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Best online guitar lessons 2021: improve your playing with Fender Play, Guitar Tricks, JustinGuitar and more

Included in this guide:

Man holing a guitar watches a guitar lesson on his laptop
(Image credit: Getty/KARRASTOCK)

So, why a guide to the best online guitar lessons you may ask? Many guitarists consider themselves to be self-taught. But to what extent is this really accurate? Did they pick up a guitar, figure out the right notes, develop a technique and bring it to bear without any outside influence? Of course not.

Our knowledge must come from somewhere, and while finding a guitar teacher with whom you can share a physical space, and who inspires you to work on your technique is a great option, in the internet era the importance of physical space is diminished when it comes to guitar lessons.

There is a cornucopia of online guitar lesson resources to guide your playing, but why not take that a step further and find a properly structured teaching platform to help you become the best player you can be? If you’re hankering for a new hobby, now could be the moment to start learning a new instrument or take the next steps in your playing development. If this describes you, then this guide to the best online guitar lessons should help.

One year of Guitar Tricks + free guitar! Just $129

One year of Guitar Tricks + free guitar! Just $129
Sign up to a year's Guitar Tricks subscription and you'll not only receive access to an extensive range of online guitar lessons, songs and more, but you'll get a Huntingdon acoustic guitar worth $250 for free! Hurry, as stocks are limited and likely to run out fast! 

Fender Play: 50% off an annual subscription

Fender Play: 50% off an annual subscription
Sorted a free trial but now you want to continue getting all the benefits of Fender Play lessons beyond your trial? For Black Friday, Fender is offering 50% off an annual plan, dropping the price from $89.99 to $44.99. Just add the code friday50 at checkout.

TrueFire: Get 1 year all-access for just $99 (was $249)

TrueFire: Get 1 year all-access for just $99 (was $249)
Get streaming access to over 50,000 guitar lessons at TrueFire. Usually you would pay $249, but for a limited time you can get all this for just $99. You'll also get 20% off downloads of other exclusive content as part of this deal.

ArtistWorks Lessons: 40% off with code BIG40

ArtistWorks Lessons: 40% off with code BIG40
Learn to play the guitar (plus loads of other instruments) with online courses by shred legend Paul Gilbert, blues aficionado Jared James Nichols and many more world-class musicians. Right now ArtistWorks is offering a mega 40% off all of their 12-month plans when you use code BIG40 at the checkout.  

Best online guitar lessons: Recommended sites

1. Fender Play

The Big F makes time for busy players with multi-platform lessons

Specifications
Price: 14-day free trial, $/£9.99 monthly, $/£7.50 per month (annual plan)
Key features: Guided paths; bite-sized lessons; suitable for guitar bass and uke players; 100+ popular songs to learn; multi-angle camera
Reasons to buy
+User experience is flawless+Excellent for beginners+Great choice of lessons+Progress is easy to track+App is great
Reasons to avoid
-No offline access-Not so much for intermediates and above

When Fender entered the education game it was no surprise that it would make it box-office, with high production values, lessons that featured popular songs, and a host of teachers who are totally at ease in front of the camera. Not to mention a great interface whether you're accessing it via a desktop or the dedicated app.

Once you sign up you will be asked to choose your instrument (eh, guitar, please – but bass guitar and ukulele options also available) and then which style you want to learn. Choose from rock, blues, country, folk, and pop. Once you have chosen your style you can then choose your own path, with levels 1 through 5 in ascending order of difficulty.

The user experience is excellent. Track your progress on the side bar, select skill, riff or song lessons, save your favourites… Underneath each video lesson there is a button for chord charts, tabs, feedback (not the guitar/amp kind), a glossary and tools. It is everything you need, particularly if you're a newcomer to the guitar. 

Subscribers also receive a 10 percent discount on Fender instruments, making Fender Play one of the top online guitar lessons services around.

There's less to shout about if you're further along in your guitar playing journey, but there are plenty of other great alternatives - with thousands of resources for intermediate to advanced players - if this sounds like you. 

Read the full Fender Play review

2. Guitar Tricks

The original hub for online guitar lessons

Specifications
Price: $19.99 monthly, $179.99 yearly, free 14 day trial
Key features: 11,000 lessons; guided pathways; song tutorials including amp and guitar settings; artist and genre studies; chord and scale charts; maintenance tips.
Reasons to buy
+Large song library+Lots of content for intermediate to advanced players+Integrated teaching program+Covers specific styles in depth +Excellent technical resources, such as tone advice
Reasons to avoid
-Interface is dated-Not quite as much choice for beginners as others

Guitar Tricks has been in the game a long time – since 1998, in fact – and has largely set the blueprint for online guitar lessons. With such a head start, Guitar Tricks has managed to build up an impressive array of resources including 11,000 lessons, artist and genre studies, tone advice and 900+ song tutorials – more than all its counterparts at this point. 

It has also managed to develop an extensive catalogue of content aimed at intermediate and advanced players, so it’s much more suited to already established players than some of the newcomers to this scene who are still developing a lot of their advanced resources (we’d include Fender Play in this category).

It has to be said though, that Guitar Tricks is showing its age compared to many other sites. While it’s one thing to look a little plain, Guitar Tricks won’t be winning any awards in UX either. Whether it’s because they have so much content available they just can’t find an agreeable way to present it all, or they’re simply overdue a major redesign, the interface is definitely the biggest setback here. That’s not to say it’s not workable or that it has any serious issues though. The content alone is worth the price of entry, but there are certainly cleaner, clearer user experiences out there.

3. ArtistWorks Guitar

Learn in the company of Paul Gilbert and more!

Specifications
Price: Packages start from $35/month for 3-month plan, $30/month for 6-month plan, $23.25 for annual plan
Key Features: Over 50,000 video lessons, 9 guitar teachers
Reasons to buy
+Learn from the best in the business+Personalised learning+Video feedback
Reasons to avoid
-A little more expensive than others listed here

ArtistWorks Guitar provides a wide variety of lessons with great instructors. It has the likes of Paul Gilbert teaching Electric Rock Guitar and Keith Wyatt teaching Electric Blues Guitar.

Its Video Exchange Learning Platform connects pupils with their teachers to create the sort of personalised feedback that creates a more social online learning experience that can only accelerate a player’s development. 

The plans are tiered so that the longer you sign up for them the more you can learn, but even the most basic package includes unlimited access to lessons, the music theory workshop, and the Video Exchange Library, and users can make up to five video submissions to their designated teacher for assessment.

4. TrueFire guitar lessons

Slow down your lesson and loop the difficult bits…

Specifications
Price: Free to join, free 30-day trial, $29/month for monthly plan, $249 annual, $2,499 lifetime
Key features: over 40,000 lessons, over 30,000 tabs, over 20,000 jam tracks, new courses weekly, pro instructors, 1080p HD video, Slo-Mo and Looping
Reasons to buy
+Another awesome array of teachers+Slo-Mo and Looping is a cool feature+Heaps of resources
Reasons to avoid
-Again, a little more expensive (particularly for the lifetime membership!)

TrueFire might be a little more expensive, but like ArtistWorks Guitar, it really packs in the features. There is a similarly storied faculty. Want to have a blues lesson from Robben Ford? Well, why not. 

Pretty much all styles are catered for, and all levels, too. Progress is easy to track and there are a whole host of learning tools to bring you up to speed.

Speaking of speed, there is a Slo-Mo and Looping feature that will help you take control of those parts that are giving you the most trouble, and we can all attest to the value of slowing parts down and mastering them there before bringing it up to tempo. Kudos to anyone who takes the lifetime membership after the free trial.

5. JustinGuitar online guitar lessons

Online lessons as recommended by Mark Knopfler and Steve Vai…

Specifications
Price: Free to join, packages from $9.99/month for 6-month plan
Key Features: Grade system to track progress; PDF materials; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Spectrum courses; various add-on apps
Reasons to buy
+Easy to follow lessons by one of the best teachers around+Wide variety of subjects+Great value, with lots of free content
Reasons to avoid
-The site can be a little hard to navigate

Justin Sandercoe is a really good teacher. He’s so good, that perhaps it’s only fair that he uses the internet to teach; that way he can spread the wealth. If you are a beginner, you should probably sign up now, because the beginner’s course is free and Sandercoe’s ability to walk you through the fundamentals is peerless.

There is a lot on JustinGuitar that is free to access and is complemented by a wealth of YouTube videos. You can choose lessons in theory or in skills, and there are lessons for all abilities.

Sandercoe also provides affordable add-on apps ($/£1.99-$/£2.99) and a variety of subscription program, such as a music theory course that delivers over 120 lessons with PDF, audio and Guitar Pro downloads to support your progress.

6. JamPlay online guitar lessons

A comprehensive site with high-profile instructors

Specifications
Price: $19.95/month for monthly membership, $49.95/month for 3 months, $159.95 annually
Key Features: 7,271 lessons, over 100 teachers, 4K video, over 450 courses, live in-studio lessons, Master Classes, interactive tab, wide variety of add-on apps
Reasons to buy
+Quality teachers, exceptional production values+Extensive online resources+Huge range of lessons 
Reasons to avoid
-There’s so much here, where do you start?

JamPlay offers a dizzying amount of content and a number of apps to help you learn while on the move. There are over 100 teachers available, with the likes of Lita Ford and Steve Stevens on the electric guitar faculty, and Mark Kroos and Kaki King on the acoustic side.

There are also a number of guest courses, with lessons from the likes of Ariel Posen and hybrid-picking wizard Prashant Aswani.

Lessons are delivered in 4K video, with interactive tab among the abundance of resources to help you make tangible progress. There is also an online library of chords and scales, and you can chart your progress easily enough.

7. Orange Learn

Learn the grades, take exams and get a recognised qualification

Specifications
Price: Free to join, current offer with free foundation course and exam trial, £79.99 for Grade 3-5, 6-8 or £7.99 per month for Grade 1-8
Key features: Accredited course, covers Grade Debut-8, Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced courses
Reasons to buy
+Live help and feedback+Study the grades+Take accredited online exams
Reasons to avoid
-The grading and examinations may feel too much like school...

A great new Orange Learn feature is Orange’s partnership with MGR Music to provide live help, enabling students to get assistance from a teacher whenever they need. Simply click on the Need Help? Button and players will be able to ask a qualified guitar tutor in real time.

Orange Amplification were ahead of brands like Fender when it launched its own online course and now works with Online Music Exams to offer recognised accreditation covering Grades 1-8 for rock guitar.

The syllabus is designed to be worked through alone and at a pace best for you, or alongside your tutor. Downloadable and streamed online lessons include videos and notation with the Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced courses taking students from beginner level to Grade 8.

The exams and resulting certificates give an added incentive to learn, with the flexibility of taking them when you feel it’s the right time, and can form a part of your CV too. There’s a relatively quick turnaround to find out your results too.

Currently the Orange Rock Guitar Foundation is available for free and there's a new vocal coaching program for the singers out there too.

8. JamTrack Central

The best online guitar lessons for intermediate players looking for targeted learning

Specifications
Price: Premium from $/£14.99/month
Key features: Personalised coaching, masterclasses, over 1000 play-along Jamtracks, over 450 videos, over 1000 tabs, artist lesson packs, 13 different styles
Reasons to buy
+Excellent production values+Interactive tab+Excellent range of instructors
Reasons to avoid
-Not quite as much choice for beginners as others

The JTC set-up is hugely impressive. Prices for the packages start from $/£25 per month, with a number of add-on features such as the eponymous Jam Tracks. Instructors include the likes of Jeff Loomis, Guthrie Govan and Jess Lewis. 

While there are fewer choices for beginners here – 62 courses as opposed to 207 advanced and 429  intermediate – we love the syllabus and the bite-sized formats. It’s so flexible. You can sign up for a free account and can download a module for $/£19.99. If you want interactive tab to go with it, then $/£19.99 will last you a year. 

Premium accounts let you access all of the entire library of lessons (excluding Bootcamp) and you get 25 percent off downloads should you want the files on your computer for offline practice.

Best online guitar lessons: Buying advice

Guitarist with long blonde hair uses Fender Play to learn guitar remotely

(Image credit: Fender)

Which online guitar lessons are right for me?

What you’re looking for from the best online guitar lessons is not that different from what you should be looking for from a real-life guitar teacher. 

Communication is key. The ability to condense complex subjects – which, when you are first learning, the modes of the major scale and other tricky guitar concepts can be – into something that’s easily absorbed and understood is priceless. You want a person or a service that is accessible and enthusiastic. That will keep you wanting to come back for more and keep picking up the guitar.

It’s also a good idea to think about the sort of lessons you need, so you need to be clear - and honest - about what level you are at. The good news is that there is an abundance of program to cater for players of all abilities – especially the beginners. This is crucial. We’d be inclined to say that how a guitar lessons site tailors its teaching for beginners is a bell-weather for how effective the program is likely to be for players at any level.

Only you can say what sort of lessons you need, but if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, then think hard about the areas that you want to improve on and see what options are available. Finding the time to practise can be an issue, too, which is why providers such as Fender Play deliver bite-sized lessons via an easy-to-navigate app, so you can learn a song or a riff one day, and then get back at it when you next have some free time.

When it comes to online guitar lessons teaching, delivery is everything. Are the videos in HD? Are there split-screens so you can see what’s going on with both the fretting and the picking hand? Does the platform provide animated tab? These are the sort of features that can demystify the lesson. The best sites will be available on apps for mobile and tablet, too, with downloadable materials so you can access the lessons on the go.

Can I get free online guitar lessons?

Two people use a guitar lessons app displayed on a white iPad

(Image credit: Getty/DragonImages)

As we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of free online guitar lessons around, particularly on YouTube, however unless you know exactly what you’re looking to learn - something only more advanced players are likely to know – you’d be better off using a more structured system to progress you at the right pace without any gaps or giant leaps.

The great news is that most of the best online guitar lessons services we recommend here offer a free trial of anywhere from 7 days up to a full month, so you can try a few for size before you commit to the right one for you.

Beginner guitar gear

Looking for the right guitar gear to help you improve? Our expert buyer's guides below are a great place to start.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.