Poll: How did you learn to play guitar?
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View poll results: How did you learn to play guitar?
I am self taught
140 88%
A friend/family member taught me
14 9%
I had guitar lessons at music school
25 16%
I studied guitar at college
3 2%
Voters: 159.
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Hey guys,
I'm curious how you actually learned guitar, if you had a teacher and how long you studied or had lessons. Please vote and leave a comment if you want to provide additional information (e.g. what helped you most or didn't help at all)

Fretello - Amplify your Skills
The Smarter Way to Practice Guitar
I had a long background of classical piano/organ and had been touring with a B3 and a Fender Rhodes 88. And I worked part time at a music store. Our guitar player offered to teach me guitar so that we'd have a second guitar player when we needed one. At one point I took classical guitar lessons from Candelas Delgado at his little shop on Sunset near downtown here in LA.
"Not very well"
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Self taught. DVD's were huge in showing me how to run scale and learning shape. Also for specific songs and techniques.
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Mel Bay taught me the chords, I taught myself the rest.

I've had a few lessons in the last couple years. Helped get me over the hump on fingerpicking, but I"m still pretty crappy.
My brother taught me how to read tabs, and how to play the into between angels and insects by papa roach With said tabs. The rest I learned on my own.
I got a guitar and hit it.

Thanks to the magic of tabs, a ton of old Guitar mags, and a book or two I picked things up. Ac/Dc taught me to play, I went through the big tab book and learnt a lot from it. A few years later I took guitar class in high school (funnest class ever) but I'd already been playing for a while. However that's when the blues scale clicked with me and I realized a lot of solos I knew where around it. This is when I started to connect and realize how I can improvise and make my own stuff. It took me 5 years before I began to go anywhere I think, that's when I started making my own songs. It was all in getting acquainted to guitar and figuring out how to make my ideas take form.
Last edited by PoptartHero at Jan 29, 2017,
Quote by slapsymcdougal
"Not very well"


Basically, I got to a point where I was "what's the most out-of-character thing I could do". Fuck it, let's do guitar, I've got nothing to lose.
I hadn't played an instrument since high school, and that was mostly things in the brass section. Tabs have helped me see what patterns are used, which despite flaws, help give me a good idea of what's going on in the piece.

Now that I'm understanding tuning relationships and drop tuning relationships, my life is much easier. I'm starting to enjoy learning Korn on my 7-string as an example. If things work out, maybe I'll play in a band.

I do enjoy seeing my kids getting interested in music at an early age.
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justinguitar.com is the answer
Self taught for the most part. Started in May 2009 mainly using Youtube I suppose and tabs on here. I just played my favourite songs over and over and over and over and naturally improved. I had lessons on and off for a couple years. Probably had about 15 lessons in my life.
I've studied on my own, at a private teacher and at a music school. All three options had their pros and cons.
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I'm primarily self taught. A lot of it seemed very natural to me at first, thanks to being a musician of some kind or another since I was 3 years old. But then after I had been playing guitar for 8 years or so I went to a teacher and found out just how terrible my technique was.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
Kinda half and half. As far guitar the instrument goes, I'm mostly self taught. Took lessons intermittently in high school, did a couple semesters of classical guitar elective in college. What really made the difference for me was a handful of semesters of Theory and Ear Training, as part of a minor in music.
I was born a guitar god with calluses on my fingers and plectrums as my nails. I came out of the womb playing Hotel California using my umbilical cord.
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Quote by hecks
I was born a guitar god with calluses on my fingers and plectrums as my nails. I came out of the womb playing Hotel California using my umbilical cord.

I've heard that the umbilical chord is kind of hard to finger.
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I played trumpet for 3-4 years before I started playing guitar. Got a bass and my brother's acoustic 6-string and learned them both at the same time.
fl.lettner I originally had lessons but those were just learning covers so I eventually stopped. Started messing around on the pentatonic scale and taught myself basic theory from there.
Self-taught. At first I subscribed to a magazine that had tab for several songs in each issue. Eventually i started buying songbooks and various method books.
Self-taught, in a way I guess. The Learn and Master Guitar DVDs were a huge, huge help. Steve Krenz is my teacher in that way. :P
When I finally got a guitar a friend of the family gave me some half assed lessons, not for long though. I had some buddies in highschool that were playing for a while and would jam with them in a barn. They didn't teach me too much telling me I would be better off learning on my own as I would learn their style rather than coming up with my own way. So I basically went on to tabs in GW, and later here and mxtabs (when it was around). Later on I started to jam along to anime BGM for some reason abandoning metal for a while.
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I learned rhythm playing almost by myself, a friend told me how to palm mute at the beggining.. currently i am working on improving lead playing. i will go into some private lessons next month. i am pretty bad at theory and not knowing all names of the notes on fingerboard.
The pick of destiny...
Last edited by Sabbath_84 at Feb 5, 2017,
Living in the boonies with a dial-up internet connection, all I had was the old Tabcrawler website and a couple of old Mel Bay books from the 70's.
Then I went to a high school that was cool enough to let me play electric bass in concert band (even though I mostly had to learn tuba parts and learn not only to sight-read, but sight transpose... can't do that anymore as I didn't keep up with it). Now it's UG and Youtube, and whatever I can find at thrift stores. I picked up 3 Troy Stetina Metal lesson books (Hal Leonard, Metal Rhythm Guitar, Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, Metal Guitar Tricks) plus the Wolf Marshall Guitar Method Volume 1 and the Best of Soundgarden songbooks all for $2 each. I've had other good finds but those are the most recent. You never know what good nuggets of wisdom you'll pick up from any of them, even if they're not you're style.
These days I've been playing a lot of Rocksmith. I used to play with a really heavy handed pick stroke, but Rocksmith has forced me to play with more accuracy and a lighter touch which I find has helped my speed a lot as well. Plus leaderboard challenges helps me to focus and motivate me to push on to the next level.
Last edited by spacepizza125 at Feb 5, 2017,
Self-taught for 2 years and a month now, but i'm pretty sure my technique is shocking and I've picked up some really bad habits, so will look at getting lessons
Back in the day(73) there were no tabs, music books were syncopated for piano I got those and transposed to guitar had a book showing classical style learned it pretty well it served me well over the years.Learned a lot by watching players and from jamming w/other players
Quote by scott58
Self taught. DVD's were huge in showing me how to run scale and learning shape. Also for specific songs and techniques.
like... You made your own dvd lesson videos and learned from them?
No purchased them and practice practice practice.
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VHT Special 6
Phonic 620 Power Pod PA
Wampler Super Plextortion
Line 6 Pod HD
Been playing for almost 7 years now. I'm self-taught in the regard that most of what I know is from observing others and tooling around on my own, but I have had people show me a few things.

I really threw myself into it; while I don't think I'm all that great I have had people tell me after two years of playing that they thought I had been playing since I was 7 or something (I'm 25 now). Feels pretty good, but I try not to get a swelled head over it. I started learning theory right away and ALWAYS push myself to get better technically and learn more things I can use to create my own music. The way I look at it, if I see someone doing something I can't do it's probably possible for me to figure out with good practice.

Used tabs at first, but now I almost exclusively use my ears. I'll watch videos and pick up more ideas from things like that- even reading about stuff. Got a bass almost a year ago, and it really helps me with rhythm.

My big problem is my wrist on my left hand; I'm sure it's my fault it got screwed up in some ways, but I have some genetic trait where my joints are really loose and my doctor thinks I might have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Really not looking forward to getting arthritis at a young age, so I have to watch it.
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For me personally, my parents started me on guitar as my first 'official' instrument at age 6. I was enthusiastic to play, but my teacher wanted me to focus on technique and notes, something totally strange to me, rather than chords and "fun" stuff. So after 5 weeks, I quit. I picked up piano at around the same time, and immediately got into it. I took lessons for about 4-5 years, but my old instructor quit (she was elderly) and all the new instructors were college graduates who were too much into 'hip' and 'pop' music (I'm a classical pianist). Because of piano, I picked up guitar around age 9, and for my 12th birthday, got a new guitar. I played chords and such for a long time, but wasn't too good. When I was 12, I became a snare drummer for a local Fife and Drum Corps (now I'm the head snare and snare/bass fill-in instructor) and learned how to keep a rhythm there. I'm fully self-taught for guitar. I'll occasionally ask my friend (who's a guitarist for the United State's National Guard) a few guitar questions, and I have a lot of friends who are music theory/music teachers. Because of my classical music influence in string instruments, I have had the opportunity to pick up harp, electric guitar, drum set, cahone, keyboard/synth, trombone, saxophone, trumpet, violin, cello, ukulele, and many other fun instruments. I am a living example of a 'self-taught' successful guitarist. I have a lot to learn and my main struggle is with not learning how to read sheet music for guitar (I would LOVE to play Beehtoven or Bach on guitar, which I've seen done), but otherwise I find it easy to lead worship at church or just jam out around a campfire.

(and before you say it, no, I don't know enough to start my own band because you need friends to have a band, and that I lack.)

EDIT: Honestly, I am pretty sure that you'll get the majority of 'self-taught' musicians here as ultimate-guitar is THE self-taught website. I direct my guitar students here.
Last edited by I_M_3rd at Feb 9, 2017,
I got a $29 electric solid body and taught myself; no lessons, no books... and no amp for the first six years, just listening to the music of Jimi, Jimmy, Eric, Jeff, B.B, and others. A great way to learn, but a very unlikely method today.
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My best friend since grade school has always played. In my early 20s i broke my ankle, bought a guitar and asked for lessons. 14 years later, best decision ive made

No one is self taught basically. They all would have learnt either thru internet or books. The key is getting the basics right.

I too learnt myself using internet and books. Search on Google you will find many good blogs, videos which can help you.

Try You tube:
Creative guitar studio
Justin guitar
Rob Chapman
Shawn cheek for theory lessons

Practice hard and rock
I had one year of lessons when I got a brand new Jasmine acoustic guitar back in 1988.

Though I can still play some of the stuff it was not really chords or anything structured at all. I for one was not really inspired either.

I then had to go to another school and I got exposed to thrash metal among other music but so much I had to get an electric guitar.

By 1991 I got my first electric Applause stratocaster and found out you could get tab books so I started working with teaching myself from there and develop my ears and skills.
I took lessons for years but now I use the internet for articles, Youtube lessons, websites like justinguitar.com and guitarlessons365.com, and tabs. I also learn what I can by ear or sheet music.
I played self taught for 8 years, then studied in college for a bit. been playing 13 yrs now
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