One of the fastest ways to learn many new skills is to pay a teacher, coach, or professional to help you learn. In most cases, this will help you shorten the learning curve to the desired skill you want to improve at. Does guitar fall into this category? Are guitar lessons worth the money?
Guitar lessons are definitely worth the money if you can afford them. A guitar teacher will be able to spot the flaws that are individual to you and help you correct them. They can also give you planned exercises to help you improve on your weaknesses.
With the internet, though you have plenty of options for learning, so what makes in-person guitar lessons the way to go?
Types of Guitar Lessons
Let’s first look at the different ways that you can learn guitar and the types of guitar lessons you can get so we can clarify this from the start.
Many people will pick up a guitar and start strumming, picking at individual notes, and pressing down on individual strings. This is the definition of a self-taught guitarist. Teaching yourself to play is a great way to start out and is something that many guitars do – That being said, most serious players will opt to take lessons sooner or later.
Online guitar lessons come in two forms, free and paid courses. Free online lessons can be found all over YouTube. The good news is that there is no shortage of these videos, but they don’t really give you a path to follow or address your individual needs.
JustinGuitar has a free beginners course that I’ve looked through, if you want to go the free online lessons route this is what I’d recommend. He does a great job breaking down topics into easy lessons and giving you a practice schedule.
Even better than that are places like FenderPlay and Artistworks. These are paid subscription-like programs but the content quality and depth are the next best thing to having an in-person teacher.
In-Person Guitar Lessons
When I say guitar lessons, I am talking about in-person guitar lessons unless I say otherwise!
The best part of guitar lessons is that they will give you some structure and help to steer you in the right direction. A private lesson will usually have a curriculum to follow defined by your teacher. A good teacher will be able to analyze your playing style, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan for you to follow.
If you are serious about learning the guitar, and especially if you have aspirations to play as more than just a hobby, finding a good guitar teacher is absolutely worth it and the route I recommend.
Are Guitar Lessons Worth the Money?
In the end, the only person who can actually answer the question of are guitar lessons worth the money is you.
I personally can’t see what we gain from not having a guitar teacher or coach. Me, I started to learn to play the guitar on my own but decided that if I was ever going to get as good as I wanted to I would need a professional to help me refine my technique and really bring out the very best in my playing.
Now, there is definitely a case for going the free route and not spending money on guitar lessons. If playing the guitar is just a hobby for you and you play because you enjoy it and don’t care too much about improving or playing for others then maybe the cost of the lessons isn’t worth it.
How Much Do Guitar Lessons Cost?
Most guitar teachers set their own hourly rates so costs can vary quite a bit. A fair price for guitar lessons ranges between $25 and $100 per hour. Much of this price will depend on the credentials of the teacher, the geographic location, and the teacher’s experience.
It is often expected that you sign up for a set number of lessons so in some places it’s not uncommon to have to pay for a month of lessons at a time. I’ve done this in the past where I monthly charge a lump sum for 8-10 lessons.
What Should I look for in a Guitar Teacher?
When paying for a guitar teacher the cost is not always equivalent to the quality of the teacher. Sometimes you’ll find super expensive teachers that either has too many students, are too busy with other things, or you simply don’t mesh well with them.
The first thing to look for is credentials. Here are a few questions you can ask a potential instructor:
- Have they played professionally?
- Did they go to music school?
- Have they written any original music?
- Do they have references from past students?
Not only should a guitar teacher have some of these qualifications, but I’ve also always felt it was important for you to like your guitar teacher. There have been instructors in the past that whom I just didn’t get along with. This takes some of the joy out of playing and practicing.
Find an instructor that is in your price range, has decent credentials or reviews from past students, and that whom you get along with. You will see your guitar playing improve quickly after that!
Are Online Guitar Lessons Worth It?
When someone tells me they want to learn to play guitar I’ll often tell them to start with online lessons. On paper, it seems like the best way to start learning guitar, and as someone who has spent years teaching, I would never discourage anyone from learning through an online service.
I also know that if someone spends a few months paying $10-20 a month for online guitar lessons, they are likely going to stick with it long-term. This means that the cost of in-person guitar lessons will be of greater value to someone who already knows they want to continue playing and has a solid foundation of knowledge.
Is it Better to Take Guitar Lessons or Teach Yourself?
While you can teach yourself to play guitar, if you want to learn quickly and efficiently there is no better way than to invest in guitar lessons. This is especially true if you are interested in playing a certain style or genre of music.
You will find learning to play guitar can be difficult and take time. The best way to learn in this case is to invest in a teacher that knows what they are doing.
While there are many great resources online, nothing beats the hands-on, one on one attention that a guitar teacher can give you. They will spot flaws in your playing you may not even notice and be able to quickly fix them before you develop bad habits while playing.
How Long do Most People Take Guitar Lessons
Most people will stick with guitar lessons for about 6 months, especially if they learn as adults. Kids tend to stick with lessons longer, but often that is thanks mostly to their parent’s interest.
If you practice for 15-30 minutes a day, for 3-5 days a week, then add in a lesson on top of that, you should be able to play a fairly good selection of beginner and intermediate songs after six months. You will have also learned most of the skills you need to continue to improve without a teacher.
That being said, I know several people who play in bands and are what I would consider advanced guitarists who still have teachers. These are really solid musicians that simply want to continue to improve. So, while many people will quit paying for guitar lessons after 6 months to a year, there is no reason to stop if you are still learning and enjoying them!
The Final Note
Are guitar lessons worth the money? I sure think so, but I hope this has helped you in your decision about what to do about guitar lessons. There is nothing that can beat in-person lessons, but the quality of those lessons is important. Never pay for guitar lessons that are subpar!
So, if you’re looking to start learning guitar, and you want to get the best value on your investment, then look at in-person guitar lessons. If the price is too steep, or you’re not sure you will stick with it, there are some solid online courses that can get you started as well!