Using YouTube To Learn How To Play Guitar For Free

In this post I share how you can use YouTube to help you learn how to play guitar for free.

YouTube is an excellent resource for guitarists of all levels. YouTube has millions of video lessons on guitar playing and music theory. Yet how do you find these videos? What are the types of videos that are helpful to those learning to play the guitar?

I’ll cover five broad categories of videos that you can search for on YouTube to help you learn the guitar.

Tutorials on how to play songs

A reliable approach for learning guitar is to start learning the songs of your favorite bands. This experience is one of the biggest reasons why many start playing the guitar! 

YouTube contains a treasure trove of tutorials where guitarists break down a song part by part. For example this post has a tutorial on how to play “Daughters” by John Mayer.

These types of videos can be found easily on YouTube by searching for the song title and a keyword such as “guitar lesson” or “guitar tutorial”. I recommend quickly going through the video first, in order to validate the accuracy of the performance. And when you do start learning the song, utilize YouTube’s player speed controls to slow down the video at any part where you need additional focus.

Music theory lessons

Guitarists of all levels should invest some time in learning music theory. YouTube has excellent videos that will introduce and reinforce key concepts from music theory. 

For example, here is a great music theory lesson on modes. This excellent lesson by virtuoso guitarist Frank Gambale introduces the concept of modes and helps you learn how to apply them as a guitar player. You can easily find similar music theory lessons on topics such as scales, modes, arpeggios, harmony, rhythm and more by searching for those topics on YouTube. 

I suggest looking for lessons where the instructor provides not only an overview of the topic, but also how to apply the music theory to your guitar playing.

Backing tracks

Backing tracks are music tracks that exclude the lead melody instrument. Typically a beginner backing track will be in one key, and will include drums, bass guitar and either a keyboard or rhythm guitar accompaniment.

Search for “guitar backing track” on YouTube and you’ll get thousands of results. Here is an example of a backing track in A minor that I created.

Backing tracks are ideal for guitar players who are learning how to play lead guitar or are learning how to improvise. Playing along to backing tracks will help you develop your music ear and timing. It will also help you get more comfortable playing in a “band” (albeit virtual) setting.

As you find more backing tracks on YouTube, I recommend creating YouTube Playlists to organize them. For example categories such as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Some backing tracks will have very simple chord progressions, while others will have complex changes and even key changes.

Backing tracks are a great addition to your practice regiment!

Music composition & production lessons

When you are ready to learn composing and recording your own guitar music, YouTube has great content to help you learn.

Here is an example lesson on songwriting basics and how to write a chord progression. I love this lesson as it covers both the theory and how to implement the theory in your compositions. These types of lessons are great to pair with the music theory lessons you are watching. 

From the same YouTube channel here is another example video of how to record acoustic and electric guitar. A great lesson to explore as you verge into music production.

Analyzing hit songs

This is one of my current favorite video series on YouTube. It’s called “What Makes This Song Great” and is created by multi-instrumentalist and producer Rick Beato. 

In these videos Rick will take a major hit song such as “All The Small Things” by Blink 182, and break down the song structure, chord progressions and melody lines. He will often play along to the song with his guitar and walk you through the parts that make the song great. 

These videos are a next level of “Tutorials on how to play songs” in that they not only show you how to play the song, but also help you learn the music theory behind what makes the song great!

Closing

YouTube contains an endless amount of videos that can help you along in your guitar journey! Don’t forget to take advantage of YouTube’s playback speed control in the player. This will allow you to slow down video playback of any video, which is especially helpful in the tutorial videos on how to play songs.

Further reading

Here are some additional posts that will help you to learn to play the guitar:

  1. 5 Best Online Guitar Lessons Channels On YouTube
  2. Easiest Guitar Tabs: 10 Iconic Guitar Riffs
  3. 7 Tips To Help You Learn Songs On Guitar
  4. Best 5 Acoustic Guitar Songs For Beginners
  5. 10 Grammy Nominated Easy Guitar Songs To Play

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