I’m a self-taught musician who learned back when the only ways to get instruction were expensive lessons, sharing with friends or good ol’ Mel Bay. I learned “Needle and the Damage Done” by dropping the needle down over and over again on a Neil Young LP. Today, you don’t have to ruin your LPs because there are all sorts of great resources on the net.
You’ve got to be careful, though. Just because someone owns a video camera or has a website doesn’t mean they’re Jimi Hendrix. I don’t think dead people know html anyway.
One of my favorite sites for song lyrics, chords and tab is Heartwood Guitar. The guy who runs it is a guitar teacher so the chords are accurate. He even gives you strum patterns. There aren’t a ton of songs – he’s only one guy and I’m sure he has a life – but he’s included a lot of popular tunes, from “Good Riddance” to “Ring of Fire.”
I also like Chordie because it has thousands of songs. Thousands. It has cool features like automatic transposition – if one key has too many weird chords you can click on a link and it’ll transpose it for you. Want to know the mandolin or ukulele chords? There’s a link for that too. However, because it’s a public site anyone can post there – from 12 year olds who just learned how to change from G to C without stopping to seasoned professionals who play out every night. At the very least, the site will give you a place to start. Often I can download something, change one or two wrong chords and voila! It saves me a lot of time.
I won’t list the plethora of other tab sites. Just Google the name of a song with “chords” or “tab” after it and you’ll find lots of resources. Be careful – some of them want to add cookies and other stuff to gunk up your computer. Also, like I say above, not everything is correct. In fact, many of the sites copy from each other so you’ll find the same mistake-ridden version of “Stairway to Heaven” on several sites.
If you’re a bluegrass or folk fan, check out Jay Buckey’s site. He’s got all kinds of free tab for any instrument you’d find in a bluegrass band. It’s accurate too. Bonus!
Speaking of bluegrass, I also love Bluegrass Guitar. You can find free easy-to-read tabs for bluegrass standards.
If you’re looking for other styles, check out Randy’s Guitar Clinic. He’s been playing guitar a long time and offers great tips like lead patterns, strums, and chord diagrams. He also has a Yahoo group that I’ve found useful. Not only do you get Randy’s expertise but also anyone who’s on the list.
Homespun Tapes is my favorite instruction series. They’ve got a few free lessons on their site. If you want to spend some dough, I highly recommend purchasing their instructional DVDs. It’s like having Rory Block or Al Petteway in your living room. (And if you don’t know who they are, look them up. Amazing guitarists.)
A live teacher is always a great idea. We’re not free, but it’s a great way to learn. I teach via Skype. For details, contact me. I’ve played the guitar for 40 years and taught for 10.
I haven’t even mentioned the plethora of instructional clips on YouTube. Just thinking about it makes me want to pop a cold one, put up my feet and ruminate about that topic as a future blog. Until then, look up the chords for “Needle and the Damage Done” and have a blast.
What’s your favorite instruction or tab site?