Who’s Doing Instructional Guitar Videos Right?
Written by Steve at GuitarNiche.com
Who’s knocking it out of the park with the best YouTube instructional videos for guitar players… hmmmm…
It’s no easy task to pick clear winners when you consider the amount of contenders in the ring. Anyone with a smartphone and a few chords under their belt can throw together a YouTube channel.
Considering there are over 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we are essentially looking for a needle in a very large haystack.
Lucky for you, you have a guide with deep experience navigating the video wilderness.
As a professional guitar player and instructor for over 25 years (and a chronic YouTube junkie), my experience allows the good fortune of detecting who the real winners are in the instructional videos ring.
Before we continue, let’s set up a few clear guidelines first:
As a guitar player looking for help, let’s say you’re a beginner but not totally green. You’re getting your feet wet with a few chords but you still need help with changes or strumming. Or maybe you’re looking to expand into new areas such as single note phrases, lead work or need that one particular skill to play your favorite song.
Guitar players are also extremely passionate about their favorite guitar tunes. With so many styles of music we’ll be concentrating on the most popular genres such as rock, country, blues etc.
A few other things taken into consideration are production quality, content, view count and perhaps more importantly, personality and presentation.
When you connect with an individual or organization in the video world, you tend to want to see more of their material. Therefor, having a well populated YouTube channel was considered a great asset by being able to continue the learning experience.
Enough preamble, on with the show!
Our first contestant (victim) is…
8 Guitar Chords You Must Know – Beginner Guitar Lessons
Presented by Nate Savage of GuitarLessons.com
With 320 videos to his credit, Nate comes across as very personable making good use of basic music terminologies to explain fundamental musical concepts.
The backdrop of this video set against a professional band stage, no smartphone shots here. Included with the excellent and consistent presentation are very clean relevant graphics that emphasize key points. Very slick.
Note: I’d have to say Nate’s production values for GuitarLessons.com are about as good as you will ever see. Absolute top marks on all fronts.
At just over 11 minutes, this particular video boasts over 2,300,000 views and counting. I’m sure the name “Guitar Lessons” has something to do with it’s popularity – smart.
If you’re a beginner guitarist, you’ll find 8 Guitar Chords You Must Know a very well rounded primer to help get your chord work off the ground. The combination of production values, presentation and potential for advancement make this video a great pick.
If you do take the time to check out more of Nate’s great videos, you’ll also find more advanced instructional guitar videos with explanations on important fundamental concepts, plus a basic sheet music explainer.
Overall, an excellent bang for your imaginary buck.
Play TEN Guitar Songs With Two EASY Chords | Beginners First Guitar Lesson
From Andy Crowley of Andy Guitar fame.
Ten songs? Two chords? I’d call that a good deal if I was just starting out. With a running time of over 16 minutes and over 10,000,000 views, maybe that’s the key this video’s popularity.
I first came across Andy’s video a couple of years ago while doing some instructional research and was pleasantly surprised by a couple of things:
His approach was nicely detailed plus he made things very easy to see by using a camera angle that provided a more realistic point of view. Like looking at your own fingering hand – nice!
If you’re highly visual It doesn’t get much better than that.
The video’s about 3 years old with reasonably good production quality, certainly not pro shot. After poking around a bit, I found the quality of the newer material has stepped up with a more professional feel.
While he does use popular guitar standards in most of his other 450 plus videos, he falls short in the deep dive for concepts that make the music work.
Overall, Andy’s approach is very concise and engaging without being overly technical. If you’re a beginner looking for a casual one stop shop for the basics this is a great place to start.
Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry – Intro and Rhythm Guitar Lesson (SB-425) Back To The Future
By Justin Sandercoe of JustinGuitar.com.
In this video, Justin has a knack for explanation, providing clear descriptive instructions with an engaging, very easy to watch and listen to type of style.
Similar to Andy Guitar (and a host of others), Justin’s approach is in my opinion a bit better in that it’s slightly more polished and consistent. With over 540 videos to his credit, and that’s just one channel!, he still maintains an informal “in your living room” type of production setting.
The skills needed to play this standard are fairly diverse pushing it into the intermediate category for most guitar players. At 18:20 in length and approaching half a million views, there’s ample time for explanation compared to his previous version which was half the length.
If your looking for more from Justin, you’ll find tons of other videos presented in the same casual style. Included is the bonus of an easy to follow curriculum style layout which will help keep your learning efforts organized.
Considering the guitar instruction in this particular video, the overall value is super, but lacks the depth you would get from a paid tuition.
Romance – Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson Pt.1 Romanza
Presented by Carl Brown of GuitarLessons365.com.
Carl’s approach is very personable with good, in-depth explanations. Don’t let the classical element of this video lull you into a romantic era haze, Carl is a very diverse player with excellent modern chops.
The production quality is excellent making use of multiple angles and insets. Always nice to see a pro shot video with the right reference points.
With well over 200 videos targeting the intermediate player, you’ll have no trouble finding further instructional pieces to suite your taste. Carl does a bit of everything but favors heavier rock leaning toward selections with more intricate guitar parts.
At 10:26 in overall length, this traditional style video contains just the right amount of technical reference to make the experience well rounded. With just under a million views, the ratio of negative comments is surprisingly low – a real testament to how much guitarists are enjoying this presentation.
Though there is a lack of any visual reference for theory, this video is a real gem from a technically fluent instructor with plenty more to offer.
Learn To Solo In 5 Minutes – Beginner Guitar Lesson
This instructional video by Steve Stine of GuitarZoom.com promises a quick start for the budding soloist.
Enter the box, that is, the pentatonic box.
Steve obviously has a long history of teaching that utilizes small bits of information with extensive explanation. The beauty here is that the student doesn’t get saturated by too much too soon – a mistake I made early on in my own teaching career.
Steve takes the time to explain the basic theory and go over a good number of examples that drive the point home.
The video quality is very good though the guitar sounds a bit thin, still I’d say the production is professional enough. He makes use of essentially two angles – one for explanation the other for illustration.
At first glance it’s not hard to figure what the core musical style is here. Any guitarist with a taste for the aggressive will have a real treat perusing some of his other near 250 videos.
Don’t pigeon hole him though, he’s a very accomplished player and extremely well rounded.
This particular video runs 15:55, boasts over 700,000 views and, with a highly targeted audience of intermediate metal-heads, has an insanely low negative comment count.
The only thing I found missing was some sort of visual reference to solidify the theoretical material.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for excellent practical guitar theory in the heavier vein, you’ll find this video an excellent primer to whet your appetite for more challenging material.
“Stay With Me” – Sam Smith EASY Guitar Tutorial/Chords (No Capo!)
Exclusively using YouTube, Ellen Chang of for3v3rfaithful represents what could very well be the future of sharing this type of video media.
Obviously, guitar is a male dominated culture. To my surprise (sucking up ego here), I found her presentation…surprisingly good! Not just a pretty face, she’s engaging and refreshing to watch. Ellen is a natural communicator with an excellent delivery style.
Production quality is good, simple, but certainly not professional. In these days of Vines, Periscope, and Miranda Sings (?…), I think it’s a good choice for her as a more polished production would probably alienate a good portion of her fan base.
Over the nearly 20 minute long video, she not only has reference charts for chord forms and sequences, but she also gets bonus points for providing a time guide and full transcription in the description notes. Pretty cool.
Typical of her current 150 releases, this video is aimed at a whole new breed of young beginner guitar player. Teens who are into pop, familiar with current social sharing technologies and want to relate to a casual presentation.
If you’re reading this and fall into that category, you have struck gold my friend.
Pantera: Walk – Guitar Lesson
Presented by Dennis Hodges of JamPlay
Like many organized guitar lesson providers, the choices you have with JamPlay are very broad and cover a plethora of styles and abilities.
I wound up singling out Dennis for a particular reason: While he may come across as a bit dry, the information he passes along is right on point.
The cool thing is he illustrates all the heavy parts (Pantera? Heavy?… naaah…) using a clean tone.
Yes, a CLEAN tone.
No coverups, no hiding behind gobs of distortion, this is the real deal folks.
On to the video quality; totally pro shot as you would expect with multiple angles in the right places. No theoretical visuals though.
Regardless of the fact that this particular video is aimed at metal fans, the underlying value in using a voice of clarity is huge. This approach to guitar instruction should be representative of all superior teaching methods.
That alone is worth the price of admission to this article.
As for the rest of JamPlay’s YouTube offerings, they cover most popular guitar-centric genres such as classic rock, blues, metal, folk etc. Plus bonus points for songwriting workshops.
Overall value? The one thing that Jamplay is exceptionally good at is selling. You’ll find a relentless barrage of material geared toward getting you to subscribe.
Is it good business? Only you can decide. I will tell you though that I had a client who was a member. When I asked him about his experience using their service, he seemed to be pretty happy.
Guitar Lessons – The Efficient Guitarist – Latin Groove
Say hello to Mr. Marc Schonbrun of TrueFire’s Efficient Guitarist series.
If there’s an elephant in the room, TrueFire is it.
Founded in 1991 by Brad Wendkos, TrueFire features over 4,900 YouTube videos alone plus 25,000 interactive video guitar lessons on their own website. They’ve been around for-e-ver.
With so many top name personalities and highly recognizable guitar personalities (Greg Koch, Johnny Highland, Larry Carlton, Stu Ham, Roben Ford – and we’re just getting started! – jeesh!) it’s near impossible to not have an entertaining informative lesson – you’re learning from the best with the credentials to prove it. Pay attention.
So why and how did I choose this particular video?
It came down to style. To be honest, I wound up having to fish through tons of TrueFire videos that were more concerned with promoting the product and the artists attached. I thought, with this kind of sheer volume it can’t be that hard to find something remarkable. Eventually I was rewarded after doing a quick video count search with further filtering.
Marc might come across as a bit dry but I can assure you his methods, material and playing skills are of the highest caliber.
Excellent instructors, production values and rich content are the hallmarks of TrueFire, no exception here.
My only complaint would again be a lack of reference images for theory.
Don’t let the relatively short running time of just over 8 minutes fool you, you’ll easily get great value. This one video with it’s familiar Latin flavor, is representative of a wide range of quality videos from this particular series. Check out the other videos from Marc and you have one heck of a punch.
Acoustic Blues Guitar Lesson
Brought to you by Brian Sherrill of ActiveMelody.com.
I found Brian really personable with excellent descriptive explanations of the material. What he lacks in a theoretical background he makes up in delivery – that’s the power of the human persona.
In doing a bit of background research, I found he was affiliated with a large education company which would help to explain his natural aptitude for communication and patient teaching style.
To his credit he even has an endorsement on his website from famous actor James Woods – how cool is that!
He’s invested in some good production equipment as the audio and video qualities are great. Primarily being a continuous close-up shot of the guitar, it could have benefited from additional visuals.
This is Brian’s most popular video to date with a run time of over 30 minutes – very nice – and a current view count of well over 2,000,000. There’s definitely something to relate to here.
As a whole, his other 300 plus offerings center around the blues catering to the beginner to intermediate guitar player.
There’s a great balance of presentation, instruction and challenge in this one video. If you’re into the blues, check out Brian’s other videos too, you won’t be disappointed.
40 Guitar Techniques In One Solo!
Our presenter for this video is Sinisa Cekic from GuitarMasterClass.net.
Guitar Master Class was founded March 12th 2006 by Kristofer Dahl.
(I have to confess, this is one of my personal faves, but then I’m a noodler who takes the slash and burn approach.)
This video is like a zesty Oxo soup mixed with tasty condensed guitar solo bits. It’s really quite novel and certainly has a kick but… there’s no interactivity, hence, no personality to relate to. Too much salt maybe?
Ah what the heck, shake it off. In terms of sheer content this instructional video is a tour-de-force of technical guitar virtuosity rolled into a 23 minute, 40 second masterpiece. That INCLUDES the slowed down, step by step illustrations for each technique.
BOOM! In your face! Talk about packing a punch. You even get tab illustrations for visual reference.
Seriously, you could take this one video, easily stretch out to four times it’s length and still have plenty of room for discussion.
With this one video approaching 6,000,000 views :-O, GMCGuitar is poised to corner the market on modern instructional guitar videos for the next generation.
A quick bounce to their website featured multiple, incredibly exceptional instructors with tons of videos covering virtually any style just waiting to go.
What this video lacks in interactive quality is easily made up in quantity. Slick professional production and a casual teaching approach make this video a knockout.
These few examples represent what I feel to be the best bang for your YouTube buck, for the time being…
When you consider the sheer volume of new video content being uploaded every day, there are still thousands, perhaps even millions of amazing guitar instructional videos waiting to be discovered by eager guitar players looking for help.
If you have a recommendation for such undiscovered talent, or a favorite instructional artist you think is worth a mention, please let everyone know by sharing in the comments below.