Best Modern Rock Guitar Lessons Online (our top picks)
Guitar Tricks Rock Courses and Song Lessons
Both the rock courses and song lessons section in Guitar Tricks are great starting points for getting into the modern rock playing style. For most guitarists, particularly those coming out of the beginner stages, we recommend starting there.
Modern rock is distinctly different from what we know as "classic rock."
Where classic rock is more closely associated with its blues roots, modern rock tends to cross over into metal, more frequently, and sounds far less bluesy. It's characterized by heavier chord progressions and more percussive playing styles. It's more about drive and rhythm, and less about melody.
As a result, the type of guitar lessons that specifically address modern rock are quite different than those that address classic rock.
Characteristics of Modern Rock Music
Let's start by looking at some of the characteristics of the modern rock guitar playing style:
- Focus on tone and heavy distortion
- Focus on rhythm and percussive playing styles
- Heavy chord progressions
- Often in a minor key and/or a 1, 4, 5 chord progression
- Often in 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures
- Less focused on lead guitar
- Less focused on speed
- More focused on melody and ethereal effects
While there's more we could list, these are some of the most significant characteristics of modern rock guitar playing.
You could also think of it as an evolving that took place after the early '90s grunge scene. Some call it the "post grunge" era.
As we look for rock guitar lessons, we'll target courses that specifically emphasize these particular disciplines or aspects of them. First, we'll spend some time highlighting the courses we recommend, then talk more about modern rock guitar and the lessons that teach it.
1. Guitar Tricks Rock Level 1 and 2 Courses
The Rock Level 1 and 2 courses in Guitar Tricks cover a wide range of topics that could be useful in a number of rock genres, perhaps not limiting it to modern rock.
However, it's a great foundational course for those that still feel a bit of their "beginner limitations" and can get you a solid foundation before you niche down into a more specific style.
Many (if not all) of the characteristics I mentioned earlier are covered in these two courses.
- Good fit for beginners wanting to get started in the modern rock style
- Anders Mouridsen is one of our favorite Guitar Tricks instructors
- Course covers a lot on both the rhythm and lead side
- Highly detailed
- More emphasis on classic rock than you might want to have
2. Guitar Tricks Rock & Metal Song Lessons
Overall, the Guitar Tricks song lessons are the strongest of its kind, boasting over 1000 video tutorials with licensed tabs and backing tracks. Their modern rock collection is particularly good, including tracks from Tool, Godsmack, Disturbed, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, and more.
- Every song is licensed and 100% accurate
- Over 1000 tracks in total
- Segmented videos covers each song element individually
- When necessary, solos are tracked and taught note-for-note
- Tons of fun to browse around and learn/play songs
- Licensing limits particular songs from certain artists
3. Tosin Abasi's Extended Range JamPlay Course
Tosin Abasi has taught a few different lesson series for JamPlay, primarily a handful of Animals as Leaders songs (his band) and an extended range course that we're a big fan of.
The course utilizes seven and eight string guitars, but can be extremely helpful to six string players as well, especially if you're into the more melodic side of modern rock.
Fingerpicking, hybrid picking, arpeggios, tons of right-hand technique, and a unique approach to modern rock make this one of our favorite courses to recommend.
- Unique approach to the electric guitar
- Lots of material for playing clean and taking a more melodic approach to modern rock
- Right-hand technique covered is great
- Some material can be difficult to apply to the six string
4. Stephanie Bradley's Cybernetic Shred JamPlay Course
While it's true that lead guitar is not as much of a focus in modern rock as it would have been 30 years ago, those who do play lead need to understand melody.
Stephanie Bradley's JamPlay course - Cybernetic Shred - helps you build speed in a functional way that also allows you to focus on melodic patterns and nuanced aspects of the notes you're playing.
- Great balance of speed and good form
- Ideal for those looking to build a profile as a modern lead guitar player
- Stephanie does a good job of explaining and demonstrating concepts
- Course can sometimes be too divided between beginner and advanced content
5. Angus Clark's Hard Rock Survival Guide on TrueFire
While Angus Clark's style is a little more on the vintage side, we really like his Hard Rock Survival Guide course because it puts a ton of emphasis on rhythm and related technique.
Syncopation, power chord rhythms, triplets, and Drop D tuning techniques are all covered in a ton of detail, leaving you with a strong rhythm background in a modern context.
- Focuses on important modern rhythm concepts
- One of the few courses that address drop D specifically
- Tons of style studies and specific technique covered
- Lots of song breakdowns
- At times can feel more classic rock than modern
Choosing Rock Guitar Lessons Online
When you learn modern rock guitar, you need lessons that cover the topics that I outlined earlier in this article. However, there are also some simpler metrics we can look at to inform our decision.
Length of Course
How long is the rock guitar course you're considering?
There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to course length, but it could be worth comparing to the price, especially if you aren't interested in other courses from the same website.
Most single online guitar courses take a few weeks or so to complete, so the length of the course is something to loosely keep an eye on.
To give an example, Guitar Tricks courses usually run about like this:
- 200 videos
- Roughly 5 minutes per video
- Comes out to about 16 hours of video content
- Watch 15-30 minutes per day
- Would take between eight 16 days to finish the course
Price of Membership/Download
You should also check on the price of membership to the site or the cost to purchase and download the course itself.
Most guitar lesson websites offer a membership-style subscription where you can pay monthly or yearly and then stream whatever content you want, just like Netflix. Alternatively, a course might be available for a one-time sale and download, which you'll want to consider if you're planning to only focus on one or two select courses.
Intended Skill Level
What skill level is the modern rock course you're considering designed for? We've listed skill level information for each of the courses here, but again it's just something to keep in mind and measure with your own skill level.
We recommend online guitar lessons for a few reasons.
First, it's not really possible to "review" various in-person guitar lessons or tutors. Furthermore, online guitar lessons are becoming a more powerful way to learn the instrument.
Online lessons also do a better job of catering to specific areas of study, like the modern rock grouping we've put together on this page.
Do I need lessons at all?
Another good question to ask:
Do you even need lessons to learn modern rock?
If you've already gone through the basics and you're past the beginner's stage, you may be perfectly equipped to teach yourself and learn the style your way. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, and when I first learned the guitar I used a hybrid of self-teaching and organized lessons.
Lessons - whether online or in-person - are helpful for learning new topics and having concepts demonstrated for you.
From there, your practice time is essentially your own.
Lead or Rhythm Rock
I mentioned earlier that modern rock is more focused on rhythm, and that's true. However, that doesn't mean that lead guitar gets totally thrown out. It's just not front and center like it used to be in the '70s and '80s.
Both lead and rhythm guitar are still relevant areas of study.
In a modern rock context, here are some of the concepts and topics that each type of guitarist should be studying:
What a Lead Rock Guitarist Should Study
- Scale construction
- Speed and dexterity development
- Modern use of effects pedals.
- How to get more mileage out of fewer notes
What a Rhythm Rock Guitarist Should Study
- Popular chord progressions
- Chord construction
- Scale degrees
- Percussive playing
- Heavy distortion use
- Time signatures and beat
Modern, classic, or rock fundamentals?
What if you're questioning the difference between modern rock, classic rock, and/or the basics? Aren't there just fundamentals of rock that we should be learning? There are, but a lot of those topics are covered in beginner guitar lessons (at least they should be).
Once you get out of that beginner stage, the difference between classic rock and modern rock is so different that you need to study them differently.
If you want to focus on building a more foundational musical knowledge that pertains to modern rock, we'd recommend focusing on blues and jazz.
What about free modern rock guitar courses?
All of the resources we've recommended have a free trial period. However, they're ultimately paid resources that you'll have to consider.
What about completely free options?
It's hard for me to list many of these, particularly YouTube-based resources, because you can never really be certain what they cover and whether you're actually getting modern rock guitar lessons. Justin Sandercoe is one of the few free options that does a good job of organizing his content.
Read more: Best free guitar lessons online
Sandercoe is far more committed to the blues and classic rock styles than he is to modern rock. However, all his content is free which saves you from having to worry about any kind of membership and allows you to just browse and glean what you can from any or all of his courses.
Keep in mind:
There are a lot of modern rock guitar courses available on the internet. But the ones we've listed here are the lessons that we've bought, used, and tested ourselves, making them easy recommendations for us to make. While that doesn't negate other options that might be out there, it hopefully gives you some peace of mind that the ones recommended here have been vetted and tested thoroughly.
For those looking to become better versed in modern rock guitar playing, perhaps with an ear towards heavy metal, we can guarantee these courses will help that cause.
Do you have questions or thoughts about the modern rock guitar lessons we've listed here? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll chat.