Sure, you’ll see fliers hawking guitar lessons in music stores and record stores in NYC, but there are more solid options for mastering the instrument well enough to play the best songs. Anyone from total novices to seasoned strummers can learn a few things about the guitar at these spots. Plus, this being New York, your teachers will be top-notch musicians who have performed in some of the city’s best live-music venues—and might be able to get you a gig at one, too (if you put in enough practice).
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to classes in NYC
Where to take guitar lessons in NYC
92nd Street Y Guitar Institute
Learn guitar at one of NYC’s most respected education centers: the 92nd Street Y’s School of Music boasts high-quality private and group instruction for all ages. Beginner guitar classes, for instance, are led by a professor from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and private lessons are conducted by career musicians. And students can attend free faculty performances or the Art of Guitar concert series, where artists do a pre-show chat for bonus inspiration. 1395 Lexington Ave (212-415-5580, 92y.org). Private lessons, $56–$90.
Williamsburg School of Music
Owned by a father/son team, this music school is especially great for wannabe rock stars, and the staff caters to folks of all ages, styles and skill levels. Discuss your interests with your instructor in private lessons or learn to master guitar riffs from Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and more in adult beginner classes. For parents, Rock Band, where children rehearse for a live performance, is a solid option for getting the kids to expel some energy outside the home. 400 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn (718-215-0677, williamsburgschoolofmusic.net). Private lessons, $35–$80.
Miles away from the impersonal vibe of big music stores, this family-oriented shop has been serving the neighborhood since 1922. Owner George Phillips, himself a musician, is known for his warmth and his expertise in selling, renting and repairing instruments. At the in-house school, you can study guitar or bass with instructors trained in music education and jazz performance. Unusually, Astoria Music also offers lessons on the bouzouki, a Greek stringed instrument related to the mandolin, if you’d rather strum something more unique. 34-17 28th Ave, Queens (718-204-0400, astoriamusicstore.com). 30-minute lesson, $30.
New York City Guitar School
This Midtown West school promises to take aspirants from zero to shredding hero by teaching them to think like musicians—instructors emphasize practicing regularly and learning the fundamental habits of guitar legends. Classes start at “Absolute Beginner” and continue all the way to “Adult Rock Band,” culminating in a gig at LES club Fontana’s. Students can opt to take private lessons, as well, at one of five locations or even in their own homes. 251 W 30th St (646-485-7244, nycguitarschool.com). $319 for 10 classes; trial lesson, $50–$60.
New York Jazz Workshop
Jazz is sometimes thought of as a rarefied and challenging genre, but this place aims to make it accessible to anyone who shows up for a class. The instructors—many of whom graduated from top conservatories—lead workshops, courses and intensives that focus on everything from improvisation to funk fusion to music transcription. And private lessons are led by teachers who are highly accomplished musicians and composers themselves. 149 W 46th St (646-245-2800, newyorkjazzworkshop.com). $50–$100.
Based in Greenpoint and Long Island City, Sage Music promises fast results for burgeoning guitarists, focusing on fundamentals like instrument mechanics and kinesiology. The school’s founder, Jason Sagebiel, is a veteran who re-taught himself guitar after sustaining a brain injury, and he’s developed a creativity-centered teaching philosophy that incorporates music therapy techniques. 44-02 23rd St #414, Queens (718-361-2922, www.sagemusic.co). Hour-long trial lesson, $70.
Fumbling around on the guitar in front of a skilled instructor can be a bit intimidating, so why not take the edge off with some boozy guitar lessons? At Bantam Studios, an interdisciplinary arts space in Brooklyn, you can enjoy a tipple with your fellow students in beginner, intermediate and advanced classes, each of which culminates with a recital. (For teetotalers, there are dry workshops and private lessons, too.) 47 Hall St, Brooklyn (347-564-2517, bantam-studios.com). Booze lessons, $200 for eight weeks.