Best Acoustic Guitar Lessons (Our Top Pick)
Guitar Tricks Acoustic Part 1 Course
Anders Mouridsen teaches the Guitar Tricks acoustic course which was developed in 2019 and is one of the best acoustic guitar lessons online, providing a thorough yet well-rounded approach to the acoustic guitar.
Parent article: Advanced guitar lessons
The acoustic guitar is, in many ways, an entirely different instrument than the electric guitar.
While it's often used to learn the basics and beginner guitar topics, learning the acoustic style is a different experience that requires a more nuanced focus. When you want to learn the acoustic guitar specifically, your approach to technique, chord progressions, picking practices, and music theory all change.
In this article we're looking for the best acoustic guitar lessons that consider and teach the specifics of the acoustic style.
The following topics are particularly important:
- Chord-related music theory
- Chord progression and changes best practices
- Strumming technique
- Rhythm concepts and timing
We'll look at some of the best online guitar lesson programs and pull from courses within those programs. As we've searched for specific lessons, we've focused on the aforementioned concepts and highlighted the material that does the best job teaching them.
Here's what we came up with:
Best Acoustic Guitar Lessons Online (our top 4 picks)
We've chosen two courses from Guitar Tricks, one from JamPlay, and one from TrueFire. Please note that we partner with these three programs, but have sincerely vetted them, and recommend their courses for a variety of guitar lesson scenarios. We do not recommend material that we don't test or that we would not use ourselves. Thank you for your support.
Guitar Tricks Acoustic Part I Course
Will Ripley's Acoustic Rock Course
Acoustic Style Page (filtered collection of lessons)
TrueFire Core Acoustic Course
1. Guitar Tricks Acoustic Course Part I
Released in 2019, part I of the Guitar Tricks acoustic course is one of the best collections of acoustic-specific lessons that we've ever reviewed.
Instructor Anders Mouridson is a gifted communicator and does an excellent job of explaining concepts without seeming nervous or awkward.
The content covered in this course gets into the grit of the acoustic style, touching on everything from slap and Travis picking to chord construction (anatomy) and acoustic-specific lead technique.
Here's a list of lessons we liked particularly:
- Down-stroke Strumming Patterns
- Next Level Finger Picking
Keep in mind, there aren't just single videos. Each section within each chapter is a series of videos, giving you small bits of information that are easy to follow along with in succession.
If you click on one of the lessons, you'll be taken to the video player screen which displays the content, tabs/sheet music, and the rest of the videos in the series for easy navigation.
You can see the content breaks down three levels deep, which typically ends up being around 200 videos per course.
Most videos are between two and five minutes long.
As we've come to expect from Guitar Tricks, it also does a great job of being somehow applicable to a wide range of starting skill levels, all on top of a great organizational system.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Getting into acoustic-specific concepts
2. Will Ripley's Acoustic Rock Course on JamPlay
Will Ripley's acoustic rock course focuses on showing you how to break down any song into just the acoustic guitar, while emphasizing a melodic left hand and rhythmic right hand.
- Song breakdowns on an acoustic guitar
- Left hand melody
- Right hand rhythm
- Style studies
- Technique with strong application (context of songs)
While a player of any skill level can pickup and start this course, it's designed to start with some beginner concepts, then quickly accelerates into intermediate and even advanced material.
Things like strumming patterns, upstrokes and downstrokes, and song/style studies assume that you have a basic understanding of chords and elementary guitar concepts.
In short, you're learning how to boil down the full essence of a song into just the acoustic guitar as your primary instrument. This is a great course for intermediate players or those coming out of the beginner stage and wanting to focus more on the acoustic guitar style.
Read the full review: JamPlay
IDEAL FOR: A beginner who wants to stick with the acoustic guitar as their main instrument
3. Guitar Tricks Acoustic Lessons Filter Page
Before the Acoustic Level I and II courses were developed by Guitar Tricks, they still had a solid acoustic-specific resource page under the "Guitar Styles" section.
While this section isn't an ordered course, it pulls together acoustic lessons from all Guitar Tricks instructors, giving you a wider variety of concepts to choose from across multiple teaching personalities.
This is a section where you might jump around to different videos, as opposed to chronologically following a specific course:
As with the other courses, each section breaks down into multiple videos that run near the five minute mark. Currently (as of December 2020), there are 42 courses in this section, all with multiple videos.
You lose the organization that we like in the Core Learning System, but it does give you a lot more variety to work with.
It's a great option for intermediate or advanced players that want to jump around and learn different acoustic concepts.
IDEAL FOR: Addressing a wider variety of acoustic concepts
4. The Acoustic L earning Path in TrueFire (the "Play Acoustic Guitar" series)
The core courses in TrueFire include a lengthy acoustic course that covers the basics with a good balance of explanation and application. It's TrueFire's version of an organized acoustic program, which is different from their normal path of isolated courses by specific or specialized teachers.
Skill level is used to separate sections of the course, as we see in the following screen shot:
After these sections, you'll see supplemental courses listed, which are made up of applicable material from the rest of the TrueFire library.
It's kind of like a "based on your interests" recommendations section.
Clicking on the "Play Acoustic Guitar 1" course (the one that's part of the learning path, will take you to the following screen:
If you're a logged in monthly or yearly member, you can stream the course (and all courses on TrueFire) immediately. If not, you'll see a buying option for just that course. TrueFire lets you purchase and download single courses without having to sign up for a membership.
Once you have access, you can work through the videos in chronological order.
Here's a quick look at content included in the actual lesson/video section:
This is the same interface TrueFire employs for all their courses, despite the wide variety of styles they cover and an extremely large roster of both house and guest instructors.
Each acoustic lesson in this course includes the following elements:
- SoundSlice powered tabs and sheet music
- Video player with speed up, slow down, and loop options
- Multiple camera views (at least three)
- Navigation for the entire course (on the left side of the screen)
- Course progress bar
The only thing we don't like about these courses is that several of the acoustic courses - this one in particular - are simply labeled "practice session" with an incremental number behind it.
As you progress into the course, there are more descriptive titles interspersed with the "practice session" tags.
It's a shame because this course covers a ton of acoustic guitar material, but it's often hard to figure out what each video is about from the navigation elements alone.
However, that shouldn't takeaway from the substance of the course. It's one of the most thorough and complete acoustic courses on this list.
Most videos are short, between being less than one minute or around six/seven minutes.
We'd recommend it for more patient students, perhaps those who plan to get into more advanced aspects of the acoustic guitar or who would like to study it in a formal capacity.
Read the full review: TrueFire
IDEAL FOR: Those looking for multiple courses and a wider variety of instruction (multiple instructors)
Why listen to us?
Every time we review an online guitar course, we log in with a full, paid membership, just like you would if you were to sign up. To narrow in on a specific topic, like acoustic guitars, we focus on courses within those larger programs that address the most important concepts and techniques involved with learning the acoustic guitar.
As a result, you can have two different courses recommended from the same program in a list like this one.
- Two from Guitar Tricks
- One from JamPlay
- One from TrueFire
Moreover, our reviews are objective and thorough, conducted by me and those I work with, all of whom are actual guitar players and musicians. We've used these programs for years
We do not recommend material that falls short of our established quality standards and we certainly don't recommend courses that we haven't actually used.
How We Review
For the acoustic guitar lessons in this list, we focus on offerings from Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, and TrueFire, and have tested specific courses within each of those programs.
This takes place in front of a computer, where we actually try out the lessons ourselves.
We tested the courses using the following equipment:
- Lenovo desktop and a Chrome browser
- Journey Instruments small acoustic guitar (for playing along at certain points)
- Apple iPhone and iPad (further environment testing)
For those curious, I'll also cover some of the basic criteria we use to evaluate lessons and - more specifically - acoustic guitar lessons.
Main Criteria Used for Evaluating
For acoustic guitar courses, we're using the same four general categories we use for all guitar lessons we cover:
To contextualize this to acoustic content, we're looking for a deeper dive into technique that's unique (or common) to the acoustic guitar like finger picking, Travis picking, strumming progressions, and a general emphasis on rhythm guitar.
We're also looking for coverage of music theory concepts that help make the acoustic style easier to understand.
Since most beginners start with an acoustic guitar, we also want to see an ease-in of the user for each course in terms of difficulty level and complexity. In other words, courses should cover basic concepts before getting into the more difficult material.
Let's take a closer look at the four criteria I mentioned in the above list.
We understand value as the convergence of price and quality, where lower cost and higher quality equates to better value.
Since we've reviewed each of these programs individually, and know their monthly price, we can plot their value on a graph. In the following graphic, lower and further to the right is better:
When looking at specific courses within these program, like the ones addressing the acoustic guitar in this article, we fall back on our rating for the entire website and the monthly membership price.
It's an imperfect comparison, but the graph gives you a general idea of how well these guitar lesson programs perform based on their monthly cost.
When we rate a course for its content quality we're looking at things like video resolution, loading speed, the amount of content available, and how well-covered the topic is.
We're also looking at ease of navigating through the content and more of a broad user experience.
- Video quality, resolution, and modern features
- Audio quality (guitar playing and verbal explanation)
- How fast does the content load?
- How many videos/lessons/courses are available?
- Is it a positive user experience?
- Website design and interface concerns
- Ease of navigation
How smooth is the interface?
Does it make sense where you should go and where you're coming from?
While this isn't unique to acoustic guitar lessons, it's important to consider since the entirety of these courses are delivered online, either through a web browse or mobile app.
Read more: Best guitar lesson apps
Educational quality speaks more to how well the content is taught.
Is music theory effectively integrated and explained? Are the instructors able to communicate ideas without seeming awkward or nervous? Are you given the opportunity to apply what you're being taught before moving on to new topics?
- Explanation of music theory
- Instructor's ability to communicate
- Presence of topical explanation
- Presence of concept application
- Concepts demonstrated and easy to hear?
- Depth of explanation and thorough exploration of topics
For acoustic guitar lessons, these quality markers are fairly easy to spot.
The more of them that are in place for a given course, the higher their education quality rating will be.
One of the most difficult aspects of putting together guitar lessons is figuring out how to properly order and sort material in a functional way so that people don't learn a new idea without the proper foundation.
For acoustic guitar, we're looking for a good ordering of beginner topics that help undergird acoustic-specific disciplines like finger picking and certain strumming styles.
This can also be measured by looking at how a course communicates pre-requisites for what a student "needs to know going in" instead of just assuming it's a totally raw beginner.
While the above criteria are helpful for measuring how good an acoustic guitar course is in its own right, it doesn't take into account your particular situation.
Here are some variables you need to consider that we can't speak to, but might still impact which acoustic guitar course you choose.
Your Skill Level as an Acoustic Guitar Player
Most people get into acoustic guitar as their main beginner instrument.
If that's the case, Guitar Tricks is probably your most ideal option. At the same time, those more firmly in the intermediate to advanced camp will likely find more relevant material on JamPlay and/or TrueFire.
The point is to be aware of your own skill level and factor it into your decision.
The best acoustic guitar lessons for you will depend somewhat on where you land on the skill spectrum.
Lead or Rhythm Acoustic
This distinction is less critical for acoustic guitar than it is for electric, but still something to consider.
Are you more of a melodic (lead) guitar player or do you gravitate towards rhythm?
Most acoustic players are rhythmic thinkers, but that doesn't mean you can't get into some course material that helps you use the acoustic guitar as a melodic instrument as well.
Your Learning Style
Learning style can take many different forms, but for guitar lessons (particularly if you've already decided to take them online) your desire for order as opposed to variety is a big factor to consider.
For example, do you want a program that will let you jump around and explore different things with a ton of nuance?
If so, TrueFire is probably going to be your best fit.
If you value the order and going in a chronological step-by-step progression, stick with Guitar Tricks.
The best acoustic guitar lessons should be forgiving when it comes to your skill level.
In fact, I'd be comfortable recommending all of these courses to a wide variety of skill levels, just because they are so well-rounded and balanced.
They're able to quickly get you familiarized with the pre-requisites, then accelerate you into the more advanced and thicker content. All four of them are worth your time and money.
Your Experience with Acoustic Guitar Lessons Online or Offline
Have you ever taken acoustic guitar lessons or tried one of these courses? Did you enjoy it? Did you get anything out of it? What were the "results" like after taking the course?
We'd love to hear your war story if you're willing to share it.
You can also leave questions about the courses mentioned, if you have them.
If so, feel free to leave me a message in the comments section and I'll respond there.
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