Parent article: Guitar Lessons 101
In this article we're going to look at guitar lessons vs self taught options to try and determine which one might be better for you in your particular situation. The first important thing to note is that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
To an extent, you can mix the two which is what most people end up doing.
For example, you can use an online guitar lesson program to supplement a self-taught approach.
If that's what you think would work best for you, here are a few of the best online guitar lessons we recommend that can be helpful guides to the self-motivated student:
Online Programs We Recommend
Note that we partner with Guitar Tricks and JamPlay, but still sincerely recommend them because we believe in their programs. If you sign up for a membership through our links, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.
This means, despite taking guitar lessons, you're still mostly self-taught even as you work through the lesson material.
But, that's just one example.
If you need help figuring out which approach would be better for you, keep reading
Guitar is Always Self Taught
The thing about learning guitar is that even if you take lessons, you're still going to be primarily self-taught. Now, the process will be more optimized by a teacher or program (at least it should be), but it's still up to you to actually learn and apply the material being covered.
This means that in a situation where you have a guitar teacher - or a video guitar course - it isn't really going to help you learn.
Instead, it's going to optimize your self teaching.
Then you're essentially on a spectrum between being entirely self-taught (no external resources whatsoever) or entirely reliant on a teacher without any additional practice time.
Clearly, we need to find a balance between the two.
Let's look at the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Being Self Taught
Those who take a learning path that is "self taught heavy" are motivated, driven people who are excited to learn the guitar on their own. They're also likely to be more introverted and prefer working alone as opposed to working in a group or in tandem with a teacher. For people like this, we often recommend an online guitar course just because it will be so much easier for them to learn from.
Read more: Easiest ways to learn guitar
Pros of Being Self Taught
- Not constrained by multiple schedules
- Not awkward
- More private
- More motivating to introverted learners
Cons of Being Self Taught
- Learning process is not always streamlined
- Can take longer to identify and correct mistakes
- Can take awhile when and if you need help
- Poor form and technique are more likely to be an issue
Let's look at pros and cons for guitar lessons as well.
Pros and Cons of Guitar Lessons
When I say guitar lessons I'm referring to both the tutoring style lessons and the online lessons that are taught over video. While there are significant differences between the online and in-person guitar lessons themselves, they have unifying characteristics that set them apart from the self-taught method. The pros and cons breakdown would look something like this:
Pros of Guitar Lessons
- More streamlined approach
- Easier to know what to work on next
- Form and technique are properly addressed
- Helps the student focus on application
Cons of Guitar Lessons
- Can be expensive
- Usually some level of awkward interaction involved
- Quality of teacher and program can vary
- Scheduling and timing come into play
Again, there are going to be further differences between online and in-person lessons. Typically, we recommend the online approach because it's better-suited for creating a hybrid of both taking lessons and being self-taught.
Lean on in-person guitar lessons if:
To answer which one is better will depend on your situation, and even then you'll just be leaning in one direction without being entirely dependent on it. You'll likely be better off leaning more on guitar lessons if:
- You're an extroverted or social learner
- You're trying to learn the basics quicker
- You have a hard time focusing and/or self-motivating
- You learn better with direct feedback
This means you might even be better off with an actual tutor as opposed to just some kind of online program.
Lean on self-teaching or online lessons if:
The other side of this question would be identifying what type of guitar student would be better off leaning towards their own self-teaching. I'd recommend trending that way if:
- You're a thorough reader
- You're more introverted (you get energy from being alone)
- You're good at self-motivating
- You're good at sketching out a plan
- You can focus for long periods of time
If you're this type of learner, you might do well to add something like the Guitar Tricks program as supplemental guitar lessons, which would still allow you to rely heavily on self-teaching methods.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this:
Self taught guitar students can benefit from lessons and those who take guitar lessons regularly can benefit from self teaching.
Your goal should be to determine where you land on that spectrum and what balance of self teaching VS guitar lessons is going to be most optimal for your learning style.
It's not totally straightforward, but hopefully this article has helped you sort it out and get closer to a balance that's ideal for you.
Your Questions and Comments
If you have questions or thoughts about the guitar lessons VS self taught debate, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section below.
I'll do my best to help out.