How to Play Guitar: The 10 Essential YouTube Videos

Categories: The Industry

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Mike Brooks
The Gorehounds show you how it's done.

In the late '80s/early '90s, if you wanted to become a guitarslinger but couldn't afford lessons, your options were limited to guitar tab in a magazine like Guitar World or Guitar One, your old man or some other drunken family member willing to show you a chord or two before slapping you with a beer bottle or one of those instructional VHS tapes that taught you how to play "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven or some other horrid classical song that no one attending a backyard campfire in Texas would want to hear.

Thankfully, nowadays learning to play guitar requires only a data phone with access to YouTube (and, of course, a guitar). Entering the keyword "Guitar lessons" loads 876,000 results. But how do you know which video to watch? Do you look at the number of pageviews or likes? Assuming you've already mastered the basics of "Beginner Guitar Lessons - Finger Dexterity Exercise" and "Beginning Guitar Lessons," we here at the Dallas Observer have scoured the net to bring you a list of the most comprehensive guitar lessons available free-of-charge (until the lawyers pull the videos for copyright infringement) on our favorite music channel to help you connect to that inner guitarslinger living inside each of us.

Eddie Van Halen - Frankenstein Guitar Replica

To harness the power that the videos on this list offer, you'll need the perfect Frankenstein guitar to connect to that mystical tone that only a few bluesmen, a handful of country pickers and a half-dozen shredders have been able to conjure before meeting an untimely fate. And who better to explain the mechanics behind creating a Frankenstein guitar than guitar legend Eddie Van Halen who pioneered the science of guitarslinging?

Keith Richards - Blues Acoustic

Learning the standard three-chord blues pattern is essential to learning metal, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones shows just what this simple pattern can become in the hands of a professional guitarslinger. Granted, his hands are hard to follow, and we had to take a few shots to understand what chord changes he's calling out, but watching this legend put his own spin on an essential pattern is inspirational, to say the least.

BB King - Phrasing over G Progression

Now that you have an understanding of the blues basics, and you're slowly modding your guitar to create your own Frankenstein, you're ready to learn your first scale pattern. We recommend starting with something slow. Blues legend B.B. King offers a comprehensive soloing lesson with a touch of soul. His fingers are easy to follow as he slides down the neck, bending and stretching notes that will help you feel the Muse's touch.

Zakk Wylde - Shredding Lesson

Don't let this barbarian frighten you. Yes, his hands are large enough to snap your neck, and maybe he has thrown a few rowdy musicians (and more than a dozen lawyers) through a window or two. But his shredding abilities are undeniable when you look at his resume: playing lead guitar for Ozzy Osbourne since 1988, founding member of Black Label Society and slaying million of fans with his guitar for more than 30 years. In this helpful guitar lesson, Zakk breaks down the pentatonic scale, one of the most useful tools in a guitarslinger's utility belt.

Dimebag Darrell's Riffer Madness

It's time to kick the lessons up a notch, and who better to initiate you into the next level of shredding than this guitarslinger madman who once had Megadeth chanting his name? Dimebag Darrell has not only taken the blues scale to the next level but also started a new genre of metal: southern metal. In this excerpt of the DVD, Dimebag teaches you the riff, solo and outro to "Save Me."

Dave Mustaine - Guitar Lesson

For the next stage on this journey to become a guitarslinger, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Metallica fame raises the bar and provides lessons on palm muting, "choking" the pick and the string and his signature "Spider Riff"; he also shows how just the right level of ego sets you apart from the other kids in the guitar park, but that was unintentional. His status as a legendary guitar player is unquestionable, and in this Guitar One video, he offers hope to recovering guitarists who've injured their arms by offering techniques to help strengthen their playing hands.

Brendon Small - Weekly Shred-ucation

To learn tricks like the Gallop, Metal Fluttering and Badass Tappy, let's turn to the king of cartoon metal Brendon Small who's not only created the Beavis & Butthead of the 21st Century with his Metalocalypse characters Murderface and Pickles but also inspired a legion of aspiring guitarists to grind the ax with his weekly guitar lesson web series. By lesson 12, if you can master all his techniques, you'll be ready for the next video on this list.

Tom Morello - Guitar World Lesson

Scales mastered? Check. Dimebag's riffs attempted? Check. Alternate picking implemented? Check. Other metal tricks stored in your utility belt? Check. Now comes the creative part: special effects. Every guitarslinger has some kind of arsenal that he or she is waiting to unleash on fans. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine offers his arsenal of whammy pedals and "magic boxes" and shows how he executes some of his most memorable music, breaking down classics such as "Bulls on Parade" and "Sleep Now in the Fire."

Tony Iommi - War Pigs/Paranoid solo

Of course none of the previous lessons will matter if you can't reach into the vault and play a metal classic that inspires a drunken sing-along later in the evening. To help implement your lessons and a few of Morello's special effects, Toni Iommi of Black Sabbath provides a breakdown of "War Pigs," a tune that should replace the Texas State Song, and words of wisdom to remember when soloing. This is one of the least complicated lessons but one of the most powerful songs you can learn as an aspiring guitarslinger. (Be careful, though. It will cause a drunken riot if you play it too late in the evening.)

Tenacious D - Kickapoo

After a few months of practicing the various riffs, licks and tricks offered in these videos, your guitar playing will continue to improve, but to reach that final level and earn the title of guitarslinger, you'll need to feel the music bleeding from your fingertips. And while there are some inspirational songs like Slayer's "Raining Blood," Metallica's "Harvester of Sorrow" or Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name" to help achieve this feeling, none of these songs will take you to that magical realm like learning this Tenacious D tune. Marty Schwartz of GuitarJamz.com offers this lesson in two parts.

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