Do you wish you could have ripped a guitar solo like Lindsey Buckingham or strummed a tune like Shawn Colvin at the Grammy Awards? While the Web might not perform musical miracles, it can give you a start on the road to rock stardom. Sites abound with guitar lessons and basic music theory, and some can help name your band or even book a barnstorming national tour.
Your first stop should be the comprehensive Harmony Central (www.harmony-central.com) with an extensive marketplace, guest columns, chat areas and great links. Though most of the news items are merely rehashed press releases, the elaborate forums and an eclectic auction--where you can buy a fife, bagpipe or tuba--are highlights.
For the total beginner, Harmony Central's greatest asset is its links to online lessons. The would-be guitarist has many options, but my favorites were Dansm's Acoustic Page (www.dreamscape.com/esmith/dansm/acoustic) and Carvel's Tips, Tricks and Licks (www.soignerecords.com/guitar). Dansm is Dan Smith, a student at Cornell who gives great free lessons on everything from reading music to playing scales to finger-picking.
Carvel's Tips weren't as comprehensive, and he asks for a $12-a-year subscription a la shareware, but his simple animations and RealAudio sound clips help show technique in a Web-savvy manner. Don't be afraid to shop around and find lessons that suit your needs. You might want to pay for a more personalized tutor, and remember that it's going to take time to learn everything.