If you’re asking yourself, “are guitar lessons worth it?” I’ve been in your shoes! When I first started to play guitar as a total beginner at age 12, I wondered if guitar lessons were worth it with everything you can learn online, through books, and other resources.
20+ years later, this question is even more relevant today since the internet has become a bigger place with better resources to learn guitar.
So are guitar lessons worth it? I think guitar lessons are worth it for the musician who is:
- serious about improving their skills,
- willing to put in the time, money, and effort to find the right teacher and practice what they learn,
- has clearly defined goals for improvement.
If the above aren’t true for you, then guitar lessons may not be worth it for you.
Guitar Lessons Are Only Worth It If The Price Is Right
Unfortunately, guitar lesson prices vary significantly based on a variety of factors and are difficult to predict for your specific situation.
Where you live is probably the most important factor in determining how much local guitar lessons will cost.
But the demand for your instructor, age, level of aptitude, and more will likely also influence the cost of your lessons.
However, you may be able to use this tool to find an approximate rate for your location.
The rate that tool generated for my location in Texas was between around $50 USD for an hour lesson (which sounds about right to me).
Do You Need Guitar Lessons If You’re Serious About Improving Your Skills?
If you’re serious about improving your guitar skills, you’re probably also interested in improving them as quickly as possible.
And while you don’t need guitar lessons if you’re serious about improving your skills, lessons can certainly help you progress more quickly.
Guitar teachers can:
- help you identify weaknesses that aren’t apparent to you,
- provide you relational incentive to practice and improve (“I don’t want to let my teacher down, so I’m going to work harder at it”),
- provide you monetary incentive to practice and improve (I’ve invested $X a week in these lessons, so I’m going to work hard and make it worth it.”)
- give you a schedule you wouldn’t otherwise have (weekly lessons might keep you more accountable with practice).
- provide a clear learning path (at least for beginners).
I took guitar lessons from two different teachers, each for a little over a year.
I’m convinced both of these teachers helped me progress more quickly in my guitar skills than I would have otherwise.
The speed of my progression had a lot to do with the quality of my teachers.
Where do you find great guitar teachers?
I’ll address that in the next section.
Where to Find Guitar Teachers and Tutors
Guitar lessons are only worth it if you have a good teacher.
And I stumbled upon two great guitar teachers through family friends.
So I recommend using your personal network to see if you can find great guitar teachers as I did.
Of course, you can also search the web for local teachers by searching something like guitar teacher + “your town.”
(I did this and found what looked like promising results).
You could also use Craigslist to find guitar teachers.
If you think this sounds weird, remember that the Lumineers found their cellist on Craigslist.
You can even do online guitar lessons if you’re in a remote location or you’re just looking for the convenience of meeting with someone online.
I’ve never tried them, but a friend of mine used to teach guitar lessons online and told me they were great.
Having several options for choosing your guitar teacher is important.
Check out the following sections to learn why.
Make Guitar Lessons Worth It by Finding a Great Guitar Teacher
As I mentioned in the last section, I’ve had two main guitar teachers in my life, and both of them were great teachers.
And guitar lessons are only worth it if you have good teachers.
To find a good teacher, remember that someone great at the guitar isn’t necessarily great at teaching the guitar.
Some of the best guitarists are some of the worst guitar teachers.
Why is this?
It can be hard to externalize and explain something that comes naturally to you.
So, guitarists who have incredible natural aptitude for the guitar might not be able to explain or empathize with the struggles of a beginner guitarist.
It sounds obvious, but make sure your guitar teacher is good at teaching the guitar, not just good at playing the guitar.
How do you know if someone is good at teaching the guitar?
You can’t really know until you try learning from them.
So you should have a period of time where you are taking lessons from multiple different people to find which is the best for you.
If this is cost prohibitive, I understand.
You can still sign up with multiple teachers, just don’t commit to regular meetings just yet.
In other words, you can try your teachers one at a time.
Again, don’t feel committed to the first teacher you try.
You want to find the teacher that’s the best fit for you, teaches well, and can help you towards your learning goals.
Why Learning Goals with the Guitar Are Important
My second guitar teacher fired me.
I didn’t know where I wanted to go next with the guitar.
And because I didn’t know this, he didn’t know how to help me get there.
I’m actually glad he did because he was right!
I needed a goal, and without one, there just wasn’t a clear reason for us to keep meeting.
Don’t worry though.
You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do with the guitar.
But at a certain point, you need to know what you want to do with the instrument to progress in your learning and to make guitar lessons worth it.
You may want to lead worship at your local church, in which case learning to sing and play at the same time is likely a priority.
Or you may want to start a rock band and learn how to improvise and play solos.
These are just two of countless paths you could pursue with the guitar each requiring a different skill sets.
Half the battle of progress is knowing which path you want to pursue.
Once you’ve established goals for yourself, you can find the right teacher to help you along this path.
One Learning Path for the Guitar With an Abundance of Opportunity
My experience has been that there are countless opportunities and a need for people to be able to play in sing-along-type settings.
I’ve led worship at my high school, for a club in college, and for my church now, and I never wanted to do it in any of those instances.
Instead, I reluctantly agreed because no one else wanted to or was able to do so.
Even if you aren’t religious and don’t foresee opportunities to play in church-like settings, opportunities to play in sing-along settings abound.
I’ve been asked to play in multiple weddings (without the bride or groom ever having heard me play!)
And some people love having someone bring an instrument to play around a campfire, at a ranch, or lake house.
All this to say, if you are inclined to pursue the path of playing the guitar and singing, you will likely encounter countless opportunities to do so.
How Learning Goals Help You Find the Right Guitar Teacher and Make Your Lessons Worth It
Once you know what path you want to pursue, it’s best to find a guitar teacher who can help you along that path.
Otherwise, your guitar lessons probably won’t be worth it!
So if you want to start a band, try to find a guitar teacher with his own band.
Or if you want to learn jazz guitar, find a teacher who is a jazz guitarist.
At the very least, tell your guitar teacher what you want so that (s)he can help you get there.
If your current guitar teacher doesn’t know jazz guitar, but you tell him you want to be a jazz guitarist, he might know a jazz guitarist who can help you.
Once you and your teacher are on the same page with your goals, your teacher can troubleshoot your weaknesses and help you achieve your goals faster than ever.
In short, your goals will help you get the most out of your guitar lessons.
And each lesson should be a stepping stone closer to that goal.
When to Stop Taking Guitar Lessons
Knowing when to stop taking lessons can be just as hard to figure out as when and whether to start taking guitar lessons.
Plus, not everyone will be as fortunate as I was to have a teacher who will fire you if you don’t have learning goals.
So how do you know when to stop taking lessons?
If you’ve never played an instrument and decided to take guitar lessons, I recommend continuing your lessons until you can easily play basic chords.
At this point, your learning can become more self-directed if you wish.
Otherwise, you might consider continuing lessons until one of the above conditions is no longer the case.
So if you aren’t as serious about improving your skills anymore (or you’ve reached your learning goals), you aren’t willing to put in the time, money, or effort to find the right teacher and practice what you learn anymore, or you don’t have clearly defined goals anymore, it may be time to stop your lessons.
As someone who is no longer a beginner guitarist, I think of guitar lessons as something I can always take up again if I so desire.
Also, they don’t have to be a long-term commitment either!
You may be able to break through a plateau in your learning with a handful of guitar lessons.
Conclusion: Are Guitar Lessons Worth It?
I hope this article has helped you think through whether guitar lessons are worth it for you!
And if you’re thinking through