Stop saying you’ll do it, and actually do it: learn to play guitar in 2016. Here are a few sites that can help.
We’ve gone over some essentially free beginner guitar lessons before, but there are a bunch of new sites since then with realtime chords and lessons. These sites can teach you to play the songs you love, hopefully making it easier to stay motivated. Are you ready to give this another shot? Then let’s get started.
Chordify: See Realtime Cords as Songs Play
We’ve shown you sites to find guitar chords for songs, but never anything quite like this. Chordify doesn’t just give you a bunch of chords: it plays the song for you, and shows you when to play each chord in realtime. Here’s what that looks like:
The black box you see moves along with the music, so you know when to switch to the proper chord. Follow along with your guitar and you’ll be amazed how many songs you can teach yourself.
Assuming, of course, that you already know some chords. If you don’t, you might need a few lessons.
Pickup Guitar Club ($10/month): Lessons Built Around Songs
Pickup Guitar Club is a decent place to start. This is a curriculum built around learning a series of songs, with a guitar-hero inspired interface that shows you which notes to play when. But when you fail you won’t be booed: instead, you’ll be encouraged to try again. The founder explains more here:
There are a few free lessons offered, so you can try things out and get an idea of whether you’ll like it. After that, you’ll need to pay $10 a month (or $60 a year). It’s not exactly cheap, but a great deal less expensive than private lessons.
Instinct ($15 per course): Guitar Lessons That Listen to You Play
If you’ve got a microphone on your PC (and you almost certainly do) check out Instinct. This website is a series of courses built around learning specific songs. The step by step lessons include a visual component, showing you where to put your fingers, and an audio component, listening to your playing and giving you advice as you go.
You can start any of the courses and do a couple of lessons for free, after which you can pay to continue — most courses are $15 as of this writing.
It’s similar in many ways to Pickup Guitar club, but happily both offer a few free lessons to try out so you can get a feel for it. Instinct’s per-course method might be a better fit for people who aren’t sure how long they’ll stick to their guitar habit, or can’t commit to an ongoing subscription.
GuitarTuner (Web): Tune Your Guitar Online
When I was a kid I packed a guitar tuner with me for tuning in loud places. I’ve no idea where that thing ended up, but I’m sure lending it to a friend was my big mistake. No matter: these days any computer or phone can be a guitar tuner, thanks to sites like this one.
Just pluck your string and see what note you’re playing, then adjust until you see the correct note. Simple. There are other sites with online guitar tuners, but this one is clean and simple to use. You can even read the story of how it was created if you like.
Guitar! (iOS): Guitar Hero for Your iPhone
Learning guitar is hard work. If you need a break, there are plenty of great music games out there that don’t require a plastic guitar. The aptly named “Guitar!’ is just one example. Think of it as Guitar Hero for your iPhone. It even comes with a Freestyle Mode for messing around:
Fascinatingly, the vocals used in this game actually come from players in another game made by the same company — so it’s kind of like you’re jamming with them. Give it a shot if you want a quick distraction, but then get back to practicing – it will all be worth it.
Oh, and if you want a Guitar Hero clone for your computer, Frets on Fire is a classic and is even compatible with old songs from those games if you’ve still got the disks kicking around. Just saying.
What Guitar Tools Did We Miss?
We want to know: which guitar teaching tools did we miss? Which have worked for you? Let’s compile some more in the comments below. And be it resolved that we will all rock out regularly in 2016.