Guitar Lessons 101: How to Learn to Play Without a Teacher

by Matthew David | Updated: 11/07/2020

The world is full of amazing and unique musical instruments, some of which data back hundreds of years. Music is a universal language and one that is spoken and understood throughout the world.

Some of the earliest discovered musical instruments are woodwind instruments, similar to the flute, and are over 40,000 years old. String instruments are also a type that have a long history, with the string instrument known as the “se”, which was found in China, being over 2700 years old.

The birth of the guitar

The guitar is one of the most popular instruments and can be found in countries all over the world. The instrument dates back to the 16th century in Spain, and was an instrument from the late-medieval period, that consisted of 4 strings and a slimmed style body. The name guitar derives from “guitarra latina”.

Over the years, the shape of the guitar went through several changes, and was originally a much slimmer and narrower instrument than we know of it today. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that the sixth string was added to the instrument.

The types of guitar

There are three main types of guitar – the acoustic, the classic and the electric. Each has their own unique distinct style and sound, and can be played to create a wide range of different sounding music. The guitar is not too difficult of a musical instrument to learn when compared to something such as the piano or violin.

If you want to learn to play the guitar, the best type to start with is the acoustic guitar. Once you’ve understood and learnt the basic chords, then you can then move onto either the classical or electric guitar and try your hand at that. There are a number of great websites such as All Stringed where you can find out more about learning to play the guitar.

Learning to play

When it comes to learning the guitar, there are a wide selection of options available. If your child is looking to start learning to play the guitar, then there will probably be music lessons in their school which they can sign up for. It’s best for youngsters to start learning with a guitar teacher, as they will be able to offer encouragement and help when starting out.

For other people, if you are unable to attend any lessons, or have financial difficulties that are preventing you from taking a course, then you can always turn to the internet.

Thanks for the huge advancements in technology and internet speeds over the past few years, it has never been quicker or easier to find what you are looking for online. In addition to lots of websites that offer online lessons and courses, some of which are at no cost, you can also find a huge choice of video content.

Youtube – Your first stop

If you want to try and learn to play the guitar without a teacher, then the best way will be by watching videos. If you pop on over to Youtube, you’ll find hundreds of video clips showing how to play all types of guitar. From hard rock to folk, whatever type of guitar playing you want to learn, you’ll find video tutorials online.

Though Youtube will probably have the widest choice of videos, there might be some other websites where you can also find professionally produced videos that will help you learn to play. 

Online Courses

As previously mentioned, there are a great deal of websites that specialize in courses for learning all types of things, from playing the guitar to how to start a campfire or model with clay. 

If you are serious about learning, then signing up to one of these courses is probably going to be your best bet, as it will take you through all the stages, right from the first time you pick up your guitar. 

YouTube videos are great, but you’ll need to know exactly what to search for. With an online course, you can see the course outline and be sure that it covers all of the aspects that you are interested in learning.

A lot of online courses also offer a few lessons for free, as a taster, so that you can get a good idea of what the course is like, as well as the person teaching it. 

Advantages of learning to play the guitar online

Most people will either be working or studying, so finding the time to go and visit a local guitar teacher for weekly lessons is not really an option. This is where learning online offers a great number of advantages over actually going and visiting a guitar teacher, or have them come to your place for the lesson.

The first is time management. You can take the lessons whenever you want at your own pace. You can also go back and repeat some of the earlier lessons that you took if you want a quick refresher or just to practice a little more on a specific module of the course.

They are also a much cheaper option, and most good courses for learning the guitar shouldn’t cost you more than $50. If you were going to an actual guitar teacher for lessons, you’d most likely be paying around $20 per lesson. Over time, that can amount to quite a lot of money. If you are looking to learn the electric guitar, then you might want to consider picking up a good pair of headphones, just to keep the sound down and not drive your neighbours crazy.

You can also experiment a little with your guitar playing if you are taking an online course. Everyone will want to improvise once in a while and just have fun, but if you are paying an hourly rate to a teacher, then it’s not really the best use of your time to go a little crazy. That is best left to when you are alone and in your own time.

Some final thoughts

Learning the guitar is a great activity whatever your age. It’s an instrument that is expressive, and allows you to create a whole range of music. 

Though it’s best for youngsters to start learning it with a qualified teacher, for others, taking an online course, or simply following and practicing some of the video lessons you can easily find on Youtube will be more than enough to get you started.