How to choose between over a hundred courses available on Fret Zealot

Fret Zealot has hundreds of guitar lessons to choose from – it can be hard to pick just one to start with. You can choose your own guitar education, the way you want to learn! 

Here’s a guide for picking the courses that make sense for you. 


If you want to… learn the basics of guitar. 

Start off with: 

The Total Beginner’s Guitar Course (Level 1)

If you’re completely new to guitar, this course will cover all the basics – the parts of the guitar, how to tune, basic chords, and more. 

Then try: 

30 Day Beginner Challenge

Now that you have the basics down, this course will give you an easy-to-follow lesson each day – so you’ll be able to play guitar in a month! 

If you want to… understand music theory. 

Start off with: 

Music Theory 101

If you taught yourself to play guitar by ear (like a lot of famous musicians!), you might be missing out on music theory. Understanding music theory will make you a better guitarist and make it easier to work with other musicians. This course will teach you the musical alphabet and help you to build chords, locate triads on the fretboard, and understand variations like sus2, sus4, 7th, minor 7th, 9th,11th, etc.

Then try… 

Complete Guitar Theory LabYou’ll be a full-fledged music theory pro after finishing this course, which will help you polish your guitar skills and learn songs faster and easier. 

If you want to… take your skills to the next level. 

Start off with:

Unlocking Major CAGEDWant to make your solos more fluid and be able to improvise over any key? The CAGED system will help you get there. 

Then try: 

Pentatonic Protocols 1

Learn a series of approaches to soloing over the five pentatonic chord shapes to change the way you improvise. 

If you want to… become a real-life guitar hero. 

Start off with:

Angus Young (AC/DC) – Player Study

If you want to play like the greats, Fret Zealot’s player study courses can teach you the unique signature styles of some of the most distinguished guitar players of all time. Start off with the Angus Young Player Study to learn Young’s groovy, rhythmic lead guitar style. 

Then try… 

Jimi Hendrix – Player Study

Jimi Hendrix was one of the original “guitar heroes”. His playing style has influenced most of the most famous guitarists today! This course will cover the techniques and theory he used in his legendary style.


If you want to… learn something completely new. 

Start off with…

Rockabilly Guitar for BeginnersKeep things fresh by learning a brand new musical style. This course will teach you what you need to know about rockabilly and 1950s style rock ‘n roll guitar, including the Nashville number system. 

Then try… 

Flamenco Guitar

Learn all of the techniques that define flamenco music with this course! 

Want more content that will strike a chord?

Guitarists who started off playing another instrument

Which guitar pick should you pick?

Guitarists who started off playing another instrument

Lots of famous guitar players started off playing other instruments. Taking piano lessons at home or any musical instruction in school helps create a good base for learning any instrument! 

Here are some guitarists who started their musical journeys with instruments that aren’t guitars. 

Dave Grohl (drums)

Foo Fighters frontman and guitarist Dave Grohl famously played drums in Nirvana starting in 1990. After Kurt Cobain’s 1994 death, Grohl formed the Foo Fighters, moving to lead vocals and guitar. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins tragically died in 2022, and Grohl provided the drums on the band’s newest album (coming out June 2). 

Eddie Van Halen (piano)

“Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The future founders of Van Halen, brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, started taking piano lessons at a young age – Eddie was six when he started playing. He even won first place at multiple piano competitions in Long Beach, Calif. The boys’ parents wanted them to become classical pianists, but they were enamored by rock music. Originally, Eddie was playing the drums while Alex played the guitar, but after he heard Alex play the drums on “Wipeout”, they switched. 

Learn Eddie Van Halen’s signature style with this player study course!


Prince (piano) 

“Prince NSJ” by PeterTea is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Prince was known as a multi-instrumentalist, often playing all the instruments on his records, although he’s best remembered for his guitar and vocals. The child of a jazz singer and a pianist/songwriter, Prince Rogers Nelson wrote his first song, “Funk Machine” on his dad’s piano at age seven. 


Joni Mitchell (piano) 

Prolific singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is known for her guitar playing (and her use of alternative tunings), but she started out playing classical piano. When she was older, she wanted to learn guitar to play country music (which was rapidly growing more popular), but her mother discouraged her, so she initially played ukulele. 


Mick Mars (bass) 

“Mick Mars” by Casey Hugelfink is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Longtime Motley Crue lead guitarist Mick Mars joined his first band – a Beatles cover band called “The Jades” at age 14, playing bass guitar. 


Jeff Beck (vocals) 

“Jeff Beck” by MandyHallMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Before he became one of the most influential guitarists of all time, Beck sang in a church choir at age ten. 


Chris Cornell (drums) 

“Chris Cornell” by christopher simon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Legendary Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell took piano and guitar lessons as a kid, but started his professional career with Soundgarden on drums. The band had another drummer come in a year after their inception to allow Cornell to focus on vocals and rhythm guitar. 


Great guitarists who learned later in life

Great guitarists who learned later in life

Which guitar pick should you pick?

Most guitarists use a pick (or plectrum) to strum or pick their strings. There are a ton of different pick varieties, some better suited for certain genres or instrument types than others. Check out this handy guide to determine which type is best for you.


Musicians have been using different versions of picks for their stringed instruments for thousands of years! The word “plectrum” actually descends from the Ancient Greek word “plēktron”, referring to objects used to hit the strings of a lyre. Early pick materials included feather quills, ivory, bone or wood. 

In 1885, a guitar pick made of tortoiseshell from the Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle was patented. It became popular due to its similarity to human fingernails and stiff but flexible texture. However, tortiseshell’s popularity for picks, eyeglass frames, combs, and other items caused Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtles to be overharvested. By 1973 they were on the world’s most endangered species list, and it’s been illegal since then to make anything out of tortoiseshell. 

The D’Andrea company introduced guitar picks made from celluloid in early 1922. Celluloid was strong, flexible, and dense – making it a great material for guitar picks. 


Picks range in thickness from “extra light to extra heavy”. 

There’s no industry standard for pick thickness currently, but here’s a rough breakdown of the gauges: 

  • ‘Extra thin’/’extra light’ – under 0.45 mm. 
  • ‘Thin’/‘light’) – between 0.45 mm and 0.70 mm.
  • ‘Medium’ – between 0.60 and 0.80 mm. 
  • ‘Heavy’ – between 0.80 and 1.2 mm. 
  • ‘Extra heavy’ – anything above the 1.2 mm thickness.

Here are some tips on selecting a pick gauge: 

If you’re just starting out playing guitar, it’s a good idea to start with a thinner pick. 

If you’re playing a guitar with thicker strings or a bass guitar, you might want to try a thicker pick for more control and strength. 

If you’re strumming on an acoustic guitar, go with a thinner pick. If you’re playing melodies and solos on an acoustic guitar, pick a thicker pick. A medium pick should do the trick for playing both styles. 

If you’re playing an electric guitar, a thicker pick might be more useful for control. A medium pick should also do the job here. 

Famous artists and their signature picks: 

Lots of famous guitarists have particular picks they like to use while playing. Here are a few examples: 

Eddie Van Halen:Dunlop Max-Grip, 60 mm 

A thinner pick matched Van Halen’s blazing-fast shred style. 

James Hetfield (Metallica) – Custom Jim Dunlop (1.0mm or 1.14mm)

A heavier pick gives Hetfield’s rhythm playing the heft it requires. 

David Gilmour – Fender 354 / Fender 351

These days, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour uses teardrop-shaped picks that allow him to easily hit pinch harmonics. 

Brian May – British sixpence 

The lead guitarist of Queen uses a coin as a pick. He explained in 2021 that he prefers coins for their rigidity, and for the slight metallic sound they give his playing. 



What makes a song an earworm?

What are the different types of guitar strings?

What makes a song an earworm?

Picture this… you turn on the radio and hear a ridiculously catchy song. You know the one. An hour later, it’s still in your head – and you can’t get it out! 

Certain factors can make a song an “earworm” – a memorable piece of music or sound that stays in the listener’s head well after hearing it. 

Beautiful young woman in headphones listening to music and dancing on color background

Earworms tend to lodge themselves into the brain’s auditory cortex,
a group of researchers from Dartmouth College found. The auditory cortex is where much of the brain’s sound processing happens, and also where musical memory is stored. 

The scientists did an experiment where they conducted brain scans of people listening to familiar songs – and then interrupted the songs. The scans showed that the auditory cortex stayed active after the music stopped, imagining the rest of the song. 

The same fragment of the song can get stuck in the ‘phonological loop’, which is a system of memory that constantly and temporarily stores sound information. Earworms are typically 12 to 30 seconds long, and usually well-known to the listener. 

If you’re a songwriter or in a band, you might have a special interest in what makes a song an earworm – to write one of your own! 

Researchers at the University of St. Andrews created a list of the top 20 earworm songs. (Three of them are by Queen!

The team found that there are five components to an earworm – surprise, predictability, rhythmic repetition, melodic potency and receptiveness. They even worked out a formula to calculate the earworm potency of a song! 

The formula is receptiveness + (predictability-surprise) + (melodic potency) + (rhythmic repetition x1.5) = earworm. 

BONUS: Need to get rid of an earworm? Try engaging your brain in a different task like solving a puzzle or an anagram, or sing a commonly known song like “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. 


What are the different types of guitar strings?

What Ed Sheeran’s court case tells us about four chord songs

What are the different types of guitar strings?

Having the right guitar strings for your instrument, playing style, and genre is important to make sure you get the best sound possible (and don’t even get us started about changing them regularly!) 

Here’s a basic guide to guitar strings:

Acoustic guitar 

80/20 bronze: The most popular kind of strings for acoustic guitars are 80/20 bronze. They’re made of 80 percent bronze and 20 percent zinc. They feature a bright tone – however, they wear out quickly and can be corroded by sweat. 

Phosphor bronze: Made of 92 percent bronze, these strings last a lot longer than their 80/20 bronze counterparts. They also don’t corrode as easily, however, they don’t have as bright of a tone as the 80/20 strings. These are good if you don’t want to change your strings as often. 


Classical acoustic guitar: 

Nylon: This is commonly used for the top three strings of classical guitars. It’s usually paired with… 

Nylon and silver-plated copper: On the lower three strings of a classical guitar. The strings are made of a nylon core surrounded by metal. 

Silk and steel: These strings are also popular for lower three strings on classical guitars. The silk and steel combination produces a mellow sound. 

Catgut: Before the invention of modern strings, most guitar strings were catgut – made from the intestines of sheep and other animals. These are mostly obsolete now, but you can sometimes still find classical guitar strings made of catgut at boutique music stores. 


Electric guitar 

Nickel-plated steel: These are the most-used type of strings for electric guitars. The nickel has a bright tone and doesn’t easily corrode. 

Pure nickel: If you want a more vintage-sounding tone, these strings help cut the sharper high-end tones of electric guitars.

Stainless steel: The tone of stainless steel strings is very bright, but can be offset by humbucker pickups. They last longer than most other strings and don’t squeak as much when you run your fingers up and down the neck. 

“Guitar Strings” by Maciej Korsan is marked with CC0 1.0.

Types of Cores 

Hex core: These strings have a six-sided core wire that prevents the outer wire from slipping. This provides consistent tones. 

Round core: These have a round core wire, which gives a mellower sound, but can become out of tune easily. 


Types of gauges 

A guitar string’s “gauge” means its thickness. Gauge is measured as 1/1000th of an inch of the high “E” string. Gauge size can change the tone of guitars. 

Extra-light: Extra-light strings are easy to play, but also easy to snap. They’re good for fingerpicking. 

Light: These are more durable than extra-light, but still are easy to play. 

Medium: Medium strings are popular for blues and rock music. They’re bendable and have a good tone. 

Heavy: Heavy gauge strings are popular in jazz music, which requires little string-bending. Some rock and blues players also use this gauge and drop their tuning to make them easier to bend. 

Read more: 

REVIEW: Epiphone Les Paul Custom Koa

REVIEW: Dean MDX and Dean Thoroughbred X


What Ed Sheeran’s court case tells us about four chord songs

You probably have heard Ed Sheeran’s name in the news recently. The English singer-songwriter was named in a copyright infringement case involving a Marvin Gaye song. 

A jury decided that though the chord progressions between the songs are similar, the similarity didn’t constitute copyright infringement. 

If you’re a songwriter, you’re probably wondering what is covered under copyright law and what isn’t – and how to avoid running into a situation like this.


In May 2023, a New York jury decided that singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran didn’t infringe on the classic Marvin Gaye song “Let’s Get It On” with his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud”, which won the English singer a GRAMMY. 

The family of Ed Townsend, the late co-songwriter of “Let’s Get It On”, alleged in a 2017 lawsuit that Sheeran had taken the rhythm and chord progression from the song for “Thinking Out Loud”, which was released in 2014. 

During the singer’s in-court testimony, Sheeran picked up a guitar and played both songs to demonstrate how similar they are. His lawyer said in her closing remarks that the shared characteristics of the songs were “basic to the tool kit of all songwriters” and “the scaffolding on which all songwriting is built.”

Sheeran had said that he would have “quit music” if he was found guilty of plagiarism during the trial. 

According to the NYT, after the jury cleared him, Sheeran said in a statement that he was happy that he wouldn’t have to quit music, but expressed his frustration that the case, which was about a simple four-chord progression, happened in the first place. 

“We have spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world,” he said. 

He added that “These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before ‘Let’s Get It On’ was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone.”


Here are some other cases involving copyright of songs: 

In 2021, singer/songwriter Olivia Rodrigo gave songwriting credits to members of Paramore and Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, and St. Vincent for her songs “Good 4 U” and “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” and “Deja Vu” after the songs had already been released. 

In 2019, a jury decided that Katy Perry’s 2013 song “Dark Horse” sampled a six-note melody from Christian rapper Flame, awarding the rapper $2.78 million. 

In 2015, a jury decided that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had infringed on the copyright of another Marvin Gaye song, “Got To Give It Up” with their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines”. They had to pay the late singer’s estate $5.3 million. 

The attorney who represented Gaye’s estate in that case, music attorney Richard Busch, told Variety that copyright infringement cases are proved two ways. First, the judge listens to expert testimony and decides if there are enough similarities between the works to take the case to a jury trial, and if there are, it goes before a jury trial, where members listen to the song to decide if they’re similar. 

Judges and juries are generally not made up of musical experts, so many copyright cases following the “Blurred Lines case” are handled out of court. 


What does the law say?

According to, parts of a song that are protected under copyright are lyrics and melody. (Sometimes artists will interpolate the words or melody of another well-known song in their work, usually with a song credit for the other song’s writers). 

Harmony and chord progressions are generally not protected under copyright law – which is good, since most pop songs are built on simple chord progressions.  Rhythm and structure of a song are generally not protected under copyright either. 

If you’re wondering about copyright law, you can find the most up-to-date information on the U.S. Copyright laws here. 


Why you should use a guitar backing track

REVIEW: Epiphone Les Paul Custom Koa

Why you should use a guitar backing track

Want to get even better at playing licks, riffs, and solos on the guitar?

Try playing with a guitar backing track!

Backing tracks have been around as long as cassette tapes have, and before that, lots of great guitarists polished their skills by playing along with the radio.

They provide the same rhythmic assistance as a metronome, but with other instruments added in, so you get the live feeling of playing with a real band. Using a backing track will help you get a sense for how your playing sounds with other instruments, whether or not you have a band of your own.

A backing track will help you play with an actual drum kit, with snares, kick drums, and cymbal hits, rather than with a simple beep of a metronome. It will help your ear find melodies and harmonies that fit with an overall sound of a band, and allow you to improvise while staying in key.

In the Fret Zealot app, you can find dozens of backing tracks for every genre and mood. Each track shows the chord progression in real time, so you can either play along or solo within the notes of the chord. Your optional Fret Zealot LEDs will light up in coordination with the backing track to give you a fully immersive experience with three options for each track:

1. Chords
2. Scales
3. Chords & Scales

We recommend using 1 or 2 as the third option can be a little busy in terms of LED displays, but it’s there as an option if you want it!

Check out these backing track packs for hours of play-along:

Blues Backing Track Pack

Funk Backing Track Pack

Ballad Backing Track Pack

Groove Backing Track Pack


Great guitarists who learned later in life

Songs that guitarists always get asked to play

REVIEW: Epiphone Les Paul Custom Koa

Check out the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Koa in our store!

Here’s a transcript of the review:


Today I’m reviewing for you one of the higher-end Epiphones that we carry at Fret Zealot. This is the custom Koa, the Les Paul Custom model by Epiphone. The custom Koa is one of the higher-end models offered by Epiphone, going past just the base level, beginner instruments.


This custom Koa offers a lot more of the premium features that you see with the higher-end Epiphones, and even the Gibson guitars. I’ll be talking you through some of the differences that you get when you pick up the custom Les Paul KOA by Epiphone.  This guitar is a mahogany body with the Koa top, which is what you see on the front, but the wood, the main wood of the body, is a rich mahogany, which is a really sought after tone wood. It has a mahogany neck as well, and then the ebony fingerboard. Epiphone is not messing around when it comes to the wood selection. This is a combination that’s favored by many Les Paul enthusiasts.  You get a lot of beautiful attention to detail with this guitar. I would call it classy and curated.

Everything about this guitar is just no-nonsense, all classiness. It’s  really good looking. and no really nothing really that doesn’t sit out of place to me. You got the beautiful natural wood – in my opinion you can’t go wrong, especially with like nice piece that you see on the front. There’s multilayer binding across the body and then binding on the neck and the headstock which really frames the instrument. It has gold hardware, which is a sweet combination, and then some of the black pickup rings and the black pickguard, which sort of just looks consistent with the with the ebony neck. The whole thing just really comes together beautifully. It’s got 22 medium jumbo frets with the block pearl inlays, so you’re really getting that Gibson vibe.  It’s got the  slim taper neck, so it’s really nice and playable without being quite a c-shape. I’m finding it is actually a really nice and easier neck to play on. I prefer a slimmer neck, so this is nice to see from the Epiphone or Gibson brands.   It’s a similar neck but it’s slightly tapered in, so if you’re not familiar with the slim taper neck on the Epiphones, this would be a great guitar to check out.  Shout out to the tuners as well, also really nice gold tuners, and these say “Grovers” on them.  Grover tuners are really nice.


I just think the guitar is super sturdy feeling. I could call it “responsive and snappy”.  Even when I’m not plugged in, I think it sounds good, which is a sign of a great-sounding guitar. It’s just resonant, even when I’m not plugged in, so that’s always something that I look out for.  This guitar really rocks. Some of the things that you get with this guitar that you don’t get in the entry-level Epiphones is the full custom Les Paul shape with the curved top. This is not a flat slab, it’s got the curved model top that you get with the Gibson Customs, it’s got the binding. This is the set neck, so there’s no neck screws here.  This is not a bolt-on neck, this is a set-neck design, which is a really nice construction. It gives it a little bit more resonance and sustain, which is contributed to as well by these really nice tuners. That’s helping you with the tuning stability.  I’m finding this guitar to be really sort of substantial-feeling, responsive but also very like resonant, and it’s kind of a beast, but it’s not too heavy. It’s a little bit heavier than what you would expect for an entry-level Epiphone, but it’s not going to break your back.  I think they did a good job of balancing out the weight, I’m finding it really comfortable to play. It looks awesome, sounds great, and you can’t forget the pro-buckers. We got the pro bucker two and three in the bridge in the neck with the gold plate covers. These are modeled after the old Gibson PAF humbuckers which are the patent applied for humbuckers. These Pro buckers by Epiphone are modeled after that sound of that era the PAF humbuckers from the early Gibson years so you’re getting a lot of classic accoutrements, a lot of classy vibes from the construction, the look and the premium features that come with this guitar.

The easiest pop songs to learn on guitar

You can take your guitar skills to the top of the charts with these easy-to-play pop songs! They’re based on simple chord progressions, and our lessons will take you through how to play them step-by-step. 

Photograph – Ed Sheeran

With a simple four-chord structure, this is an easy one to learn if you want to accompany yourself or someone else singing! 

I’m Yours – Jason Mraz 

Mraz’s 2008 hit uses only a handful of chords and a simple strum pattern. It also sounds great played on ukulele.

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

This fun-to-sing song mostly features a four-chord structure, only switching up during the bridge. 

Hey Brother – Avicii

American bluegrass music inspired this 2013 hit from Swedish producer Avicii, and that inspiration is reflected in the simple chord progressions.

With or Without You – U2

You only need to know a handful of chords to play this U2 hit.

Love Story  – Taylor Swift 

One of Taylor Swift’s earliest hits can be played with almost all open chords.


The easiest country songs to learn on guitar

The easiest rock songs to learn on guitar