Parent article: Advanced guitar lessons
Best Adult Guitar Lessons: Guitar Tricks
For adults, we'd recommend Guitar Tricks for the same reasons we recommend it for kids and beginners. It's the best-organized program with the best song lessons, ideal for beginners, all ages, and all skill levels.
Age does have an impact on your ability to learn. At the same time, there are so many resources available to us that learning guitar as an adult is much easier today than even just 20 years ago. Because the E-Learning market is booming and making it simpler than ever to learn guitar in the comfort of our own homes. This page is a collection of online guitar lessons and resources that I - as an adult - have found to be helpful for learning and studying the instrument I began playing as a nine year old child.
Whether you're like me, working to expand an existing skill, or you're developing an entirely new skill set from scratch, these adult guitar lessons and resources are some of the most helpful and well-designed I can recommend.
Further, they're all being suggested based on personal experience, first-hand use, and thorough research.
If you'd prefer to sort by skill level, checkout the following guitar lesson reviews and roundup articles:
Adult Guitar Lessons Comparison Table
1. Guitar Tricks Lessons
Guitar Tricks dominates our lesson recommendations in several categories, and that's still the case when considering adult guitar lessons. Since an adult could be any skill level, we recommend Guitar Tricks for adults because it's a program that's strong at all of them, yet particularly well-designed for beginners.
We also like it for adults because it doesn't come across as childish or juvenile. It's tightly organized, professionally produced and feels like you're attending a legitimate music class. To top it off they have a song section with over 1000 licensed titles from popular bands and artists, pushing the program's fun factor way up.
We've used them for a long time and think you'll love the material just as much as we do. You can read our full review via the link below or try it free via the red button at the top of these paragraphs.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Beginners, all skill levels, and structured learning
2. TrueFire Guitar Lessons
While not as tightly organized as Guitar Tricks, TrueFire breaks the mold of only offering a monthly membership by making all of their courses available via one-time purchase. For more experienced or advanced adult guitar players, this can be extremely helpful since it allows you to target one topic at a time.
TrueFire adds value by providing a ton of material that covers nearly every guitar and music-related topic you could think of. To-date, they're the largest repository of lessons with over 40,000 total. Our two criticisms of TrueFire would be an underdeveloped song lesson section and a somewhat disjointed organization of topics, outside of their learning paths. However, it's also fair to say that each course can be treated as its own entity, agnostic of others even within similar categories.
Read the full review: TrueFire
For adults who want to learn guitar in a more specified manner, focusing on niche topics one at a time, TrueFire is going to be your most effective and most economic option. Read on for more info on how we've rated TrueFire and where you can identify its most prominent strengths and weaknesses.
IDEAL FOR: Advanced study of specific musical styles
3. JamPlay Guitar Lessons
JamPlay is setup like a happy medium between Guitar Tricks and TrueFire. While it's not quite as comprehensive as TrueFire, it does have a stricter organizational system and topical order. It also offers some of the program's more specialized courses for one-time-purchase and download. Adults who go with JamPlay will enjoy a wide range of styles and musical genres covered in plenty of depth and with a greater element of connectivity between each course. We find that makes it easier to navigate from course to course with a better idea of where to go next. JamPlay's pricing system is similar to Guitar Tricks if you don't go with one of the single-pay downloads.
Read the full review: JamPlay
IDEAL FOR: Balance between beginner and advanced material
4. Guitargate Lessons
Adults who want to learn guitar with an emphasis on music theory and a more personal teaching experience should consider the lesser-known but extremely effective, Guitargate. Michael Palmisano, the course's creator and founder, is a full-time music and guitar teacher who has literally helped thousands of students in-person. His course is a well-organized, professionally-developed guitar program that takes you through content in a thorough, slow-paced manner with an emphasis on music theory and fretboard structures.
Michael's system actually allows you to submit videos and receive feedback from Michael himself, which gives you a little more of an interactive element to your lessons as opposed to just watching a video.
If you learn guitar in a more social manner and rely heavily on feedback, Guitargate is a cheaper, high-value diamond-in-the-rough that could be the perfect fit for you.
Read the full review: Guitargate
Also, Guitargate is sponsored by PRS, which is why you'll see Michael teaching you with a wide range of PRS guitars throughout each course. While you don't get the same high volume of content as you do with the big box sites, you do get a more personalized and interactive way of learning guitar, where Michael will actually make an effort to help you. This means you don't have to rely only on a streamed video.
IDEAL FOR: Adult guitar players that want to learn with an emphasis on music theory and instructor interaction
Why trust us?
When we review a guitar lesson program, we actually buy and use it, taking thorough notes and developing familiarity with all the ins and outs of the interface and the user experience.
We do not do any of the following:
- Re-write or re-word other people's reviews
- Review guitar lesson programs without guitar in hand
- "Summarize" programs without actually knowing them from the inside
- Review programs with only access to trials or free versions of the website in question
When we review a program, we actually buy a full access membership and use it just like you would. For example, here's our logged-in full access Guitar Tricks membership screen shot:
Moreover, we actually play guitar and are not just marketing products that we don't understand. These recommendations are genuine and honest assessments of the programs in question. We truly believe they are the best adult guitar lessons available and can back up those assertions with experience, research, and a scientific method of rating and measuring the effectiveness of each program for different situations. In the next section, I'll provide some more detail about how exactly that method is implemented.
Analysis and Process
Over the years we've reviewed nearly all of the most popular online guitar lesson programs and many of the smaller, up-start options as well. Each time we review a program we grade it on the following criteria, with each one weighted differently in the final score:
- Overall Content Quality: 15%
- EDU Quality: 20%
- Topical Order: 20%
- Song Lesson Section: 15%
- Concept Coverage: 15%
- Video Player: 5%
- Site Navigation: 5%
- Cost and Value: 5%
Each guitar lesson program is graded in each criterion on a scale of zero to 100. In this article we've highlighted the top four categories (content, EDU, topical order, and songs) because we believe they're the four most important areas for prospective consumers to evaluate. They're also the four that are most heavily weighted. We've found that the lesson programs we like the most tend to perform well in these four areas.
To get a value measurement for these lessons, we can cross examine the monthly price of each program with their overall rating. In the following graph we've included the four programs along with some additional options just to give the graph some added reference.
Content quality is a broad grade we give to each guitar lesson program that's meant to indicate the overall volume of material and the quality of each type of media. For example, if a website teaches via video and tabs, how many videos and tabs are there? How nicely are they presented? How professional is the material produced? Does it feel like a YouTube channel or a well-developed curriculum?
Here's how the courses we've recommended for adults performed in relation to each other and other guitar programs:
TrueFire currently has the highest grade in this department with the largest volume of content and a high-quality standard met throughout every course. Their production is pro-grade and their hosting services are fast and responsive without any buffering or streaming issues that we've encountered. They also host their tab content on an app called Soundslice, which makes for a fantastic user experience.
In the Guitar Tricks program you have a similar quality standard met with professionally produced videos (almost all of which are in HD), full tab sheets where applicable and no performance issues that we ever experienced. Moreover, the content is produced identically across all devices that provide the Guitar Tricks app. They also have the second-most voluminous library of content behind only TrueFire, giving them the second highest score in this category.
The difference in content quality between JamPlay and Guitar Tricks is mostly in terms of volume, where Guitar Tricks has more lessons and more courses than JamPlay. However, the content "model" that JamPlay employs is fairly similar, building their lessons into structured courses that are presented in HD video with multiple camera angles and taught by professional educators (and even some notable artists).
In contrast, Guitargate falls a little behind in this category because they just don't have quite as much material as the other three programs. This is understandable, since Guitargate is a smaller operation that has only been around for a few years and the others are bigger box companies that have had time to produce a lot more content. Yet, Guitargate's material is shot in HD and does provide a great user experience.
While content quality looks at guitar lesson programs broadly, our education quality category is narrower and more focused. It's meant to specifically rate the quality of education you receive and, in particular, how effectively the program is able to communicate ideas. How good is the teaching? Are the instructors skilled in understanding and explaining the guitar? Do you get plenty of topical instruction and application? Does the material go in-depth? Education quality is a crucial part of our analysis, counting for 20 percent of the final score.
While Guitargate doesn't have a lot of content, what it does have scores quite well in the education quality category. This is largely because of Palmisano's ability to explain complex music theory ideas and fretboard concepts in a simple, easy-to-understand way. His program is also the only one in this list for adults that offers some individual feedback and person-to-person interaction. That's a big plus when it comes to rating the quality of education, which is why his program is at the top in this category.
Guitar Tricks and JamPlay score a little lower here because they lack the personal attention that Palmisano is able to deliver on his smaller platform. This isn't really a fault of the larger companies, but just a necessary consequence of having a site that serves hundreds of thousands (even millions) of people. However, they both score over 90 percent due to the depth of instruction and skill level of the instructors. Particularly with Guitar Tricks, instructors seem comfortable in front of the camera and are able to effectively explain topics in a way that is relatable and understandable. You could make an argument for either program being rated higher.
As we've alluded to already, TrueFire's strength comes from its variety and conceptual depth, which requires a much wider range of teachers and teaching styles. In other words, Guitar Tricks and JamPlay have a more stable and set group of instructors while TrueFire pulls them from all over. This has its benefits and drawbacks, where the drawbacks are primarily that you won't have as much consistency in terms of the educational style employed.
Yet, in the case of TrueFire, this evens out with the added benefit of a ton of material to learn from.
Topical organization rates how effectively a guitar lesson program covers concepts and how easy it is to find your way from one idea to the next. What kind of sorting options are available for browsing through courses and lesson material? Do the skill level organization methods make sense? Are the topics ordered in a way that you don't skip crucial ideas? Are complex concepts preceded by the necessary foundational material?
This is something that we've found to be a major weakness when it comes to things like YouTube or Udemy. While there's a lot of great material on those platforms, it's very difficult to have any kind of consistent organization or flow of concepts.
A good online guitar lesson program - especially the ones you pay for - should be able to solve this dilemma and make it easy for you to know where to go. This is an especially crucial aspect of learning the guitar as an adult.
As you can see, this is something that a lot of guitar programs struggle to get right. It's not enough to just have things grouped or arranged chronologically, but there has to be thought given to how and why a certain concept, or group of concepts, might be placed before or after another. Guitar Tricks, by a wide margin, does the best job of ordering their material. It's intuitive, easy to navigate, and the progression of concepts makes sense. This is one of the main reasons that I tend to recommend them above other programs, because their topical organization is so tight and precise.
A good example of what we might be looking for would be the progression of introducing a concept, explaining the relevant technique, then providing an opportunity for application.
Here's a chapter within a Guitar Tricks rock course that exemplifies this pattern quite well:
Since Guitar Tricks does such a good job of following this pattern, we've noticed few - if any - instances of feeling like we "missed something" or like we didn't know where to go next. The concept coverage and ordering of material makes it all really easy.
With JamPlay and Guitargate, the connectivity between courses and material is still quite good, just not to the level of Guitar Tricks. JamPlay's material can - in spots - feel a bit isolated, making it less clear where you should go next or how a particular course might be tied into or related to the one before or after. Guitargate is just a lot smaller and doesn't have as much material to organize, though what they do have is ordered in a manner that makes sense and is intuitive for the user.
TrueFire is the lowest scoring program in this category from this particular roundup, though still in the top five of all that we reviewed. As we've already mentioned, TrueFire relies heavily on content volume with a lot of different courses that exist as standalone resources. The connectivity between each course and the topical progression are not always obvious or perhaps even necessary. That's why we recommend TrueFire as the best advanced guitar program for adults who already have an idea of what they want to learn.
Song Lessons Section
For adults wanting to learn guitar, it's important to have a program that gives you access to something fun, where you work on applying what you're learning. The simplest way to do that - and we'd argue, the most effective - is to provide a song lesson section. Rating this part of a program takes into consideration accuracy, completeness, instructor competence, and whether or not the songs are licensed with applicable tablature.
Once again, Guitar Tricks is the clear winner in this category. In fact, they're one of the only programs that seem to put a substantial amount of effort into their song lessons, though JamPlay's effort is notable as well. Guitar Tricks just has a ton of material to offer with over 1000 fully licensed song lessons that include tabs and step-by-step instruction. It's not just watching someone play a song with tab sheets, but you'll actually have each part of a song (multiple guitar parts and solos, if applicable) explained to you one note at a time.
Based on our use and experience with their song lessons, it's nearly a perfectly done aspect of their membership. We truly can't find anything to complain about how Guitar Tricks has set this up, hence the 99 percent rating.
JamPlay's song lesson section is similar in that they provide licensed lessons taught by instructors, though they don't break their lessons up into separate videos like Guitar Tricks does. They also don't have as many song lessons, and seem to have moved their focus away from that part of their site in recent years. Still, it's a solid song program and actually provides a ton of supplemental content, as evidenced by the screen shot below:
Soundslice playback, tabs, backing tracks, and even Guitar Pro files are par for the course, which gives JamPlay's song lessons a lot of appeal. Still, it's the lack of volume (numerically speaking) that's a bit disappointing.
While TrueFire does technically have a song lesson section, it's fairly small and almost completely dormant at this point. They also don't provide any licensed songs, instead using "in the style of" lessons and older music to populate their song section. If this is an important part of what you want to get out of your guitar lessons, TrueFire probably isn't your best bet.
At the time of writing this, Guitargate does not have any kind of song lesson section.
Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are both standouts in the adult guitar lessons category. They're ideal for either a beginner or intermediate adult that wants well-organized guitar lessons and/or a strong emphasis on learning songs. For the most part, these two programs can serve any skill level and have enough content to keep you busy for years without getting bored or running out of things to learn. If you have additional questions about them, you can refer to some of our other guides or simply leave your thoughts in the comments section below.