The Best Way to Learn the Guitar on a Budget

Person sitting and playing guitar

So you want to learn the guitar but can’t afford classes? Never fear! You can still become an awesome guitarist without having to shell out for years of lessons. In this article we will reveal the number one best way to learn the guitar without paying for classes.

Before that we’ll examine some of the ways people commonly learn the guitar. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each method. You can then compare the different ways to learn guitar and decide which would work best for you. This might depend on your budget, time commitment, prior knowledge of music and the genre you want to play.

You won’t be alone if you learn guitar without a teacher. Many famous guitarists learned without taking classes. According to an article in The Conversation, some of the world’s most well-known musicians, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Prince, all taught themselves to play guitar!

Recent developments in technology have brought amazing innovations to learning, both in schools and at home. Opportunities for people to learn new skills or take up hobbies are now supported by online resources and technologies. These developments were unimaginable a few years ago. What does this mean for learning the guitar? Read on to find out!

Ways to Learn Guitar

1) Take Lessons

Most people who want to learn a musical instrument start by thinking about lessons or classes. You look for a tutor and book a weekly one-to-one class. Lessons like this are the classic, tried-and-tested way to learn, and not much has changed over the years. You’ll be using books and your teacher will guide your learning. Lessons can take place at the teacher’s studio or even in your home.


- Lessons are effective, there’s no doubt about that. Your teacher will show you basic technique and ensure you continue to progress through the repertoire. They will be there to correct your mistakes and keep you on the right track. You can also take exams in any instrument including guitar.

- You’ll have a focused lesson to attend and this will help to keep you on track. After all, there’s less temptation to be lazy and skip a class when you’re paying for it.


- You might feel you have to learn the repertoire your teacher chooses for you, rather than the songs you actually want to play. Whether you enjoy learning guitar and make good progress will depend on your teacher and how well you get on with them. The teacher-student relationship is important here.

- The major disadvantage, of course, with guitar lessons is that they are expensive! You’ll be paying for an hour or so of your teacher’s time every single week. If you stop being able to afford lessons, that’s the end of your guitar career. For a lot of people who want to play guitar well, it isn’t possible to commit to the financial burden of years of weekly classes.

2) Learn from Books and Magazines

There are many books available with titles such as “Teach Yourself Guitar” and “Everything You Need to Know to Play Guitar”. These books are designed for people who want to teach themselves to play, without a teacher’s guidance.

You can also subscribe to a guitar magazine. These typically feature popular artists and guitar bands, as well as information about the guitar as an instrument, the best manufacturers and features.


- A beginners guitar book will have step-by-step explanations for how to hold and tune the instrument, where to place your fingers and how to strum. You can work through it at your own pace, repeating sections where you are unsure.

- With a guitar magazine you’ll be able to read about guitars and learn new songs with each issue. Many guitar magazines also feature articles about well-known guitarists. A magazine can help keep your knowledge fresh and up to date. You can feel like you are part of a community of guitarists.


- With a guitar book, if you get stuck there is no one to ask for help. There is also no one to tell you if you are playing the songs correctly or even at the right tempo. It can be boring learning from a book on your own, and this means you are more likely to give up.

- While a magazine subscription can help keep you interested, you will have to wait for the next issue to learn new songs. Magazines often have only one or two songs to learn in each issue. They do not provide a comprehensive course on how to play.

3) Learn from YouTube Videos

There are lots of YouTube video demonstrations of guitar songs, and even step-by-step guides. You could try learning with some of these. You can find videos where the guitar part of a song is demonstrated slowly, and where chord changes are taught separately. YouTube is massive so whatever song you want to learn, there’s a good chance you’ll find a video there.


- Learning from YouTube is fun because you will find some of your favorite songs have been recorded by guitar teachers. You can pause and rewind to learn the tricky bits and make sure your finger positions are correct.

- You can learn in your own time without anyone rushing you. You can access YouTube on a mobile device or a laptop, meaning it is easy to learn anywhere with internet access.


- There is no structure or sense of progression – you just search for a song and try to learn it. This means that you won’t know if a song is too difficult for you. If you try to play a difficult song straight away you’re likely to feel disheartened and might believe that guitar is too hard for you to learn.

- When playing along with a video you can’t slow it down or change the backing track by muting other instruments. There is no guidance to tell you if you’re playing it correctly.

#1 Best Way to Learn the Guitar – With an App

So you don’t want to overspend on classes, and you want to learn to play your favorite songs? You also want inspiration to keep going with enough songs to learn as much as you want?

The number one best way to learn the guitar is with an app like Solfeg.io.

Times have moved on from classes and books and this new technology can make learning guitar easier and more fun than ever before.

Why is it the best way to learn the guitar?

Solfeg.io educational app is free to begin, and you can learn as much and often as you like.

After you have learned the guitar basics and maybe even played a song during the trial period, you just pay a small monthly subscription to continue your musical journey - play new songs and improve your playing skill. It’s so much cheaper than paying for guitar classes or lessons!

Unlike lessons, with Solfeg.io, you choose which song to learn next. Select from over a hundred pop and rock songs, with new songs every week. You can learn the latest hits or classic guitar songs from the 1960s.

Why not just play along with a YouTube video for free? Solfeg.io has professional high quality audio recordings of every song in the library. These recordings are supported by visual chord changes. Unlike on YouTube, Solfeg.io lets you alter the audio track to suit your learning. For example, you can slow tracks down and pause to look more closely at the fingering for each chord. Instead of just recordings, the tracks on Solfeg.io are powerful tools for learning.

How to Learn Guitar with Solfeg.io

Your First Lesson

Here is a step by step guide to learning guitar with Solfeg.io if this is your first time playing the guitar.

Solfeg.io is currently available on iOS and in your laptop’s web browser. In this guide we focus on the iOS app, but the browser version is very similar.

1) After opening Solfeg.io, navigate to Learn the Guitar. You’ll see that the iOS app offers eight lessons, starting with Tuning. You’ll be able to watch a short introduction to find out how it works.

2) Throughout the classes you’ll be guided at every stage. You’ll be asked questions to check if you need more help or are ready to move on. If you already have some guitar knowledge you can choose to skip any part of the classes. You will also collect points and badges to gamify your learning experience.

3) First you’ll learn how to tune your guitar, with or without an electronic tuner. Solfeg.io provides detailed explanation videos that are easy to follow. You’ll earn ten points and your first badge just for getting your guitar in tune!

4) Once you’re done with tuning, another video will teach you the names of the parts of the instrument. Then you will learn how to hold and strum the guitar.

5) The next stage is to learn your first chord. This is E minor, one of the easiest chords to play on the guitar. A video will guide you, showing you where to place your fingers on the fretboard. You can watch the video as many times as needed until you can play the chord.

6) You will then learn how to use the Solfeg.io song player. Hundreds of popular songs are available in the song player. You’ll learn the functions of the player that enable you to learn at your own pace.

7) You’re ready to learn your first song! You will be asked which genre you would like to start with, and then given a selection of songs to choose from. If you don’t like any of the suggestions you can choose a different genre.

8) When you’ve chosen a song, the song player will open on your screen with your song ready to go. You’ll learn how to play the E minor chord at the right time in the song. A video will open alongside the player showing a guitarist playing the chord too. Already, you’re playing along with the song!

9) Once you’ve mastered this, it’s time to learn your next chord - A minor. You’ll then return to the song and strum the A minor chord where it appears in the song. You’ll be fully guided at all times and can stop and go back whenever you need to.

10) Then you’ll play both chords. First you’ll practice changing between the two chords. And then you’ll play along with the song, playing both chords in the right places.

How to Keep Learning Guitar with Solfeg.io

As you continue through the classes, you’ll add to your vocabulary of chords and you’ll learn how to switch between them. Solfeg.io will support you to play along with your favourite songs in genres like pop, rock and dance music. This means it’s easy to make good progress. By the end of the classes you’ll have learned up to ten songs on Solfeg.io, and you’ll have the knowledge to learn more.

Take a look at a two-week plan for learning guitar on Solfeg.io in this article, How to Teach Yourself Guitar in 2 Short Weeks. This is based on one hour a day of practice. If you have less time, then spread it out over a month.

Learn the Guitar Chords and Play Along

Once you’ve chosen a song, it’s a great idea to listen to it first. Then you’ll need to learn the chords. The Solfeg.io song player displays the chords on the guitar fretboard at the bottom of the player. When you play the recording, you will see finger numbers appear in the positions for the chords. The short names for the chords run along the top of the player along with the lyrics.

You might need to slow the song down to practice changing between chords. But don’t worry - once your fingers get used to the positions and movements you’ll develop muscle memory and it will become much easier.

As we have seen in recent years, new technology is the future of learning. You may have thought of learning a language with an app like Duolingo, learning to meditate with Headspace or learning to run with Strava. App-based learning is a great way for everyone to access learning resources without needing to budget for lessons or classes.

Learning to play the guitar is no different. Apps like Solfeg.io make learning to play music fun, easy and accessible. This is what makes online apps the number one best way to learn the guitar. No lessons, no books. With just a guitar and an online device, you can start learning now!

Creating well-organised band lesson plans will make your weekly rehearsal run more smoothly. In this article we present five tips for beginning band lesson plans which you can apply straight away. Then we even give you an example lesson plan that you can adapt to your band’s standard and repertoire.

What You'll Learn?

  • 5 Things to Keep in Mind when Creating a Band Lesson Plan
  • Your Very Own Band Lesson Plan, An Example


5 Things to Keep in Mind when Creating a Band Lesson Plan

1. Always include tuning and warm-up in your plan

Maybe you think that tuning the instruments is so obvious that you don’t need to plan for it. Wrong! Tuning makes such a difference to the band’s overall sound that it is important not to overlook it. Beginner and intermediate players may not know how to tune their instruments correctly in a band setting. You might need to listen to them play their tuning note one by one, at least for the first few weeks of rehearsals.

Warming up is very important, particularly for wind instruments. We recommend doing a warm-up activity at the beginning of every band practice. Then after warming up, we suggest doing a quick check of the tuning and adjusting the now warmer instruments. Paying attention to tuning makes a big difference to the sound of the ensemble and teaches the students about the importance of tuning.

2. Don’t over- or underestimate your students

According to the conductor Eugene Corporon,

"many groups sound better than any of the people in them, and through great teaching, a conductor can produce a fantastic ensemble...even with players who have only medium skills."

In your middle school band lesson plans it is easy to underestimate your students. Just because individually they aren’t very advanced, it is still possible to create a good overall sound as a group. There is an element of safety in numbers at work here, with students supporting each other musically. Select repertoire that is suitable for your students’ level. If you choose pieces that are too advanced, band will become a struggle for you and the students! If you have an end-of-term concert or a band competition to prepare for, choose a piece that you can rehearse to performance standard in the available time.

3. Choose repertoire that means something to your students

Of course you want your students to come happily to band practice every week, eager to play the pieces you have chosen. Choosing repertoire that means something to students can make a huge difference. Find out what kinds of music they enjoy listening to, and see if there is an arrangement available for your band. Sheet music for bands is available for many film soundtracks as well as popular songs and song from musicals. Learning a piece they already like means they know how it might sound before they even pick up their instruments.

Music education app Solfeg.io can help you here. With hundreds of pieces to choose from, you are sure to find the right repertoire for your school band. You can even break down the song into instrumental parts so your students can see how their part fits into the whole arrangement. Advanced students will enjoy the ability to decrease the speed and listen more closely to difficult passages.

4. Include time for sectional practice

Build some time into your band lesson plan for sectionals. This is when you split the band into smaller groups, usually according to instruments. Each small group practises its part separately, paying special attention to passages where their instrument has an important part.

These small group rehearsals are crucial for nailing tricky sections of the music. As a teacher you can go around the classroom, checking in with each group to see how they are getting on and offering advice. Sectional practices are also a great opportunity for your students to get to know each other. This brings a social element to band practice and helps with bonding.

5. Make use of new technology

Many new resources are now available for music teachers and band leaders. You no longer need to spend your lunch break searching through a dusty cupboard for old scores. With apps like Solfeg.io it is far easier to access new repertoire and the choice of band pieces is sure to beat the stock of sheet music at any school.