Online vs Face-to-Face Guitar Lessons: Which is Right for You?

We apprentice guitarists have never had it as good as we do now. There are enough video lessons on YouTube to last anyone, well, probably forever. There are many reputable online guitar lessons sites. There is a whole world of tutorial content that you can access using just your smartphone.

And, while guitar learning has been a little trickier lately for those who prefer their lessons face-to-face with a human, technology has been a saving grace, with video conferencing platforms keeping students and teachers in contact.

Now, as pandemic restrictions begin to ease in many territories, getting together with a guitar teacher is something you might consider again. But will you spend your money with a “real” tutor? Or does the convenience of virtual classes appeal to you more? Both approaches have pros and cons after all.

Read on and we’ll take a look at some of these pros and cons. There’s no right or wrong here, but hopefully we’ll help you decide how to move forward with your own learning.

1. Cost

Man teaching student how to play guitar

(Image credit: John Fedele)

It’s a simple fact: in-person guitar lessons cost more than online lessons. You’ll pay between $80 and $230 for a one-year subscription to a service like Yousician, Gibson’s “Your Guitar Teacher” App, Mudguard set, pickup music, TrueFire, guitar tips Where JamPlay. And if that’s still too expensive, each site offers either a free “lite” option or a full trial period, so you can choose a platform before parting with your cash. According to Lessons.comon average, a one-hour lesson will cost between $40 and $60 – and you can pay a lot more than that for in-demand teachers.

Of course, professional tutors can’t compete with online subscription rates, but free trial sessions, block booking discounts, and cost-shared group lessons help keep in-person lessons at a premium. an affordable price.

2. Benefits for beginners

If you’re new to guitar, most online lesson sites have plenty of content for you. Notably, Gibson and Yousician’s mobile apps offer an interactive experience, using your tablet/phone’s microphone to tell you in real time if you’re playing correctly.

The Fender Play website features a clean, contemporary design, with an excellent course that will have beginners plucking, strumming and fretting with minimal fuss. Their site also includes a new “feedback mode”, currently in beta, similar to Gibson/Yousician’s real-time interactivity.

Technology is exciting, but it’s something a human does best. Constant feedback from a trained tutor helps beginners identify errors and correct them on the spot. No tutor? You risk ingraining “bad” techniques that can hold you back, potentially for years. We recommend every beginner to take at least a few individual lessons.

3. Convenience

A bearded man plays the acoustic guitar in front of his laptop

(Image credit: Getty)

Online tuition scores high for convenience. Of course it is – it’s the internet. You can access the lesson content anytime, day or night, and press rewind/play as many times as needed. Still, private tutors are passionate about your business and you can expect them to try to be as flexible as humanly possible. Many offer home visits, and since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, lessons via Zoom have become increasingly popular (and more high-tech).

If you’re studying for guitar notes with a tutor, it’s worth noting that some providers have started offering their exams digitally as well. You really can accomplish a lot from the comfort of your living room, whichever learning approach you prefer.

A man shows a boy how to play his acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Getty/South_agency)

Some private guitar teachers, especially those with long student lists and larger teaching spaces, host regular band concerts and social events. You can develop live performance skills, learn more about your gear, and develop your confidence and performing art, all while making new friends and having fun. Check with your local guitar store – they’ll probably know someone.

Not to be outdone, most education websites also have some sort of community offering. Guitar Tricks has a large online forum where students can discuss their progress, and TrueFire has a public Facebook group for students. Online or offline, the choice is yours.

5. Quality of teaching materials

Online course sites offer more facilities than ever. For example, TrueFire’s video lessons are time-stretchable and include guitar tablature that follows the video at your chosen playback speed. You can loop sections, select full-screen or side-by-side view, and download content on desktop or mobile platforms.

When it comes to face-to-face lessons, most tutors have their own teaching materials and technology, including tablature/notation software such as Guitar Pro or Finale. Many will be happy for you to record your lessons for reference, either live in the room or via Zoom. And no online platform can create a tailor-made lesson on the spot based on a question you ask them. You definitely need a teacher for that!

6. Personalities

Joe Bonamassa

(Image credit: future)

YouTube content creators range from beginners who will show you what they just learned, to pro-level gamers/videographers offering virtuoso lessons. For general courses, we recommend following well-known popular tutors such as Justin Sandercoe, Andy Crowley Where Marty Schwartzwhich offer a multitude of free content, as well as paid content.

If you are considering face-to-face lessons, it is important that you get along well with your teacher. Many tutors rely on word of mouth for their business, so a recommendation from a guitarist friend is worth following up.

7. Monitoring progress

If you opt for the free YouTube content, you will be the sole judge of your progress, but you will achieve better results if you follow the structured lesson content and receive regular feedback. Some sites allow you to “mark as complete” each lesson as you go, which is useful but rudimentary. Be sure to use the more interactive facilities on offer, such as the real-time jamming features from Gibson, Yousician, and Fender Play and the live Q&A tutorial sessions from JamPlay.

Perhaps inevitably, in-person classes are a clear winner for tracking your progress. A good teacher will ensure that you end each lesson with a practice plan to carry you through to your next session.

8. The master class model

If you want to learn from famous guitarists, TrueFire has a huge selection of lessons presented by renowned players. Pickup Music is much smaller, with just a few star tutors, but it’s a cool site with a young and growing vibe. However, despite global pandemics, masterclasses are not limited to the internet.

If you prefer your in-person masterclasses, there are a host of companies that cater to you. In the United States, Guitar Workshop Plus organizes week-long workshops, with world-renowned guitarists. In the UK, Guitar Breaks offers bespoke lessons with professional tutors and star guitarists, and IGF runs an annual guitar summer school with some of the country’s best-known guitar teachers. There’s definitely a cost consideration here, but there’s something for everyone if you have the room.

9. How will your game improve?

A man with an acoustic guitar watches a lesson on his laptop

(Image credit: Getty)

That’s the $64,000 question and the answer depends on what you want to accomplish with your game. In-person lessons with a trained tutor are tailored to your needs, so your progress can be accelerated and you’ll be suffocating fast. technical errors in the bud. If you’re taking weekly classes, it’s worth committing to a few months to really get the best results.

Conversely, sites like Fender Play help beginners cover the basics, but without forensic commentary from a private tutor, so your progress may vary. TrueFire offers millions of lessons and short and medium courses and there’s a bit of a “pick and choose” vibe, as if the site is your own vast private library.

In the end, you get what you put in no matter what type of course you choose, but there’s no substitute for being in the room with someone who can direct you in person. With a good tutor, you will always be on the right track.

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