by Scott Zimmerman

This article is about how to learn guitar at home on your own. If you need help with learning the guitar at home, check out our self study guitar courses here. You can also view our article about how long it takes to learn guitar here.

A lot of visitors to our site ask if it’s possible to learn guitar from home. In this article, I’m going to answer that question and explain exactly how it can be done.

Can you learn the guitar at home? Learning the guitar from home is achievable if you follow effective learning strategies. The most effective strategies for learning guitar from home include using a proven, structured learning program and developing a consistent practice plan.

In fact, learning at home is a great way to learn how to play the guitar. Home learning is convenient and relatively inexpensive. Let’s take a look at seven tips that will make learning guitar at home successful for you.

#1 Use A Structured Program

Many of my online guitar students come to me after they have tried learning on their own at home using the internet. Usually, the reason they seek out one to one instruction is that they are not sure how to go to the next step in their learning. One of the issues with online learning, especially with one-off video tutorials is that they are just that- one-off lessons without context. You may learn the riff, song, or skill in that video, but where do you go from there? The answer to this problem is to use a structured course. A structured course may be online or a more traditional book with DVD.

A well structured course will move you sequentially from one skill to the next through completion of the course. Not only is this method proven to be successful in developing your guitar playing skills, it also will provide you confidence, in that, you can see your own progress as you move through the course and complete it. Learning guitar is very much a mental game. If you sense that you are making progress, you will continue to work at it. In other words, to learn guitar successfully at home, find a good course and stick with it.

#2 Develop A Practice Plan

Set Up A Regular Practice Time And Length Of Practice

Find a time in your daily schedule where you can practice without taking away from an activity or duty that is necessary, e.g. in the morning before everyone is awake, in the evening after everyone is asleep, in your car during lunch hour, etc. The length of practice should have a reasonable minimum time based realistically on your available time; however, the practice time may exceed the minimum time. There will be days that it will be hard to practice; therefore, make your minimum time something easily attainable, e.g. ten or fifteen minutes. Remember, you can always go past your allotted time, but you want to build the habit of practicing, and the amount of time is not as important as the regularity of practice that you are working toward achieving.

Divide Practicing Into Two Parts

It is important to have two distinct types of practice within your overall practice time: playing for enjoyment and working on the next skill or song. Whatever you enjoy most about playing guitar, do that for at least half of your allocated practice time and use the other half or third of the time for working on “hard” stuff. There is a danger of quitting your practice routine, especially in the early stages, if you make practicing ”all work and no play”. 

Set Up A Permanent Practice Space

This is probably the easiest and most important thing you can do to create the habit of daily practice. If your guitar is out in a stand, your chair is ready, and your music is on a music stand (or device if you are using something online), you will be amazed at how easy it is to practice on a daily basis. Getting started is the hardest part of practicing. If all you need to do is sit your rear end down and start playing, it becomes much easier. If you are concerned about your guitar being damaged or knocked over, buy an inexpensive one. An awesome guitar seldom played won’t make you an awesome guitar player! 

Practice Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

If you desire to reach the next level in your playing, you will need to work against how you feel about practicing. That is why it is important to set a realistic minimum time. For example, start out with ten minutes, if you are having a day that you are really distracted, tired, or whatever, just put your ten minutes in by strumming some chords or daydreaming while you play (by the way,this is very therapeutic).

It will not be a loss, the most important thing you are doing is maintaining your habit of daily practice. Most likely, tomorrow, you will be in a different frame of mind and have a productive practice session. Stay in the game!

Plan Days Off

Becoming a better guitar player through daily practice is mostly a psychological game. To that end, it is important to think long term. Here is the strategy: You will practice for at least your minimum time on a daily basis or whatever frequency you have pre-determined, e.g. five days a week, Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, you will not even touch the guitar, even if you want to.

Why is this? Two reasons: if you don’t have a regular break, you will burn out and give up your daily habit of practice altogether; secondly, you will sometimes want to play and feel like playing on your days off, this is good; but by not playing, you will be looking forward to returning to the beginning of your practice week. That is very high-octane practice motivation. Try it and you will see how effective this strategy is in fueling and maintaining your weekly practice routine.

#3 “Hang Out” In An Online Guitar Forum

Find an online guitar forum and spend time reading the posts or even interacting with the members. This is a great way to feel that you are part of a community and can inspire you to keep going on your own. Spend some time reading the posts to find the community that is right for you. Keep in mind, the reason for joining a community is not necessarily for learning new things, although it can be, but more importantly, it will give you an opportunity to just “talk” guitar and be a part of a community.

#4 Supplement the structured course that you are working through with “one-off” online video tutorials

“One-off” video tutorials are instructional videos of a short duration that teach a song or a concept. Although they are not a substitute for your structured course, they are useful as a supplement. Similar to online forums, they offer an opportunity to “talk” guitar. There are two ways to use these “one-off” lessons. First, use them for inspiration. In this mode, watch them passively without the intent of trying to master the content they are providing.

This type of watching will prevent you from being discouraged, if you are not at the level to play what is being shown. However, you can still be inspired by seeing what is possible on the guitar and it will encourage you to stick with your practice routine. Secondly, find a video that is at your level of playing and learn the lesson. This will supplement your structured course material and offer variety to your guitar studies.

#5 Membership In A Guitar Lesson Site

There are many guitar sites that offer monthly memberships that will allow you to access single lessons or modules of lessons. For a beginner, this can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of information. However, as you progress in your studies, this can be a useful resource. Keep in mind, the best way to objectively measure your progress, and therefore stay motivated, is to always have some type of structured goal that you are working towards in the form of a course that is properly sequenced. However, “looking ahead”, so to speak, to see what you might like to play in the future is highly motivating.

#6 Online Lessons

Online lessons are another way to learn guitar at home. You will receive individualized instruction and have opportunities to ask questions during a face-to-face lesson. Of course, online lessons are more expensive than buying online courses or memberships, but even if it is just to get yourself pointed in the right direction, they can be well worth the investment. If you are interested in online lessons, ask the prospective teacher if you can have a brief  “meet and greet” video chat with them before setting up a formal lesson.

A teacher willing to do that will tell you a lot about how willing he or she is to meet your needs. After you have selected a teacher, let the teacher know you would like to start out with a few lessons to see “if you are ready for formal lessons.” This gives you an easy out if the lessons are not working for you. Lastly, a good teacher is more like a personal coach. He or she will help you achieve your goals and help you hold yourself accountable in a reasonable way for reaching the goals you have set for yourself.

#7 Meet With Other Guitarists

One of the best things about playing the guitar is making music with others. Try to find some friends or relatives to meet with and play guitar. If you are just a beginner, and are a little intimidated about playing in front of people, bring your guitar and just listen to the other player(s) play. You will learn alot in this informal playing situation. If you have some experience, jamming with another guitarist is not only enjoyable, but it quickly improves your musicianship skills. Lastly, open-mic nights are a great way to be in and around a guitar community, even if you are just listening. 


Learning at home is a great way to learn guitar at your own pace and in a way that fits your schedule. Using these tips will help your learning at home to become a successful endeavor. Remember, find a well-structured course and stick with it, and develop a practice plan so that you will have the means to achieve your guitar goals.

About the author 

Scott Zimmerman

Scott Zimmerman is a professional music instructor with over twenty years of guitar performance and teaching experience. Scott holds a Masters Degree in Music Education from Peabody Conservatory.