Welcome to Guitar Noises, a free newsletter about finding the best guitar lessons online. Playing through these lessons is a lot of fun and I hope they are helping you learn guitar.
Thank you to everyone who replied after the last newsletter. I really like hearing about what you’re up to, especially if it involves your bands and/or plans for when everything opens up again. Keep those emails coming. You can reply to this email or start a conversation by commenting below.
Before getting into the good stuff, I wanted to share a bit about how this newsletter is put together. My original plan was to send one of these every week. It seemed like a manageable goal in the planning stages, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. It’s more than just writing.
I typically spend a full week (and sometimes more) going over the lessons I’m writing about. Even if the lesson is something “easy” I try to approach it with a beginner mindset. Is this something beginners could work on and learn from before the next newsletter in two weeks?
There’s a bit of method acting that goes along with my research too. With each new lesson I grab my worst guitar. It’s hard to play, doesn’t stay in tune very well and kind of hurts to play. I use it because it makes me feel like a beginner struggling to sound good.
How do you feel about the lessons I’ve shared so far? Should I find some easier topics for you? Or just keep on keeping on?
Good lessons and good teachers are pretty easy to find these days. With most music lessons online at the moment all you have to do is search. YouTube holds endless possibilities, especially if you just want to learn a particular song. But how about an all around great guitar site that does more than just show you what to play?
This week I’m trying something a little different. We’ll be taking a closer look at a site that does more than just free videos and see what it has to offer.
Let me point something out first - no money changed hands for this review. There are no affiliate links or kickbacks here. I’ve looked at hundreds of guitar sites over the years, and this just happens to be one of my favorites. What follows is my honest review.
A deep dive review of Country Guitar Online
It’s not often that I come across a site that is so well put together that I think - this is the one. This is where I want to spend my days and nights with my guitar by my side.
Country Guitar Online is a comprehensive lesson site that teaches country and bluegrass guitar to players of all levels. The site’s instructor Devin hails from Austin, Texas - the live music capital of the world. You’ll find Devin’s videos on Country Guitar Online and his YouTube channel. Signing up for the site gives you access to all sorts of features you will miss when you only watch lessons on YouTube.
Is it worth signing up for a paid membership? Yes, definitely!
Who is it for? Anyone with an acoustic guitar.
CoutryGuitarOnline.com has been Devin’s full time gig for about seven years. There are more than 150 video lessons with more being added all the time. The length of the videos depends on the song or topic being covered. The site also has a guitar lick library with about 120 country and bluegrass licks. Every guitar lick comes with a video and guitar tablature.
Let me pause here for a second. I want to make sure everyone knows what we’re talking about when we say bluegrass guitar. According to Devin:
“Bluegrass guitar is basically country style lead guitar licks played on an acoustic guitar in a very fast-paced and dynamic way. There’s so much to learn when it comes to country and bluegrass guitar and it never gets old.”
There are about 25 totally free lessons on the site. They are easy to find using the “Lessons” menu at the top of the site.
Most of the paid lessons come with a free preview. The previews are long enough that you can still learn from them for free. When you sign-up for the paid membership you unlock all the full length videos and the guitar tabs that go with the lesson.
There are several other free resources on the site, including scale charts and lessons on technique and theory related to country guitar. Even without signing up there is enough free content to get you going.
You can try all of the lessons and have access to the entire site FREE for an entire month with a one month trial. Register for that here. (REMINDER: this is not an affiliate link. I am sharing it because in my honest opinion this is worth your time).
Where do you start?
Maybe you’ve already decided this is for you. So where do you dive in and get started?
One of the most popular lessons on the site is “Man of Constant Sorrow.” You can watch a portion of the intro for free. The complete song is a paid lesson but you can learn the intro for free, and that might be enough tire kicking to get you to sign up for a paid membership.
Also really popular on the site is the Rhythm Fill Riffs and Lead Guitar course. There are other courses on country strumming, improvising and hybrid rhythm picking. If you’re signed in, the site will keep track of all your course progress.
Many of the newer lessons on the site have a “Playthrough with Tablature” feature where Devin plays through the song at a slower pace allowing you to follow along with the tablature. This works great for quick learners who don’t need a full song breakdown.
Country Guitar Online has some built in features that make learning easier. With video controls on every lesson you can control the speed of the playback, slowing it down so you can play along. You can also loop sections of the video allowing you to practice without ever taking your hands off your guitar.
Members can also use bookmarks to jump to different sections in the videos. It’s useful features like these, and the absence of any bloated features getting in the way that make this a fantastic site to be learning guitar on. Everything works great on mobile phones and tablets as well.
Country Guitar Online is like finding an album of great songs. There isn’t a bad track on it.
Since you can try it free for one month, isn’t it worth trying to see how much progress you can make in a month?
Thank you to Devin who took time out from recording new lessons to answer my questions. I appreciate it and will see you over on CGO.
I do most of my music streaming on Apple Music. But I spend a lot of time around people who listen to Spotify and Sirius XM. It’s in their company that I get bombarded with Yacht Rock. It’s a fascinating subset of nostalgia music.
One artist that comes on everyday like clockwork is Scottish folk-rock musician Al Stewart. I like the melodies and smooth sounds. But it doesn’t sound like Yacht rock to me. It’s really just easy listening music. (I checked the Yacht Or Nyacht? website to confirm my suspicions. He’s not on the boat.)
Anyway, “Year of the Cat” is way too overplayed on Yacht Rock stations. I don’t need to hear it everyday. But I do like these lyrics from 1978’s “Time Passages,” which I’ll concede is a little yachty.
Well I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don't last
Well it's just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time Passages, Al Stewart 1978
Guitar of the Week
Fylde Guitars are the creation of Roger Bucknall MBE. He has made custom guitars for Sting, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Pete Townshend. Based in England’s Lake District, Fylde Guitars has been making gorgeous handcrafted guitars since 1973.
There are a lot of interesting stories circulating about Bucknall and his guitars. During the synth-pop era of the early 80s there was so little interest in guitars that Bucknall starting making pool cues instead.
What does the MBE stand for? Bucknall is a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to guitar making, music, and heritage crafts.
Thanks to Joe of sea shanty/maritime folk band “Swing the Lead” for the guitar suggestion.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Where do we go from here?