Updated by Millie
Updated on March 5th, 2021
Checked program links for accurate offers and made minor changes to article formatting.
QUICK HIT: In this article I'm looking at the easiest way to learn guitar based on the learning styles of self-motivated and socially motivated students.
In this article I'm going to look at the easiest way to learn guitar, based on how you're wired to retain information. These are resources and learning paths that I recommend taking, which means I'm not simply going to tell you what to study or how to play guitar. Instead, I want to cover how you can find the things you need to study and what mediums and online guitar courses can get you there in the easiest possible way.
Learning a Complex Skill
First, it's important to note that the guitar - and any musical instrument - would fall under the category of a complex skill. By nature, it's not simple nor quick. Even playing easy guitar songs takes some significant skill and practice. However, we can help ourselves and make the process of learning the guitar more optimal by catering to our learning style.
Understanding how you Learn
The easiest way to learn guitar is going to be contingent upon your learning style and how you absorb information. Primarily, self-starters and introverts will learn better online or in an environment where they can go at their own pace, based on their drive to succeed. Extroverts or "social" learners will do better in a classroom environment or with a tutor, where they can communicate and bounce ideas off of another person.
Thus, what is "easy" for some might not be easy for others. I'll focus on the easiest way to learn guitar for these two types of learners:
- Social and communicative
Since I'm more of an introverted, self-motivated learner, I'll start with a path for that person first, then cover the more extroverted or "communicative" learner. Depending on which one you are, you'll want to jump to that section. If you're not sure, use this short quiz to figure out which side of that fence you fall on.
Quiz for Identifying Easiest Ways to Learn Guitar Based on Learning Style
What is your learning style?
Easiest Ways to Learn Guitar for the Self-Motivated Learner
These are people who want to learn guitar on their own and thrive under the governance of their own motivation. If this is you, the easiest way for you to learn guitar will look something like this:
- Find a structured program where you can learn guitar online at home
- Setup your own schedule and establish goals
- Focus on learning songs, and/or building some kind of project (YouTube channel, your own lessons, etc.)
Let's take these three steps one at a time.
Step 1: Find a Structured Program Online
Many of the online guitar lesson programs of our day are fantastic, and offer far more in the way of content and thorough instruction than we could ever get from a single guitar teacher or tutor. I've consistently recommended several of these programs, based on my own use, experience and reviews of their content.
For self-motivated learners who want to learn guitar on their own at home, online lessons are the single best resource and the easiest way to get started on a well-ordered learning path.
Here are three of the programs I most often recommend:
Of the three, Guitar Tricks is probably the strongest option for beginners, while JamPlay is more ideal for intermediates and TrueFire is great for advanced players who want to get more involved and expand their musical skill set.
The Guitar Tricks Program: Great for Beginners
With the Core Learning System, Guitar Tricks is the most linear and easiest way to learn guitar online. Here's a quick look at how Guitar Tricks arranges their beginner program:
The Core Learning System pictured above breaks the beginner stages of guitar into courses, namely the Fundamentals I and II courses. Within each course you have lessons that are broken up by chapter, covering guitar topics in the most functional and well-thought out order possible.
The real value of a program like this - especially for a beginner - is that it gives you a proper ordering of topics that you can easily follow. For someone who prefers to learn on their own, it's by far the easiest way to learn guitar and also saves you a ton of time and money.
While any of the three programs will work, we recommend Guitar Tricks for beginners as the best of what's currently available.
You can try it free for 14 days, per the offer below:
Step 2: Setup a Schedule and Establish Goals
While this step is a little less concrete and dependent on an individual person's lifestyle, it's something we can all do to make our musical pursuits easier and more consistent. By setting up a schedule, I simply mean setting aside time to both study and then apply what we've studied.
For example, a practice schedule might look something like this:
- Monday: 20 minutes for lesson viewing - 1 hour practice
- Tuesday: 1 hour 30 minute practice
- Wednesday: 20 minutes for lesson viewing - 1 hour practice
- Thursday: 1 hour 30 minute practice
- Friday: 20 minutes for lesson viewing - 1 hour practice
Study and Application: Two Primary Elements of Guitar Practice
This is just a hypothetical example. To put it more simply, you'll need to set aside time for two elements of guitar practice:
- Lesson viewing or "study" time
- Practice and playing time (application)
If you intentionally set aside time for both these things, you'll be giving attention to both absorbing information topically and then applying it in the form of actually practicing and playing guitar. However you setup your schedule, make sure it includes both of these elements, perhaps putting more time and emphasis on the application side.
Step 3: Focus on Learning Songs and Building a Project
Playing songs will help put into practice what you're learning and allow you to see concrete results. This will also motivate you to progress further. Particularly for self-driven learning personalities, the idea of being able to accomplish something, even if it's just learning a simple song, can be tremendously motivating and move your learning forward much quicker.
The Website Building Analogy
Learning songs is a great way to apply the same principle to your guitar lessons.
Help Learning Songs
All of the aforementioned programs have song lesson sections, though Guitar Tricks has the most song lessons at around 900 to date with fully licensed tablature and full video lessons included in each one. They even cover the tricky solos.
As a follow up, I would recommend making what you're learning and what you're able to play into some kind of a scalable project. For guitar players, this doesn't mean you've got to start a band or try and make some kind of a cheap album. However, there are a lot of things you could do as you learn to help apply, motivate and speed up the learning process.
Here are a few ideas:
- Start a YouTube demo or cover channel like Cesar Huesca
- Start a bank of riff recordings or personal music you've created
- Work on developing your own method, playing style or approach and write about it
Combining all of these steps together is likely going to be the quickest and easiest way to learn guitar for the self starter. While there are certain aspects of having a personal tutor that could also help, my guess is that someone in this situation would be better served by an online option. If you add an intentional schedule where you spend time studying and practicing, followed by some form of application that you can turn into a project, that's going to get you playing much faster than any other method.
Easiest Ways to Learn Guitar for the Social or Communicative Learner
While I myself don't operate as a social learner, my wife is very much in this camp. She's extroverted and can absorb information more easily in an interactive context. Now, this is not to say that an online guitar lesson model can't work for this type of person, but it should have some elements of teacher to student interaction and feedback.
I should also add that rigidly scheduled practice time for this person isn't going to be near as fun or effective. Here are the easiest ways to learn guitar in this context:
- Use either an in-person guitar tutor or an online lesson program that incorporate social interaction and human feedback.
- Establish practice routines based on when you meet with your teacher or interact with other students.
- Create short-term goals centered around being able to play certain songs or do certain things on the guitar.
Once again, we'll go through each step one at a time.
Step 1: Use an in-person tutor or interactive online model
A social learner will excel as a guitar student when they can bounce ideas off a teacher, other students or simply interact with people in some way, as a method of memorizing topical material. This can certainly be an in-person guitar teacher, but there are also a couple of online lesson programs that do a good job of facilitating this type of learning.
- ArtistWorks Guitar Campus
- Guitargate (Michael Palmisano)
Both of these programs have designated teachers and offer a direct feedback platform. Michael Palmisano's program is smaller, but I know him personally and he's a fantastic guitar teacher that does a great job focusing on music theory as well as the practical application of the guitar.
Step 2: Establish practice routines based on when you've worked with other people
If you're a social learner, you'll be more motivated in the hours after you've worked with a teacher or other students in a group program. Use this to your advantage by working on applying what you've learned - chords, scales, songs or whatever else you've covered - on the same day (perhaps even a few hours after) you've worked with a teacher.
This will be the most optimal time for you to try and ingrain the topics that you've been covering. While you can't always ride the coattails of an in-person lesson, it'll help make learning guitar easier, if and when you're able to.
Step 3: Create short-term goals
At this point, the learning method looks similar to what I recommended for the self-motivated learner. You'll need to work on learning songs and making it into a more interesting project for yourself, just so you can apply all the head knowledge you're accumulating.
A small, yet helpful difference is to apply short-term goals that you can take to your teacher or your group and get help meeting.
That doesn't mean you need to rely entirely on someone else to figure things out, but it should be a tool that you continue to use, since it's where you'll have the most energy to engage with the guitar and learn how to play. At some point, you'll get to where you're motivated to play on your own and you'll know the material well enough that you don't need to continue pursuing outside help.
I've written an article that focuses on teaching guitar in a proper topical order. Even if you aren't teaching guitar, you can - as a student - use this to guide your own learning path and get an idea of what topics you should be covering before moving on. Yet, the easiest ways to learn guitar are going to be impacted more by how you're wired to learn anything at all. Because that will change your approach from a foundational level.
Figure that out first.
Think about where and how you're able to most effectively absorb information, then use that information to decide what learning paths you'll take and what resources you'll use. If you can pair up your own learning style with an accommodating program or teacher, learning guitar will be a lot easier and you'll have more fun along the way.
If you have questions about learning the guitar or about the programs I've mentioned in this article, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and I'll do my best to answer.