Which Guitar Learning Method Is Right For You?

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There are many different ways to learn the guitar. There are also many different styles that you can incorporate into your playing that defines who you are. In this article, we are going to touch on six of the most popular ways to learn the guitar. They are :

  1. Learning on your own
  2. Using Books
  3. Using DVD’s
  4. Using CD’s
  5. Online Guitar Lessons
  6. “Live” Teachers

Let’s do a comparison and contrast ( you remember this from school right? ) on all the different ways to learn the guitar. You may just find the best method that suits you while reading this.

1. Learning On Your Own

When learning on your own, we already know that you can develop your own style much easier. However, take a look at the following pros and cons of learning in a “self-taught” atmosphere.

Pros

  • You can work at your own pace.
  • You usually learn the fret board easier by default.
  •  You get a better feel of accomplishment when you DO learn something.

Cons

  • You may not have any chord books or tablature books available, so you are stuck in a rut, not knowing WHAT to play.
  • You can get bored if you don’t learn anything in a timely manner. Kids do this quite a bit when a parent buys them a guitar and it just collects dust. This is usually because the child doesn’t know WHERE to start.
  •  You may not learn to play the basics correct, in turn making you go back and learn over and over what you should already know. It’s just like algebra. You have to know the basics before moving on. This happens a great deal when playing in a band. When you play with someone, you SHOULD be able to know that when your fellow musicians say the song is in the key of “E,” you know what to play and where on the neck of the guitar. Sometimes, a simple E chord just won’t cut it.
  • You can get VERY frustrated.
  • You have no visual aid to help you. If you go out and buy a book, you ARE NOT self-taught. That is a misconception. A self-taught person usually only plays by ear. That’s not to say you CAN’T do a little research, but if you spend money for lessons out of a book, who taught you? The book.

2. Using Books To Learn

Almost everyone does this at some point in his or her life. You may not go word for word, chord for chord, or note for note, but using a book IS a training aid.

Pros

  • You can take it anywhere with you.
  •  You have a visual representation of what you need to play.
  • You can easily turn page after page ahead or back if you forgot something.
  • You can learn at your own pace.

Cons

  • There is no real one-on-one interaction. A book is talking to you, rather, you’re reading it. You don’t hear it. You don’t know if that chord sounds correct. Are you muting it by accident? You just don’t usually know.
  • You can spend a great deal of money on books, ranging from Beginner to Advanced. Many of these books cost up to $30.00 depending on your retention level.
  • You can lose the book much easier. What if you REALLY want to learn some cool chords or notes on the guitar one day, but you just can’t find the book?
  • The books get VERY dirty and trashy. It’s paper – it happens.

3. Using DVD’s To Learn

You see them all the time. You WANT to buy them, but are they going to actually TEACH you anything?

Pros

  • They are usually very well done and quite visual.
  • The lessons are usually very slow paced.
  • They are great for beginner guitar players because of the audio AND visual aid.
  • You usually get quite a few videos in one package. There are some that offer only one or two dvd’s, but they are usually filled to the max with information.

Cons

  • If ordered by mail, it may take a while to get your lessons, and sometimes they get lost in the mail.
  • It’s hard to skip back and forth in lessons to guarantee that you didn’t miss anything. Sometimes the scenes are cut right into an on-going lesson.
  • DVD’s scratch.
  • Sometimes there is some really bad acting in it. You don’t watch movies with bad acting, so why would you watch a lesson with bad acting?
  • You are stuck with a remote in your hand, not your guitar.

4. Using CD’s To Learn

Ahh..the glory of those cd’s. Maybe? Maybe not.

Pros

  • You can take it anywhere.
  • You can listen to it in the car while driving and you haven’t wasted any time. You were in the car. Instead of listening to a song, try learning the guitar so that you can play that song later.
  • Usually very informative audio.
  • You usually get quite a few cd’s in one package. There are some that offer only one or two cd’s, but they are usually filled to the max with information.

Cons

  • If ordered by mail, it may take a while to get your lessons, and sometimes they get lost in the mail.
  • It’s hard to skip back and forth in lessons to guarantee that you didn’t miss anything. Which track was the open-tuning lesson?
  • CD’s scratch.
  • Sometimes there is some really bad acting in it. You don’t watch movies with bad acting, so why would you listen to a lesson with bad acting?
  • You are stuck with a remote or piece of paper that tells you which track you are on in your hand, not your guitar.

5. Using Online Guitar Lessons

Online guitar lessons are rampant right now on the internet. There are quite a few out there that are good. There are also quite a few out there that are really, really bad.

Pros

  • You have no cd’s or dvd’s to get scratched.
  • No paper to get dirty or old or hard to read.
  • Lessons are usually very easy to navigate.
  • You have one database of information to choose from, not 20 books to go back through and research just to find a lick, phrase, or chord.
  • You don’t have to look around for the cd or dvd that you want to put in.
  • No waiting in line for the mail to deliver. You usually get instant access upon payment or registration.
  • No “in person” teachers to hound you if you just can’t finger that D chord right. You aren’t wasting anyone’ s time.
  • You can learn in your leisure time, or for as long as you can take it.
  • Most online sites still have printable and downloadable resources, so why not use those instead of a $20 book?

Cons

  • You must have internet access.
  • Your computer must not be from the stone age.
  • You must be able to push yourself to learn. No one is standing over you telling you to move on.
  • You can only receive help or instruction through live support or email.

6. Learning using In Person Teachers

These guys are at almost every music store you walk into. Their teaching varies from state to state. Let’s see what they can offer :

Pros

  • One on one instruction. They can tell you if you are playing a chord right immediately.
  • They are usually quite experienced with various instruments, so they can broaden your horizon a bit.
  • You can get your questions answered in person.

Cons

  • Some lessons can range from $10 an hour to $25, easily.
  • You have to be at the store or school at a certain time, which constricts your daily life it is a busy one.
  • You can get rather embarassed if you were supposed to learn a chord at home. When you show up and don’t know the chord, you give the teacher a reason to stop teaching you.
  • You are stuck in a lesson plan. You can’t move on or back as easily as you may want to.

Now that we have established the pros and cons for each of the six learning processes of the guitar, you should choose which one is right for you.

By no means do we mean that you CAN’T learn with any of the methods above. We just want to make sure that you know what you are getting into by learning using ANY of the six popular methods that we have illustrated.