Online Guitar Lessons Vs In Person Guitar Lessons: The Pros And Cons

Published Categorized as Guitar Lesson Reviews

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Which should you go with – online guitar lessons or in person guitar lessons?

The answer will come down to a few different considerations including:

  • Your learning style
  • Your budget
  • Your proximity to instructors

There are definitely pros and cons for each. Read on to learn what they are so that you can make an informed decision as to which is better for you.

Online Guitar Lessons Vs In Person Guitar Lessons: The Pros And Cons

Table of Contents

Online guitar lessons Pros & Cons

In some ways this post should be called good online guitar lessons vs in-person lessons. The quality of online lessons can vary dramatically – as can the quality of in person lessons depending on the teacher you get and whether you get group or private lessons.

online guitar lessons

Online Lesson Pros

  • Considerable Money Savings
  • Potential for Multiple Instructor choices
  • Go at your own pace
  • Pooling of knowledge
  • Convenience

Considerable money savings

Online lesson subscriptions tend to average at around $100 to $200 for a whole year. If you were to do just one lesson per week it would come to around $2-$4 per lesson! And you are likely to be doing more lessons than that so the per-lesson-cost could be significantly less than that.

With a private instructor a 1/2 hour lesson will cost you at a minimum $20 – and anywhere up to $100 per 1/2 hour lesson. That could be the cost of an entire year on an online subscription.

If we assume you did a lesson a week then those in-person lessons could cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per year.

  • Online = $100 – $200/year
  • In-Person = $1,000 – $5,000/year

Potential for Multiple Instructor Choices

Good online lessons tend to have multiple teachers so that you can make the choice as to who you go with.

This is great for a few reasons.

Firstly, if you don’t like the first instructor you can move on to another that you might like better. let’s face it, you are going to be less motivated to do the lessons if you don’t like your instructor. If you are going to in-person lessons it’s more difficult to change instructors – especially if there aren’t that many in your area.

Secondly, a certain instructor may also not teach in a style that suits your learning style. This will slow your progress considerably. With good online lessons you can move on and find the instructor that you learn best from.

And finally, with multiple instructors you can actually learn from more than one person and get multiple perspectives and influences which will help with developing your own unique style.

Go at your Own Pace

You can truly go at your own pace when doing online lessons.

You can stop the video part way through to practice something and you can replay a certain lesson over and over again as many times as you like, or parts of a lesson that you are struggling with.

This is a really big plus to online lessons.

Yes, you can go at your own pace to an extent in-person (if you are getting private lessons and not group lessons) but unless you are videoing the sessions you can’t go back over the lesson over and over again (unless you have a photographic memory I suppose!).

Pooling of Knowledge

Most in-person guitar instructors are self employed – and even if they are employed typically they still have their own lessons, perhaps with a bit of guidance from their employers.

But online lessons (good ones!) have the knowledge of several instructors and you can take advantage of learning from all of the instructors and not just one.

Convenience

You can do your lessons in the comfort of your own home and at any time you like. We wrote about the benefits of online guitar lessons so you can find more info there.

You don’t have to travel anywhere and you don’t have to do it at a set time (which may not always be convenient for you) – you can fit your lessons around other things going on in your life.

Structured

Good online lessons tend to be well structured. Because they cannot interact back and forth with their student the instructor must make sure they include everything that’s needed for a particular lesson.

Also because they can rehearse and edit the lessons they can make sure everything is in there and there’s little fluff to waste your time with.

Online Lesson Cons

  • Feedback
  • Motivation
  • Need an internet connection

Feedback

This is the biggest downside of online lessons, in my opinion.

You don’t get outside feedback about whether you are doing something correctly or not. If you have any questions you can have them answered usually – but this isn’t a substitute for an instructor being able to observe what you are doing and then correct you on the spot.

The good online lessons will cover common errors when they are going over a particular technique. This way you can observe yourself to try to determine if you are doing it right or making those errors.

But that instant feedback and correction is still missing and definitely a valuable thing – particularly if you aren’t someone who is very observant of their own behaviors.

Motivation

A good in-person instructor can act as a great motivator but online you don’t really have anyone to motivate you.

Yes, a good online instructor will work to try to motivate you – and if you like them you are likely to want to do the tasks they set and get good at them – but you won’t be reporting back to them and showing them your progress so it doesn’t quite work as well as it does in-person.

If you are a self driven person then this isn’t an issue for you.

Need an Internet Connection

This isn’t a biggie. Most people have reliable internet connections these days that are easily fast enough to play the videos on online lessons.

In-Person Lessons

Like online lessons the quality of an in-person instructor can vary a lot. So these pros and cons will assume you would be getting good in-person lessons.

In-Person Pros

  • Feedback/Interaction
  • Motivation
in-person guitar lessons

Feedback/Interaction

This for me is the most important advantage of in-person lessons. This will be a bigger or lesser deal for you depending on your learning style.

Having that instant real-time feedback to let you know when you’ve done something just right or when you’ve made an error is really valuable especially for certain learning styles.

That interaction back and forth between teacher and student can make learning faster and easier.

Motivation

This will be an important factor for some people and not as important for others.

I myself find I am very self driven and don’t need a lot of outside motivation to work hard at something.

But some people are very different to that and are a lot more willing to work at something if there is someone they can show their progress to, especially if their instructor is good with positive reinforcement.

Some people would also just prefer the social interaction of in-person lessons over being by themselves in front of their computers.

In-Person Cons

  • Travel
  • Availability
  • More expensive
  • Structure
  • Single perspective
  • Lesson progression

Travel

Depending on where you live you may have to travel a fair way – unless you can find an instructor that will come to you.

Even if you live in a big city you may have to travel to get to a good instructor. Finding good lessons online is just a matter of doing your research and finding the best – they aren’t going to be further away than the next one!

Availability

If you live in a rural area or lightly populated area there may be little or no choice for instructors. Which means you’ll have to settle for whatever instructor is around.

Even if you are in a densely populated area and have a good choice of instructors, you may not be able to have your lessons at a convenient time. Especially when it comes to good instructors, they are in hot demand and probably can’t fit you in at your ideal time.

More Expensive

It is considerably more expensive to have in-person lessons – particularly if you are getting private lessons.

See the pros section above under “Online Guitar Lesson pros” for more details on the cost differences – it’s pretty dramatically different.

Structure

O.k. I know I’m supposed to be talking about good in-person lessons but I’ll digress from that for a second.

The chances of getting unstructured lessons (which will seriously hinder your progress) is greater with in-person lessons.

I once had a teacher when I was around 15 who would fluff around tuning and playing my guitar for the first 15 minutes of every lesson (I’m pretty sure he was stoned most of the time) and then he would teach me little licks and parts of solos that he thought were cool (which involved a lot more of him playing!).

He was a great guitarist but not a great teacher!

Single Perspective

No matter how good your instructor is or how much knowledge they have to impart, you are still only getting one person’s perspective on playing the guitar.

And there is often more than one way to do something on a guitar – one of which will probably suit you better (either due to learning style or physical attributes such as the length of your fingers).

Lesson Progression

If you get private lessons you are going to be able to go at your own pace mostly but that pace may be slower than online – even despite the biggest downside of online lessons (feedback/interaction).

If you go to a lesson and then go away and forget how to do the thing you are supposed to be practicing you’ll have to wait until next week (usually – if you having lessons once per week) to go over it again.

Online you can rewind and replay as often as you need to.

What’s more, online you can do several lessons per week if you are picking everything up quickly. You don’t have to wait to move onto the next lesson.

Over to You

it’s definitely a personal preference whether to go with in-person or online lessons. There are a number of factors to consider to figure out which is best for you.

Thanks for reading and I hope this post has helped you to figure out the best option for you.

Which do you think you’ll go with and why? What lessons have you tried in the past and which do you prefer? Any other pros or cons you can think of?Leave a comment below – it’d be awesome to hear what others think about this topic.

FAQs

Is it better to take guitar lessons or teach yourself?

Whether it’s better to take guitar lessons or teach yourself depends on your learning style, discipline, and goals. Lessons with a good teacher provide structured learning, immediate feedback, and tailored guidance, which can accelerate progress and help avoid developing bad habits. Teaching yourself, often using online resources, offers flexibility and self-pacing, which works well for highly motivated, disciplined learners. For the best results, a combination of both can be ideal—taking lessons for foundational skills and supplementing with self-teaching for exploring personal interests and styles.

What is the best way to learn guitar online or offline?

Both methods have their advantages, and many guitar players find a hybrid approach beneficial. Offline lessons provide strong foundational skills and personalized feedback, while online resources are great for exploring specific songs, genres, or advanced techniques. Ultimately, the best method is one that keeps you engaged and motivated while effectively progressing your skills.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

14 comments

  1. I can remember about 6 years ago when my middle sone wanted to learn to play. He enjoyed the Guitar Hero (dumb little plastic guitar) and then the Rock Smith games, which incorporate your own real guitar.

    I think it taught him and since it retained his interest and we wanted to promote his learning we got him a guitar lesson course that was very interactive. If I remember it was about $200 and had a multitude of lessons and levels

    I wish I could remember the name of it. There were lessons from beginner forward. It had different instructors for different styles and it had a feedback stage where the user tries to emulate the chord/notes etc. It would tell you where you were right on where you were off and more.

    I think it was an awesome program and because my son was weary of a one on one lesson, I think it was the best fit for him. He’s still playing today..

    1. Hey Debra

      That’s awesome! Great to hear of your success using online guitar lessons.

      I am curious now which program your son used.

      Glad that the online lessons helped your son get into and stay interested in playing the guitar. I really like how online lessons have helped guitarists – whether because of financial reasons or reasons of not liking the idea of face to face lessons – pick up and learn the instrument easily.

      Thanks for visiting – appreciate your input.

  2. Before reading this article, I was going to say in person would be the best… but having read this I’d be swayed by the monetary factor alone!! I guess I didn’t really consider how much of a significant difference difference it could work out to be over the space of such a significant time like a year!!
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey – yeah it’s definitely a significant gap money-wise between online and in person guitar lessons – and there isn’t much of a gap in the learning process. In fact for some people they will learn better through the online lessons. And, depending on the in person lessons you get you may even get better instructors online, especially if you find one of the good ones.

      Thank you for visiting!

  3. You’ve given some real food for thought there. Ok, yes online learning is a LOT cheaper, you can go at your own pace at a time that suits you etc, but then you don’t get that one on one feedback. Are there any online sites that have ‘webcam’ type lessons where the instructor is there to give you real time feedback…? If not, that would be a great idea 🙂

    1. Hey Jyl

      I haven’t heard of any webcam guitar lessons. But I agree that would be a great idea – particularly for those living in more remote locations.

      The only thing is that these lessons wouldn’t be as cheap as the pre-recorded video lessons. They might be slightly cheaper than actually in-person lessons but the time still needs to be spent by the instructor to be present for the entire lesson. Time is money!

      Online video lessons are as cheap as they are because the same video lesson can be used for an infinite number of students. They only need to be recorded once.

      Perhaps the online lesson site could offer a one-on-one webcam question and answer session as part of the series where – say once per week you go online and can ask any questions and get any advice on any areas where you are struggling – though I imagine even this would up the price considerably.

      Good idea though – some food for thought

  4. Cool!! You give some really great information here about online vs. in person lessons. The points you make can be adapted to any instrument really. As soon as I started reading I hoped that you would touch on feedback which is crucial in the early stages of learning an instrument. As a music educator I know that improper hand position or posture can lead to a whole range of difficulties when you get to the more technical parts. I know from experience learning to play piano. However, these mistakes can be made through online and in person lessons. It all comes down to making sure the person you choose is reputable whether online or in person. It is also important to consider why you are taking lessons. Is it simply for enjoyment or would you like to enroll in a music program someday. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. Many great points found in here.

    1. Hey Melody

      Thanks for your input. You make some great points.

      And yeah I agree that the likes of hand position can make a big difference. Thankfully good instuctors offline and online lessons do incorporate things like this and as you say this can be missing in both forms of lessons.

      I also appreciate your point about the purpose of taking lessons. Someone more serious about mastering an instrument should be particularly careful about getting a quality instructor so that they learn good habits and good setups right from the start.

  5. Hey there Nathan!
    You have a very well informed article here! I can really see that you have done your research about music lessons..showing the pros and cons of both online and face-2-face lessons really opened my eyes about its difference..not to mention the price! This seemed like a very honest review! Thank You! Be Blessed!

    1. Hey Shane

      Thanks for visiting. You’re very welcome and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions regarding online guitar lessons or in-person guitar lessons. Happy to help and point you in the right direction if you need it.

  6. Hey buddy, That is a great post. I play guitar and have done in-person and online lessons. I gained benefits from both platforms of training.
    Searching for the right one at the right time is the key. I think you have developed a great niche here that will help a lot of people.
    What brand of guitar is your favourite? I had an Ibanez Artwood acoustic for a few years that I sold this year and now I play on a Yamaha acoustic. Love it.
    Hope to chat soon,
    Duncan

    1. Hey Duncan

      Thanks for your message.

      I have also used both types of lessons and agree that both have their advantages.

      I really like tone and playabilty of Martins. But I do like Yamahas too and more recently have played quite a few Seagulls which I also enjoy playing – especially for their price

  7. Hello!
    You have thoroughly weighed up the options here! I think the main thing that makes me still want to have ‘in person lessons’ is that feedback that you spoke about. I mean I can go online and ‘think’ I’ve learned a technique when I might not have quite got it right.
    Both of them have their benefits and drawbacks and you’ve covered most of them here!

    1. Hey Lewis

      I agree that feedback from in person guitar lessons is definitely a big draw card and if you can make it to in-person lessons (and can afford them), then it’s definitely good to take them. Even if you can just do a few in person lessons to get the basic techniques solid, and then expand with online lessons – if that’s more cost effective/convenient.

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