Learning to play the acoustic guitar is a challenge. There are several ways to approach the learning process, and every guitarist learns best in their own way. Fortunately, there are a ton of free beginner lessons online for those looking to play acoustic guitar.
Online lessons allow new guitarists to learn at their own pace and to learn the music they want to play without having to follow a specific lesson structure. After all, most casual players aren’t looking for a master’s in music.
One of the best resources for free instruction is actually YouTube. Guitar teachers such as Marty Schwartz, for instance, have great channels for guitarists who are just starting out. Free courses from websites like GuitarTricks are also readily available.
But with endless options, where should you start? Well, if you’re a complete beginner, this is a dilemma that can be overwhelming.
Because of this, we’ve selectively curated the best, beginner-friendly (and free), acoustic guitar lessons currently available online. So, strap in, and let’s explore these options to help you find the right learning material for your interests and skill level.
Beginner Tips For Learning Acoustic Guitar
Every beginning guitar player has to overcome the same challenges, despite the fact that everyone learns in different ways. The truth is that learning to play the acoustic guitar does not have to be a difficult process, so long as you keep the right perspective and attitude during the journey.
Before introducing you to these guitar lessons, it is important to go over some tips that can help you along the way. These tips will make the process feel easier, help you to progress more quickly, and make learning the guitar more enjoyable overall.
Here are the best tips to remember while learning to play the acoustic guitar:
1. Practice Often, Practice Well
Your progress on the guitar is directly proportionate to how often you practice and how well you practice. This means that it is important to practice often and to be careful about what you practice.
Try to learn something new in every practice session, focus on the things you find difficult to do, and don’t let bad habits form, or they will be difficult to fix later.
Also, you’ll find that most great guitarists have spent a great deal of time attempting things on guitar that are just beyond their current skill level. So, along with practicing what you can do, practice what you can’t do.
2. Take Your Time
Be sure not to rush the process when learning to play the acoustic guitar. Taking on this instrument is a challenge, and it is important to take your time and not be too hard on yourself.
Most people want to be good at something right away. That’s just not a reasonable expectation.
You will be good at guitar in time with perseverance. Consistency is key!
3. Learn What You Enjoy
Piggybacking off of Tip # 2 – Learning anything new, that’s worth doing, will sometimes be frustrating. Making your fingers do what you want them to will be tough in the beginning. You will also experience some discomfort in your fingers at first.
Overcoming these obstacles will require determination, and determination will require motivation. Learning to play songs and use techniques that excite or inspire you helps to keep you motivated while learning to play.
4. Maintain Your Guitar
A common mistake made by many beginner guitar players is not properly maintaining their guitar. Be sure to keep fresh strings on your guitar, keep it clean and oil the fretboard from time to time.
You should also take your guitar for a professional setup if you haven’t already. This way you can make sure your truss rod is adjusted, frets are leveled, and action is dialed in (along with several other potential adjustments).
Your local music store will probably have a guitar tech, which should be able to handle this for you. I promise you, it will feel better and sound better when you get it back!
5. Remember To Rest
Another important tip that is often neglected is remembering to rest. Learning to play the acoustic guitar can be hard on the fingers, hands, and wrists.
Take an off day regularly, take a break if you are experiencing significant pain, and rest often. This will improve the learning process overall by limiting the discomfort associated with playing the guitar.
Editor’s Note: When I am having trouble nailing down a new guitar riff, I generally find that if I walk away and come back 15 minutes later, I’m able to progress quicker.
The Top Beginner Acoustic Lessons On YouTube
Now it’s time to explore the acoustic guitar lessons that are easily available online. YouTube is an excellent platform that allows you to learn just about anything. Guitar playing is no exception.
You may encounter 2 problems here, though. The first one being that anyone can create a guitar channel and as a beginner, you probably won’t know if it’s garbage. Not every guitar lesson on YouTube is trustworthy, and even fewer are actually good.
As an example, I know nothing about tennis. if someone told me they were a tennis instructor, wore the right clothes and could hit the ball in a straight line, I could easily spend countless hours learning the wrong way to play tennis before I wised up. By the time I found out I’d probably be pretty discouraged.
The second, and probably toughest to overcome, is the fact that there are SO MANY beginner guitar lessons on YouTube. Where do you even start?
Well, in this section, we’ve selected the 5 best beginner lessons on YouTube for learning to play the acoustic guitar. These cover the basics of learning chords, picking the strings on the guitar, how to strum the instrument, some good advice, and even some simple songs.
Watch these lessons in the order that they are listed here, and they will provide a good foundation for your guitar journey.
1. Acoustic Life: Guitar Technique For Beginners
Remember that fun class in school you were really looking forward to? Then the first day, you walk in to find out you’re going to be in a desk all day covering orientation and safety? Well, you might think this lesson is just that. But, I promise you, it’s important and not nearly as long.
We find that most beginner guitar lessons are taking for granted that you already know a few really basic concepts. Also, many beginners think they know some techniques that are just wrong.
This instructional video from Tony Polecastro of Acoustic Life teaches beginners how to hold their guitar properly, fretting and picking hand techniques, and how to produce clear notes on the instrument without becoming fatigued. These are critical skills for every beginner acoustic guitarist.
2. for3v3rfaithful: Guitar Lessons For Beginners – Episode 1
So, now you understand how to hold a guitar, where to place your fingers and the basic functionality. Next, let’s actually get you playing something.
This lesson by Ellen from for3v3rfaithful is an excellent part 2 of your first lesson that covers the basics of tuning the guitar, how to fret your notes, some useful chords, and how to strum them. All this builds up to learning your first acoustic guitar song.
3. Lauren Bateman: The Only First Lesson You Need To See
This video from Lauren Bateman is another excellent beginner acoustic video. We obviously wouldn’t consider it the “Only Guitar Lesson…” to start with, since we started you with 2 previous lessons. But, I think this is the perfect video to expand on what you learned in video #2.
It goes over some picking exercises, covers how to strum properly, how to play some important chords, and ends with some crucial practice tips.
4. Your Guitar Academy: Beginners Guitar Gym
Next, we’re going to start training your fingers! This is a lesson that you can carry with you for the rest of your life if you are smart enough to apply it.
I was lucky enough to sit down with a professional bass player when I was about 15. He was retired by that point, but he had toured the world with some big names and I was grateful to learn anything he’d be willing to teach me.
He explained that committing to finger exercises with proper technique is something most casual guitar players just don’t do. He also said that this was the kind of disciplined practice that would separate the men from the boys.
That day, I walked away with one really basic finger exercise, a cramped left hand, and some really not-so-family-friendly stories about the road (which I was equally as interested in). Incorporating that one drill into my practice routine, however, catapulted my playing ability, speed, and accuracy in a very short period of time.
This video from Your Guitar Academy is a training session on technique and control that will help you develop muscle memory, hand strength, speed and overall playing accuracy. Take the time to go through this lesson slowly, and be sure to play along for the best possible results.
A lesson like this may seem unimportant and somewhat tedious, but going through the lessons here thoroughly will be a good boost to your acoustic guitar skills. Practicing this on a regular basis will turn you into a fretboard monster.
5. Marty Music: Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars, Lesson And Tutorial
Marty Schwartz is a legend of the online guitar lesson community. He’s been teaching guitar online for well over a decade. Consequently, he has a video on learning just about any song you could think of.
In this Marty Music video lesson, Marty teaches you how to play Chasing Cars. This is a perfect song at this stage of playing, as it’s just easy enough for you to begin learning and it encompasses the techniques learned in the previous 4 videos.
Not to mention, this will be your first complete song using these newly acquired skills of yours.
The Best Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons On YouTube
Fingerstyle guitar playing is an extremely valuable technique that can be utilized in most genres. It allows for an attack and cadence in your playing that often can’t be replicated with a pick. It also opens doors for riffs that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
Many would argue that EVERY guitarist should learn how to play fingerstyle guitar. I would tend to agree. But again, as a beginner, where do you start?
Here, we’ve selected the best 2 entry-level, fingerstyle guitar lessons that YouTube has to offer.
Acoustic Life: Learn Fingerstyle In 5 Minutes
Circling back to Acoustic Life, this quick lesson is an ideal entry into fingerstyle acoustic playing. It covers the basics, as well as some interesting combinations.
Remember, in these drills you’re concentrating only on your picking hand. This lesson isn’t about making music, it’s about building muscle memory in your fingers.
When you first try these exercises, it’s not going to feel natural and you might think you’re not coordinated enough. That’s completely normal. It will come quicker than you might think, and then you’ll easily be able to apply this to your playing.
Once your fingers start to catch on, these can be fun, quick exercises. If you master these movements, you’ll have a level of control over your picking hand that will allow for creating graceful melodies. You can start with arpeggiating the chords you’ve already learned.
Marty Music: Fingerpicking Patterns You Must Know
Here, in another excellent video from Marty Music, Marty teaches you some more advanced fingerstyle techniques along with how to employ them in a musical context with some interesting open chords.
This lesson teaches fingerpicking techniques in a way that is useful for playing real acoustic guitar songs.
The Best Sites For Beginner Level Acoustic Guitar Lessons
There are also many websites that offer great beginner acoustic guitar lessons. And, yes, some of them are free of charge!
We’ve taken the time to narrow down your choices to the Top 3 Beginner Level Guitar Sites offering Free acoustic lessons. Using these resources will increase your likelihood of success and help you progress towards mastering the guitar.
Some of the very best sites for free acoustic guitar lessons include:
- Guitar Tricks – This site is an excellent resource for acoustic guitar lessons that are tailored for specific musical interests and playing styles. It’s completely free to set up an account and their lessons are world-class. They also have a premium option that gives you over 11,000 lessons, including over 1,000 song classes teaching your favorite songs.
- Guitar Lessons – This is a completely free-to-use site that hosts hundreds of guitar lessons for various skill levels and interests. Learn the basics skills for playing the guitar and progress to advanced skills all in one place, completely free.
- Guitar Compass – This lesson site is easy to use and has multiple free lessons. There is an entire section for free lessons that are comprehensive, well-recorded, and easy to follow. Guitar Compass offers paid lessons as well to take you deeper into learning the instrument.
There are several online resources for free lessons when learning to play the acoustic guitar, but we consider these the best options for beginners. You’ll find quality instruction on YouTube as well as in the virtual classes on the sites listed above.
Approaching guitar lessons this way will help you to progress at your own pace while keeping you interested in learning new skills and techniques. Be sure to go through each lesson carefully and pay close attention to get the best results!
Good luck on your guitar-playing journey. And remember, persistence is key!