With billions of users as of 2022, YouTube is the biggest video-sharing platform in the world bar none. And with such a vast audience to tap into, it has helped launch the careers and creative journeys of countless guitarists, from the likes of Music Is Win's Tyler Larson and teacher extraordinaire Justin Sandercoe to newer, meme-savvy names like Nik Nocturnal and Bradley Hall.
But the foundations that made YouTube the monolith it is today are the videos that were uploaded in its early days, which helped inspire wave after wave of budding guitarists to flock to the platform to show the world their skills.
Here are just some of the most memorable guitar videos uploaded to YouTube in its early era. See how many you recognize and remember...
Funtwo – Canon Rock
One of the first guitar videos ever to be uploaded to YouTube following the platform’s launch in 2005, a rock-inspired cover of Canon in D – originally written by German composer Johann Pachelbel – by South Korean guitarist Lim Jeong-hyun, or Funtwo, served as the initial spark in the journey of many aspiring shredders.
The legendary video – which sees Jeong-hyun recreate the centuries-old composition with ultra-melodic lines, eye-watering sweeps and metal-esque palm-muted riffs – even secured the guitarist a spot at the YouTube Live festival in 2009, playing alongside one of the bona fide lords of shred guitar, Joe Satriani, in a medley featuring both Canon Rock and Satch’s Surfing With The Alien.
Andy McKee – Drifting
Andy McKee was one of the first percussive acoustic guitar players on the YouTube scene, and he made his presence abundantly known from the outset with his out-of-this-world composition, Drifting.
The video of McKee performing the track – which at the time of writing boasts over 60 million views – stands resolutely as one of the most influential guitar clips of the early YouTube era, with one top comment calling it “the reason I started playing guitar," and another saying it “inspired a whole generation of guitarists."
McKee’s effortlessly precise percussive tapping style, paired with the track’s DADGAG open tuning, helped show a new wave of internet-savvy guitarists the realms of what was possible on an acoustic guitar.
Sungha Jung – My Heart Will Go On (Titanic Theme)
Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On – from James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster film Titanic – is quite literally designed to pull at the heartstrings. And while the track is an epic ballad packed with rich instrumentation and a highly emotional climax toward its end sequence, guitarist Sungha Jung illustrated the versatility of its melodies in 2010, repurposing them for a single acoustic guitar.
Lakewood six-string in hand, the young fingerstyle maestro tackled both Dion’s moving vocal melodies and underlying chords with stunning accuracy and feel, in a performance tailor-made to wear down even the most stoic of hearts.
All these years later, Jung remains active on YouTube, regularly posting videos to his nearly seven million subscribers.
David MeShow – Gibson SG Supreme demo
Guitarist David MeShow put his Gibson SG Supreme through its paces in 2008, with an original composition showcasing his formidable riff-writing ability and solo chops.
Described by one commenter as “like nothing I’ve ever heard," the video’s opening riff is one for the ages, melding hard rock-style powerchords with classic rock-informed pull-off leads, before MeShow sets off on a lead guitar voyage, putting his second-to-none shredding ability on full display.
At the time of writing, the video has been seen over two-and-a-half million times, and while MeShow hasn’t uploaded to his YouTube channel in a few years, he dipped his toes in the songwriting pool many times after his famous Gibson SG Supreme video, most recently with a pummeling riff-driven original, Alive.
Amin Toofani's insane nylon-string acoustic performance at Harvard
Student Amin Toofani’s nylon-string acoustic guitar performance at Harvard bears all the prerequisites of virality. After briefly introducing himself and what the song is about to those in attendance, the guitarist pokes fun at himself, nervously adjusting the mic stands and intentionally playing poorly and left-handed with the guitar upside-down.
Subsequently, Toofani pulls the ultimate bait and switch, readjusting the guitar to his preferred right-handed position, before unleashing a barrage of jaw-dropping flamenco-inspired fingerstyle lines, much to the awe of the audience.
At the time of writing, the video boasts almost 90 million views on YouTube, and continues to do the rounds on social media to this day.