Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Music Media Software

Computer-based Guitar Training? 57

rfischer asks: "I am hoping that Santa brings me a guitar for Christmas this year. I know there are a lot of computer- and web-based tools for teaching yourself guitar, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what's best, and if any of these computer-based methods have any advantage over the classic training courses. Anyone been down this road before?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Computer-based Guitar Training?

Comments Filter:
  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @07:06PM (#11153674) Homepage Journal
    I would highly recommend using anything non-real world strictly as a supplement to real world teaching. You have to learn how to hold your body, how to express notes...

    It's a bit like learning acting over the net. Not useless, but insufficent to teach what is necessary.

    Unless you just want to "fake" some songs - then you can likely just buy a couple fakebooks (check your local music store for fakebooks), some of which come with DVDs. Learning a song or two is very different than learning to play the guitar.


    • Exactly, don't use "one place" to try to learn this unless you're just trying to learn a few songs to impress. If you're really serious about learning the instrument, get your hands on anything and everything.

      I've no experience with the computer programs per-se, but there are a ton of links to web sites that can help you along.

      Guitar Noise [] is a great site that teaches you certain songs and why your doing what your doing within each song as you go. Check it out.

      Slowhand Blues Guitar [] for a good intro int
    • That's just right. Nothing can replace a teacher who is there with you and able to correct posture and technique and give you a little experience playing with others. You can learn theory from the web well enough, and you can get a lot of great information on all aspects of the instrument, but you need a teacher to at least get you off on the right foot. It's true that many great guitarists are self taught, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can just pick up and figure it out all on our own.

      You should vi

      • Don't listen to him!!!!

        OK. He does have a point. A real teacher > a computer teacher. But Ferary > Yugo. But if you are on a Yugo budget, you drive what you can afford.

        Same deal here. A live person is best. But for the cost of two lessons, you can get software. Software is better if your schedule is hectic, as you can just work it in.

        But, I must admit it: I got piano tutor software, and I do not use it as much as I thought I would. If I was paying some 80-year-old lady $20 and hour, I woul
        • Yes software can be helpful. As you say, getting with a teacher every month or so and learning on your own in the meantime is a good option when you're on a budget. I'd recommend that if you can't afford weekly lessons. A computer just can't point something out and say, "That habit will lead to trouble later." A teacher can. Unlike playing music, you don't have to unlearn a Yugo when you get a Ferrari. Meeting with a teacher every now and then will be very valuable.
        • But do you know what really beats a tutor or software? Practice.

          That's it. Just practice.

          Go to the library and pick up a guitar fundamentals book. Make copies of the exercises.

          Then practice until your fingers bleed.

          Then, just after that, practice some more.

          The only thing more important than practicing when learning to play an instrument is the motivation to continue doing it.
  • GuitarPort Online (Score:3, Informative)

    by gwynnebaer ( 319816 ) <slashdot@groenqu ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @07:08PM (#11153691) Homepage
    Shameless plug:
    Don't take my word for it. Take a look.
  • Advice (Score:2, Troll)

    by elid ( 672471 )
    You probably want to get yourself a real-life teacher if you can afford it.
  • by two_socks ( 516862 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @07:14PM (#11153731) Homepage Journal
    The only one I'm familiar with that is related to an actually well-known guitar player is []. Zager is half of Zager and Evans, a group that had an international hit ("In the Year 2525") a long time ago.

    I especially like the fact that he refers to himself as the "world's greatest one hit wonder". There are plenty of videos on the website for you to decide what you think.
  • As a bassist... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pugflop ( 797868 )
    ...and musician, please get thee to a true real-life human teacher. There are so many asshat guitarists who don't jack, yet think they are top shit because they are "self taught".

    Me: "Hey, can you play that Asus7 again, I think I got something here."

    Guitarist: "Dude, I just sounded like Ozzie! OMFG I AM TEH R0X0RZ D00D1!!!"
    • There is nobody available. I've actually checked, and nobody gives lessons. Sure, there are some people that play that can pass along pointers, but teaching is an art that requires proficiency and patience beyond just the skill to play (hell, my old man is/was guitarist in a band, and he has no patience for teaching).

      Online lessons would serve me just as well. For one thing, I could do them on my own time. For another, I can reference back and repeat as needed. They have to be good online lessons, but I'm
  • Chord finders (Score:2, Informative)

    I use this [] one. There are some other tools at their site. This [] one has more of a guitary look.
  • I am also getting a guitar this holiday season. It'll be my second after four years and is long overdue (my current one is a $50 Memphis). This whole time, I have been taking music lessons. Unfortunately, much of what I've been learning has been "enriched faking". That is, I learn how to play a song and in the process learn about some of the styles, techniques, etc. of playing it (from a real human being). Now, my teacher is a real find - top notch guy - but I think it's time for some serious studying
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As a teenaged jazz guitar player for my high school years ago, I can say there is nothing harder for a learning guitar player than to site read some notation and play the lead guitar role on a song you first saw 20 minutes before in a national competition. Without solid music theory, no matter how much of a guitar hero you are, you are f*cked (in that situation). Without theory, you are just mimicking what you have heard before without really understanding it. You are a highly talented parrot with no consci
  • Lessons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaveS002 ( 789533 )
    Try any of the following:,, They all have various things to offer depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

    There are many guitar sites online and I'm sure you'll find something you like.

    Play on!
  • Basics (Score:2, Informative)

    by idolcrash ( 836925 )
    I'd get the basics down first (reading tab notation at least, posture, holding the pick, etc.), and then get GuitarPro* [], where you can download tabs and as it goes through, the MIDI sequence is played based on the tablature. It is also quite good for writing music.

    *This is the most popular place for getting GP files, however there is a link to get GP
  • If you're just starting, most web/computer tools won't be of too much help for a while (IMHO). Instead, try to get a friend to show you some chords/tunes, as well as the basic layout of the guitar. If you are even moderately serious about learning, getting a good teacher will help a lot too. I'd also suggest hanging out in alt.guitar.beginner, it's a pretty nice newsgroup where lots of questions can be answered. Also, from what I've seen, the "guitar for dummies" book is actually quite good and will get yo
    • Actually, just remembered a few excellent sites,
      "Dansm's Guitar page". This used to live at a couple of different addresses before, but looks like this is the current link. Lots of useful infom especially if you are starting out.
      check out the "lessons" link. This has lessons on all kinds of sunjects, for all levels.
  • Other than using computers, to learn about how to use them (ironic no?), reference purposes (which I could otherwise get at a library) and maybe language learning (its helping me learn Japanese) what other kind of applications have you found for adults for computer-based learning. Most focuses, IMO, on computer-based skill aquirement (Internet, Word, Excel) etc. So far, the only real success I've seen is teaching young kids math and reading.

    Are we in need of a killer-app for computer based learning?
  • I learned from OLGA (Score:2, Informative)

    by teknikl ( 539522 )
    ... but that was a ways back - can you still get it... why yes you can [] Notice there are no lyics now... just fragments of the beginnings of lines.

    I guess a bunch of old text files from thousands of guitar players doesn't work out to be training. Still it helped me quite a lot in figuring out popular riffs and breaks.

    • I found OLGA to be entirely wrong a lot of the times. Amazingly a riff would be wrong in 4 different ways. It was still worth looking at to give you a start in learning a song or just faking it.
  • I'm self-taught (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @08:53PM (#11154604) Journal
    I happen to think I'm not that great, but hey, I never played guitar to be good. I learned to play becuase I wanted to be able to play certain songs.

    This site [] has some stuff I found really good including mp3s to play along with to get trickier rythyms or strumming techniques.

    If you want to play in a band type setting, I suggest you find like-minded people with similar skills or lack thereof.

    Needing a professional tutor or some crap seems a popular thing in this thread, which I don't quite understand. I played clarinet for 10 years (including 4 in university ensembles) before I started guitar and I don't understand what the point of lessons is. What I learned from both instruments is that practice is the most important. Not legnth, but frequency. I think I've progressed more on my second instrument faster because I'd just pick it up and do a few chord shapes for a few seconds.

    Professional teachers are only a recent phenomenon and I don't see why they're being embraced with such enthusiasm by practioners of an instrument that has has become a popular symbol of rebellion and freedom.

    How many of you people would argue that you need professional classes to use a computer? How many of you are mostly self-taught?
    • I refer you to this article [] over at Guitar noise about if you need a teacher or not.

      Also, I wonder how fast you would have picked up the guitar without your clarinet training (with the theory etc) behind you instead of just picking up the instrument cold.
    • Re:I'm self-taught (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damiam ( 409504 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:11PM (#11155124)
      I played clarinet for 10 years (including 4 in university ensembles) before I started guitar and I don't understand what the point of lessons is.

      I've played violin for 13 years, and I think you're either a dumbass, a crappy clarinetist, or you had a crappy teacher. Extensive practice alone is next to useless if you're not focusing on the right aspects of your playing, or if you're just playing the same thing over and over and reinforcing mistakes. A good teacher will draw your attention to things that you'd never have noticed, and they'll show you techniques for practicing effectively.

      For whatever reason, teachers don't seem to be as common or necessary in guitar playing as in most symphonic instruments; many guitar masters were/are self-taught. However, it's almost impossible to become skilled with most wind/brass/string instruments without a good teachers. As evidence, go to your local symphony and ask everyone who has gotten there without a teacher to raise their hand. I guarentee you no one will. I don't know if a professional teacher is the best approach for a beginning guitar player, but lessons definitely do have a lot of value.

      How many of you people would argue that you need professional classes to use a computer?

      Last time I checked, many computer professionals spend at least four years [] learning pretty much full-time how to "use" a computer.

      • You seem to be quite ambivilant.

        I never stated that clarinet lessons weren't useful, yet you state that many guitar masters were/are self-taught without bothering to explain a contradiction to your argument.

        The two styles of play are simply different. On one hand, you have a part of a larger whole (violin/clarinet) and on the other a solo or 2-4 person ensemble instrument. What are you goals? Do you want to be a professional guitarist? Or are you looking for a creative outlet?

        In a more socialized env
        • You seem to be quite ambivilant.

          I'm ambivilant about lessons for a beginning guitarist. On the one hand, guitar seems to be a relatively easy instrument to self-teach, and lessons are expensive. On the other hand, you'll learn much faster and easier with a good teacher.

          I never stated that clarinet lessons weren't useful

          When you said "I don't understand what the point of lessons is", that's how I interpreted it. If that's not what you meant, I apologize. It seemed to me that you were saying that you saw

    • Re:I'm self-taught (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As a loooong time clarinet player and professional guitar player, I can say you are totally full of it. Lessons prevent the age old syndrome of reinventing the wheel. Its not the big things that are relevant. Its the little tips, somebody watching you close up and providing hints on finger placement, rearrangement of notes to flow easier in complex songs, etc. that a teacher offers.

      Its like taking basic art classes or acting classes. You simply don't know what you don't know.

      A trainer challenges you, they
  • I'd get a conventional teacher, or just start listening to songs to try to get some of the notes right. Start with the real easy classics and then build from there. To help with that I'd use TabIT [] to get the notes. Simply imput the .tab file which you can find here [] or [] here. TabIT reads the tab and displays it while it plays it with MIDI. You can slow it down or do whatever you want with it. Only available for windows.
  • And it's my advice that you learn theory first. Learn all the interaction between notes in a scale (a piano, or barbershop quartet is a good way to study this), then Learn yourself some guitar as a way to express other stuff you've learned. The guitar is not necessarily a best "first" instrument, however, it can be if you actually learn real notes and chords, and how they work together and in a group setting. It could be done on computer, but I've never seen a decent program or series of videos myself.
    • I've been playing for around 4 years now. I can play any Vai or Satriani song out there (I mainly only play Satriani though). But I am at the point now to where I'm musically retarded. You are lucky if I know 3 chords and 2 scales. I also suggest learning theory. A great site for lots of info on theory is They have beginner to advanced theory, concepts, ideas, you name it.
  • Power Tab Archive (Score:2, Informative)

    by istomisgood ( 609783 ) [] Simply the best online resource I have seen. My playing has improved immensely since finding this website and the program associated with it.
  • by njriley ( 661041 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:04PM (#11155084)
    I fmay be somewhat qualified to answer, as I'm largely self-taught, and I have used a lot of online sources. If, as it sounds like, you're starting from the very beginning, it's true that you really need someone to show you the basics. Once you have that down, though, you can learn a lot by downloading the tabs to songs you like. I don't know what you're interested in, but I use these: [] [] []

    Those are mostly for rock and metal, but you can find similar sites for whatever style you're into. As you'd expect, start with simpler songs and work your way up - you can learn a lot of technique this way, as well as forms and applications of the theory you'll also want to be studying. For some basic chord and scale patterns, check out: []

    Another good site for a lot of exercises as well as some theory is: []

    This is really one of the best guitar sites I've seen; I can't recommend it enough. Along with the above, it forms a very good reference for patterns and exercises, but you're still missing some structure. This is a major problem with online materials - there's so much of it it's hard to sort out. As such, I'd recommend using all of this as source material, but have a friend who plays give you some guidance as to what to practice, even if you don't take lessons per se. If that's totally impossible, buy a method book or two - the Troy Stetina ones are excellent for rock and metal, but they're available for all styles. That will give you some idea of the order in which to practice the various subjects.

    Hope this helps,

  • I've had a guitar for about a year and I've putzed around and really still don't know anything about it. But I finally convinced my wife that lessons are a good thing. My son is also starting lessons, both of us this week.


    And I'm also getting a Digitech GNX3 [] as a shiny new toy.
  • I'm self-taught at bass-clarinet, harpischord, piano, and violin. You CAN find resources. For my "violin lessons", I found everything to be in .RM format. If you're a Win-Monkey like myself and DESPISE Real Media ANYTHING -- use the "Real Alternative" -- 129.exe [] Another BIG factor is knowing HOW to search for what you're looking for. Google for things like, "beginner" "guitar" "lessons" "online". For absolute beginner lessons, you'll find MANY free
  • community college (Score:2, Informative)

    by undef24 ( 159451 )
    I don't know many online resources, so I can comment on another approach.

    My advice is to enroll in a classical guitar night class at a city college. You will learn good fundamentals for whatever style music you like to play, plus all the classical guitar songs are impressive to play--and you will pick up note reading in the process. I learned around 10 or so warm up excercises that you can use for the rest of your life to speed up finger strength and agility.

    Most guitar teachers can also point you to hou
  • Serious, hit Harmony Central [] and you'll find more than you could ever imagine on guitar stuff, complete with reviews by any number of musicians.

    For myself, I learnt off the Russ Shipton books, downloaded chords off the web (a href=>Tab Robot is a good place to start these days), and put in lots of practise.

    After 8 years of playing, I went to a teacher to refine some technique. Man, that's well worth doing, and I wish I'd done it earlier. But don't go until you *can* actually p
    • I have to disagree with you on learning classical guitar first. That would only frustrate him into quitting. Starting with the "Smoke on the Water" riff is a good idea. The beginner gets a reward for learning basic finger dexterity. I only wish I could play proper classical guitar, but if I started as a 16 year old with classical guitar, I would not be playing today. You learn the riffs and then later you figure out what is going on. Playing classical guitar would be nice, but I learn from songs I list
      • Got my Squier in 2001 (Fat Strat version). Nice sound, but I just don't rate the hardware - tuners and bridge are just crap. I agree with you on the tremelo - no cheap guitar has a tremelo worth using. I'd rather Fender made their low-end guitars as hard-tail versions, bcos it'd save some money by deleting something that doesn't bloody work anyway! :-/

        Personally, I think riffs are a really bad way of learning guitar. Learn chords and work from there, because the basis of all guitar work is chords. And
    • I agree that Harmony Central is a good place to start. I also suggest reading their article on avoiding GAS - gear acquisition syndrome - when buying your first guitar.

      Thanks to that advice I have a kick-ass Yamaha telecaster copy which is far, far better than any fender in its price range, and a decent solid state amp.

      As for "learning guitar", if you want to be able to strum some songs to impress the chicks, learn to read tab and download from OLGA. If you want to play the guitar, get classical lessons
  • Don't listen to the other posters saying you need to get a teacher. You need to spend the first couple of months getting the dexterity and finger strength down before you can really start to learn stuff. Practice switching from the open position of G to D 1000 times. Then repeat for E-C. Once you can move between chords, learn some easy songs like "Every rose has its thorn" by Poison. (Chicks dig it. Ok maybe 30 year old chicks.) Buy some guitar magazines. $8 buys you 5 songs and some lessons. Try Powe []
  • What you need is some ear training... and learning the language of music. I can't think of any reasons to assevere is better to learn that "outside". The posture and technics depends on the musician, it's like sex, whats good for me doesn't need to be good for ya. To learn music, you don't need software, find a web page you like, and check the disposition of the strings and tones. What is important is for you to train your ear, that way you'll be able to play anything: try ear master pro http://www.earmas []
  • Yet another voice to add to the chorus. You will need a teacher. But hold on before putting me to the bottom of the pile. You do not need to find someone who gets paid - any friend will do just fine.

    I think elsewhere in the thread someone posted that getting a friend to help is a good idea. I started at age 20 in college (I am now 37) when my roommate showed my a few chords. He gave me a guitar book that I have since found at a few libraries and I used that plus his occasional advice to progress to the be
  • For some reason I read the headline as "Computer-Based Guitar Tuning", and thought that this article must be about some kind of a homebrew gadget that tunes your guitar for you with little motors attached to the tuning pegs, and controlled via USB or WiFi. Imagine a Beowulf cluster...
    • Actually, my guitar plugs in nicely to the LiveDrive on my SBLive! Having some software to retune it would be very useful - plug a string (with the guitar plugged into PC) and have it play the intended note at the same time. Once you get them to match, you're tuned.

      Of course, if you have one string in tune you could just tune them all the old fashioned way - which is similar. But software would be helpful in tuning the main string to a particular note if the instrument is way off for some reason.
  • If you're interested in learning some of the basics and some misc. tips & tricks I would recommend you should check out [] & []. While these sites offer plenty of lessons and tutorials, they still can't take the place of lessons with an actual instructor.
  • I write a blog about good guitar exercises. Take a look. []

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.