The way people learn has changed a lot in the last decade. Quality information used to be difficult to find, and notoriously expensive. People would spend hours scanning through books in libraries just to find a little golden nugget of wisdom. 

Thanks to the internet we now have access to an endless pool of information, but is all information equal? That’s what we want to find out today.

In this article, we’re going to examine the differences between two popular options – online lessons and YouTube Tutorials. We’ll go through:

  • The pros and cons of both choices
  • How to find the best content for you
  • Cost and time considerations

This is the best time for aspiring guitarists, but it’s also pretty confusing. The plethora of instructional content online can make it tough to choose where to start – so here’s a helping hand.

Are online guitar lessons worth it?

Online guitar lessons have risen in popularity massively over the last few years –  for several reasons. 

Let’s see what all the fuss is about and why many choose to pay for these services instead of opting for the free content on YouTube.

Structured learning path

One of the most significant benefits of online guitar lessons is the structured curriculum they offer. 

  • Unlike the piecemeal approach often found on YouTube, these lessons are designed with a clear progression in mind. 
  • They guide beginners from the basics to more advanced concepts in a coherent and logical order. 
  • This structure ensures that learners build a solid foundation, reducing the likelihood of developing bad habits that can hinder progress.

Personalized feedback

Many online guitar platforms offer personalized feedback from experienced instructors. 

  • This interaction is invaluable for correcting techniques and receiving encouragement along the way.
  • A learning experience that’s tailored to your strengths and weaknesses is super beneficial. 
  • Personalized guidance is absent in YouTube tutorials – feedback is usually limited to comments from other viewers (which may not always be accurate).

Access to a community

Learning an instrument can be a solitary journey, but online guitar lessons often come with access to a community of fellow learners. 

  • This can be a source of motivation, inspiration, and support, providing opportunities to share experiences and ideas.
  • There are often events, challenges, or group lessons you can participate in too. 
  • This sense of community adds a social dimension to learning, making the process more enjoyable and engaging.

Comprehensive resources

Online lessons frequently include a variety of resources beyond video tutorials, such as tablatures, backing tracks, and practice exercises. 

  • These resources enhance the learning experience, allowing learners to practice in a more engaging and effective manner. 
  • Many platforms offer apps and tools such as a metronome specifically designed to support practice and track progress, features that YouTube tutorials cannot provide.

Focus on technique and theory

While YouTube tutorials often focus on learning songs, online guitar lessons typically place a stronger emphasis on technique and music theory. 

  • This holistic approach ensures that learners not only know how to play their favorite tunes but also the musical principles behind them.
  • A strong foundation in music theory will help you become a more versatile, and independent musician.

Can I learn guitar from YouTube?

While the structured nature of online guitar lessons offers numerous benefits, YouTube tutorials hold a unique role in the guitar-learning space. 

YouTube holds a vast array of guitar tutorials – these can complement formal lessons or serve as a standalone tool for self-taught musicians. 

You’re also likely to find lessons on more esoteric genres and guitar concepts.

Here's a closer look at what YouTube tutorials offer to aspiring guitarists.

A diverse range of content

The sheer volume of content ensures that learners of all tastes and interests can find lessons in a certain niche. 

Whether you're into pirate metal, simpsonwave, or kawaiicore, YouTube has tutorials to cater to every musical inclination.

Flexibility and self-paced learning

One of the most appealing aspects of YouTube tutorials is the flexibility. 

  • Learners can choose what, when, and how they want to learn, adjusting their learning pace to match their schedule and progress. 
  • This self-directed approach empowers learners to take charge of their education, focusing on areas of interest.
  • This freedom can be a negative – some people struggle with consistency without a fixed system in place.

Immediate access to specific lessons

When learners encounter a specific challenge or want to learn a particular song, YouTube tutorials offer immediate access to targeted lessons. 

This ability to quickly find and learn from specific content can be incredibly valuable, especially when a learner is motivated to tackle a new challenge or inspired by a particular piece of music.

5 limitations of self-learning

While YouTube tutorials offer a wealth of information and the freedom to explore at one's own pace, relying solely on these resources for learning the guitar comes with its own set of challenges

This section delves into some of the potential pitfalls of self-learning through YouTube and how they can slow down your progress. 

#1 – Lack of structured learning path

Unlike online guitar lessons, which are designed to build knowledge and skills progressively, YouTube tutorials do not follow a specific order. 

  • This can lead to significant gaps in knowledge
  • As beginners might skip foundational concepts in favor of learning songs or techniques that catch their interest. 
  • Without a clear progression, it's easy to encounter frustration and plateauing in skill development.

#2 – Overwhelming amount of content

The sheer volume of content available on YouTube can be both a blessing and a curse. 

While it offers diverse learning opportunities, it can also be overwhelming for beginners who may not know how to discern quality tutorials from misleading ones. 

The risk of information overload is high, making it difficult for learners to stay focused and follow a consistent practice routine.

#3 - Lack of personalized feedback

Another significant limitation of learning through YouTube is the lack of personalized feedback. 

  • When self-learning, beginners may unknowingly adopt incorrect techniques, which can lead to bad habits that are difficult to unlearn. 
  • Without an instructor to provide guidance and corrections, these learners may struggle to improve their skills effectively.

#4 – Motivation and accountability

Self-motivation and accountability can be challenging when learning an instrument through YouTube. 

Online guitar lessons often include features like progress tracking and community forums, which can motivate learners to practice regularly and celebrate milestones. 

In contrast, self-learners must find internal motivation and self-discipline, which can be challenging to maintain over time.

#5 - Quality and accuracy of content

The quality and accuracy of YouTube tutorials can vary widely. While many experienced musicians and teachers are sharing valuable insights, there are plenty out there with bad information or poor teaching methods. 

Beginners might not have the expertise to differentiate between high-quality and misleading tutorials, potentially leading to confusion and ingrained mistakes.

Main Takeaways

Despite these challenges, YouTube remains a valuable resource for guitar learners, especially when used alongside structured online guitar lessons. 

  • The key to overcoming these limitations lies in recognizing them. 
  • YouTube tutorials are best suited as a supplement to a more structured learning approach.

Combining online lessons and YouTube tutorials

Let’s stop being so divisive! As musicians we should know how to make things work in harmony together,

This strategy offers a well-rounded learning experience that leverages the structured, comprehensive curriculum of online lessons with the flexibility and variety of YouTube.

Here’s how you can blend these resources into one and harness their combined power!

Creating a ‘hybrid learning’ plan

  1. The first step is to figure out what you want from your hybrid learning plan. It should outline some core objectives and milestones based on the structured curriculum provided by your online lessons. 
  2. Then, you can supplement this curriculum with YouTube tutorials that offer different perspectives on the same topics or provide lessons on songs and techniques of personal interest. 

This approach ensures a solid foundation while also accommodating individual learning preferences and goals.

Using YouTube to reinforce concepts

Online guitar lessons often introduce learners to new concepts and techniques through a series of step-by-step lessons. 

YouTube can serve as an excellent resource to reinforce these concepts by providing additional examples, interpretations, and applications. 

For instance, after learning a new chord progression through an online lesson, a learner can search for YouTube tutorials or backing tracks that feature the same progression. 

Filling gaps with YouTube tutorials

Despite the comprehensive nature of online guitar lessons, there may be specific areas or songs that are not covered in the curriculum. 

  • YouTube tutorials can fill these gaps, offering lessons on niche genres, specific songs, or advanced techniques not addressed in certain online courses. 
  • This flexibility allows learners to pursue their unique musical interests and challenges, making the learning process more engaging and personalized.

Balancing structure with flexibility

One of the critical aspects of integrating online lessons and YouTube is finding the right balance between the structured learning environment and the flexibility to explore. 

You should prioritize forming a daily habit with the online lessons to ensure solid progress.

  • Once you’ve got a routine down, use your free time to explore additional material on YouTube.
  • This sense of autonomy will boost your motivation and enjoyment – plus it’ll keep the learning experience dynamic.

Seeking community and feedback

Online guitar lessons often provide access to a community and personalized feedback from instructors. YouTube also offers a vast community of people to interact with – but those comment sections are not always constructive… or civil! 

Best YouTube channels to learn guitar

As we’ve said throughout this article, the major benefit of YouTube is that you can find super-specific content – our advice is to hunt around and find a creator with a similar style to yours or a presentation style that you find engaging.

If you want a quick rundown of the big names – check out this article on popular YouTube guitar teachers.

Best online guitar lessons website

Ahem… you’re looking at it!

It’s not just our humble opinion – we’ve helped 10,000s of guitarists and they’ve all got great things to say about us. Check some reviews if you need an impartial take.

We can support you on your guitar journey, whether you’re a complete beginner looking for your first lesson or an experienced guitarist who needs help getting out of a rut.

Sign up now and check it out – everything on the platform is completely free for 14 days!

Author: Richard Spooner