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There are two questions that people want to have answered:
How long is it going to take me to become proficient?
What is the best way to figure it out quickly?
Now, I’ve been using the internet to hone my skill as far back as 2002 (I know. It’s hard to believe that the internet existed back then).
There is a lot more information out there on the internet today than there has ever been before.
I mean, just hop on Youtube and you can get step-by-step instructions on how to play just about any song.
But, as you have likely discovered, putting your training together in a piecemeal fashion by hopping from one Youtube video to the next is an extremely slow way to progress.
So, which course will help you learn the fastest?
1. The Biggest Problem With Free Courses And Youtube
They Are Disorganized.
You get through the all the chord patterns in the Key of G, and 3 patterns in the Key of C… and then the blog writer disappears.
Or you find a Youtube artist/coach that you love… and their channel has been dead for 6 months.
Not to mention, there is a lot of misinformation out there — Even when you buy your training! And if you aren’t careful you can pick up some horrible techniques.
The challenge is, that once you’ve committed those techniques to “muscle memory”… you’re pretty much screwed, and you can lose months as your fingers re-train in the proper fashion.
Imagine trying to hold your fork backward to eat. Sure, you could keep yourself fed. But it would be slow going and everyone would look at you funny.
The same goes for playing guitar. You must get it right every time if you plan on making steady progress.
***I’m Not Going To Review Every.Single.Program.***
There are literally hundreds of lesson systems out there. In fact, just today I just found a new one called “Guitar Dabble” that offers 100 pages of training for $50. (What a weird name, eh?)
You can take $20 to your local music store and buy twice that much training.
Sometimes it seems like every person who has ever taken a lesson is now trying to roll out their own course.
I’ve bought some of these. And I haven’t been impressed.
Want To Know How To Progress As Slowly As Possible?
Spend all of your time on the internet trying to find a “shortcut” or a “better way” or “The Best FREE Guitar Course”
Internet Research = Information Overload = No Progress
I know. I’ve tried it.
Are You Ready For An In Depth Review Of The Fastest Training Out There In 2017?
2. Why I Love GuitarTricks Training
There are two major programs for beginners out there: Guitar Tricks and Jamplay.
In all honesty, some of the reason you see so much advertised on these two courses is their excellent advertising programs — they pay folks (like me) to promote them.
But more than that, they both offer the largest database of training you can possibly find online. Real training by real instructors.
But GuitarTricks takes it one step further and ORGANIZES their training into an easy-to-comprehend SYSTEM.
This is powerful.
In the next 3 minutes, you could log into their free trial and start on your first lesson.
When you are done with that lesson, you click the next one on the list and learn that.
It’s the difference between your college professor plopping three physics books on your desk and saying “Learn this”, or handing you one book with a syllabus and saying “This is all you need to know to become a Physics expert”.
They also offer lessons in every style imaginable: Classical, Jazz, Blues, Rock…
So you are not limited on what you can accomplish. And it doesn’t matter if you are wanting to master acoustic or electric. The lessons work for both without forcing you to adapt. You just click play and start learning.
Bottom line is, I have not found a more “color by numbers” method out there.
If you can hold a guitar, GuitarTricks can turn you into a rock star (Ok, so you might also need a manager, but they’ll teach how to play like a rock star).
What about more advanced training? To truly progress, you will need to an instructor. But there are a lot of advanced exercises and techniques that are worthwhile picking up the course and learning. And it’s really fun to play with some of those techniques as soon as you master the basics so you can look more awesome than you really are (But, wait. Maybe you suddenly became that awesome by learning these tricks? I think so!)
Bottom line, based on trying out the top 2 programs (and visiting all the free sites), I feel that they currently offer the best guitar lessons currently available online.
Especially if speed of learning is important to you.
3. Guitar Tricks Vs Jamplay Trials
Jamplay is the other big player. And they have some really cool bells and whistles. Like they are the only ones with video-in-video training so you can see both of your instructors’ hands at the same time. And they have “more hours of training than anyone”. (I’m suspicious a lot of that training is just repetitious)
What I don’t like about Jamplay is that they are not organized into a system that focuses on your growth.
Their system is organized around their different instructors.
And they have a lot of instructors to choose from.
So you have to decide which of their many instructors you want to learn from.
So, 30 minutes in, and you are still listening to instructors and trying to decide which one to go with.
(Isn’t that what we have Youtube for?)
Meanwhile, the GuitarTricks student is already on lesson 3 and still has 14 days left in their free trial.
GT is so systematic. You set a timer for 30 minutes. You log in. You practice your lesson. And you repeat.
You can’t screw it up.
In 4 months you will not only have completed “Fundamentals 1 and Fundamentals 2” which teach you virtually everything you need to know to become an accomplished guitarist — you will also have a few popular songs in your repertoire.
That’s another thing I like about Guitar Tricks. They offer a lot of the popular “How To Play This Song” type of training. “This is how your play this song” type of training. (Which, if you’ve read our article on “learn how to play guitar faster in 6 months“, you’ll know that is a major part of becoming a rapid success)
But, unlike Jamplay, GT actually pays for the rights to popular songs so you can learn to play tunes that other people will recognize.
Jamplay doesn’t want to shell out for those royalties, so you are stuck learning a lot of indie music and songs that I’ve never heard of.
It just wasn’t as much fun for me.
Finally, they have a lot of lessons on the different styles of music. So you can dive into blues and rock riffs, or “get your Brad Paisley on” in the country genre (which, I’ve got to say, is a very well-developed part of the program).
That’s about as well-rounded as it gets.
GT has made a huge difference in my life and the lives of my students. If you are serious about learning, I can’t recommend them highly enough.
4. Who Is JamPlay Ideal For?
Anyone who feels like other curriculums they have taken “don’t go into enough detail” or “leaves them hanging”.
Jamplay’s multi-teacher approach guarantees that you WILL find a teacher who can relate to your learning style.
And no other systems out there offer their unique video approach that allows you to see what is going on.
So if you feel like every other course you have tried has let you down, you will likely be better served by Jamplay.
5. Learn To Play In 6 Months (or less)
I, Too, spent a lot of time asking the internet “How Fast Can I Learn The Guitar?”
And there are a lot of ambiguous answers.
So, if you want to know “How fast can I be playing with enough proficiency to hang out with my friends and be able to play our favorite songs” you are looking at about 6 months of practice — with a good training system.
Ready to change your destiny? Follow these tips:
#1 Practice Daily for a minimum of 30 minutes. Preferably 45 minutes.
#2 Every practice, do these 3 things: finger drills, fundamentals (chords, notes, or theory) and then work on learning a song.
#3 Master a Song. Songs are engaging. Start working on one, and you’ll be surprised at how much you want to practice.
#4 Don’t Always practice your piece of music over from the top. Practice it from where you are having the most problem. Focus on your weak spots.
#5 It won’t take much practice before you are ready to start jamming with friends and family or start that Youtube channel. Don’t be shy! Performing will push you to perfect that much faster.
#6. Remember that even after 6 years of daily practice, you will still be improving. Don’t rush it. Just stay really focused on improving a little bit every day.
I know there are a lot of different top 10 lists for guitarists all over the Internet, but I am really tired of seeing the same five sites discussed over and over again. Sure there are some sites that are just absolutely amazing, and every guitarist should know about them. But there are also a lot of sites that no one ever discusses, that I have found to be impressive.
I hope you enjoy this list, and that helps you elevate your game to the next level.
Don’t forget that my favorite course also offers a free trial for those who are truly serious about learning as much as they can in the shortest amount of time possible.
Best Free Resources For Beginners (Options 1-4)
- JustinGuitar – I absolutely love how much content these guys have put out, and I have no idea how they ever plan to recoup their investment. If you want to cover the basics before you start paying for a program, this is an excellent way to go. Justin really loves music is passionate about the art and his enthusiasm is contagious.
- FretJam – while they may not have invested as much into site design as some of the other guys, I really like how clean and well – laid – out this site is. They actually have a lot more in-depth information as well, making this an excellent resource for the more intermediate player needed to research specific information.
However, for the beginner, this is a valuable enough resource that you could spend half of a Saturday on it and come away feeling pretty impressed with your progress.
- Totally Guitars – these guys offer a two-week, email-based course for free. While I still think Guitar Tricks is one of the best programs you can choose if you decide to pay for training, having a new lesson emailed to you each day is a great way to start your morning and establish a disciplined practice.
- Udemy – most of their courses are overpriced, and are just an attempt to sell you something else. However, I think this free, 21-day course is pretty nice. Well, you won’t be an expert in 21 days, it is a well-rounded way for beginners to get started.
Best Resources For Learning To Play Songs (Options 5-7)
- Rocksmith – while I am not a huge fan of the “learn to play guitar by playing songs” method of instruction. I do recognize that knowing a few songs can make your playing a lot more enjoyable.And, there is an undisputed system that will help you learn to play songs faster and more proficiently than any other. And their 60-day challenge has so many fans who are seeing phenomenal success. There’s no disputing this is the best way to learn how to play songs.
- GuitarNoise – I personally feel that their song list is stuck in the 90s. However, they do have a lot of timeless songs to choose from, so I’m sure you’ll find a few tunes that you recognize. This one mostly focuses on chording practice and has easy to follow along with instructions, making it easy for any new player to have instant success.
- Friendly Guitar – this website is so friendly, I can’t help but smile every time I go to it. They have 10 classic songs that will have you jamming – and grinning – in no time flat. It’s not flashy, but it’s free. You can’t go wrong spending a couple afternoons here.
Best Free Resources For Intermediate and Advanced Guitarists (Options 8-10)
- Steve Vai’s 30 Hour Workout – Steve recognized that a lot of people wanted to be professional guitarists (“Hey Steve, what does it take to go pro?” “A lot more than you are willing to give, kid”), but didn’t have the hours under their belt to cross that line. So he developed an incredible sequence of everything you need to practice to take it to the next level.The trick here is to stay incredibly focused – almost meditative – why you go these exercises. While these exercises are designed for people who can block out chunks of time to practice, they can still be beneficial – and challenging – when done in smaller segments. Even if you practice an hour a day, there’s enough here the last year the entire month.
- Guitar Master Class – if you are looking for the ultimate resource for specific techniques and practice ideas, this site is going to be your Bible. Everything from finger drills to two double stops, this resource shows you how to conquer some of the toughest techniques in the industry. I really enjoy how they not only have “intermediate” courses but also “advanced”, “extremely advanced”, and “insane” lessons.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Course
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000 hours rule — that it takes 10,000 hours of focused effort to become skilled at a professional level.
And while there may be a good deal of truth to this (most professional guitarists have way more than 10,000 hours of practice under their belt), it is entirely feasible to become proficient at your instrument with much, much, less practice.
Now, you’ve probably already read Tim Ferris’ article on how he learned 3 chords and then learned as many songs possible in that key. While that is a great party trick — and with a capo you can expand it to more keys — I personally found it to be lacking.
I want to actually play the guitar. To be good enough to hit up the coffee shop circuit once a month, jam with friends on Friday nights and lead worship on stage at our church.
Sure, learning to play takes effort, but it doesn’t have to take years.
Step #1: Plan On It Taking Effort
Whether you are trying to win a 5k run or teach your dog to play fetch, improvement takes dedicated, repeated, effort.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have 45 minutes a day that you can invest in this endeavor. Most instructors want at least 30 minutes a day out of you. They figure that they will only get 30 minutes every other day, but they’d really like to see you spend that 30 minutes a day to get consistent growth.
So why do I say 45 minutes when most can’t last 30 minutes?
Well, first of all, if we are going to get really good, it is going to take more time. But jamming for 30 or 45 minutes a night can get really tiring. So what I found is that by splitting my workouts into 2, 20-minute sessions, my fingers, and mind stayed fresh and I progressed a lot faster. I also knew that when I sat down to play, I was only going to be there for about 20 minutes.
Twenty minutes is nothing. By splitting the sessions I basically double my effective practice time while simultaneously making practice time shorter and more fun.
Mind games. They work.
So sit down with your daily schedule and figure out where it is going to fit in.
This may also be a good time to mention new research that says it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. So plan on staying really focus for the first two months, and trust that it will become easier after that.
Step #2: Get A Good Instrument
If you don’t have a guitar, you need to get one. The more you can spend, the better… up to about the $500 price point. Beyond that, you are buying a lot of features that you may or may not want.
I recommend getting an acoustic model to begin with. Sure, electric guitars are awesome and you probably will be a rockstar someday, but with electric models you end up with a lot of knobs and fiddly things that eat up your practice time.
Acoustic guitars have fewer distractions and require less setup which makes your practice time more efficient.
If you are shopping for your first quality instrument, check out our reviews of the 5 best guitars for beginners.
Step #3: Just Press Play
I think where a lot of new guitarists go wrong, is an over complicating the learning process.
The idea of learning a new instrument seems overwhelming. And so a lot of beginners get trapped “researching”. Hour after hour goes by and all they have done is watched another YouTube video.
The highly popular P90X workout video has one secret to its success: “just press play”.
You need a learning system that enables you to sit down with your guitar, press play, and 30 minutes later have made significant progress.
There are about five major online learn-to-play-guitar courses available. In my experience, most of these courses are only good for beginners and don’t contain much more than you can find easily at sites like Justinguitar.com (which is a great place to learn the basics).
Of the other two, JamPlay And Guitar Tricks are the undisputed winners and actually have enough advanced training to take you from beginner to rock star (or country star, if that is your thing).
My preference is Guitar Tricks since I feel their information is more organized and gives you that “just press play”experience.
(You can click here to read my entire review on Guitar Tricks before you try their free trial if you prefer.)
The one other aspect of playing that tends to slow beginners down, is tuning the guitar. Because of this, I am convinced that investing in a cheap tuner is the best thing you can do.
Seriously, the suckers only cost like $10 and can knock 15 minutes or more off of your prep time.
This may be the most important step. If you can successfully execute step # 3, you will have created a practice time, where you sit down and two minutes later, you are learning.
This one technique will shave years of wasted time off of your learning curve.
Step #4: Jam With Others
I know, I know, I know.
This is the one technique that no one wants to do. We are embarrassed to play with others and uncomfortable by the idea of making ourselves look like fools.
However, every friend I have who as learned an instrument in record time makes playing with others priority.
Playing with others makes them uncomfortable with their current progress, and drives them to excel. It also helps them to learn new techniques, and identify problem areas which might be holding them back.
Finally, it helps your mind understand how all of the musical elements work together, resulting in faster progression since it is no longer such a “foreign language” to you.
If you don’t already know other people who play, you can quickly make connections by hanging up flyers at your local music store, posting an ad on Craigslist, and using sites like Meetup.com to create a group of 2 to 3 folks who like to play together.
Step #5: Break Bad Habits
This is probably the most difficult step since most people don’t know what their bad habits are.
The tricky thing about mastering an instrument is that it is all done through muscle memory. So if you practice something the wrong way, you can imprint on a bad behavior that is almost impossible to break and can greatly hamper your future growth.
So the trick is to identify your hangups. This is best done through coaching, although those jam sessions we use in Step #4 can help with this as well.
In addition, you can use some of the new Skype Coaches out there to have a professional give you advice.
If you’re serious about learning guitar, having an instructor inspect your technique once a month can you go a long way towards stopping bad habits before they ruin your career – or your wrists.
Some images from freedigitalphotos.net
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