Due to his laid back teaching style, his genuine focus on helping beginners improve and high quality tutorials, he is someone I respect highly. Most popular online tutors, especially those on YouTube say they teach beginners, but often their lessons are too difficult for actual beginners.
Instead, they (not always intentionally) aim their lessons at beginners, but can’t help themselves but to actually create lessons that beginners simply can’t keep up with. This is massively frustrating for those beginners, especially the ‘frustrated beginner’. Andy is legitimate with his lessons. They are very good at helping those actual beginners improve.
Andy is a fellow Brit, from further up north in Yorkshire. He is experienced and has been teaching on YouTube since 2009 and Andy now has one of the most popular guitar lesson channels on YouTube. His most popular video ‘Play 10 songs with 2 chords’ has become the all time most watched guitar lesson on YouTube.
Anyway, as you know I’m not a huge fan of YouTube (some of this is due to YouTube itself, encouraging you to keep clicking on endless videos) but Andy is a jewel in the Nile on that platform. Here is his Q and A….
Bands and inspiration
Who’s your favourite guitarist ever?
Dan Hawkins of “The Darkness”. For me, he hits the definitive rock sound, which to me is a kind of AC/DC-Led Zep hybrid that I love.
Who’s the best band/artist you have seen live?
AC/DC, Download festival 2010.
What’s your favourite album of all time?
“The Darkness – Permission To Land” (yep, I’m a fan)
Most enjoyable guitar piece to play?
Right now, “Mr. Sandman”, fingerstyle version.
Favourite song to listen to on a depressing day?
Something like “Hall And Oates – You Make My Dreams”.
Most difficult thing you’ve ever learned to play on guitar?
When I first started playing, the most difficult thing I knew how to play was a C major chord, so it’s all relative.
These days, probably some fingerstyle piece like “Cannonball Rag”.
Greatest guitar piece ever recorded?
“Johnny B Goode”
Best guitar of all time?
Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul “Number 1”
Tips and advice
Any tips for readers?
Enjoy the journey, but set yourself achievable goals that you think are cool as hell to keep you going along the way.
If you have one, what’s your #1 tip to help guitarists improve faster?
Think of a musical goal that excites you more than anything else in life and go for it.
Greatest chord ever?
“The Hendrix Chord”.
Most useful or exciting scale you know?
The major scale, everything else comes from that.
What’s the most important thing to focus on, for beginners, to improve quickly? (e.g. technique, theory, repertoire, jamming, etc)
Techniques to learn songs faster and get how the whole thing works, such as diatonic chords.
Biggest mistakes you see beginners make?
- Not practicing enough, or seeing practice as hard work, when it can be fun!
- Not jamming along to recordings often enough
- Lack of direction
Best advice for guitarists who are taking their very first step as a guitarist?
Download the free Andy Guitar app 😉
Then, find someone else who does play that can check your guitar out to make sure it’s OK, many beginner guitars are so much harder to play than they should be!
What one thing would you say to a beginner who is really struggling and is thinking of giving up?
Remember why you wanted to play in the first place, and remember how cool it is that this stuff even exists at all.
Many beginners struggle to make their playing musical, do you have any tips to help with this so they can enjoy their playing more?
Jam along to recordings, not enough people do it at all, do it every practice session where possible! (100% agree! This is a great way to improve faster – Dan)
Best advice for learning barre chords?
Keep your elbow in to your side, which will make everything easier.
How do you advise beginners on how to reach the next stage of getting to be an intermediate player?
Learn to break down songs to figure out what you need to practice i.e. is it the chord changes, strumming or single note playing that is your problem? Then focus on that, as well as finding more songs which play to your strengths.
General thoughts on learning guitar for our readers
My biggest inspiration for picking up a guitar is the scene from the movie “Back To The Future” where Marty plays the song “Johnny B. Goode” on a red Gibson ES-345 guitar. When I think back, that is my earliest memory of wanting to play, even if, at the time as a 6 year old- doing anything of the sort was a distant fantasy.
However, as a kid I was put off learning guitar time and time again because I thought it was too cool for me, or because my fingers hurt, I thought my hands were too small and I couldn’t see how practicing “Polly Wally Doodle” in school lessons would allow me to reach my goal of playing like Marty.
However, with a love for the music itself and support from my family, I kept at it, kept my goals alive and really made progress quickly in my teenage years. From reading comments and emails, it seems that my videos have acted as inspiration for some people, for they have taught them to play something where other lessons or teachers have failed.
Whatever your inspiration is, make it as big and bold in your mind as you can, and simply remind yourself of it as often as possible. It works for me.
Thanks to Andy for an interesting Q and A. He makes some great points and doesn’t beat around the bush.
A lot of what he says resonates with my own ideas on learning the guitar in the most effective way possible. Jamming with the recordings of songs you are learning is really important, lots of fun and will help you improve faster than if you don’t do it. Even if you are not ready to jam with the recordings at all, you can use them as a marker for what you need to aim for.
So many guitarists spend months on a song, learning it at the wrong tempo or with the wrong feel/groove and then months later, try to play it with the recording (or other musicians) and it bombs. Don’t wait, do it today.
It’s also really important as he says, to have direction and constant motivation. This is something I talk about in the 10 song challenge post.
Anyway, if you enjoy the books/courses, posts and videos on my humble blog you will enjoy what Andy has to offer. He is from the same genuinely enthusiastic school of guitar tutors as me and will certainly help you on your journey.
Leave a comment below letting me know what you think of this post. If you have used his tutorials before, let us know how Andy has helped you on the guitar.