Can You Learn Guitar By Yourself (Is It Easy or Hard)?


Most guitar players will tell you it’s easy to get started learning guitar by yourself at home – but is it really?

Are you wondering how how long it will take teaching yourself guitar before you can play some chords and songs, or how good you can really get learning guitar by yourself?

You can easily learn guitar on your own, and it’s easier to start learning than most other instruments! There are many free online video lessons, you don’t need to read music, and in only a few weeks you can play some chords and easy popular songs.

I’m going to show you how you can learn guitar by yourself at home with both free and paid methods, and how easy or hard each one is.

boy teenager playing guitar at home

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How Hard is Learning To Play Guitar by Yourself?

The hardest part of starting to learn guitar is making your first two or three chords sound good enough to play some songs.

You will find that if you spend 10 minutes each day learning, after a couple of weeks those few chords will sound fine, and what seemed hard at first will now be much easier.

Fortunately for you this is the best time in history for learning guitar on your own, with a huge amount of lessons available online.

The other great thing is that many of these resources are completely free! So even if you have no money you can still easily get started by teaching yourself to play guitar.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar On Your Own?

Some people take only a few years to become very good at guitar, while others take many years. Being honest, many learner guitarists never reach far beyond a beginner or low-intermediate level of playing as their motivation drops after a while.

There are sites that give you numbers of hours you need to complete practicing to reach different levels, but that can vary greatly from person to person.

Average time to learn guitar:

  • It normally takes a beginner guitarist 1 – 2 years to become intermediate.
  • Another 2 – 3 years to become advanced.
  • Another 2 – 4 years to move toward being an expert.

*These are very rough numbers and will vary for each person, and the amount of daily time you put into practicing.

To become a true master of the guitar is hard due to the dedication it takes to reach that level of mastery. It could take many years to learn how to play as an expert, and you will also need to spend plenty of time playing with other musicians.

Although you can learn on your own quite easily, there are many good reasons to get lessons with a teacher.

Professional guitar lessons will increase your skills faster than learning by yourself by correcting poor techniques as you learn, focusing your learning, and learning to play with other musicians.

Girl learning acoustic guitar on bed with a laptop

How To Learn Guitar by Yourself

If you’re just starting out, then the first thing is to learn a few easy basic open chords and some simple strumming patterns to make it sound good.

You do already have a guitar …right?!

It’s very easy to learn these first few basics by yourself, and a quick YouTube search for ‘start learning guitar’ or ‘beginner guitar lessons’ will give you a wide selection of free guitar lessons.

Of course there are plenty of other ways as a beginner to teach yourself guitar (and make it easy), so keep reading as we go deeper down the rabbit hole.

Free Methods of Learning Guitar Online by Yourself

Let’s first take a look a look at free methods of learning guitar that you can do by yourself at home. There are always pros and cons to everything, so let’s discover how easy or hard it might be to teach yourself guitar with free learning methods.

Learning Guitar By Yourself With YouTube

YouTube is jam packed with guitar lessons, in fact there is so much content on there it can be hard to know where to begin, or how to stay on track to keep learning.

You can choose to follow a free guitar course from one publisher, pick multiple micro-courses and move from one to the next, or just learn songs by watching people explain how to play them.

You will improve just by following videos, learning some music concepts, and playing of course!

Let’s look at some different ways of using YouTube video guitar learning…

1. Organized Lessons On YouTube

One well known site that has videos on YouTube is JustinGuitar, and they have great resources for beginning guitarists.

By Following a channel like this you will get lessons that build on each other to give you a steady learning curve.

If the publisher of the free video course has a website, you may be able to visit their site after finishing the free course, and they may have other free or paid courses available.

Organized lessons are good since they give you a steady learning path that keeps your learning interesting.

However, you may find after completing a course you need to find a course from a different teacher to continue learning at a higher level.

This could make progress harder since the new course may not continue where the previous course ended and may have a different teaching style.

2. Watching Random YouTube Videos

You can learn a lot from random teaching videos and can learn many new musical ideas that give you variety in your guitar playing.

This can be an easy way to learn different guitar techniques from different player perspectives.

The problem with this approach is you lose focus on your guitar playing goals, and it is hard to follow a unified way of learning the theory and techniques that move you toward your goals.

Eventually, if this is your only learning method you will become confused at all the poorly connected information and this can halt your progress and hinder your enthusiasm.

3. Learning Songs From YouTube

Maybe your approach to guitar is just to learn songs?

Many musicians agree that this is vital to becoming better at playing guitar, and YouTube videos make it quite easy to learn new songs, as they are generally explained well in the videos.

You can certainly learn almost any song on YouTube, and your playing will improve as a result.

One way this is a great learning tool is that you can learn a song and then play along with the song many times until you really nail it, and this is similar to playing with a band.

If you are wanting to learn songs that require more difficult techniques or require a deeper knowledge of music such as scales and modes, then you will need actual lesson material.

As good as YouTube is for learning songs, it is best used in conjunction with a planned video instruction series. This way as your technique and knowledge improves, you can learn new songs at a higher level of difficulty.

Other Ways to Learn By Yourself & With Others

1. Books with Audio

Traditionally (before the world wide web existed) the primary method of learning guitar on your own was to purchase books that contained lessons and music theory, and often came with an audio recording.

These are still available, although clearly not so popular in today’s modern age.

There are still many great music training books, particularly on music theory, but compared to online video-style training are harder to follow and learn from when teaching yourself.

The Guitar for Dummies book is one way to get started by yourself.

2. Learning Guitar With Friends

When you think of learning guitar by yourself don’t forget you can hang out with friends that play and get some inspiration and new techniques from them.

Learning to play the guitar with friends

The real learning is when you play on your own and try imitating and perfecting the same songs and playing techniques your friends showed you.

This is a good way to easily learn more about guitar, and is especially good when you play with another musician – this teaches you new skills that you cannot learn on your own and is an important part of learning guitar.

3. Learning Guitar by Yourself From Guitar Forums

Forums are great for interacting with other guitarists, asking questions and getting answers.

As great as this is, you won’t find entire courses on forums, they are more designed around sharing information with other musicians.

So if you want to know an answer to a question you have regarding guitar, then a forum can give you some real gold as other guitarists will be happy to share their knowledge and opinions.

Guitar forums are a great resource for adding to your learning methods and make learning guitar by yourself easier when you get stuck with something you don’t understand.

Guitar forum pages

4. Learning Guitar by Yourself From an Online Course

There are many great online courses, and they are one of the easiest and best ways to learn guitar by yourself.

These courses can be free, but usually the paid courses are best since professional musicians produce them (and make a living from them).

The prices for these courses are much cheaper than direct lessons with a teacher, which is great when your budget is a little lower.

Depending on the size of the website and the courses they offer, you may get courses that take you from basic concepts right through to advanced guitar playing.

Another great thing is that there are courses designed to teach you in many different styles such as acoustic, electric lead, blues, country, rock, and metal just to name a few.

Online courses are particularly good if you don’t have much time to get to a teacher, or don’t regularly have access to one. They are an easy way to learn guitar on your own, and at your own pace.

5. Learning Guitar With A Professional Guitar Teacher

Ok, so our whole discussion so far has been about teaching yourself guitar, however we should have a brief look at what a guitar teacher can do for your guitar progress.

Teachers tend to be far more expensive than courses, as they need to have one-on-one sessions with their students, and provide studio space also.

The best things with taking lessons from a teacher are:

  • You have direct communication with them for questions.
  • They can watch you play and correct bad techniques.
  • They keep your progress constantly moving toward your playing goals.
  • They stop you getting stuck in a rut, which keeps you progressing faster.
  • They will tailor the lesson material toward the playing style you desire.

So having a guitar teacher is excellent if you have time and can afford it, and is easier than learning by yourself if you want to really excel at playing guitar.

Don’t forget – even with lessons from a teacher, most of your learning and improving is still done by yourself when you practice what you learnt in the lessons.

Is It Ever Too Late To Learn Guitar?

Learning guitar won’t get harder the older you get, so it’s never too late to start.

Becoming a competent guitar player should be an enjoyable journey, and it’s best to approach it that way rather than place undue pressure on yourself to meet a certain standard.

Just because you didn’t start when you were 6 years old doesn’t mean it’s too late at 16, 26 or even 60!

As long as you have a will to learn the guitar, you will find that learning is enjoyable and probably not as hard as you think – just don’t punish yourself if you can’t make that G chord sound good on the first day!

Learning Guitar by Yourself – Things To Think About

What Sort Of Learner Are You?

Are you the type of person who finds new things easy, or maybe someone who needs a little longer to grasp a new concept?

Do you find yourself tapping your foot in time to your favorite music? Then you may find learning guitar easier than others because you can naturally keep in time with the music.

The facts are that everyone has an area in life that they naturally good at. If this is you, then you will probably see faster progress than other beginner guitarists.

How Motivated Are You To Learn Guitar by Yourself?

How much do you REALLY want to learn guitar? If it’s just a passing interest or you’re not that sure yet, then it will be harder to learn on your own than someone who is focused on becoming good at playing.

The strongest factor that determines how fast you learn guitar is your motivation and how regularly you spend time learning.

Even the most naturally gifted person who doesn’t practice won’t become as good at guitar as someone who puts in the effort.

One good thing about learning guitar is that quite often you will become more motivated over time as you start mastering new skills. The more you enjoy playing, the easier learning seems.

Is It Hard To Stay Motivated Learning Guitar by Yourself?

Possibly this is one of the hardest aspects of teaching yourself to play guitar, as you only have one person to motivate you – and that’s YOU!

If your motivation drops over time, you may never reach the mastery of guitar you dream of, so it becomes important to have a lesson plan that pushes you forward and constantly stretches your skills.

When you just learn random snippets of guitar you will probably find yourself getting bored over time, as your skills will stop improving and you become tired of playing the same stuff over and over.

To make learning guitar on your own easier and faster, it is important to have a lesson plan and goals to reach.

Do You Have a Goal for Learning Guitar?

Before you even begin learning guitar you probably have some sort of idea in your mind what type of player you dream of being.

Maybe you listened to Jack Johnson or Taylor Swift and loved their acoustic guitar style, or heard Steve Vai playing some incredible guitar solo and want to play like that too one day?

It’s a good idea to think about why you want to learn guitar, even before you start.

Your musical goals can change later – that’s ok, but if you don’t have something to aim for when you start, then you will quickly lose interest since you are not moving toward a skill level of guitar that is of interest to you.

Especially when learning at home by yourself you will need goals. Without these goals, learning guitar by yourself will be harder, as you may reach a plateau that you never get past.

It’s easier and more motivating to have smaller guitar skill level goals that are achievable, and those smaller goals should one-by-one move you toward a larger goal.

How Good Do You Want To Get At Playing Guitar?

Part of goal setting is thinking about what level you would like to reach with your guitar skills.

This will be different for everyone, some people just want to learn a few chords to strum with a singer, or around a campfire, others want to be guitar gods of the universe and take dominion over all mankind!

Most of us are somewhere in-between, and when setting your goals it might be best to think of an artist who inspires you, who’s songs you would love to play on guitar.

Can A Learning Device Help You Learn Guitar by Yourself?

There are some learning aids available such as the ChordBuddy or the EZ-Fret guitar attachment that claim to make to initial beginner guitar easier.

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These devices clamp onto the guitar and have buttons you press down with your fingers to push the strings onto the frets. The buttons can be arranged to create particular chords when pressed.

Their aim is to make it easier by training your fingers the correct position for basic open chords, also taking away the initial soreness that often comes with your fingertips pressing on the strings.

While these devices may come with a simple lesson plan to get you started, they are at best a short-term solution, and probably not the best way to start learning.

It’s debatable whether they make learning on your own easier, and personally I believe you are far better off just following an online course and learning without these devices.

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Maybe now you are at the final decision point, and you are about to start learning guitar?

We have discussed many pros and cons of learning guitar by yourself at home, and also how easy or difficult this will be.

As a beginner guitarist it’s easy to start learning from online courses by yourself, as there are many great courses available that are free. Just be careful to copy the lessons carefully to avoid developing bad techniques and follow a course that builds your skills one step at a time.

As a more advanced guitar player you will need time playing and learning with other musicians, and could find some one-on-one lessons with a good teacher will accelerate your learning.

So don’t wait any longer, jump in and start playing.

I promise – it will be worth the journey!