So you’ve decided to learn how to play the guitar. Maybe you’re completely new to the instrument, or perhaps you’ve had a guitar for awhile and want to take your learning to the next level.
The question is, where do you start? A lot of legendary guitarists were self-taught, and there are more resources today than ever before, mostly thanks to the internet. When I was starting out as a kid, being self-taught meant searching for books and tapes at the local library and music stores.
Once I began taking lessons, however, I progressed quickly. It’s easy to pick up bad habits while learning alone, and it’s hard to break them once you do. By having a teacher, you can get feedback and have someone to monitor and guide your learning.
One option for guitar lessons is your local Guitar Center. If you’re wondering about the cost, the average pricing at Guitar Center can range from as low as $52.50 to as high as $72.50 per hour depending on various factors. Besides that, you’ll also need to factor in a one-time registration fee of $30.
In this Guitar Center lessons review, we’ll take a deeper look at their system, pricing structure and whether or not it’s worth the cost.
What Types of Guitar Lessons Does Guitar Center Offer?
Guitar Center has offered in-person lessons for as long as I can remember. Of course, this varies by location. I believe that online guitar lessons are relatively new for the retailer.
Normally, I would recommend taking in-person one-on-one lessons, but the way Guitar Center handles things, there’s very little difference. In fact, they even try to match you with a local instructor so you can switch between online and in-person learning if you wish.
Either way, you’ll have an instructor who can view your playing and provide valuable feedback. One advantage of in-person lessons is that your teacher can also inspect, tune and adjust your guitar for you.
This can be helpful if you’re still new to the instrument. You can opt for 60-minute or 30-minute lessons. Guitar Center calls the 30-minute sessions, express lessons.
Express lessons are great for beginner students who are learning the basics. The longer, one-hour sessions are ideal for intermediate students or those who are able to progress faster.
Keep in mind that everyone learns things differently. Don’t try to compare yourself to others, learning an instrument takes time and a lot of practice.
Guitar Center recommends that you practice between 15 and 30 minutes a day between lessons. When you’re able, try to work your way up to an hour each day. From my own personal experience, I find these time frames to be a good rule of thumb.
Some locations also have Open House Lessons. These special events introduce you to the lesson process and allow you to meet the local instructors. Check Guitar Center’s website or call your local store for more information.
Guitar Center Instructors
Guitar Center employs thousands of instructors all over the country. Many of them have advanced music degrees and/or experience teaching, playing live and recording music professionally.
They do seem to take great care to only hire qualified instructors. They often showcase specific top instructors on their website.
Guitar Center also requires their instructors to undergo company training and to pass a background check. They look for people with patience and good communication skills.
One of the things I love about GC lessons is how they allow you to select your own instructor. You give some information on your musical tastes and schedule, and GC will give you a list of compatible guitar teachers to choose from.
Booking and Scheduling
Guitar Center makes it pretty easy to book lessons as a new student. You can always call your local store. You can also easily purchase and schedule lessons on their website.
You will go through a short process of giving your chosen instrument, musical preferences and schedule availability. Next, you’ll get a curated selection of instructors to choose from. Finally, there will be packages to choose from, and you’ll purchase a set number of lessons.
If you need to reschedule a lesson, you’ll have to give 24-hours notice. This is pretty standard, remember that the instructors may have to give up their time if you contact them at the last minute.
They can also lose money when they’re not able to schedule someone else’s lesson in your time slot. As long as you contact them in time, your unused lesson will remain on your account.
The online interface on the GC website is intuitive and simple to use. You can easily book, cancel and reschedule lessons whether you take them online or in person. You’ll need to set up an online account and profile when you first sign up for classes.
Membership and Subscription Options
Lessons are purchased in four-lesson blocks. I personally think that’s just the right amount. Many music teachers will require lengthy contracts to make sure they get paid for the time they spend on new students. It’s meant to dissuade people from quitting right away.
This is clearly also what Guitar Center is thinking about when requiring you to buy four at a time, but I think this strikes a good balance between protecting the instructors and allowing freedom for the consumer.
Four lessons isn’t nearly as bad as being locked into six months or a one-year contract. If something happens that prevents you from taking lessons for awhile, you’ve already paid for them in advance.
They’ll still be there when you’re able to resume learning. When you choose a four-lesson block, you’ll select from either 60-minute or 30-minute sessions. GC makes it easy to switch instructors, change your schedule, or even cancel your entire account.
What To Expect From Guitar Center Lessons
What you can expect from lessons at Guitar Center largely depends on where you’re at as a musician. Guitar Center offers a flexible curriculum that’s based on the type of music you want to be able to play.
They’ll make sure that you understand the basics of music theory, but it will be taught within the context of your favorite music genres.
Your instructor will customize lessons based on your interests and capabilities. I like this focus on what the aspiring musician wishes to learn.
Let’s face it, if you want to be a blues player, you’ll learn faster by learning blues songs and music structure than you will by being forced to learn classical guitar. And this, of course, goes for whatever style of music you enjoy the most.
In this platform, instructors like to get you to play real songs as soon as possible. Scales and music theory are necessary, but playing and having fun were always more conducive to learning for me, personally. I really like the approach that GC takes here.
For your first in-person lesson, you’ll want to bring your guitar and basic accessories. These include picks and possibly a strap. For electric guitar lessons, an amplifier and cord will be provided for you. You may also be required to bring a notebook or various other materials that you receive during the course of your lessons.
Cost of Guitar Lessons at Guitar Center
So, how much do guitar lessons cost at Guitar Center? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. Actually, your guitar lessons cost will vary between different Guitar Center locations.
Different cities and regions may have different rates depending on factors such as rent costs, local competition, and instructor expertise.
For specific details, you can go to the Guitar Center website and enter your zip code for local prices. You can also call or visit your local store and discuss the prices with them.
At my own local store, GC lessons cost $109 for four 30-minute sessions or $218 for four 60-minute sessions. But let’s delve a bit into how these prices might look in different cities.
In a bustling city like New York, lessons cost at Guitar Center can be as high as $145 for four 30-minute sessions or $290 for four 60-minute sessions. Over on the West Coast in Los Angeles, prices can be as low as $125 for the four 30-minute sessions and $250 for the longer 60-minute sessions.
If you were to venture down to a place like Houston, the rates get even more appealing with guitar lessons as low as $105 for four 30-minute sessions and $210 for the hour-long sessions.
As you can observe, lesson prices vary based on location. Additionally, costs might differ within the same location depending on whether the lessons are for acoustic or electric guitars and the experience level of the instructor.
It’s always best to consult your local GC for the most precise pricing in your area.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Guitar Lessons at Guitar Center
At this point, you may be wondering what accounts for the Guitar Center’s lesson cost differences. It’s interesting to note that the guitar lessons cost wasn’t too far off at my two nearest locations. I suspect that the regional cost of living has something to do with this.
Another factor that can affect the price of lessons is the experience of your instructor. Every location also has a one time non-refundable registration fee. In some cases, in-person lessons may cost a bit more than online lessons.
Alternatives to Guitar Center Lessons
If the cost at Guitar Center is too high for your budget, there’s no need to worry. There are numerous places where you can get online guitar lessons.
Guitar Tricks is a popular online learning site with an extensive library of songs. They even provide a free 14-day trial so you can see if their program is right for you.
Fender Guitars recently launched their online Fender Play initiative. They provide lessons for only $19.99 per month.
It’s also a good idea to check online for in-person music lessons. A lot of small music stores provide lessons, and there are a lot of great independent guitar teachers out there as well. You may just find the perfect instructor with a reasonable price structure if you do some searching.
If your finances won’t allow any lessons for now, don’t let that stop you. You can learn quite a bit with free online resources and through YouTube channels until you can afford lessons.
Are Guitar Center Lessons Worth the Price?
The prices per lesson at my nearest Guitar Center Store are not that far off from what my own parents paid for my lessons when I was a young kid. That was quite a few years ago, so when you account for inflation, I believe the cost at Guitar Center is very reasonable.
Now, if you decide to find guitar lessons elsewhere, there are plenty of avenues to explore. Some might opt for private lessons or even scour places like Craigslist for local teachers.
Here, prices can range as low as $25 to as high as $100 per hour. While the average price might be tempting, especially for those on a tight budget, there are some potential downsides to consider.
Private lessons lack a standardized approach, with instructors varying in teaching methods which may not suit every student. With places like Craigslist, there’s the risk of fluctuating quality in online instruction.
Online lessons are convenient, but in-person sessions, like those at GC, offer invaluable immediate feedback. I like how diligent GC is when it comes to getting qualified instructors and ensuring a more uniform learning experience, particularly for beginners in stringed instruments.
Still, if the cost at Guitar Center is too much for you, don’t be discouraged. Just try one of the alternatives that I listed above.
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About the Author
Thomas M., the founder of Guitar Top Review, boasts 15+ years of guitar experience and was a church band member in L.A. Transitioning from piano to acoustic guitar, his first love remains his Taylor GS Mini. Alongside like-minded hobbyist friends, he launched the site, driven by a deep love for music that transcends professional boundaries.