Why YouTube is the Worst Place For Beginners to Learn Guitar

A friend gives you a guitar so you can learn how to play. Where do you go first?

YouTube, right?

There are thousands and thousands of videos covering virtually everything there is to know about guitar on that platform. You’ll get to see a teacher who’ll show you exactly what you should do as a beginner. It makes sense.

So why wouldn’t you go there for beginner guitar lessons?

The what next syndrome.

Let me explain.

Here’s the usual process a beginner goes through:

1. Find a great first lesson video

Type “absolute beginner guitar lesson” on YouTube and chose a video.

You learn how to play a few notes on your guitar. It feels amazing. Hope builds up.

You’re gonna do this!

2. Look for more videos

It’s time to find the next one. But you’re not 100% sure what you should be learning next, so you go for another beginner guitar lesson.

After a few videos, the inevitable happens. You stumble upon a video that seems too hard for you and you don’t know whether or not you should push through.

After all, no-one’s there to tell you if this particular video is right for your current level.

You think to yourself: “what’s the point of trying if there’s no chance of success?”

So you move on.

3. Get frustrated.

This is when the frustration usually sets in.

You’ve fooled around with lot’s of little guitar bits, but you can’t really play anything.

You’re stuck.

Should you try to learn a song however hard it seems? Should you start with the basics? Who can tell you what to do exactly? What if you have a question? What video should you watch next?

I call this the “What Next” syndrome.

After each great video, you find yourself in the horrible position of having to choose what video to watch next.

When the previous lesson was easy it’s a simple decision. As soon as it get’s hard, though, it’s basically impossible to choose the right progression on your own.

So unless you’re a 13-year-old fueled by peer pressure and way too much free time, you’ll most likely put your guitar down at this point.

4. Quit and feel bad about yourself

Welcome to the very crowded:

I have a guitar in my living room but can’t play club.

Don’t feel bad, it wasn’t your fault.

No one told you about the “what next” syndrome.

If only you had known there was a much better way to learn guitar.

So when is it a good idea to use YouTube?

YouTube can be a fantastic tool for learning.

Here are my two favorite ways of using it:

1. Problem-solving or learning a very specific technique

If you are having trouble with something that can be solved with one video (or a short progression) YouTube can be amazing.

Allen Mathews has a collection of amazing videos for classical guitarists looking to get better at their craft.

2. Intermediate guitarists looking to learn new songs

Once you’ve reached an intermediate level where you can play and sing at least 2 songs from beginning to end, YouTube becomes a goldmine.

If you want to learn a specific song, the what next syndrome isn’t an issue. You work on your song, and you leave YouTube (The lack of feedback and detailed step-by-step progressions can be a problem, but that’s for another post).

NOTE: I feel obliged to repeat this once more: “do not try this if you are a beginner!”

What should beginners do if YouTube isn’t an option?

You mean other than join my 3 Months to Guitar Independence Course? 🙂

The good news is there are options, and I’ll be detailing them in the next few posts.

Make sure you’re subscribed to the newsletter (the red box below) if you want to find out what the best solutions are for beginners wanting to learn guitar.

Have you experienced the “What Next” syndrome (guitar or otherwise)?
What have you learned thanks to YouTube?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Tristan! Great article. I agree completely.

  2. Heartlou says:

    Thumbs up!
    Inspiring blog/article. Yeah, Most of the time I often asked myself ” hmmn, what’s next? @ simply because I love guitar music.


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