Can You Teach Yourself Guitar From Apps?

The invention of the smartphone and tablet devices has greatly affected the world in which we live. Many industries are experiencing massive change as we now move into the digital age and spend more and more of our lives glued to our phones.

10 years ago the majority of people who wanted to learn guitar had only two options, learn from a guitar teacher or self teach from a book, DVD or VHS. These days guitarists can learn from a host of sources including smartphone apps, online courses, youtube videos and skype lessons with actual teachers online. There has never been more information available to potential students with more and more content being added every day. This is a good thing right? Wrong! There has never been so much content available but there is absolutely no quality control and the vast majority of it is garbage. Furthermore there is just so much available that you can spend an endless amount of time just learning without ever actually applying your knowledge to a practical context.

Don’t get me wrong I think there are some wonderful guitar applications and believe there many positive things that apps do. One feature that many apps do well is gamifying the learning process which makes learning really enjoyable, particularly for children. The ease of access and affordability of many apps also means that more and more people can teach themselves the basics of guitar. This means the average Joe who just wants to learn how to strum along to some of their favorite songs can do so in the comfort of his own home and can learn at his own pace. If you’re a casual player and you’re not too serious about learning an app might be just what you need.

If you are serious about your guitar playing and want to be more than a hobbyist then learning from an app probably isn’t for you. While apps can provide you with an abundance of knowledge (assuming the app you have is created by an expert guitar teacher and not just thrown together by a company looking to cash in on the app market) they don’t give you feedback on your technique. If you’re not holding your hand the right way, have synchronisation issues between your hands or a host of other problems that are faced by many guitarists then the app can’t give you that feedback. This may lead to you practicing incorrectly and developing bad habits which will be harder to break than if you learned correctly the first time.

The other big downside to learning from apps is they give you all the information you need without actually giving you the opportunity to apply it, integrate it and master it. What’s the point in learning 100 chords if you’re only going to use 12 of them 95% of the time? What’s the point in learning 30 scales if you don’t know how to improvise solos or create your own licks with them? An app can give you the information that you need but it can’t show you how to use it. You would be much better getting lessons from a teacher who can already do what you want to do and show you how to think creatively so you can avoid getting stuck in a rut.

Another point to consider is that the majority of apps are targeted at beginners and have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ format that assumes everyone wants to learn the chords to strum along to their favorite radio songs. This is mainly because the biggest market is beginner guitar players many of which will buy the app while they’re motivated and give up a few weeks later. Not only do you get severely limited in the content you learn within an app but once you’re done (assuming you haven't quit already) you’ve got nowhere else to go. If you’ve reached the intermediate phase or if you’re into heavy metal, blues, jazz, flamenco or other niche genres then you’re extremely limited in the amount of apps available to you. This is where having a guitar teacher who can create a personalised lesson program built around your own goals and musical tastes really wins out.

One final note is that the vast majority of people who try and teach themselves from apps end up quitting before they reach their goal. It’s easy to tell yourself you are going to practice 20 minutes before bed and an hour on saturday but when you have a bad day at work and a friend pops around unannounced then all your plans go out the window. By signing up for guitar lessons you automatically get a teacher to hold you accountable.

So in summary, I believe there are a some wonderful guitar applications out there that can give the casual player a great start to playing guitar. Nothing however can substitute for guitar lessons with a great teacher who can create you a program around your goals, give you live feedback on your technique and hold you accountable. If you’re content learning some of your favorite songs and don’t mind it taking the long road with the potential to develop a few bad habits along the way,, then an app may be for you. If you’re serious about guitar playing, developing a great technique and learning how to apply everything you know to real musical situations then guitar lessons with a teacher will be a much better investment of your time and money.


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About The Author

Michael Gumley is a virtuoso guitarist and highly sought after guitar teacher from Melbourne, Australia. His hobbies include fishing, camping and fixing bad habits that people learn from the Yousician App. If you’re serious about your skills taking guitar lessons in Melbourne will make you a better player in no time at all.


Tone Tips for Electric Guitar Players

by Mark Turko

In addition to well executed bends and vibrato, guitar tone is essential in being a professional sounding guitar player. Unlike string bending and vibrato, guitar tone has nothing to do with your actual playing but is definitely a factor in other peoples perception of you as a player. Like many guitar players, no one ever told me when I was starting out what constitutes a "Good" sound from a "Bad" sound. I'm not talking about what brand or manufacturer that makes one amp better than the other. In fact, most manufacturers of higher quality products with mid to upper price ranges all create good products. Specific manufacturer tonal characteristics of "their sound" is subjective to the guitar player and you should buy what you like in that regard. What I'm going to talk about is how you use those amps in regards to the EQ controls (bass, mids, treble, presence etc.). I had been playing guitar professionally since the age of 16, it wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I got my education in tone. I don't thinkthat my tone was terrible but it definitely got a major improvement at that time. Just because you’ve been playing a while it doesn’t mean you can't make your tone better.

The number one culprit, in my opinion, of a bad guitar tone is too much treble and bass or lack of mids. The reason for this is that even a great sounding amp is susceptible to frequency cancellation from other instruments. In the typical electric guitar scenario there are drums, bass, and vocals also. Each has its own place in the audio spectrum and need to "sit alone" as much as possible in their own place in their designated frequencies. Sure you amp sounds great at home with bass and treble cranked to fill out what is perceived to be a good sound but in a live or recording environment there are other instruments that need to fill the same audio space. Two instruments occupying the same space will result in both not being heard very well or possibly not at all. This is bad for everyone, not just you as a guitar player. You as a guitar player need to allow other instruments their place in the sonic spectrum. Too much treble -your guitar will get washed out by the cymbals, too much bass - you will get swallowed up by the bass guitar. Why work real hard to becoming a great player if no one can hear you. These cancellations at best will create a shower of noise that will make the whole ensemble sound bad. A wall of noise with little distinction between instruments isn't good. People will walk out of your performance and say that your band isn't good not realizing that you band is great but you just "sounded" bad, they don't know the difference. 

As is said earlier, my tone education came at age 25 when I was working with a band with a great engineer in the studio. He let me get my sound, he tweaked the amp EQ a little (nothing to drastic), then he did some more EQ work on the mixing console, then we recorded. It wasn't until I was listening back to my guitar tracks I had recorded isolated that I realized there was much less treble than I usually use but it still sounded great "in the mix" with the other instruments. I asked him to turn up the trebleon my guitar track and it instantly became washed out and gave less definition to the cymbals. I immediately applied this lesson learnedto live situationsand haven’t stopped getting praises from audio engineers since.

Most guitar players will say that the tone is too dull when they turn down the treble and don't like it. Well.......most guitar players don't have their ampdirected at their ears, but rather at the back of their legs. Elevate your amp, get a tilt back amp stand or of you have an angled cab , stand farther away so your "true sound" is actually making it to your ears. Last time I checked I don't have my ears behind my knees. With this adjustment it may reveal you’ve been putting out a sound that you may not even like. Try new things, ask trusted engineers their opinions of your tone, ask other guitar players that have a tone you like, try to learn. I played for 10 years learned something new and then the light bulb went off. I keep an open mind and my tone gets better all the time .


About the author: Mark Turko is a professional guitarist with over 25 years of playing and teaching experience in Connecticut. If you are interested in electric or acoustic guitar lessons in the Hamden, New Haven,North Haven, Woodbridge CT area please be sure to contact Mark

7 Simple Steps To Developing And Creating An Effective Guitar Practice Routine

“What?” I hear you say...”you mean I got to practice this stuff?” Only if you want to get better at it...

You are investing both your time and money into learning to play the guitar. You go to your guitar lesson each week, but what do you do with the material from your lesson, when you get home? How do you get maximum return on your investment? This is what this article will cover.

There are some really useful things to know about practising. But first let me tell you about a little secret truth. If you get home and just casually pick up your guitar and half-heartedly, go over the material you have been given, let me tell you that is NOT practising. That is noodling. Noodling and practising is not the same thing!

It is best to have a plan and KNOW exactly what you are going to practice today - even if you only have ten minutes to practice. Having a dedicated, focused, fully planned ten minutes will get you further along the path faster than an hour of mindless noodling. So how do create a practice routine?

This article is not a 'be all and end all lesson' on how to practice. As you progress there will be different demands and disciplines required but the basics will stay with you for the rest of your playing days. Below are specific steps that, if you follow them as set out, will produce some dramatic results for you.

Step 1. Make a plan. Your guitar teacher by now has given you some material(s) that cover various areas of guitar playing. What ones should you be practising? All of the exercises and techniques you have. But not all in the same practice session. So your plan will be specific to you, but if you follow this guideline you will see results. If you have four or five different lesson material/exercises, divide your practise time up evenly. How can you gain results on five different materials/exercises if you've only got 10 minutes to practice your guitar?

If you only have ten minutes for practice, work on rhythm playing and some single note exercises for 5 minutes each today, which would be day 1. Tomorrow if you can, work on the other three sets of materials. Even simply rotating through the materials will help. Varying it up each day will help to keep it fresh and interesting, thus preventing boredom. You may like to set this up in a planner for yourself or in a excel spread sheet or something similar.

Step 2. Dedicate a specific amount of time. This step should be part of your plan. Set aside an allocated time each day. Work out for yourself are you a morning person or an evening person? Do you need to split up your practice time before work and when you get home? Maybe you're a night owl and 2 o'clock in the morning works best for you. Whatever time works for you, make the commitment to yourself and keep it.

Step 3. Set up. What does it mean by set up? It means having all of your lesson materials ready to go before you begin to practice. Do you have your folder with your lesson material in it? Is your metronome ready for action? Having everything you need ready and easily accessible, before starting your practice, saves a lot of time and reduces stress, if you don't have a lot of time to begin with to practice. Do you have a stand to put your materials on? Do you have your tuner?

Step 4. Turn off. So you have your plan in place and all of your materials and accessories are in easy reach. Now it is time to turn off - all mobile phones and electronic devices (except your guitar tuner/amplifier if using). Your Wi-Fi and T.V should be off.

Step 5. Tune up. Allow a minute or so before you start your practice to tune up your guitar. You should be doing this every time you sit down with your guitar anyway. This will help to develop your ear and you will begin to notice if it goes out of tune when playing or practising.

Step 6. Focus. For the next 10, 15 or 20 minutes (or whatever you have decided), focus entirely on the exercise/material at hand. Break the material down. Do not keep going back over the piece once you make a mistake. Isolate the mistake and turn the weakness into strength. Then, and only then begin to put the whole piece/section together.

Step 7. Study. Regular review and study of your materials is essential for your growth as a guitar player. Go over the material as many times as you have to until you know it. Lock those chord shapes, scale patterns and theory notes into memory so you can start creating music and not continually reading off the sheet.

So there you have seven simple steps to help you. By following these steps, you will achieve more than you probably thought before. Yes practice is what needed. There is the old saying that practice makes perfect. That is only a half-truth. Perfect practice makes perfect. Above are some basic tools for you to achieve this.


Allen Hopgood is a professional guitar instructor on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. He is committed to helping his students become better guitar players, with his modern guitar teaching techniques and strategies, ensuring they have a complete guitar learning experience.

Are you searching for an easy way to start playing guitar? Here it is!

by Marco von Baumbach

It has always been your dream to play guitar and you finally decided to get started? If you are holding your first guitar in your hand, than most likely you can not wait to start right away, at least for me that was the case!

Back than when I discovered the old guitar of my father, I immediately tried to play some cool tunes on it. From my today's perspective I must have played awful, but I didn't cared about how I sounded at all, because I was so fascinated from playing it. I simply started with what I thought would be fun for me and after 2 weeks I was already able to strum to the first simple songs.

Most people find it hard to start playing the guitar, because they don't know where to begin. Don't get me wrong, learning the guitar is a challenge for every single person who attempts it, for me it was as well, as I had troubles to play even the simplest chords - not even talking about changing between them - in the beginning, but I didn't perceived it as being a struggle. Why? Because I had a picture in my mind's eye, with me already being able to play all the stuff I really would like to be able to play and I only practiced stuff that seemed to be a lot of fun to me and the stuff which I saw myself already being able to play.

Start with something that is fun for you!

If you don't know where to begin, than start with what I did. Imagine in your mind's eye, how you would like to see yourself as a guitar player. If you need an idea for this, simply get started with listening to your favorite song and imagine yourself playing along to it. That helps yourself with getting excited about wanting to become really good on guitar and second, you now have something to start practicing with.

For example, you can start with listening to the melody of the singer and replay it on your guitar, or you start strumming simple chords to the song. If you get stuck and feel helpless with learning it by yourself, you could simply asked a more advanced player or a guitar teacher to help you.

Do you see yourself playing your own songs?

If you imagine yourself in your mind's eye playing your own songs, maybe even performing them in front of a big audience, here is something to get you started right away with playing and writing your own songs, even if you know nothing about music right now.

A great place to start is to learn basic chord on guitar. Here are some names of chords to get you started:

C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am

These chords are all in the same key, called C Major. Nowadays most songs are written in a single key. In popular music it often occurs, that a composer is picking out 3 or 4 chords out of the same key and than basically repeats them over and over in the same order.

So if you want to write a song, you could take the same concept and simply pick out 3 or 4 chords of the ones above and let them repeat over and over.

Here are examples of how that could look like:

1. Example with 3 chords: G Em C; G Em C; G Em C; G Em C;

2. Example with 4 chords: G F Am C; G F Am C; G F Am C; G F Am C;

After you have figured out how to play these chords and came up with your own chord progressions, a great exercise is to sing a melody along the chords and your first song is already finished! If you are into songwriting, this will get you started having fun with as a beginner on the guitar.

This article was written by Marco von Baumbach, guitar teacher in Wuppertal, Germany.

If you are interested in the author, check out his website about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal

The One Technique That Will Transform Your Guitar Playing

Do you exactly know how to play guitar with a lot of emotion?

When I am working with students on getting them to play blues guitar parts that are dripping with emotion there is one technique that I put a lot of emphasis on.

This technique is the one thing that is holding you back from sounding like an amateur to playing like the pro's.

It's quite a journey to get this technique just right, so the sooner you start developing this technique of the masters the better.

Learn what this technique is by watching this video:

Learn more about what in the video is called the 'full strum technique' as used by guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan in order to achieve a very hard hitting sound on the guitar in this article about the most important Stevie Ray Vaughan technique.


How To Make Your Blues Rhythm Guitar Riffs Sound More Complex

I am very happy to write that I've created a brand new description on how to transform your blues riffs from sounding like an amateur to advanced riffs.

Many good lead guitarists have a hard time coming up with creative rhythm parts.

Especially in the blues this hold true, because many consider the blues as an 'easy' style and so the internet is filled with basic blues riffs, but no one is taking you by the hand and showing you how to get from the basics to advanced riffs.

Learn to create your own blues riffs from starting at the most basic riffs and expanding them to complex sounding blues rhythm riffs.

Talk to you soon,


How Guitarists Such As BB King And John Mayer Create Melodic Blues Solos

I often get asked how to create melodic blues solos like BB King. After all, regular blues soloing advise will only carry you through the first steps of playing scales such as the minor pentatonic scale, but will leave you on your own after these initial tips.

Here is a sound example that clarifies what I mean with 'melodic' blues solos:

In this sound example I am not using the minor pentatonic scale exclusively, but I am adding the major pentatonic scale as well. This is being used a lot by guitarists such as BB King, Freddy King, John Mayer.

In my latest guitar article I explain why most guitarists fail to keep progressing in their blues playing and how to turn things around and keep improving every day by learning to switch between major and minor pentatonic scales in your soloing. Learn more about my blues guitar method.



My debut album Spirits in Revolution is out now!

After months of preparation (in fact, I've been writing this album for so long that I almost lost count, probably 4 or 5 years) it's great to be able to say that my album is now available. You can listen to previews of the songs and buy the album on itunes or you can order the physical version here.

It's been great to share my music with you all and I feel blessed having this music out for you to enjoy!

Guitarists Inspired by SRV: Chris Duarte

Hey all,

Next in line in the "guitarists inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan" blog-posts is Chris Duarte.

Just like SRV, Chris Duarte was born in Texas, USA.

I was first introduced to his music by a friend of mine, who also lives in the USA and knows Chris personally. She told me about this great guitar player who she knows and I told her I would check him out.

I think it is a great thing to pass along names of blues guitarists (and artists in general) from one person to another. That is the main reason why I write this blog-series; just to pass along names of great guitar-players.

One of my most favorite thing in live is to go to my local record-shop (called "den ostendshen ploate", if you want to know) and just ask the guy from the shop "what blues-guitarist is hot?" or "what new stuff have you checked out recently?".

I just love to do that… no online shop, no itunes, no amazon, just face-to-face talking about music at the local shop. I hope this never changes, as following generations will have to do their very best to come into contact with genres of music other then anything that is mainstream (lady gaga anyone?).

So cut the crap, here is some real blues guitar music for you:

In this next video you'll see Chris play a Texas-blues shuffle rhythm with a distinct SRV-flavour to it:

Feel free to leave a comment!



NOTE: Recently I was honoured to conduct an interview with Chris Duarte on the topic of blues guitar playing. You can read this article on my blues lessons website: Chris Duarte Interview.