Best Electric Guitar Lessons Online (Our top Picks)
Guitar Tricks Courses
While there are more in-depth electric guitar courses, the Rock Level I & II pairing from Guitar Tricks is one of the most succinct and focused, getting you all of the most important electric guitar information with relevance to every skill level.
Parent article: Advanced guitar lessons
Most guitar lessons are not electric guitar specific.
If anything, they'll deal with acoustic guitars since beginners are a bit more likely to learn on one of those than an electric guitar. But what about those of us who are actually looking for electric guitar lessons, specific to that playing style?
Here are a few examples of topics that electric guitar lessons should address:
- Speed and finger strength
- Scales, modes, and melody building
- Lead guitar technique and soloing structures
- Use of effects and tone-related concepts
- Percussive playing styles and rhythm
What this usually means is that electric guitar lessons are going to be a bit more advanced than your typical beginner guitar course. It's a specialized area of study that should address concepts unique to the electric guitar and its most common playing styles.
I've always believed that the electric guitar and acoustic guitar are extremely different and should be approached differently.
In this article, I'm going to dig up some of the best electric guitar lessons online, focusing on JamPlay, Guitar Tricks, TrueFire, and Active Melody.
Here are the five courses that I'll recommend:
Best Electric Guitar Lessons Online (our top 5 picks)
Rock Level I and II Courses, taught by Anders Mouridsen
JamPlay Specialized Courses: Tosin Abasi, Stephanie Bradley, and more.
Guitar Tricks Rock and Metal Song Lessons
Steve Vai's TrueFire Course
Active Melody Free & Paid Program
1. Rock Level I and II Courses via Guitar Tricks
In the Core Learning System, Guitar Tricks gives you four different paths to choose from after covering two extremely thorough beginner guitar courses.
Here's what the chart looks like up close:
One of those paths is the rock path with two full Rock Level 1 and 2 courses. These courses, taught by Anders Mouridsen, are some of the best beginner to intermediate electric guitar courses we know to recommend.
Topics covered in Level 1 include rock strumming, power chords, lead technique, major and minor scales, pentatonic scales, and even using effects pedals and developing tone.
In Level 2 you'll get into a lot more advanced material like chord extensions, harmonic variations, and even some artist/style studies.
Why it's great for electric guitar
All of this content is relevant to the electric guitar. However, the Blues Level I and II courses are also heavily focused on the electric guitar, with perhaps a more vintage and foundational bend.
If you're someone who wants to focus exclusively on electric guitar, these two courses give you a massive amount of material to start with.
Organization of Material
One the biggest strengths of the Guitar Tricks program is how they organize content. For example, within the rock courses, material is organized tightly by difficulty level, allowing you to follow the course incrementally without having to jump around.
For example, here's a clip from the one of the video series in the rock course that takes you through rhythm concepts.
You can see how the lessons are organized in a careful, easy-to-follow structure:
If you go down further, you see a similar structure for learning chord extensions:
Within each course you have chapters, which is how different sections of the course are organized.
While this isn't unique to the electric guitar section of Guitar Tricks (organization is solid throughout the program), it's a major selling point that all potential members should be aware of. When you pay for Guitar Tricks, you're paying - in large part - for a well-organized system of lessons and courses that you can follow.
Other Rock Lessons
You can also sort by using a rock category, which includes all of the lessons pertaining to rock. These are usually focused on electric guitar, and allow you to browse around as opposed to following a chronological course.
Price & Value of a Full Membership
We've written a full page breaking down the cost of Guitar Tricks, but to summarize it's $20 a month or $180 a year, unless you wait for promotional offers where it goes cheaper.
This is a fairly typical price point for online guitar lessons, and we've put together a chart that can help you compare to other programs, based on our quality rating and monthly pricing:
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Anyone looking for a comprehensive electric guitar course that covers a wide range of skill
2. JamPlay Specialized Courses
JamPlay does have the traditional month-to-month membership option that gives you access to all their content.
They also conveniently offer many of their courses for a one-time fee and ownership download. This is great for electric players because they have some of the best electric-specific courses we've ever tested.
Specifically, we'd recommend the following JamPlay courses for electric guitar players:
- Stephanie Bradley's Cybernetic Shred
- Tosin Abasi's Extended Range Courses (7-string and 8-string guitars)
- Tim Stewart's (Lady Gaga's guitarist) Modern Grooves & Retro Rhythms
- Sarah Longfield: Extended Range Mastery
All four of these courses are exceptionally unique and engaging in how they approach the electric guitar. Moreover, their extended range content is taught in a way that can easily be applied to a regular six-string electric guitar.
We'd recommend either signing up for a full membership to stream them all or buying and downloading a couple that seem particularly interesting to you.
For a closer look, I've done a full video review of Stephanie Bradley's Cybernetic Shred course, which you can watch here:
Other Benefits of JamPlay for Electric Guitar Players
Though JamPlay focuses a lot on individual courses, their learning paths are also quite good, and are provided by a wide variety of teachers.
For example, they have an electric guitar-specific section that you can get started on, if you're a beginner. Within that section, you'll have a bunch of different courses by different teachers, which still gives you some options to choose from and not necessarily a "set in stone" path to follow:
These are all beginner courses designed for electric guitar players. It's also important to note that they're all - more or less - independent of one another. That means you find one or two teachers you like and go with their courses.
The Learning Style of JamPlay
This is in stark contract to a program like Guitar Tricks that lays out a specific path to follow from just a few teachers. In their program, there are two beginner courses, level I and II. In JamPlay there are a ton of beginner courses, all separated by different teachers and types of guitar (acoustic and electric).
If you're the type of person that enjoys learning by jumping around and having different viewpoints presented, JamPlay might be a better fit for you.
In that respect, we'd argue JamPlay is typically better for intermediate players who know enough to choose between the many course options, and narrow in on more specific concepts.
IDEAL FOR: Extended range, intense electric guitar study
3. Guitar Tricks Rock & Metal Song Lessons Section
I've long held that Guitar Tricks has the absolute best video song lessons library of any guitar site out there.
In and of itself, it's a fantastic resource for learning electric guitar, even if it's not technically an organized course. Between the wide variety of genres and popular bands covered, you can learn a ton of electric guitar songs that can help you get significantly better at all aspects of the instrument.
From modern metal like Tool, Godsmack, and Korn, to more vintage electric guitar rock pioneers like Van Halen, the Beatles, and Rolling Stones, the metal and rock song sections of Guitar Tricks have a ton of high-profile artists.
Within each lesson, instructors break down songs and explain everything note-for-note, even the tricky solos.
To learn some electric guitar and have some fun, this is a great way to combine both processes.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Having fun and learning songs
4. Steve Vai's Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare on TrueFire
For fans of Steve Vai's 1990 album Passion and Warfare, this course is a self-explained summary of that album, and conceptualization of the techniques and patterns used (as well as some note for note demonstrations) in those songs.
This course covers over four hours of content and, besides focusing on Vai's noteworthy 1990 release, gives you a ton of tools and concepts to use on the electric guitar.
In other words, it helps you harness some of what Vai does on his records so that you can migrate that to your own music.
Read the full review: TrueFire
Read more: Steve Vai Guitar Lessons
IDEAL FOR: Steve Vai fans and lead guitar players
5. Active Melody
Brian Sherrill's home-grown program, Active Melody, has developed into an extremely valuable resource where nearly half the content is free on YouTube and the other half is cheap to unlock.
He focuses heavily on blues and jazz lead technique with an emphasis on improvising and dissecting scale patterns.
This is useful electric guitar knowledge in just about any context, so we'd recommend at least checking out and subscribing to his YouTube channel.
Read the full review: Active Melody
IDEAL FOR: Learning how to improvise and use scale structures
Our Selection Process
I do not believe in recommending something that I haven't actually used.
That's why we always test these programs with a full membership, often times buying them ourselves if need be. Unfortunately, I believe it's often the case that recommendations like this are made "blind" by people who don't actually use the program or dig into the content.
Hopefully you can tell - and trust - that we do use these programs and dig into the content, a lot. They are the furthest thing from blind recommendations.
In fact, we've been through a lot of these courses multiple times and keep in contact with the folks that build them.
Part of Guitar Chalk's purpose is to help people learn guitar by finding the right online course for their unique situation.
How We Conduct Guitar Course Reviews
Our review process is thorough, but fairly simple.
Once we've obtained a full-access membership, we login to the site in question, take notes and write our reviews. For a more narrow focus like electric guitar lessons, we go back and pick out the best courses from all the programs we've already covered.
Just to be thorough, here's some of the equipment we use to test and stream the online content:
- Lenovo desktop running Windows 10 in a Google Chrome browser
- Apple iPad and iPhone
- PRS CE 24 electric guitar and Fender Thinline telecaster (playing through certain pieces of content)
Criteria Used for Evaluation
To find the best electric guitar lessons online, we're using four metrics that we've come up with to rate guitar lesson programs in a multitude of styles and categories. They included the following:
- Content quality (user experience, usability, content quantity, relevance)
- Education quality (instruction, thoroughness, topic development)
These are the four general categories we use to rate each course. In the next section, I've go over some specifics about each one.
Since we have a full rating for each guitar lesson program and a monthly price, we can plot the price against the program's final rating to get a kind of value chart, which is pictured below for all the major platforms.
Note that lower and further to the right is better.
This is the same chart we referenced earlier in the Guitar Tricks section.
As a whole program - not necessarily speaking to individual electric guitar courses - Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, and Guitargate are three of the highest-value options based on their monthly price.
Since these courses are online, one of the ways we rate them is by grading their content quality.
This is a broad term that is meant to address things like site navigation, different types of media available to the user, website functionality, and whether or not the content fits the stated topic or goal.
Things that would lower a grade would be low relevancy (i.e. video titles exaggerate or distorts actual video content) or a poorly designed interface that makes it hard to figure out where to go next.
When we grade education quality we're looking at electric guitar lessons that provide depth and thorough explanation of topics that are most relevant to the electric playing style.
For example, we'd look for the following topics:
- Emphasis on lead guitar
- Building speed
- Process and structure
- Scale and theory study
We're also looking at how good the teachers are at both the electric guitar itself and effectively communicating these ideas.
Are they both good players and good teachers?
Is there are good balance of skill level?
Is the student given the opportunity to apply the concepts being taught?
By asking these questions, we can determine not only if the content is covered, but if it's covered in a way that's easy for the student to absorb and benefit from.
As I've already alluded to, organization is an extremely important part of any good guitar lessons curriculum.
For electric guitar there's often greater technical complexity, so we're looking for a foundational knowledge base in a course or some kind of explanation of where you need to be before moving to the course's more difficult content.
Typically, the more thought given to how content is organized, the better a course will score in our rating system overall.
Other Factors to Consider
While the criteria we just mentioned are closely linked to how the electric guitar course is developed, there are also factors that we can't predict because they have nothing to do with the course itself.
These are variables that depend on you and that you need to consider ahead of time.
Your Skill Level
While electric guitar can start at any skill level, some courses emphasize beginner content while other accelerate quickly into intermediate and advanced material.
Knowing your own skill level and being aware of what kind of material you can handle without any prerequisites will help you choose the best electric guitar lessons online for your particular situation.
Lead or Rhythm
For electric guitar, this is a big question:
Are you more interested in lead or rhythm guitar?
If you aren't sure or you just think "both," that's fine as long as you keep it in your mind as you learn and choose courses. In some situations, it'll have an impact on what kinds of courses you choose to spend time and money on.
The best electric guitar lessons online will have a good balance of skill, addressing beginner and advanced content, as well as a solid and well-thought-out ordering of the topics they present.
Application and demonstration of concepts should also be routinely worked into the lesson plan.
This is the best way to summarize what we like about the courses listed in this article. They're relevant specifically to the electric guitarist and have obviously been given a lot of thought by their creators and the instructors that teach them.
Your Experience with Electric Guitar Lessons Online or Offline
What's your experience with electric guitar-specific lessons?
Have you taken any of the courses we've listed here?
If so, let us know how it went in the comments section. Questions about the material and the courses we've mentioned are welcome there as well.