:

    I definitely have mixed thoughts on this. I’ve been around the block a few times with instructors, online stuff, DVDs, etc. I’ve also seen many, many people trying to improve their guitar skillz and searching for the ‘magic’ system or ‘perfect’ instructor.

    I think the solution is quite simple, and may need to *duck* after stating it. But to me, it’s about understanding why you want to play guitar, what you want to do with guitar (style) and most important, listen and play A TON of guitar.

    I’m never more than 10′ from a guitar at all times. I work and have a guitar on a stand behind me. I take little ‘rock’ breaks and play my electric unplugged, could be finger exercises or playing licks.

    I think theory and learning new licks are important, and instructors are great for this, but they’re all useless if you don’t adopt the technique and take it the next level.. and make it your own and natural. You can learn a ton off of other musicians. Like I lick you hear on disc.. figure it out, practice it, change it and it’s in your tool box of guitar licks forever.

    I think playing guitar on a regular and consistent basis will take your level higher over anything.
    .-= Effects Bay´s last blog ..Raven RG200 Amp Review =-.

  6. Johnny Wilde says:

    There’s such an incredible wealth of information out there, much of it rehashed, repackaged, remarketed, etc. The key I believe is the individual’s dedication to practice, practice, practice. Learning to practice efficiently with a purpose is very important. Realizing there is no end to the study is another..the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. The one on one instructor is probably the best, at least for the first year or two.

  7. Emon says:

    One of the reasons I started my blog a year ago was to give all my lessons, the most essential ones, away for free.

    Those hundreds and thousands of books that promise the moon and show nothing frustrated me and most teachers made it look like they were guarding their school degrees from their students.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get going with those lessons and have finally, having quit my job recently, started to think about them.

    Most of us want(ed) to learn guitar because we love the instrument and simply want(ed) to play that damn thing, not to conquer the world with fiery technique and a swelled brain with chord and scale theory.

    I appreciate what you’re doing with your blog, and that is to share what you learn as you go along.
    .-= Emon´s last blog ..Central Park Summerstage: Matisyahu =-.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you like the site.

      It is frustrating when you see all the big promises, but its usually not backed up by anything substantial. The stuff that actually is good is harder to find because it doesn’t have the same hype.

  8. ZUrlocker says:

    I agree there are a lot of scams out there. I wrote about that here and have cautioned folks “buyer beware”.
    http://www.guitarvibe.com/2007/12/guitar-lesson-s.html

    Maybe some of these systems work, but if so, why the scam? At any rate, let me know your thoughts.

    Some things I have found to be helpful:
    -Metal Method DVDs (for rock guitar)
    -Practice every day!

    I wrote a posting on my blog about the notion of Mastery; you gotta keep chipping away at it, and eventually you can break through the plateaus.
    http://www.guitarvibe.com/2009/03/guitar-mastery.html

    –Zack
    http://www.guitarvibe.com
    .-= ZUrlocker´s last blog ..Learning the Blues with Gary Moore & LickLibrary =-.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      Thanks for the links. It’s funny that you wrote essentially the same thing a couple years ago.

      It’s amazing how so many of these “review sites” get away with it.

      I’m starting to question even if its worth my time to check out some of these “systems” I haven’t had time to start looking into them yet. I’ll check out the one you suggested as well.

      Thanks!

  9. Jim says:

    Another old timer here getting back after a thirty year hiatus.

    I’ve looked at a lot of the online sites, Jamorama included. It actually doesn’t seem so bad for the little they charge. I’ve only looked at the sample lessons, but vetoed them for the simple reason that the photos are too small.

    YouTube is a great resource for learning guitar. I’ve picked up a lot from the free lessons by Rob Bourassa. Aside from his free lessons, he also gives lessons via webcam and Skype. This is a great idea for people who can’t get to an instructor for whatever reason.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/robbourassaguitarist

    JamPlay seems to get good word of mouth over at Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s community site. The video is large and clear, the audio seems pretty good. I’m going to give it a more serious look once I’ve exhausted the freebies that are out there.

    This looks like it’s shaping up to be a great site. Thanks.

  10. Learning guitar online involves a few processes. You need to develop coordination between your right, left hands and hearing, you need to be able to anticipate what sound you’ll make when you pluck a certain fretted note, and you need to develop a thicker skin on your fingers, so that you can fret the note. All of this takes some time. However, there are ways you can speed up the process immensely.

  11. As a guitar teacher, I know that each student is different and customized lessons are required. To play guitar, even if it is just for fun, requires some degree of musical talent. That involves an ear for music, rhythm and finger dexterity not to mention the hours of practice. No teacher or book can provide these things. You have them or you don’t. A good teacher will test the student for these qualities and be up front about any limitations that the student has that would affect their ability to progress. That way, a student can have realistic goals and expectations. Many of my students are able to learn some chords and strumming patterns and join one of my student bands and have the experience of being in a rock band.
    The most important thing is to find a way to play that is doable and fun. If you progress beyond that, then that is great.

  12. No matter what, it’s about practice and desire. If you are focused and have desire for playing guitar, you will. All it takes is PRACTICE.
    You need to practice, over and over again, that’s how it’s done.
    You can learn tons by watching good video lessons online. But the cost is reasonable and you get more and wider range of lessons than just with one teacher. You also have access to teachers on most of the better guitar lessons sites.
    .-= Brian from only4guitar´s last blog ..Essential Facts on Left-handed Acoustic Guitar =-.

  13. Private lessons are expensive, but I think they are more motivational than online lessons. I personally use a system called Fretlight. It’s a software program with a special guitar – it’s very cool! But I still struggle to take my lessons 🙂
    .-= Julie @ Student Flutes´s last blog ..Student Flutes Online =-.

  14. Hey! This was great! I get real tired of guitar lesson sites just talking about how great online guitar lessons are! When in reality they are great if you already know how to play a few chords and your hands and fingers are used to it. Otherwise, they can be quite frustrating without hands on attention from a private instructor. Thanks for this!
    Guitar Lessons For Beginners´s last blog post ..Virtual Guitar Lessons

  15. It’s such an exciting time to be learning new skills. Thanks for the easy encouragement, can’t wait to see the results…..
    guitar online

  16. guitar tutor says:

    Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when oplening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, very good blog!
    guitar tutor´s last blog post ..guitar tutor

  17. Mike says:

    Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out. Guitar Tricks is also pretty good. 🙂

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