Free Guitar Lessons – National Guitar Academy

Looking for some free guitar lessons to take your playing to the next level? You’re in the right place.

In these 4 free guitar lessons you will learn how to leave your “beginner” phase behind and become an “intermediate” guitarist.


On this page you will learn:

  • The secrets of the major scale (and how to use them to sound amazing).
  • 3 tips for clean & easy barre chords.
  • How to get started with fingerpicking (a powerful intermediate technique).
  • 4 awesome guitar tricks to take your playing to the next level (hammer-ons, pull-offs, string-bending and tapping).

3 Tips For Clean & Easy Barre Chords

In this popular video lesson Mike shares some cool tips for clean & easy barre chords:

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Mastering Barre Chords

Barre chords, for those who don’t know, are chords where we press more than one string with the same finger.

They allow us the freedom to play chords all over the fretboard and in all keys.

Barre chords can be very tough at first, but it’s surprising what our fingers can do given patience and practice.

If you’re new to this, we wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into barring right across the fretboard. We’d suggest building up to that by starting off with smaller barre chords that just use two or three strings.

Let’s take our ordinary A chord, but instead of using three fingers, let’s try lying just our index finger across the strings.

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How does that feel? (A bit strange, probably!)

How does it sound? You may get a few duff notes at first. It can take time to build up the strength in the finger. It also may ache a little bit.

Take your time with barre chords and don’t hurt yourself.

Regarding the high E string, when barring the A, we have basically three options:

  • Leave that string out and just strum the middle four strings. (This is what most people do to being with.)
  • Mute it by only pressing it down slightly. (Hard to do, but a sweet option.)
  • Barre it and strum it along with the other three strings making it an A6 chord.

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Here’s another, similar barre chord:

D major 7

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It’s basically the same shape as the A except we’ve shifted things over by one string.

Now, if you keep that shape on and reach over to the fourth fret on the D string with either the ring finger or the pinky, you can do this chord:


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Unlike the other two, this one requires us to do something with another finger. I used to find that when I stretched over to reach the other notes, my barring finger would start to lift off the strings.

It can take practice and patience to get the fingers to work independently of one another.

The great thing about the F#m is that once we’ve cracked it we can move it around the fretboard. It’s a moveable shape, so we can use it to play all the other minor chords.

If you’re struggling with these chords, don’t worry. They’re not supposed to be easy. They’re supposed to be a bit challenging, so take your time with them.

Once you’ve nailed them, try strumming them in a sequence:

A            | Dmaj7        | F#m        |              |

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Where should we send it?

Free Guitar Lessons #2 – The major scale & how to use it

Now we’re going to get stuck into one of the most useful free guitar lessons of all. This is a must know scale: the major scale.

As useful and as versatile as the pentatonic scale is, it does have its limitations. Specifically, that it only uses five of the seven notes available to us in any given key… and those other two notes are good notes, worth using!

As we make the transition from being beginner guitarists to being more intermediate guitarists, it’s a great idea to have a go at mastering the full major scale.

Of all the free guitar lessons you can find on the internet, this is a fundamental one you should get under your belt.

Written below is a two octave major scale in the key of G.

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We want to start this scale with the middle finger on the first note and then use one finger per fret.

Index finger for the second fret notes, middle finger for the third fret notes, ring finger for the fourth fret notes and pinky finger for the fifth fret notes.

Try to avoid just using any old finger for any old note. It’s easier to remember the pattern if we keep our fingering neat and it helps with our speed and accuracy.

One of the best free guitar lessons you can focus on repeatedly is improving finger accuracy.

Top Tip: Try to alternate pick when playing this scale (or any scale for that matter). Don’t just use downstrokes!

How to use the major scale

So, once we’ve gotten the hang of the major scale, we need to know how to use it.

Unlike the pentatonic scale, we can’t just pick any chord from the song’s chord sequence and match up the scale. We need to figure out the song’s actual key.

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One of the best free guitar lessons you can learn is how to work out a song’s key. The easiest way is to just look at the first chord of the song.

But this doesn’t always work. Here’s a cool backup plan…

The quick way to do this is to figure out which major chord is the “odd one out”.

Take this sequence:

G            | C            | D             |               |

Note how C and D are alphabetically next to each other? This makes G the odd one out, therefore we can use the G major scale to improvise against this chord sequence.

Take this sequence:

E             | D             | A             |               |

Here, the D and the E are alphabetically next to each other, so A is the odd one out, so we need the A major scale.

Get the idea?

The chord that’s on its own is the “key chord”.

NB: This only works with major chords. Minor chords work differently. (This article is helpful reading in this area.)

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Where should we send it?

Improvising with the major scale

When you start improvising with the major scale you’ll notice it sounds a bit different to pentatonic improvisation. That’s because there are more notes.

It may only be two more notes, but they can make a lot of difference!

One of the best types of free guitar lessons you can get try are backing tracks. Try playing around G major scale over this backing track:

Free guitar lessons #3 – Fingerpicking

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In our opinion, all guitarists should have a go at finger-picking.

Playing with a pick is all very well, but we’re missing out on a lot of cool guitar playing if we don’t learn to use our fingers as well.

Of all the free guitar lessons you can find online, not many cover fingerpicking.

It’s a good job Metallica wrote ‘Nothing Else Matters’, because without it, convincing devout metal guitarists that it’s a good idea to learn fingerpicking would be a serious uphill struggle!

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Advantages of fingerpicking

One of the advantages of fingerpicking is whereas with a pick we only have one thing to hit the strings with, with fingerpicking we have several. This allows us to play certain phrases that simply aren’t doable with a pick.

To fingerpick we want to use our thumb (p), our index finger (i), our middle finger (m) and our ring finger (a). Some people also use the little finger, but for the purpose of these free guitar lessons we’re just going to use those four.

This first exercise will sound a bit classical. It uses only open strings, so we can just concentrate on what our picking hand is doing.

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When we fingerpick, it’s important to keep the heel of the hand on the bridge and use the joints of the fingers to power our picking. You don’t want to be flailing your arm around a la Pete Townsend or you’ll find yourself hitting the wrong strings a lot and will struggle to play in time.

This next exercise is a bit more contemporary and rhythmic.

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Instead of plucking one string at a time, we’re plucking the bass note with our thumb and then the three highest strings all at once.

We hear this sort of picking in styles like folk, country and blues… but it’s by no means limited to those styles.

Once you’ve got used to playing these exercises with the open strings, why not try them with some chords?

Don’t forget your thumb

Just remember that your thumb needs to pluck the lowest note of the chord, which isn’t always the low E string.

If it’s an A chord, the thumb plucks the A string. If it’s a D chord, pluck the D string.

Once you get comfortable with both these styles of fingerpicking, why not have a go at mixing the two together?

Once you get really into fingerpicking you’ll find that you can improvise your own patterns.

Top-tip: If you’re a really dedicated finger picker, you might want to consider growing the finger nails of your picking hand.

Check out these talons John Butler has!

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You don’t have to go quite that extreme, but it can improve your sound and give your playing a different feel.

We don’t just give you free guitar lessons, we teach you about personal grooming too! 🙂

Free guitar lessons #4 – Hammer-ons, pull-offs, string bending and tapping.

For the last of our free guitar lessons, we’re going to look at some cool techniques that can really take our playing to the next level.

If you’ve been improvising for a while, you might crave some new variety. You also may be looking at learning songs that use some of these techniques so let’s just into the last of these free guitar lessons.

Using hammer-ons for fun & feel

Hammer-ons are pretty much exactly what they sound like. They’re when we hammer our finger onto a note to make it sound, instead of plucking it.

A good way to get started with these is to use the basic E minor pentatonic scale in the open position.

We want to pick the open notes and hammer-on the fretted notes.

Check out the video below to see this in action.

free guitar lessons

Pull-offs are the opposite of hammer-ons

Pull-offs are basically the opposite of hammer-ons. Instead of hammering our finger tip onto a note, we’re pulling it off a note to another note.

(This is one of those cool free guitar lessons that you can actually apply all the time.)

  • We can use them to go back down the E minor pentatonic scale.
  • We want to pick the fretted notes and pull-off to the open notes.

Here’s a video demonstration of hammering on and pulling off with the E minor pentatonic scale.

So why might we want to use hammer-ons and pull-offs?

Well, for one thing they give us a slightly smoother more flowing sound than all plucked notes (this is called ‘legato’).

They also allow us to play a little bit faster because we aren’t having to rush around with our plectrum, picking every single note.

If you try rapidly hammering on and pulling off between two notes, this is called a trill.

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String bending for guitar hero status

String bending, like hammer-ons and pull-offs, is exactly what it sounds like: Bending a note so it becomes another note.

Are you familiar with the A blues scale?

If not, here it is.

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Let’s take those three notes on the G string.

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Now, instead of playing that 8th fret note, let’s bend the 7th fret note up to that pitch.

This is what that phrase looks like in tab.

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If you’re struggling to bend the string, use more fingers to help push. Remember, we only want to bend up to the pitch of the next fret, so don’t bend too hard.

Just adding this one technique to a blues improvisation can make it sound a lot cooler.

Try jamming with this backing track once you get the hang of it.

String tapping

Tapping is a technique that’s been around for a long time. Classical players used and still use it, but it was Eddie Van Halen who brought it to the attention of rock guitarists back in 1979 with a short instrumental track called ‘Eruption’.

Basically, tapping is like hammering on, except we use a finger from the picking hand instead of the fretting hand.

If that sounds a bit confusing, try watching it in action:

Tapping, when combined with hammer-ons and pull-offs can create a very fluid sound, so much so that when people first heard Eddie Van Halen play ‘Eruption’, many were convinced they were hearing a synthesiser.

Note though that tapping doesn’t have to be done fast, and like any technique, it shouldn’t be done fast at first. The key with this (like so many free guitar lessons you find online) is we need to practise it slowly to begin with.

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It’s basically an A minor arpeggio played on one string using a combination of tapping, pulling off and hammering on.

Here’s a demo of me playing it, slowly at first, but then faster.

I hope these free guitar lessons have helped you make the transition from beginner to intermediate!

Remember to subscribe to the site for more free guitar lessons.

Download a summary of these free guitar lessons here: 4 beginner-intermediate guitar lessons

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