It's a glorious time to be a student of the electric guitar. Thanks to the internet, free electric guitar lessons have become abundant. The following resources offer high quality lessons that are genuinely free, not temporary trials or precursors that lure you into paid subscriptions.
Andy Guitar might very well be one of the best, most comprehensive free sites of lessons online. All of his lessons are posted on YouTube, but his site organizes all of those videos into detailed categories and sub-categories. There are three major skill levels:
Within these three are many videos organized by topic, and there are electric guitar-specific lessons at each skill level, everything from how to understand the basic parts of an electric guitar to how to play complex lead riffs on electric guitar.
The site has an easy interface for finding videos by topic and a professional, friendly, clean-cut presentation that's easy to watch and follow.
For most people this isn't an issue, but all videos are in the YouTube format, so if for some reason you don't like YouTube, you may not like this site.
Some songs that you can learn on this site include:
- Hello by Adele
- Elevation by U2
- Sweet Child O Mine by Guns 'N Roses
This is a small sample. There are dozens more that span many genres.
Guitar Compass has 22 free lessons on their site, all taught by instructor Jody Worrell. This is not as in-depth as the previous site mentioned, but the quality of the videos, the instructor, and each lesson is of such high quality that this resource is a must-visit for free lessons. Things you will learn include:
- Scale techniques, such as G major pentatonic licks and learning to play minor pentatonic in different scale positions
- The riff styles of specific artists
- The riff styles of specific genres
Besides the quality of professionalism of these videos, which have a nice high budget polish to them and effective teaching, they include diagrams and music notation edited into the video.
The videos have high production value, and the instructor provides quality lessons.
There aren't as many free lessons as some sites. Also, this site does not teach you specific songs, but they teach you certain riffs in the style of artists such as "Jimi Hendrix Lick" or "Mark Knopfler Lesson" or "Beck Bends."
Guitar Lessons has 12 free video lessons specific to playing lead electric guitar, all in YouTube video format. These include topics such as:
- Basic techniques for lead guitar
- Basic picking
- Scale exercises
The production value is excellent. With an articulate teacher, multiple camera angles and professional lighting and editing, the lessons are superb.
The best part about these free lessons is that they are very focused; all 12 lessons are focused on how to play lead electric guitar-nothing else, not rhythm guitar, not fingerpicking guitar, not guitar pedal technique, just lead guitar.
This series does not include any free songs. Also, if you're not interested in learning lead guitar, but you're just trying to learn to play basic rhythm guitar (strumming/picking chords), this series may not be as useful.
Doug Marks From Metal Method
Doug Marks' free videos on YouTube are a classic destination for metal guitar lessons. If you're interested in the metal genre, Doug Marks is the place to go, and he has some great free lessons on his YouTube page, including:
- Speed picking
- Sweep picking
- Solving the fretboard puzzle
- Metal riff technique
He has an official site, but most of it is related to his paid programs, so it takes a little time to find all the free stuff. The link at the top to his YouTube channel gives you access to all of his free lessons in one spot.
His videos include an array of pro metal instructors, including the famous shredder Michael Angelo Batio.
If you're not into metal, this is not the place for you.
Some songs that you can learn on this site include some of Michael Angelo Batio's instrumental metal songs such as Burn and Time Traveler.
Electric Guitar Tutor
Electric Guitar Tutor takes a more traditional approach to lessons: no videos. Instead, it's all written lessons accompanied by photos and charts. This is not necessarily a bad thing because there are people who prefer written instructions over video presentations. Lessons include:
- Basics of the electric guitar components, guitar maintenance and music notation
- Detailed music theory lessons
- A variety of scale lessons at different fret positions
- Blues technique
The site only has 20 lessons, but each lesson is rich in detail and has high quality images and diagrams that illustrate each important point.
Written lessons are easier to reference and go back to if you've missed something. Videos can be cumbersome because if you miss something you constantly have to rewind back to a certain point in the video. There's also no written record of the lesson, so if you didn't memorize what was said you have to watch it again.
No videos can be a deal-killer for some students who prefer that medium of instruction.
The site does not include any songs. Its 20 lessons focus exclusively on technique.
With Fret Jam, you get a similar approach to lessons as the previous site: almost no videos, mostly just written tutorials, pictures, and charts. Fret Jam has a few more lessons than Electric Guitar Tutor, including a few videos on the site and a YouTube channel, but the lessons are mixed between acoustic and electric, so it requires a little more parsing.
The lessons are lengthier with perhaps slightly more visual aids than other non-video tutorial sites, and it includes videos in addition to its written tutorials.
It's not dedicated solely to the electric guitar, but it makes an active effort to include electric guitar tips in almost every lesson.
Some songs that you can learn on this site include:
- Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam"
- Let It Be by The Beatles
- Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding
Ultimate Guitar teaches using a combination of blog-style tutorials and video lessons that guide you through the tablatures of specific songs. It has a huge amount of tutorials written by guitarists with constantly new content, some of which even relates to current pop culture trends--i.e. a lesson that uses a new sci-fi TV show to jump into a guitar lesson topic.
Its YouTube Channel has a wonderful visual display for each song lesson. As you can see below, windows display the tablature and fretboard positions of the notes as the song plays, which makes it easy to follow along visually and aurally as you learn to play the song.
Because of its blog-style tutorials, the sheer number of articles to scroll through can be overwhelming and time-consuming if you're looking for a specific topic.
This site has just about every song you could think of from rock and roll classics to the latest Selena Gomez hit.
Active Melody's Blues Lessons
Active Melody, which has a huge YouTube channel with dozens of free "micro-lessons," as the site calls them, features professionally produced, high quality videos. What makes it stand out, however, is its large number of blues lessons for electric guitar that cover a wide range of blues styles. It has other genres, such as rock and country, but this channel really dedicates itself to blues lessons in a notable way.
It might have the most videos of any YouTube guitar channel. It's certainly one of the top sites in that regard, and it focuses on genres that other sites neglect.
The large amount of videos is a blessing and a curse. You have to browse through a large amount of content to find things if you're looking for a specific kind of lesson.
Launching Points Into Advanced Guitar
Sure, most of the free materials online are for basic and intermediate players. They provide great launching points. Once you've mastered the free lessons and proven you're dedicated to the instrument, then you will know any paid lessons will be good investments, and you can confidently pursue advanced lessons.