Why I Don't Recommend Self-Teaching

(Most of the time)

Can You Teach Yourself?

First let me preface this article with this: Basic guitar is not complicated, and yes most of you could teach yourself a handful of chords, some simple songs and maybe some impressive riffs to wow your buddies. You certainly could do this by scouring the net and sifting through the thousands of lesson sites that are out there.

In fact if that's all you want to do great, mission accomplished, and at no cost to you. You need not read any further. This article is aimed at the persons that want to become really good at the guitar.

You Get What You Pay For

One of the problems is that the majority of information out there is presented by total amateurs, who in reality, could never hope to get a job teaching in a real music studio. That's not to say there's not some really good stuff expertly presented but this leads to a huge problem. How do you know? Well of course you don't. 

To me, as a guitar instructor who has been at it since before the internet, I find most of the tab my students download and bring to me a total joke. It is so wrong 98% of the time that I just tell them nowadays to not bother. In fact the best thing I tell them is that if you like a certain artist by their tab book for $20 or so, and I will help them through it. The same goes with YouTube lessons.

This argument against online guitar education, applies somewhat to books and CD/DVD methods out there as well. The only difference is that the information is more than likely presented by a knowledgeable pro. This leads to the next argument for and against self-teaching.


OK, lets' assume you've actually found some reputable sources online. The biggest problem with doing it yourself is that you don't always where to start or know if it's right. For many it's very frustrating and a lot of potential players give up and blame themselves. Trust me, it's not you. The other issue is having the discipline on your own to keep up the follow through. 

Getting an Instructor

A big advantage of having the instructor right there in front of you is when your frustration is at a high point and everything sounds bad, it's really useful to have someone say "It's ok, it should sound like that, at this point you are doing everything right, so just bear with it and it will work." The teacher can offer suggestions and try multiple approaches. Online or method books/CD/DVD cannot.

What About the Self Taught Famous Guys

OK that's easy. Quit your job, live on friend's sofas, starve, play guitar 12 hours a day, starve some more and do that for many years and you'll probably get really good. Next! Seriously most persons starting out aren't able to put as much time into it as possible so lessons are a shortcut. Hopefully the instructor can offer insights that he's gathered over the years and cut to the chase as to what you need to know.


  • Online, how do you know if the information is correct?
  • Online, you don't always know if you are doing things right.
  • An instructor can modify their approach to your learning style.
  • You can ask a teacher questions.
  • An instructor can demonstrate many different ways.

So while I think it's fun and challenging to teach yourself, go ahead and keep doing it, but do yourself a favor and check in with a good teacher once in a while, if not on a regular basis to keep you on track.