IN THE age of internet celebrities and TikTok, a 58-year-old guitar teacher from Old Colwyn may seem an unlikely candidate to make it big.

Gareth Hargreaves, 58, is well versed at playing more than 10 stringed instruments but his knowledge of social media does not go much further than posting videos he would rather not show his face in.

However, his YouTube channel has amassed more than 15 million views and 140,000 subscribers from across the world, which has proved “a lifesaver” as face-to-face teaching was put on hold during lockdown.

“I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with social media,” he said. “I can play and teach guitar and that’s it.

“I have a little studio where teach guitar and initially it wasn’t suitable for YouTube videos as I had to take all the instruments out, but during lockdown I wasn’t teaching.”

The channel, which has the same name as his business GCH Guitar Academy, features playlists of guitar skills that he has taught over the last 30 years, as well as reviews of instruments and equipment that are sent to him by manufacturers wanting to promote their products.

It came at the perfect time for Mr Hargreaves after lockdown restrictions prevented him from having face-to-face lessons, which was his main source of income.

He had started to post videos on the channel before lockdown and once face-to-face lessons stopped he put more time into it. The channel soared and his revenue doubled, and doubled again, covering the cost of his original business.

“Initially the YouTube channel wasn’t set up to do anything ‘Youtubey’ but because I still make CD-Roms and, being dyslexic, I put them on YouTube so that people can point out errors in them.

“With lockdown I turned over to YouTube and started putting more effort into it as I couldn’t teach. Viewers and ad revenue near enough doubled during lockdown, it really exploded as more and more people are learning online.

“I never marketed the channel and I just wanted to let it grow organically and for people to see it for themselves.”

There has recently been a lot of viewers from India, Dubai, Bangladesh, virtually every state in the US, Australia, as well as the UK.

“I think if one or two people watch a video then it can go viral in a little group of people. I don’t really know how it grows in other countries.

“I have been contacted by companies who wanted me to review their stuff, and those videos got twice as many views as the guitar lessons. People wanted to watch me reviewing guitars, equipment, amplifiers, special effects.

“Once you get over so many subscribers and watches, you get a lot of comments and emails, and I feel rude to ignore them but you do get quite swamped.”

It is in fact the second time that Mr Hargreaves has made his name through the use of mass media, after his CD-Rom guitar course made the front page of computer magazines across Europe and sold 750,000 copies during the 1990s.

He has previously worked as an website and game designer, one of the “behind-the-scenes” workers who “helped to build the internet”.

The course took him 10 years to put together and won a spate of awards, including Multimedia Product of the Year by PC News.

Mr Hargreaves says he still prefers to remain out of the spotlight, which goes against the grain of advice on how to start a YouTube channel.

“There is only one video out of 300 in which you can see me as I don’t like being on camera,” he said.

“When it started kicking off I did a Google search for advice on how to run a channel and the first thing they all say is that you need to show picture of yourself, but I did exactly the opposite.

“I’m very proud of being able to do it differently. I’m not a natural in front of microphone so it gives a sense of achievement.”

Despite his two successes, Mr Hargreaves is yet to make a fortune, which he puts down to being “a bad businessman”.

“I didn’t really take advantage of the CD-Rom course as well as I could have,” he said. “My main aim has been to make learning guitar as accessible as possible.

“I’m not going to make a living with the YouTube channel in the long-term either. The views are beginning to fall off a cliff again now that lockdown is ending.

“Even with hundreds of thousands of views it is very difficult to make money online unless you are PewDiePie.”

Mr Hargreaves, who also plays the mandolin, cello, ukulele, cello, violin and bass guitar, said he is now looking forward to the return of face-to-face lessons at his home.

“I know what I want to teach, doing it progressively and teaching by technique. I search for the best song for that technique, which could be anything from Bach to Nirvana to Queen to the Pet Shop Boys to the Beatles," he said.

“Whatever song teaches the technique is what is important.

“If you can learn the technique, then can learn anything you want.”

To book a lesson with GCH Guitar Academy visit