“Someone told me the smile on my face gets bigger when I play the guitar.” - Niall Horan

The guitar is still a very popular musical instrument. In fact, it's one of the most popular musical instruments in the UK for people to learn.

With bands and artists like Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones, there's plenty of music for aspiring guitarists to play along to, regardless of their personal taste.

If you want to know how to play a certain song you can either listen along and try and work it out or get some guitar tabs or sheet music. While anyone can learn to read tablature or sheet music, it can sometimes be tricky finding the perfect version, especially with budget constraints.

So how can you use these resources for free?

You’re about to find out how to learn to play songs with guitar tablature! In our second article in a series on how to play guitar, we're having a look at the different types of printed music you can get to learn to play different pieces and how you can get these resources either for free or on a budget.

Why Use Free Guitar Tabs?

Whether you’re playing an electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, or acoustic guitar, it’s not the easiest thing in the world; you need good resources, guides, and tools, whether you’re playing bossa nova or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Sheet music and tabs are the ideal solutions for learning everything from gypsy jazz to Nirvana songs.

How do you read sheet music?
While finding free guitar sheet music is easy, learning to read it isn't. (Source: tresdetres)

Of course, everything comes at a price. Even tabs and sheet music need to be carefully considered before you start paying for them. That said, there are free tabs and you could easily become the next great guitarist without any resources...

Free sheet music, once you’ve found it, can be really useful for learning how to play a song. However, tabs mean that you don’t have to learn music theory. A lot of people are using them to learn how to play music for less.

Whether you’re a professional guitarist, a Led Zeppelin fan, or just starting to play the banjo, free tabs can be great for practising songs, improving your creativity, and learning to play the guitar.

What’s better than learning music, getting better at guitar, and not spending a penny?

Not much, that’s for sure.

Interested in learning guitar at school? Have you considered taking music at A Level?

Finding Free Tabs on the Internet

With social networks, online encyclopedias, forums, and e-commerce, the internet has changed our lives more than we could have possibly imagined. In fact, with all these resources, you can do almost anything online. When it comes to the guitar, you can become a folk star, buy an acoustic guitar, and even learn how to make one, for example!

Which are the best sites for sheet music?
The internet is an absolute goldmine for free resources to help you play guitar. (Source: nevesf)

So what are tabs?

Tablature is generally available online for free on guitar websites and websites for learning to play the guitar. These resources are openly shared and published by users to be accessed by anyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced guitarist, you can find plenty of tabs without spending any money!

Of course, since this is an article on learning guitar on a budget or for free, we’re far more interested in free tabs. Music is art, culture, and should be shared freely, after all.

What’s better than having free access to it?

It’s not a tangible object like a gold ingot or a TV, but rather something intangible like the soul.

The internet seems to be the ideal place for sharing music and free guitar tabs. The web has become the new home of musicians with learning tools and advice from other musicians. Whether you’re looking for Vivaldi or Debussy, you just need to type a few words into the search bar on your phone or computer and you’ll find some free tabs.

While the internet is often criticised, when it comes to all the joy that free guitar tabs can bring, it’s certainly worthy of praise!

Finding Free Tabs via Word of Mouth

As we said, the internet is the simplest and most practical solution for finding free tabs. However, there are other ways to learn how to play music without paying. Word of mouth is a good way to learn how to play songs, like Hotel California, without any problems!

Find good online guitar lessons here.

How do you play the guitar?
Even though the internet is one of the best resources to learn how to play the guitar, never underestimate the value of talking to someone who knows what they're talking about. (Source: langll)

In fact, while you don’t actually think about it, friends and family are useful resources for learning the guitar without having to pay. For example, a Sunday afternoon at your grandparents might be the perfect opportunity to learn a few songs. It's far more enjoyable learning how to play the guitar with other people rather than on your own huddled over your computer.

Of course, this requires more effort, motivation, and willpower than just finding free guitar tabs although you can still learn a lot of music by asking around. Word of mouth is a great way to discover new musicians and artists that you mightn’t instinctively think of when searching on your computer. It’s a good idea to be aware of different styles of music. Ask your friends or family if they know anyone with tabs or sheet music you could use.

Check out our article on where you can get free guitar lessons.

Finding Guitar Music in the Library

While we mightn’t think about the library very often in the modern age, it’s a great place to find guitar music! Of course, you’ll need to get a library card before you can start borrowing books or CDs.

Where can you get free guitar lessons?
While we often think that the internet is the only place you can learn music for free, you can also get free lessons. (Source: Couleur)

As you’ll have guessed, libraries have more just books. In fact, many modern libraries have internet access as well as multimedia libraries which include sheet music and guitar tab books. You just need to find which libraries have sheet music or guitar tabs available.

The guitar is a very popular musical instrument for people to learn how to play which means there are plenty of resources for people who’d like to learn it.

What’s better than having a space filled with resources for playing the guitar, banjo, violin, or even the piano?

Libraries might seem a bit old-fashioned, but they’re great for aspiring musicians.

As you’ll have understood, learning to play an instrument is an affordable and rewarding endeavour, even if finding free resources can sometimes be challenging. However, there are plenty of simple solutions for finding sheet music and tablature for the guitar either on the internet or in the real world.

Did you know that you can also learn a lot about playing guitar at guitar shows?

So are you ready to start playing?

If you're still struggling to learn to play the guitar, check out our guides on guitar playing for beginners and consider getting guitar lessons from a private tutor who'll happily teach you how to read guitar tablature, help you with strumming patterns, get you started with important guitar chords, and tailor their lessons to the type of guitar player you want to be.

You just have to tell your private tutor what you want to learn, why you want to learn it, and how you prefer to learn and they'll be able to put together tailored guitar lessons for you. While this isn't a free method for learning how to play guitar, it's arguably the most cost-effective.

If you live in the country or a small town and can't find the right private tutor to come to your house, you can always consider getting online private tutorials. This is when a tutor teaches their students via webcam with a video conferencing programme such as Skype. Since the tutor doesn't have to travel, they have fewer outgoings and tend to charge less for their tutorials. Even if there are tutors who live near you, you can always opt for online private tutorials if you're on a really tight budget but desperate to learn how to play guitar.

Finally, there are also group tutorials. Since there are multiple students in the class, each student pays a smaller share of the total cost. This means that group tutorials tend to be cheaper than both one-on-one private tutorials and online tutorials. Of course, this also means that you get less individual attention from your tutor as they have the other students in your class to worry about, too.

With all that said, the ideal solution for learning the guitar is a combination of all the resources available to you and the ones that help you learn as effectively as possible.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.