Parent article: Best Beginner Guitar Lessons
Best Free Guitar Lessons
The Guitar Tricks Free Trial
Though it's only for 14 days, the Guitar Tricks trial gives you access to the most complete and highly-recommended guitar programs in existence. This gives you full access membership meaning you're able to view any content within that 14-day period.
Freebies - even when it comes to guitar lessons - are not necessarily rare in our day.
We'll list that content in this article which will include entirely free resources and even trials for paid sites. It's a collection of places where you can get high-quality guitar lessons without being charged, at least for a period of time (if not, forever).
We'll avoid resources that are not as high quality or simply not worth your time.
Our Best Free Guitar Lesson Picks
Guitar Tricks Trial (Lessons, or YouTube)
TrueFire Trial, Free Lessons, or YouTube
Active Melody YouTube
1. Guitar Tricks Trial, Lessons & YouTube
Though Guitar Tricks is a well-known paid program, there are actually three different ways to get their content on the house, in differing capacities:
- The Guitar Tricks Trial (14 days)
- The Free Lessons Section (always available)
- The Guitar Tricks YouTube Channel
The free lessons section is fairly limited and designed mostly to sample the larger program.
However, the Guitar Tricks YouTube channel is quite good and the trial lets you navigate the website with an active full access membership, giving you access to all the material. All three mediums are great methods of getting sample guitar lessons.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
2. JamPlay Trial
JamPlay is a great program to find intermediate guitar lessons and will give you a wider range of instructors covering more nuanced techniques and concepts, at least in comparison to Guitar Tricks.
While it doesn't really have a free section, JamPlay does have a longer trial period, going up to 30 days. This gives you plenty of time to browse through the videos and courses.
I believe you can even download courses and keep them while using the trial.
Read the full review: JamPlay
3. TrueFire Trial and Free Lessons Section
Like Guitar Tricks, TrueFire has a couple different ways of enjoying their content without charge: This includes a 30-day trial and their free lessons section.
What's nice about TrueFire is that their free lessons section is much bigger, which you can tell just by scrolling through some of the content on the page:
In a lot of cases these lessons are teasers for full courses, though I'd recommend checking out some of the free lessons to see if it's a good fit for you.
If so, you can get access the full courses with the 30-day trial signup.
Read the full review: TrueFire
4. Justinguitar YouTube Channel & Website
Justinguitar is the first online guitar lesson program in this list that literally has no pay wall for any of its content.
Everything Justin Sandercoe has published over the years (and it's a lot) is completely free.
We'd recommend the program for beginners or those who to try out guitar for the first time and need an open resource that's easy to get to. It doesn't even require an email to sign up and get started, unless you want to use the progress tracking system.
Read the full review: Justinguitar
5. Active Melody Website & YouTube Channel
Brian Sherrill's Active Melody guitar program has both an open YouTube side and a paid ActiveMelody.com side where YouTube content is still available and premium content is hosted on a Vimeo channel behind a pay-wall.
However, nearly half of the material is YouTube, meaning it's accessible without even giving up an email address.
We'd strongly recommend either of the free or paid sides of the program.
They're both worth your time and perhaps your money.
Read the full review: Active Melody
6. YouTube (broad)
YouTube is the largest body of unpaid video content in the history of mankind.
The problem with getting your guitar lessons here is that there's no real way to sort any of the material. That's why programs like Justinguitar and Active Melody are particularly good because they have a corresponding website that organizes the videos for you and puts them in a kind of learning order.
However, YouTube is still great for answering really specific questions or helping with nuanced situations, like how to play a particular song or particular scale.
You'll find that you identify with some channels more than others, so just browse around and see what speaks to you.
Always free or just a trial?
We've listed a lot of on-the-house guitar lessons here, but they are not all what we'd consider always free.
Some of them are part of a free trial which gives you temporary or limited access to what would otherwise be paid content.
Let's chat about the difference between free trials and completely open guitar lessons, particularly as it pertains to internet-based content.
Here's a quick break down of the characteristics between the two:
Characteristics of Trials
- Usually limited either by time or by scope
- Often require a credit card to sign up
- Cannot be accessed without some kind of membership
- Usually requires an email to sign up
- Gives access to premium content that isn't typically available in free or "open source" mediums like YouTube
- Usually organized and well-ordered into courses
Characteristics of Always Free or "Open Source" Guitar Lessons
- Usually hosted on a public medium like YouTube
- Often accompanied by ads or some form of banner advertising
- Tends to be less organized than premium material
- Instructors tend to be less advanced and/or unpaid themselves
- Tends to tackle one specific problem at a time, as opposed to being organized into courses
Which one is better for me?
The appeal of guitar lessons that are completely free are rather obvious: They're always available. Moreover, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're better or worse for you than the trial or premium content.
In a lot of cases, the freebie lessons can be enough, especially if you're looking for a smaller scope of information or education.
For example, maybe you want to learn a really specific technique for playing lead guitar. Perhaps, hammer ons and pull offs. If that's all you want to focus on, you'd be fine to browse YouTube for specific lessons on this topic. They won't be low quality because they'll be more relevant to you particular goal.
In a lot of cases, the freebie lessons can be enough, especially if you're looking for a smaller scope of information or education.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a fully-functional lead guitar course with material that covers the topic in a more comprehensive way, with good topical ordering, the time-limited trial of premium content is probably a better option for you.
Pros and Cons of Timed Trials (premium content)
- Usually higher quality content
- Usually more qualified instructors
- Tends to be ordered into full courses and more comprehensive
- More like a class and less like a brief YouTube video
- Easy to access and available on most devices
- Progress tracking is common
- Supplemental resources are common
- Often requires an email and credit card to sign up
- Usually means you have to deal with up-selling an marketing materials (emails, promotional material, etc.)
- Not as good at answering specific "one-off" type questions
Pros and Cons of Always Free (open source) Content
- Great at answering specific questions via search (Google, YouTube, etc.)
- Internet connection is the only cost
- Wide range of opinions and easily shared ideas
- Accessing is usually a very quick process
- Not as good for those wanting a guided, organized course
- Topical order is typically not good or non-existent
- Hosting mediums and environments can be distracting (YouTube)
Trials With and Without a Credit Cards
In some cases, you'll be asked to sign up with a credit card before you access the content, which can - understandably - be frustrating for some people. Let's do a quick rundown of how I've seen free trials for guitar lesson programs play out, with a credit card:
Typical Scenarios with a Credit Card Required
Credit card info is collected up front, but user is charged nothing until the end of the trial, if they do not cancel.
Credit card info is collected up front, and user is billed for 11 months instead of `12, effectively giving them one month free.
Credit card info is collected when an account is created, but not tied to a free trial and only gets billed if user intentionally upgrades to a paid plan.
While there are other potential arrangements that I could be missing, these three are pretty typical. In my view, scenario #2 is the least ideal because it's not really a free trial, but just a discount off a yearly price tag.
Scenario #1 and #3 are what I see most often implemented, usually with a timed trial of seven, 14, or 30 days, depending on the website.
What to Watch Out for with Free Trials
Free trials that ask for a credit card are fairly common, but also something you have to pay attention to. Many of them will automatically funnel you into a paid account, which you can always request a refund from, but can still be frustrating.
To avoid getting charged at all, make sure you're diligent about cancelling your account right before the free trial ends.
If you do this, you won't get charged.
People who forget about the account and then don't notice the monthly charges are going to have a more difficult situation on their hands. The longer you wait, the harder it is to ask for a refund with your account cancellation.
How to find guitar lesson freebies
There are plenty of ways to find these guitar lessons, primarily revolving around the internet and online resources. In this section, we'll talk about some of the simplest ways to find guitar lessons on the internet, and even elsewhere, free of charge.
1. The Internet
The internet is the most powerful and transparent source of information ever devised by mankind. For those wanting to learn guitar for free, it should be their first stop for finding lessons and getting started. The simplest way to find them is to use search engines or browse through websites that are known to offer freebie guitar videos and other content.
These resources include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Search (Google, Bing, etc.)
- Timed trials from online programs
- Guitar Tricks
- Active Melody
- GuitarZoom Toolbox (Steve Stine's program)
- Mobile apps and services
2. Local Teachers
Free lessons from local guitar teachers are a lot harder to come by because someone is taking their time and not just offering a streaming service. However, many guitar teachers - particularly those who are part of a larger business - will offer a free trial lesson. I'd recommend checking into the following resources:
- Teaching companies or schools
- Local government
- Private teachers
Is it true that YouTube and unpaid guitar lessons are sub-par?
In a lot of marketing material for online guitar lesson programs (often programs that aren't very good), you'll hear that YouTube and free guitar lessons in general are "not that good" or "not as good as the paid content." Even affiliates of these programs will undersell the value of open content - like Justinguitar - in order to promote an affiliate product.
For example, the writer of this article - Tyler Stokes - argues that Justinguitar (which is largely YouTube based), isn't as good as Guitar Tricks, without giving much evidence why:
While there's nothing wrong with affiliate products, we wouldn't say that programs like Justinguitar should be downplayed unfairly, like we saw with the Voicesinc review. I explain it in detail in the following video:
While it obviously depends on which two programs you're comparing, making a statement this broad is incorrect and incomplete, to say the least.
For example, the following guitar educators are available on YouTube:
- Justinguitar (Justin Sandercoe)
- Active Melody (Brian Sherrill)
- Andy Guitar (Andy McKee)
- JamPlay's free section
- TrueFire's free section
- Steve Stine's free section
And this is just to name a few. The reality is that you can make a lot of progress and get legitimately good lessons without spending any money. At the same time, we should acknowledge that that some folks can also benefit from the increased depth, structure, and specificity of the paid content.
The bottom line:
Don't buy into the marketing ploy that free guitar lessons are junk. They're not. Like much of the internet, you don't have to spend a dime to learn a lot of great stuff.
Frequently Asked Questions
It can be. The answer is largely determined by how you want to study. If you're looking for a structured course with properly ordered topics, then YouTube probably isn't a great option. If you're looking to answer a specific, particular question, it has the potential to be a helpful tool.
The best guitar lessons behind a paywall do offer a kind of structural and topical integrity that you don't get with the free stuff. They're also (in most cases) taught by professional instructors and include a full compliment of notation and supplementary material. In large part you're paying for accuracy and organization that is hard to get elsewhere.
In a lot of cases, free online guitar lessons will be targeted to a beginner audience, though this can vary depending on which program you're looking at.
With today's technology, you can learn a lot of guitar before you have to pay up. While I would argue there are significant benefits to the paid programs, a self-motivated learner can get a ton of value in the free sections, especially if they combine a few programs together.
For example, you might have a YouTube channel you like which works really well in conjunction with the free trials of a couple paid programs.
It just means you basically have to structure your own course.
If you're comfortable with that, it can save you some money, at least long enough to get started.
Your Questions and Comments
Do you have questions about the free online guitar lessons in this list? If so, feel free to drop them in the comments section below. I've tested and researched all of these options extensively, so I'll do my best to help out.