Can You Learn Guitar by Just Learning Songs?

I dare to say that guitars are the most popular instrument of them all. 

They are versatile, accessible, portable, affordable, and, all in all, easy to play. 

As a result, one finds hundreds of rookies taking their first steps into music with a guitar. 

They pick it up, search for their favorite songs on the internet, and learn how to play them. 

It’s a beautiful, healthy hobby, and everyone willing to learn should give it a try. 

Sadly, though, there is a common problem: the false belief that one needs theory and/or talent to learn successfully. 

You don’t! And here’s why:

Learning guitar with songs is a great approach towards improvement. After all, the theory is absorbed unconsciously throughout songs. Sure enough, one still should complement the learning process with other exercises or private lessons. 

Being able to play your favorite songs is a fulfilling experience. 

Thus, I encourage you to keep reading this article. 

You’ll find lots of information about why songs are so important for learning guitar. 

Additionally, you’ll discover more techniques that will make you a better performer.

Can anybody learn the guitar?

Learning guitar is relatively easy and anyone can do it. 

The erroneous belief that people are born with talent keeps many away from starting off.

Truth is, all it’s required is patience, practice, and perseverance.  

For the most part, guitar tends to be challenging at the very beginning. 

Keep on practicing for some weeks or months, though, and you are already done with the basic chords

A big number of young learners tend to give in guitar when facing failure. 

They tend to believe they don’t have what it takes to be a guitarist.

That’s the biggest mistake anyone can commit. 

Learning involves dedication and having to deal with such frustrations. 

It’s the best path towards improvement. 

So, to sum up, everybody can play guitar.

It is all a matter of practice and being consistent.   

Would just playing songs help you improve as a guitar player?

How do you learn to play an instrument? By playing with it, of course! 

Therefore, playing songs is a form of learning. 

It can drastically improve your guitar abilities. 

Also, it has two potential needs for any wanna-be guitarist. 

First of all, it works as a motivator

A willingness to figure out how to play your favorite tracks is the fuel required for kicking off. 

They also function as milestones in the never-ending learning process. 

Once you master a song, you can move to the next one. And on, and on. 

Secondly, to play songs is to understand theory with an active approach

Think about it. A song could have chords, hammers on, pulls-off, slides, solos, bends, arpeggios, or palm mutings. 

The list goes on. 

You can exercise all these techniques by simply practicing them with a song.

In addition, learning songs helps you comprehend different tunings

Let’s see an example. 

You are a newbie and want to learn Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine. 

Great! But first, you need to tune your guitar to Drop D in order to play it properly. 

For novices, this sounds like metaphysics. 

It is not! It’s actually rather easy. 

All you have to do is learn how to do it. 

Finally, consider learning songs as climbing a huge mountain. 

The more you play, the higher you climb. 

However, the more you play, the trickier it gets. 

In other words, playing songs gradually leads you towards bigger challenges. 

Difficulty rises slowly. 

To play hard songs, you first need to master the easy ones. 

All in all, it’s a demanding task, but fun as well.

Can you learn guitar without doing boring exercises?

This question has no simple answer. 

Sure, you can learn guitar with songs or by playing by ear. 

Nonetheless, one is bound to meet “boring” exercises eventually. 

A song, for instance, may have a tough part. 

Let’s say you need alternate picking to play it. 

If you want to do it successfully, you’ll have to rehearse that technique every once in a while. 

The same applies to fingerstyle, playing barre chords, or doing arpeggios. 

Exercises are also part of the process. 

They are there to tackle a particular issue. 

If it is not solved, then moving on will be impossible. 

Don’t be afraid of them. They provide the right techniques for more efficient playing.   

Can you learn guitar without knowing any music theory?

Luckily, music theory is not a must. 

Actually, it has never been a must for hundreds of professionals. 

Many self-taught guitarists don’t know about music theory. 

They only know the basics, such as the order of the notes, and where to locate them on the fretboard

Other than that, they barely read music sheets. 

This is not the case for everybody, of course. It’s just an example that shows theory cannot stop you from learning guitar. 

Now, let’s be honest. 

Knowing some music theory can help you improve a lot. 

It’s a tool for more effective communication. 

It supplies you with the knowledge to understand your craft more thoroughly. 

In the end, studying theory seems like a daunting task. 

It may be, but it is worth it in the long run. 

Can you learn guitar without taking classes?

Classes are profitable, even though many great guitarists are self-learners. 

However, if you have the time and the money, then take classes by all means.

It is never enough stressing how relevant private classes are. 

After all, they boost your abilities and help you improve faster. 

Consider that a teacher is like a gatekeeper to a castle of knowledge. 

She or he has plenty of answers, techniques, and advice. 

Teachers guide you throughout the learning process. 

They prevent you from acquiring bad habits, and they adapt classes to your needs, goals, desires, and taste. 

If you are still not convinced, then I encourage you to read this article. 

It has all the information on why taking classes are so rewarding. 

Are YouTube tutorials the best way to learn songs on guitar?

Calling Youtube tutorials the best learning method is too much. 

They are fantastic tools, indeed, and they work as a great guide. 

In reality, however, they should only be a complement to other learning methods. 

For example, reading guitar tabs is rather beneficial, and will make learning with Youtube tutorials a piece of cake. 

Also, you should try rehearsing with other people. This, in the end, could be as close as private lessons in efficiency level. 

In my opinion, video tutorials should be left behind once you have a certain set of skills. 

Instead, focus on learning songs by ear. 

Might be a struggling exercise at the very beginning, I know. 

Still, keep doing it and you’ll be surprised to find out how good of a listener you are. 

Playing by ear is not a gift. It is an earned ability that must be developed over time, just like a muscle. 

To sum up, Youtube tutorials are not the best way to learn songs. 

They are, beyond doubt, really helpful. 

The best you can do, though, is to gather knowledge and experience from plenty of sources. 

Tutorials, videos, tabs, music books, classes, rehearsals, etc. 

But you know what? Maybe Youtube tutorials are the perfect place to begin. 

Is just learning songs the most efficient way to learn guitar?

Playing songs is the reason why lots of people learn guitar. 

Yet another fact, is that it is not enough for those who seek a certain stage of professionalism. 

The ideal is to play a selection of songs that pushes you to learn guitar techniques. 

The potential of exercises should not be diminished

You have to know the how’s to accurately play songs. 

Again, the ultimate approach should be combining exercises with other performance-oriented activities. 

Gain the habit of experimenting with songs above your level. 

Let’s say, for every three “simple” songs, add an extra hard one. 

You‘ll be astonished to find out how much you can accomplish. 

What would be other important things to learn apart from songs?

Here is a full list of things to consider when learning guitar. 

Take them with ease, one at a time. Find the ones that suit your goals.

Then, stick to them until there’s no friction in your performance. 

Remember: They are tools, not a rigid procedure. There is no need to learn them all.  

  • Warming-up exercises: they help prepare your hands for tougher techniques. Also, they provide a bit of confidence, especially on rehearsals or live performances. 
  • Basic theory: useful for explaining what music elements are, and how they fit together. 
  • Sound engineering: great for training your ear. Plus, it helps to make music sound better. 
  • Tunings: you can’t play most Slipknot songs on standard tuning, for example. You don’t have to learn them all since there are tens of tunings. But at least, be aware of such variety. 
  • Tuning by ear: there are lots of apps that function as guitar tuners. However, tuning by ear skyrockets your hearing skills. Use a Youtube video that functions as a tuner until you learn to do it on your own. 
  • Open chords: they are the first three frets on each string. Eventually, you’ll learn where to find the rest of the notes on a fretboard. 
  • Strumming patterns: helpful for gaining rhythm (and all in all, how to play chord properly). 
  • Posture: silly, isn’t it? Not at all! You’ll be glad to learn how to position yourself properly when playing. Also, try practicing standing up. It is overall a relevant aspect. 


Learning to play with songs is great, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. 

There’s an infinity of musical knowledge waiting for you. 

Just take them one technique at a time. 

Years into the future, you’ll be proud of how much you have accomplished. 

Thank you for reading, and good luck!