What better time to pick up an instrument, am I right? Though the time to start plucking away at your grandpa’s guitar fresh out of the attic seems unlimited right now, picking up a new instrument can still be quite daunting, especially when you’re not sure where to start. Private lessons aren’t very accessible at the moment, and laggy Skype classes aren’t really the move. That’s why I put together this ultimate guide to teaching yourself how to play most of the instruments that may be at your disposal. Keep reading to discover some great resources for 100% free.
Guitar is a pretty scary instrument. It just seems like there’s so many things to do but nowhere to begin. Lucky for us, there’s a lot of great educators out there who do know where to start, and they’re happy to share that with you for free.
Marty is like a father to me. He was my first guitar teacher, and he has no idea who I am. His videos range from super beginner tutorials to advanced lessons on songs that span Billboard 100 hits to rock and jazz classics on both acoustic and electric guitar. He has an incredibly well paced teaching style and is clear, concise, and charismatic with his hundreds of video lessons organized into every genre possible. Besides the lessons, he also posts great equipment reviews, collabs with other talented artists, tour vlogs, and has even started a series of high-quality bass guitar lessons. Marty is the man.
Once I started getting a little more familiar with the basics of guitar and became a little more self-sufficient, I started gaining a lot from Rob Swift’s videos. Not to give the wrong idea, he has a large variety of high-quality beginner videos like Marty, but where he stands out are his lessons on personal transcriptions of almost every cool song you want to play. I learned a lot of my more intermediate repertoire through him, and his in-depth teaching style and smooth voice made leaning very quick and fun. He also teaches ukulele!
As I began to get more comfortable with my playing and more curious about the more technical side of guitar like advanced technique and theory, I spent a lot of time on Paul Davids’ channel. Along with great song tutorials of every level, Paul posts high-quality and cinematic videos on topics from soloing tricks, music theory lessons, gear reviews, and really inspiring videos of him playing guitar incredibly well. He’s very knowledgeable about his instrument and seems to know everything you need to start becoming a more independent guitarist and musician with a strong vocabulary of techniques and tricks.
Drums are awesome. They’re showy, loud, and annoying. Unless you have an electronic kit, which is probably a good thing. Drums are definitely the most fun instrument to play as a beginner. They’re very minimally frustrating as you can cover most songs with even the most basic beat, and learning new patterns and tricks is very satisfying. Here are some channels to get you on the right track.
Drumeo is for sure the place to start. They are a collaborative channel of learning led by Jared Falk that have thousands of free video lessons ranging from “Your Very First Drum Beat” to advanced techniques and song tutorials. They have many teachers of different styles and feature tons of famous players and educators on their channel very often. With their wide selection of genres and styles, you are sure to find the right path to success on Drumeo.
LearnSomeDrums was always my go to channel for song learning. The videos are short and to the point yet in depth and easy to follow, accurately covering songs from Metallica to Twenty One Pilots. The videos are complete with follow along sheet music and are cycled through at different tempos to make sure you get it under your hands. Plus, he has a cool British accent.
Stephen Taylor is quite similar to Paul Davids. He’s a regular guy with a talent and passion for drums who makes hundreds of videos explaining and demonstrating more independent concepts for drumming. Like a recipe book, except you only get the ingredients. However, when it comes to progressing, this is exactly what you need, as Stephen’s videos will teach you techniques and fills to apply into your own practice time and includes a lot of content about how to practice effectively and independently.
The bass, simply put, is pretty epic. It has capabilities simple enough to get you playing along with your favorite songs on the first day of learning, but in the hands of the pros, can function as an entire band on its own. It’s a ton of fun to play, and not super difficult to pick up given the right resources, so hopefully these can give you a good start.
BassBuzz is a self-proclaimed “no nonsense, no fluff” center for beginner to intermediate bass tutorials and gear reviews, and they’re right about that. BassBuzz gives clear and useful lessons made specifically for the new bassist and provides the resources to work your way up to some of their more advanced videos. In addition to great tutorials, the channel gives fantastic gear reviews and troubleshooting videos, as picking and setting up the right stuff for the right bass sound is quite a tricky task. BassBuzz makes the hard stuff easier, and even has an accompanying website.
Mark, behind TalkingBass, is a fantastic teacher. He knows a lot about different genres and styles of playing the instrument and has hundreds of videos covering them all in different difficulties. If you’re getting into slapping, his videos are definitely some of the best out there as he explains the difficult technique very well. He also dives into music theory topics and provides tip and tricks towards being able to play in an ensemble or improvise on your own. The channel livestreams often and features interviews with other performers giving great perspective on the world of bass.
Scott’s channel is another essential in the bass community. He’s a talented performer and educator that has hundreds and hundreds of videos available covering all the essential topics for becoming a more independent bassist and smarter soloist and performer. He also provides great slapping lessons and has the widest selection of bass-applied music theory and technique. He has gear reviews, cool covers, and great accompanying resources on his website to get his students to the next level of playing.
Well, now that burning question of “how do I learn how to play this dusty instrument in my closet that I got from a garage sale two years ago” is finally answered, in the context of being trapped at home and isolated from in person lessons. Even outside of quarantine, YouTube is a great resource for learning how to play instruments, and many people have found great success in doing so. Hopefully with this information, you can start your journey towards musical greatness during social distancing, or even just be inspired to pick an instrument after this is all over. It’s never too late to start playing music, and it always makes things a little more fun.