Online Guitar Lessons From The National Guitar Academy

Online guitar lessons that actually make a difference to how you sound? Now you’re talking! You’ve come to the right place amigo, let’s get started.

What’s here on this page?

We’ve grouped everything together to make it as easy as possible for you. On this page you will find two things:

  1. Links to our 10 most popular online guitar lessons.
  2. Scroll down to find 4 essential online guitar lessons that will make you sound amazing.

Our 10 most-popular online guitar lessons

1) How To Play Lead Guitar – This is one of our best online guitar lessons, it’s perfect for people who want to get started learning lead guitar.

2) Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners – This is one of the most useful online guitar lessons we offer. It helps you navigate the fretboard and understand the musical alphabet.

3) 10 Easy Songs On Guitar – This is perfect for beginners who want to play easy songs right NOW!

4) How To Strum A Guitar – Of all our online guitar lessons, this is the one that will boost your rhythm and musicality the most.

5) 10 Guitar Tips I Wish Someone Had Taught Me – Shortcuts and great advice. I wish I’d found online guitar lessons like this when I was learning! 🙂

6) How To Use A Capo – Capos are fantastic tools for beginners. If you’re looking for online guitar lessons that can help you sound drastically different immediately, this is a great place to start.

7) Guitar Tabs For Beginners: 20 Easy Songs That Sound Great – This is one of those online guitar lessons that you have to bookmark and return to again and again. Jack did a great job with this lesson. Check it out!

8) Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps – This is a brilliant way to learn all the scales you need in a simple way. Simplicity!

9) What’s The Difference Between Sharps & Flats? – This is a simple lesson that explains an important issue. I refer my students to this lesson all the time. I wish all our online guitar lessons were as helpful as this!

10) How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar – This is a brilliant guide for helping you find a perfect guitar to take on your guitar journey.

4 Essential Online Guitar Lessons

Ok guys, you can use the above list as an ‘index’ to our best free lessons, now let’s jump in and learn 4 essential guitar lessons that will make you sound amazing. 🙂

online guitar lessons

In this free article you will learn:

  1. The secret to learning chords at lightning speed: Stepping-Stone Chords
  2. A pro technique for navigating around the fretboard quickly: Springboards
  3. Using the coolest & most versatile scale of all: The Minor Pentatonic Scale
  4. The 1 simple shape for rocking out & chilling out: Powerchords

Does that sound useful? Ok, let’s dive in!

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National Guitar Academy

Online guitar lessons are everywhere. YouTube teems with guitarists who will share their wisdom with you and they hope you will click on their ads.

But here’s the thing. Not all online guitar lessons are created the same.

There are tons of great guitarists offering online guitar lessons, but there aren’t many great guitar teachers offering online guitar lessons. (There is a huge difference between those two things as I’m sure you’ve already seen.)

I own two guitar teaching schools so trust me, this is something I have a lot of first hand experience with! 🙂

One of the problems with online guitar lessons…

One of the issues I have with online guitar lessons is they tend to teach lots of “tips and tricks” but few fundamentals, things that will actually improve you as a guitarist long-term.

So in this article we’re going to do something different to most online guitar lessons.

You’ll see 4 very different lessons that teach you powerful techniques that fundamentally change how you play and the benefit to you will be long-lasting and profound.

Let’s jump straight into lesson one.

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online guitar lessons

Stepping-stone chords (a lesson for beginners)

[If you’re not a beginner guitarist feel free to skip forward to the next lesson.]

Stepping-stone chords are a fundamental principle of our guitar teaching philosophy. (Our company motto is “Make Things Easy & Fun”.)

There is an easy version of every chord and I recommend that all beginner guitarists take the easy option and learn these easy chord versions.

(Most online guitar lessons spend ages teaching you complicated chord patterns; it’s simply not necessary.)

It’s not cheating to learn the easy versions. It’s common sense.

The ‘secret’ to learning guitar is to learn in a series of ascending steps and make each step as small as possible.

Stepping-stone chords make life easier for you

Every time you fret the easier chord versions you will develop and improve your dexterity and accuracy. This improved finger-control and strength will ultimately make it easier for you to ‘graduate’ to playing the standard chord versions

There are some chords that are simply too hard for beginner guitarists to play. (Chords like B Minor, F Major and C# minor.)

B Minor

online guitar lessons

If you don’t understand this chord diagram read this: How To Read Chordboxes

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  • Attempting the difficult standard versions of these chords leads to frustration, lack of progress and a feeling that you’re ‘not good enough’ or ‘not talented enough’.
  • Learning the easy versions leads to you making music and thinking ‘I can do this!”, while feeling a positive sense of progress and confidence.

Learning the guitar is all about momentum and you should do everything you can to reduce hurdles that block your path. Taking the stepping-stone approach is smart.

Download a free beginner chord guide and learn easy versions of every chord

 Say goodbye to frustration and twisted fingers. Say hello to MAKING MUSIC.

  Learn beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is one of our most popular guides and will improve your chord ability quickly. Click here to download the guide.

Stepping-Stone chords video lesson

Watch this video to learn more about this fundamental principle:

Stepping-stone examples

Let’s take a moment to look at some specific stepping-stone chord examples.

This is a standard B minor chord.

online guitar lessons

This is a really cool-sounding chord, it crops up very early on in the guitar journey because it’s in the key of G (the most common key of all in guitar-based music).

Check out this acoustic track by Paul Weller called ‘Wild Wood’. This entire track is built around B minor.  Just listen to the mood…. So cool.

So B minor is a great chord, but it’s too hard for beginners to play. (Something most online guitar lessons brush over with barely a thought.)

So what do we do here?

We adopt a stepping-stone approach and use this easier version of B that’s called Bm11:

Bm11

online guitar lessons

As you can see this is a much simpler chord. It requires just two fingers to play and that makes it much more accessible for beginner guitarists who are searching the internet for easy online guitar lessons!

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We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

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Let’s a look at another stepping-stone example…

This chord is C major. It’s one of the most common guitar chords of all and it’s one of the first guitar chords that you need to learn.

online guitar lessons

For a beginner guitarist this chord is a nightmare. It requires three fingers spread across three different frets and makes it very difficult to play.

So we use a stepping-stone version, called “C Major Seven”.

Cmaj7

online guitar lessons

This guitar chord is much easier to play because it only requires two fingers, and they’re bunched together in an easy finger pattern.

Cmaj7 has an interesting jazzy sound. As cool as it sounds it has a different feel to a standard C major (and of course your ultimate aim should be to graduate to the standard version of C major).

Don’t think of the stepping-stone chords as “baby chords”. Advanced guitarists use these chords all the time. (Because they still sound good, no matter what your experience level is.)

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easy online guitar lessons

A pro technique for navigating around the fretboard quickly: Springboards

Now we’re going to talk about something that you rarely see in online guitar lessons – springboards. Using springboards is a brilliant way to navigate around the fretboard at high speed.

I used to think that as a guitarist I needed to memorise all of the notes on every string. I was wrong.

Really, as a beginner, you only need to memorise the notes of the sixth and fifth strings. Springboards will allow you to figure out the rest of the fretboard.

Springboards save you time and frustration

This is such a cool technique, and such a huge time saver. I can’t tell you how many hours of hard work and frustration learning this technique has saved me. And it will save you too!

The basic principle of springboards is that rather than committing notes to your memory, you use the guitar as a tool to work things out.

I love this approach because it so guitar-centric. It encourages you to think about music theory in a different way too, and this is beneficial for things that will come later in your guitar journey.

The springboard is a pattern, a shortcut if you will, that allows you to figure out any note on the fretboard.

Watch this lesson to learn more…

As you can see using springboards is a really cool and simple technique.

Of course you need to know the notes of the sixth and fifth strings to make this work. But I’m sure you’ll agree that’s better than having to learn all of the notes on all six strings!

  • 12 frets x 6 strings = 72
  • 12 frets x 2 strings = 24

Remember the notes of the musical alphabet go like this: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, then we move into a higher octave and repeat the notes: A, A#, B, etc.

Every note has a sharp apart from B and E.

I teach my students to remember this, simply, as the word “BE”.

“To be or not to be! That is the question…”

So the basic principle for using springboards is very simple.

Let’s just be clear on string numbers:

online guitar lessons for beginners

How to work out the notes on the 3rd and 4th strings

If you want to work out any note on the third or fourth string you simply go down the neck 2 frets and down 2 strings. Those two notes will always be the same. They are the same note but they are an octave apart.

Try it. Can you hear how they harmonise perfectly?

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free online guitar lessons

How to work out the notes on the 2nd string

To work out any note on the second string is slightly different. For this string we have to go down the neck 3 frets and down 2 strings. These two notes will always be the same.

How to work out the notes on the 1st string

To work out notes on the first string is easy. This string is tuned to E, the same as the 6th string. This means that the notes on each fret of the first string will always be the same as their counterparts on the sixth string.

The notes of the 1st string are the same as the notes of the 6th string. (Albeit the 1st string notes are two octaves higher. They are the same notes but they have a higher pitch.)

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. Click here to download your copy.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

When you’re looking for online guitar lessons you will probably see a lot of lessons teaching the Minor Pentatonic Scale.

That’s because this is the easiest scale to learn, the most versatile scale to learn and also the most fun scale to learn!

99% of all the famous lead guitarists that you can think of started off with the Minor Pentatonic Scale.

This is a fun scale that really easy to get under your fingers and even though this scale has a minor tonality, you can use it over major keys too. It’s very versatile.

For online guitar lessons to work they must be practical, so let’s get stuck in and look at this scale.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale pattern looks like this:

free online guitar lessons Minor Pentatonic Scale

It’s important that you play the scale with one finger per fret, like this:

free online guitar lessons

Understanding the Minor Pentatonic Scale video

Watch this video to learn more about the Minor Pentatonic Scale:

It’s very important that you understand this scale pattern is movable

You can play it anywhere on the fretboard. The pattern never changes. What dictates the tonality of the scale is WHERE you begin playing it.

  • If you start playing the Minor Pentatonic Scale on the 5th fret, you will be playing the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.
  • If you start playing the Minor Pentatonic Scale on the 7th fret you will be playing the B Minor Pentatonic Scale.

The pattern of the scale never changes the only thing that changes is where you begin playing it on the fretboard.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

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Minor Pentatonic Scale pro tricks

It’s very important that you understand where the root notes are in this scale. These are your hero notes. These are the notes that will always sound great.

You should aim to finish most of your licks, riffs and phrases on a root note.

If you don’t finish them on the root note things will sound ‘unfinished’. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Play around with the scale starting on the fifth fret and you will be playing in the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Before you begin playing the scale, strum an A minor chord and listen to how it sounds. This will give you an anchor for the tonality.

Can you hear how the root notes (the three ‘A’ notes) sound ‘right’ and harmonious?

Root notes are your hero notes. Use them often.

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National Guitar Academy

Bending strings

One of the coolest things about playing lead guitar is bending strings. This raises the pitch of the note, but it does so smoothly and in a gradual way which can make the note really wail. This sounds so cool!

But not all notes sound good when you bend them. Try bending a few notes and see which sound good and which don’t.

The note I bend the most is this one:

online guitar lessons

Bending this note sounds very bluesy and this is used a lot in rock, country, folk and indie genres.

Try bending it and then dropping back to the note behind it on the 3rd string and then finish on the root on the 4th string. It should sound like this:

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You can thicken this wail by holding this extra red note while you bend the first one.

free online guitar lessons

If you hold the new red note with your first finger and bend the original red note with your third finger, you get a classic blues rock guitar wail.

End on the root and you get a classic riff pattern you can use in dozens of different ways and at different speeds.

Listen to these examples to get a flavour of how playing around with these 3 notes can sound:

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best online guitar lessons

The 1 simple shape for rocking out and chilling out: Fifths (AKA ‘Powerchords’)

Powerchords are a cool subject of a lot of online guitar lessons because they are easy to understand and they sound awesome.

The correct name for a powerchord is a ‘fifth’.

This is because a powerchord only contains two notes: a root note and the fifth note from that note’s major scale.

National Guitar Academy

Let’s look at a G powerchord as an example…

The G major scale looks like this:

online guitar lessons major scale

We take the first and fifth notes and hey presto we have a powerchord!

It looks like this:

online guitar lessons powerchords

The name of this chord is G5.

Sometimes we add on the eighth note of the major scale to thicken it out. (The eighth note of the major scale is the same note as the first note of the major scale, but one octave higher.)

It looks like this:

online guitar lessons power chords

So even though we play three notes here, two of them are G notes. (The same note just in different octaves.)

Powerchords are a staple of rock music, but they can be used in any genre where we need to add some low-end.

Powerchords are a very pure form of chord, which means they are brilliant for clearly defining chord progressions.

Powerchords are neither major nor minor

One of the coolest things of all about power cords is that they are neither major nor minor. (There is no 3rd note, so they can’t be one or the other.)

This makes them very easy-to-use and incredibly versatile.

The powerchord pattern can seem very strange at first and putting your fingers into the position will feel foreign.

However in my experience people get used to this shape very quickly and it feels comfortable much more quickly than you initially expect it to.

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easy online guitar lessons

Powerchord examples: Rocking and Chilled

Here are two examples of powerchords in action. This first example is quite rock-focused, and gives you a good idea of how ‘chunky’ these chords can sound.

Powerchords sound great when you really drive the amp. Add some gain or distortion and these chords can really growl.

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Sometimes with a high gain sound full chords can become messy and a lot less articulate. But because powerchords only have two notes (or three if you choose to add the octave root), they are much more focused. This means that you can drive them more before they break up. It can sound awesome.

Powerchords can also sound very gentle

We don’t only use powerchords for hard-rocking moments. This next example is more relaxed and haunting. Check it out:

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Can you hear the simplicity of the chords here? Powerchords can have a very innocent sound if you use a clean channel and a little reverb. They are very ‘pure’ chords.

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

I made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. I hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

 

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Thanks for stopping by, speak soon! 🙂

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Mike Kennedy - National Guitar Academy Director

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