Can You Really Learn Guitar By Yourself (with no teacher)

Can You Really Learn Guitar By Yourself? (with no teacher)

If you’ve ever wondered, can you really learn guitar by yourself? Or is it important you have a guitar teacher? Will your playing be affected by being self-taught? Then keep reading because in this article we look in depth at these and other questions regarding how to learn to play the guitar.

We often advise budding guitarists that it’s best practise to get a good guitar teacher because that way there should be no room for error. Plus if your technique is incorrect a good guitar teacher will spot the problem and help you to correct it before it becomes an ingrained habit. There is a quote by a famous thinker, that says something along the lines of, anyone can learn anything in ten years, but with the right teacher, they’ll learn it in three.

What Will A Guitar Teacher Do For You?

A good guitar teacher will;

  •  Speed up your learning process
  • Prevent you from making too many fundamental mistakes
  • Teach you in the correct stages

But good guitar teachers are often difficult to find, already fully booked and cost money. If you’re out of work, a student or short of money for whatever reason and want to learn to play the guitar, it is possible to teach yourself. The thing to remember is it will take you far longer to teach yourself and you’ll need to be fully dedicated to get any decent results.

How To Teach Yourself To Play The Guitar

The very basics of playing the guitar are relatively easy to learn on your own, this is because it’s fairly simple stuff. It’s once you hit the specifics of the type of guitarist you want to become, that it gets more difficult on your own. More difficult, but not impossible, as long as you’re prepared to work hard.

Even with a guitar teacher you’d have to put the work in to become any good, but some people just can’t commit to anything on their own. For those people we advise you to save up, wait until you can afford it and then get a top guitar teacher. For everyone else, read on, let’s start learning the guitar on our own.

What Do You Need To Teach Yourself Guitar?

To teach yourself guitar you need four things, they are;

  1. Commitment
  2. A hard and fast practise routine
  3. A set plan on what you need to learn in order to make it easier
  4. Top teaching/learning resources

Unless you have all four of these, there’s no point even trying to teach yourself guitar. 

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

For instance, it doesn’t matter how long you practise if your technique is wrong, and that’s why you need to be sure of where your information comes from. Let’s have a closer look at the four things you need to teach yourself guitar in more detail.


You need to be 100% committed to learning the guitar. Nobody is good on the guitar at first, you’ll get fret buzz, bum notes, pain in the fingertips and much more besides. When things get tough (and they will) you need to keep going, if you’re not fully committed, you’re destined to fail.

Hard & Fast Practise Routine

The best way to learn the guitar is practise, this means at least 15 minutes every day including weekends. The difference between an OK guitarist and a great guitarist is the time spent on practise. Never miss your practise, most of the time missing practise because of something important is an excuse. We all have 15 minutes we can spare every day.

A Set Plan

The main reason people fail at anything is not having a set plan. You need to set out your goals which might be totally different to anyone else’s but are important to you personally. For instance, you might want to learn how to play a particular song, so you’ll need to know the chords for that song. Then you’ll need to know the strumming pattern etc of that song. To learn to play the guitar in as quick a time as possible and at an effective rate, you need a plan.

Top Teaching/Learning Resources

Nowadays, learning to play the guitar on your own is not really an accurate description. That’s because you’re not really on your own, there are youtube tutorials, blog posts, and entire websites all intent on teaching you to play the guitar. Unfortunately, just as there are poor guitar teachers, so there are internet pages with poor advice.

How To Teach Yourself Guitar

Playing The Guitar

Let’s look at the best way to teach yourself guitar in order of what you need.

  1. Buy The Correct Guitar
    The guitar to get is the type you want to learn, if you’re not sure which type of guitar to learn, look at your idols. The guitar they play is probably the type (electric or acoustic) that you’ll ultimately want to learn.
  2. Learn How To Tune It
    Invest in a tuner, there are free online tuners, apps or for around the price of a decent cup of coffee, you can buy a chromatic tuner that identifies the correct pitch for every string.
  3. Learn Open Chords
    Start with Em this only takes two fingers and is the easiest open chord to learn. Once you nail it, learn the chord of E.
    The open chords are the easiest to play; A, Am, C, D, E, Em and G.learn these and many songs will be available for you to play.
  4. Learn How To Hold A Pick
    The pick should be held between the thumb and the index finger with just the pointy tip sticking out. That pointy bit is the bit that should glide across the strings.
  5. Learn Strumming Patterns
    Strumming is a very important skill to learn, it creates the rhythm and keeps the song going at the correct tempo. There are upward strokes, downward strokes and a combination of the two. Don’t be too rigid with your hand/wrist, strumming should be a gentle,fluid movement. But you should have your wrist straight and not bent, moving from the elbow not the wrist.
  6. Learn An Easy To Play Song
    Find an easy song like Knockin’ on heaven’s door. It only has three chords, G, D and Am. Fiddle around with it until you can play it properly. This will encourage you to keep on playing.

Guitar Chords Make Up More Than 90% Of All Western Music

You need to learn all of the open chords to become a successful guitarist in any genre of music. Before you can solo, play classical or create your own music you’ll need to learn how to play chords and understand keys.

Famous Self-Taught Guitarists

Whilst learning the guitar using a good guitar teacher is the easiest way to get it right first time, there are many famous guitarists that never had a formal music lesson in their life. Jack White, for instance you know, White Stripes, Seven Nation Army. He had no formal music lessons at all, and yet created one of the most recognisable riffs of all time.

Jimi Hendrix started playing a one stringed ukulele until he bought his first guitar for $5.00. As he was left handed, he strung it upside down and then practised three hours a day, every day.

Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys taught himself to play the guitar using an Oasis chord book. Before composing his own music.

Noel Gallagher taught himself how to play the guitar at the age of 13 after being put on 6 months probation for stealing. He said he had nothing to do so he learned to play the guitar.

Eric Clapton taught himself the guitar by taping himself and listening back to the recording until he got it right. He’s played with the best guitarists in the world and is extremely talented.

Dave Grohl taught himself guitar and drums, he apparently had one professional drum lesson before deciding to teach himself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to learn guitar on your own?

It is possible to learn guitar on your own, but it will be easier, faster and more accurate to learn with a guitar teacher.

How long does it take to learn guitar alone?

How long it takes to learn the guitar depends on your level of commitment. The more you practise, the faster you will learn. But as a general rule, it takes around 6 months to get the basics nailed.

How hard is it really to learn guitar?

It is hard to learn the guitar at first, but it becomes easier in time.

How long do fingers hurt when learning guitar?

The fingers hurt for the first couple of weeks. After that calluses form on the fingertips and they stop hurting.

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