Learning Guitar For Beginners: Easier Than You Think!

18 essential steps to become a great guitar player - The Ultimate Guide to Learning Guitar will get you started from scratch to become the best possible guitar player you can be. We’ve compiled the most useful and proven tips, tricks, and techniques for a beginner guitarist.
James Delaney BY JAMES DELANEY 17 FEBRUARY 2022
Learning Guitar For Beginners: Easier Than You Think!
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Learning to play the guitar is not the hardest thing for a beginner, but to start this process. And that's because a novice guitarist may not have clear answers to many essential questions related to the study of guitar if he does not do a thorough research on several sites. Learning to play the guitar can become frustrating even during the study if the answers to these questions are incorrect or are misleading. Although many people start learning to play the guitar, if they do not follow a well-established plan and do not have the necessary patience, unfortunately many of them give up after the first months.

When you decide to learn to play the guitar, you may not know what to start with.

From the initial question ("what would be the best way to learn to play the guitar") other questions branch out:

» Is it better to learn with an instructor, face to face, or can I learn from home, through an online guitar course?

» Should I learn music theory first?

» Between learning chords first and then songs, what would be the best option?

» If I like different musical styles, what should I start with? With blues, rock, pop, folk, country?

And so on. There are many questions that can be intimidating, to which there are no clear answers and that can make you delay the start of learning the guitar.

 

Whenever we want to accomplish something complex, in order to have greater chances of success we must think the whole process in perspective, and, at the same time, be aware that we must allocate time and have patience. The same applies to learning to play the guitar. The truth is that there are no shortcuts or substitutes, and the main question is not how to learn to play the guitar as fast as possible, but how to learn as efficiently as possible.

If you’re just starting out with learning how to play the guitar, take a look at these tips on how to learn to play guitar as a beginner and make your practice sessions more effective, well organized, and enjoyable at the same time so you’ll have an easier time picking up new skills and learning songs from your favorite artists in no time.

 

1. Choose the right guitar

"What kind of guitar should I buy?" This is a question I get asked over and over again. It's a personal question and depends on many factors, such as your budget, the type of music you want to play, and the style of guitar you prefer.

Choosing the right guitar is unbelievably important. It doesn't matter how good you are at playing the guitar if it doesn't feel comfortable to you. But selecting the proper guitar can be a difficult and confusing process. Guitars come in so many varieties that choosing one can be overwhelming. Also, there are many brands of guitars in the market, and some of them offer quality and others do not. Bellow, we have some recommendations about what to look for when choosing a guitar.

Do you want an acoustic or electric guitar?

Acoustic and electric guitars have different characteristics. Acoustic guitars give you more freedom, electric ones are more for practical purposes. If you are a beginner, it is better to choose an acoustic one. It's cheaper and easier to play it and learn. Electric guitars require additional knowledge such as how to connect the amplifier to the guitar and adjust its settings.

They do not exclude each other, you can start with one of them and after a while to play both. Similar in operation, they have both 6 strings (for classical variants, but there are also guitars with 7 strings or 12, which are not the subject of this article), but the differences between an acoustic guitar and an electric one can be decisive for a beginner:

- an acoustic guitar can be handled more easily at first, because it only needs to be tuned, and the sound propagates through the resonant box, while an electric guitar must be attached to an amplifier;

- the strings of the acoustic guitar are usually further away from the fretboard, which requires a greater pressing force.

How much do you want to spend on a guitar?

You should always think of your budget. It is not recommended to buy a low-quality instrument just because it is cheap, but don't spend too much money on a guitar either. If you are a beginner, you don't need something that costs $1000 or even more. The truth is, it doesn't really matter how much money you spend on a guitar. If you pick one that's right for you, it will feel good and play well. If you choose one that's wrong, no amount of extra cash will make it feel or play any better.

You need to be comfortable with the guitar that you are buying. You don't want to be stuck with something that you don't like, so make sure that you try out, or even read reviews about a few different guitars before you make your decision on which one is right for you.

Where do you want to buy your new guitar?

You can get a good guitar in a local music store or online. However, if you want to save money and get a good deal on your new purchase, buying online is an excellent solution for you. You can also take advantage of various discounts and promotions that appear during the entire year.

The shape of the body and the guitar size

The style of the body is important because it determines the musical sound of the guitar. The round-shaped body produces soft and warm sounds while the sharp-shaped body produces clear and bright sounds. The size of the body also matters. A large-sized body produces louder and warmer sounds than a small-sized one.

The size of the fretboard

The fretboard comes in different sizes depending on the type of guitar. If you are a beginner, purchase a guitar with a standard fretboard which is easier for learning purposes.

 

2. Familiarize yourself with the guitar

One of the most important things that you can do when learning how to play guitar is to familiarize yourself with your instrument. This means knowing where all of its parts are located, what they do, and how they interact with each other. It’s okay if there are some aspects of your guitar that seem confusing or foreign at first - chances are that if you stick with it long enough, these concepts will start to make sense and feel natural. As long as you have a basic understanding of how everything works together from day one, then over time, you should become more comfortable in terms of actually playing songs (more on that later).

While there are many different styles of guitars (acoustic, electric, classical), they all have some things in common, and these are the three main parts: headstock, body, and neck.

The body is the main part of the guitar, where the sound of the guitar comes from. The top of the body has a flat piece of wood called the "top" (or "soundboard"). The soundhole is in the soundboard. The bridge is glued to the top and supports the strings.

The saddle is a piece of hard plastic or ivory material that supports each string separately as it passes over the bridge. From here, each string then passes through a hole in the bridge before terminating at the tuning pegs that support each string in turn.

The bridge holds all of the strings in place by means of individual bridges for each string, which is held in place by either friction or screws (or both).

The pickguard can be plastic or wood, depending on personal taste and style; it helps protect part of the body while allowing access to any controls mounted on it.

The neck connects the headstock to the body and supports the tuning pegs, which tune strings up or down to different notes.

The headstock anchors one end of the strings and holds tuning machines, which are used to tighten or loosen strings.

Tuning pegs are mounted at one end of the headstock, and consist of a metal screw that tightens or loosens a string, attached to a metal bar, called a key, which wraps around the entire tuning post.

The strings run from the tuning pegs to the bridge which is situated over the soundhole in the body.

The frets are thin pieces of hard metal embedded into each side of a guitar's fretboard, one per note. They serve as visual markers to indicate where to place your fingers in order to produce the sound of music.

The fretboard (also called the fingerboard) is a board to play frets on, which hold down strings at their proper places when they are being played or fretted.

 

3. Set an optimal learning environment

There are a few tricks to setting up a guitar learning environment, but the most important thing is to make sure you're comfortable and relaxed. Make sure that you have an ergonomic chair that can support your back, neck, and head. Make sure your legs aren't crossed. Make sure that you're sitting in the right position.

Next, we will show you how to set up a proper environment for practicing.

 

Find a quiet place

A noisy home or apartment can make it difficult to concentrate on learning even basic chords and strumming patterns. If you live in an apartment complex or have roommates, make sure that you have someplace quiet where you can practice your chords and songs without being disturbed.

 

Make sure it's a nice space

This is important - you want to learn guitar in a place that you enjoy spending time in. Make sure your practice area is well-lit, comfortable, and doesn't have distracting elements like TV (or at least keep it turned off) or pets around. Make sure the room is well-ventilated, too.

 

Find the right spot

Find an area with good acoustics - not too close to a wall and not too far away from one. This will give you the best sound for practicing.

 

Finally, make it a dedicated guitar space

You might find it easier to learn guitar if you have a place dedicated to the instrument - and only the instrument. A space where you aren't distracted by other tasks or people and can focus solely on the guitar. If you’re out of practice and sit down to play, you might be surprised by how much better you play when practicing high-quality guitar tabs for something you’ve been working on for a long time. That’s because your mind goes into an automatic mode - you’re not thinking about moving your fingers from one fret to the next or formulating a scale, but rather your body takes over because it knows exactly what it needs to do.

While this may sound a little silly, setting the right environment is incredibly important. The right place is one that sets the right mood and lets you fully immerse yourself in the guitar without distraction.

 

4. Start with the basic guitar techniques

If you are a guitar beginner, you probably want to learn basic guitar techniques first. You should always practice the techniques that belong to a particular song before trying to play it. Learning basic guitar techniques will help you develop and refine your skills as a guitarist and also help you get started with learning songs.

When it comes to becoming a great guitarist, there are two main routes: you can either focus on your left-hand technique and develop a strong sense of timing, or you can focus on your right-hand technique and develop a strong sense of rhythm. Either way, you need to have both skills if you want to become an expert player.

 

5. Finger placement technique

To make sure your fingers are placed in an efficient way, start with a simple guitar chord. When you’re first learning how to play guitar, there’s nothing more frustrating than having trouble getting your fingers into just the right place. Take some time and learn your chords inside out before attempting anything too complex. Place one finger on each fret and then try moving them around in various combinations until you know exactly where they need to be. This will help with dexterity later on when you have several notes or chords lined up next to each other on consecutive frets. As soon as you get proficient at placing your fingers without thinking about it, you’ll find yourself playing faster and more easily while making fewer mistakes.

 

6. Learn basic strumming patterns

As a beginner, strumming patterns are key to learning how to play guitar. This can seem overwhelming at first, but there are only two types of patterns you need to know in order to get started. The first is a simple down-and-up movement that is known as downstrokes and is represented by /. Downstrokes (/) make up most of your beginner strumming; they provide stability and definition in your rhythm guitar playing. The second type of pattern is called an upstroke or an upbeat (\). These strokes move upward instead of downward and often help define a riff or melody line within a song. They also add accents to individual beats within your rhythmic sequence.

 

7. Right hand techniques

Focusing on your right hand is necessary to build up some basic strength, dexterity, and coordination. The more control you have in your picking and fretting hand, the more options open up for you in other ways. The most used technique (a little more advanced than the basic strumming patterns presented before) is alternate picking and this is the technique you should master to advance as a guitar player. Alternate picking just means that instead of using downstrokes all the time, you use alternating downstrokes and upstrokes - down-up-down-up-down-up, etc. Some people find it easier to start practicing alternate picking using only their thumb and first finger. As with all new skills, it may take some practice before you get things down pat but keep practicing. You'll find yourself picking faster than ever before, as well as opening up new chord forms that were previously too awkward to play with any comfort or speed.

The right hand techniques of a guitarist are the key to unlock your potential in playing guitar.

There are also many different advanced right-hand techniques that can be used, like sweep picking or tapping. Sweep picking is when you use your pick to play a note before and after each of the individual notes in a scale or arpeggio pattern. Tapping is when you place one or more fingers on the fretboard while using your pick hand fingers to strike notes on the guitar neck. About these techniques (and many more advanced right-hand techniques) we will talk in a dedicated article because these are advanced techniques that can only be learned after you have mastered the basics of the right-hand technique.

 

8. Learn to play open chords

"Open" chords are chords that you can play without having to move your fingers away from the frets.

Some open chords sound good, and some don't. The good ones are easier to play than the bad ones. Good ones have what I think of as an "open ring": the notes all sound like they're resonating together. Bad ones sound like a chord being played on a synthesizer: no resonance, just discrete notes.

The good ones fall into three categories. The first is the major open chords that everyone knows: C, A minor, G, E minor, and so on. They're easy because every note is in exactly the same place as every other note: middle of the second fret on the third string (C), middle of the first fret on the fourth string (A minor), middle of the second fret on the third string (G), and so on.

 

9. Using a guitar pick

Another way to play with your right hand is to use a guitar pick. Holding your pick is something that takes time and effort. You have to get used to how it feels in your hand, what kinds of grips you prefer, and other such preferences. However, before we talk about proper techniques, it’s good to start with some basic tips. Just like learning any other skill in life, first, you need to learn how not to do it wrong. That’s where these tips come into play. Without them (and without a lot of practice), you’ll never be able to play guitar well or comfortably at all.

 

10. Focus on improving one technique at a time

For example, let's take the open chords. Learn just five chords: G, C, D, E, and A minor. Just those five chords. Play them a thousand times each day for a year. At the end of the year, you will know more about playing the guitar than 99 percent of guitarists do. You will also know three things that every other guitarist doesn't know: how to play these four chords and only these four chords; how to play them correctly; and how to play them rhythmically.

 

11. Expand your skills by learning songs

The guitar is a versatile instrument, and it's easy to find songs you like to play. Learning a song is a good way to improve your guitar-playing skills. That's because you have to figure out how to play it, and that often involves breaking the song down into smaller parts. Once you have learned the parts separately, you put them back together again and can play the whole thing. Some songs are harder than others, and learning them can help you improve your skills.

Here are a few pointers:

Try to learn just the melody of the song at first, using only one string (the sixth string) to simplify things.

Don't try to play the entire song at one time. If a song has multiple strings, pick one string and practice that part of the song until you've got it mastered. Start with the easy parts, and move on to the hard parts later. As you get better, you can put everything together into one song.

• The beginning of the song is often simpler than the end. The beginning of a song is often played slowly, in only a few chords, and is repeated over and over again throughout the song. This makes it easier to learn.

"You Are My Sunshine" or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" are both good examples of simple tunes that you already heard many times. Whatever you choose to play before you have learned enough chords and songs to feel confident, make sure you will enjoy playing the tune over and over again, because that is the time when you'll find yourself playing the most. After you have some experience in playing guitar, you should start by learning an easy but a little more complex song ("Hotel California" or "I Shot the Sheriff" are good places to start). Then play it until it's easy, then learn another one. Build a repertoire of songs that you can play well. After you know ten or twenty songs decently, start trying to figure out how they work, so that when you learn new ones, you can tell right away what is hard about them, and focus your practice on those aspects of the new songs.

The key is repetition. Even if it doesn't work out at first, you'll be surprised at how much you can evolve after a few days of rehearsals.

Learning a new song is also a great way to learn new chord shapes and strumming patterns and it doesn’t matter if it's something soft and mellow or something rocking, at the end of the day you still get to play guitar.

 

12. Set realistic goals

One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is setting too-high expectations and to assume that they’ll start playing guitar and suddenly have a complete understanding of how it works. You won’t be able to play like Carlos Santana right away (...although that would be cool!), but with patience and persistence, you will improve quickly and easily. It’s great to want to be a virtuoso - just don’t let that overshadow your desire to simply enjoy playing. Set realistic goals and milestones as you start playing, and keep things in perspective as you improve your skills. There’s no reason why anyone can’t pick up an instrument and learn a song or two; even if it takes months or years, there are plenty of simple songs out there that sound impressive with just a few weeks' practice. And, who knows? You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!

 

13. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of progress

It takes time to learn a new skill. If you’re not making progress on your guitar, don’t get discouraged. Like learning any skill, mastering the guitar takes practice. It won’t happen overnight, but if you practice consistently and stick with it, you will eventually start to see results. You can improve your skills with exercises and drills that help build your muscle memory so that soon playing will come more naturally. Don’t be too hard on yourself either! Learning an instrument is challenging in its own way; compared to other skills it might seem like more of a leisure activity than an accomplishment, but it requires concentration and focus just like anything else does. Everyone has to start somewhere! So grab yourself an instrument and make some music!

 

14. Don’t compare yourself to others

One of the most important things you can do when learning how to play guitar is avoiding comparing yourself to others. When you start to play, it’s natural to look up to more experienced players and feel a bit inferior if they seem better than you are. But in order to improve your skills and become a great guitarist, it’s important that you realize there will always be people who play faster, hit harder, and have more experience than you do. Be patient with yourself as you learn and focus on improving your own guitar skills, not comparing them with someone else’s.

In time, your playing will grow naturally as long as you practice often.

Playing guitar is all about progression and doing what feels right to you. The more you practice, the better you will become. If your playing isn’t moving in a positive direction, do not despair; instead, look back on what you’ve learned and figure out how to apply that to your future practice sessions. Also, make sure that you are practicing with a metronome or recording yourself. This will allow you to track your progress which can be very motivational. Remember it’s not about getting better than someone else but about constantly challenging yourself!

 

15. Be patient and take breaks when needed

Learning how to play guitar isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t learn how to play instantly. It will take time, but as long as you practice frequently, learn from your mistakes, and stay focused on playing new songs - you should be able to master guitar in no time.

Make sure you give yourself enough time in between practice sessions so that your skills have a chance to develop properly.

A good way to make practicing easier is to break up your practice into smaller chunks and take breaks in between sessions. In fact, there are many benefits to spreading out your practice time throughout the day.

Benefits of spreading practice time out:

A. Create the spacing effect

Spreading out your practice helps overcome what researchers call the "spacing effect." When we practice in short sessions on different days, we retain more information than if we cram everything into one session. Spacing out practice sessions gives your brain time to make new connections between what you're learning and knowledge you already have - connections that may not occur if there is no time to reflect between sessions.

B. Keeps you motivated

Many people find that if they practice for long stretches at a time, they start to lose their motivation and quit before they feel like they've mastered the ability. When you schedule small daily practice times, it's easier to stay motivated because you can see yourself progressing every time you pick up the guitar.

C. Builds confidence

Confidence is essential if you want to become a great guitar player. Practicing for longer periods of time can often lead to frustration and stress that can wear away at your self-confidence. By taking frequent breaks, you give yourself more opportunities for success and will build up more confidence in your playing abilities.

D. Reduce anxiety and procrastination

If you don't have to worry about doing a lot at once, you're more likely to just pick up your guitar and play.

E. Helps you learn better

Taking frequent breaks will also give your brain time to process what you've already learned so you can recall it more easily when you come back to practice again later. Spread out your practice time so that you're learning new things each time you pick up your instrument or go through your music theory exercises or other study materials for a specific skill.

Giving yourself a break requires some additional time and for accepting this you need dedication and patience... but if you truly love playing guitar then nothing should stop you from achieving your dreams!

 

16. Practice in front of a mirror to help establish good playing habits

Your image in the mirror should be your teacher. Practice slowly. If you can't do something slowly, then you're not ready to move on to faster speeds. Practice slowly so you can really focus on what you're doing. Are your fingers moving properly? Are they curling at the correct angle? Can you clearly see your picking hand? Are your movements smooth or jerky? Do you know what it feels like to have the pick "roll-off" your fingers? Is there any tension or strain in your body? Are your wrists straight or curved? Is there an opening between your wrist and forearm that lets the pick drop down into it?

It's also helpful to practice with a mirror when you first start out and don't even know how to play anything yet. This will help you develop good habits from the very beginning.

 

17. Get a guitar teacher or take guitar lessons online

It's not hard to see why so many people give up on learning guitar. If you ask any newbie how long it took to learn something in the first place, they'll say "not very long." But if they're honest, they'll tell you it took a lot of work. Trying to learn to play guitar on your own is a daunting task because you must motivate yourself, so don't be afraid to reach out and get some help.

Trying to learn to play guitar on your own requires a big effort of will and additional issues: you can't see where mistakes are being made, you have no structure to your practice sessions and it's just too easy to give up when things get tough.

While learning guitar can be done on your own, a teacher or good online lessons will always speed up your progress. Lessons and a teacher will help you stay motivated as well as offer advice and tips on how to improve your skills. Learning guitar is tough, and a program will save you time and money.

A lot of people might be unsure if paying for an online guitar lesson is worth the money or not. If you're one of them, you should definitely keep reading this section and see how it can help you make up your mind.

Paid guitar lessons sites are surely cheaper than a personal instructor but even than free YouTube videos: the time you'll spend on YouTube searching for free lessons and establishing a learning path by yourself will be more costly in terms of efficiency. You may find some useful things there, but mostly you'll waste time and energy on things that aren't really important for a guitarist such as looking for what to learn next and in what order you should learn.

Remember: the less time you spend making your own learning path and searching for the right guitar lessons on YouTube, the longer the time spent learning guitar is, and the more likely you are to succeed.

On paid sites, everything is nicely organized and presented in a simple way so it's easier to learn what you need and spend less time on things that aren't so important. Another advantage is that some sites have special features which are unavailable on free sites, like video tutorials and bonuses like backing tracks, charts, and tabs. You will be able to choose what kind of lessons do you prefer: rock, blues, jazz or classical and feel free to practice wherever and whenever you want. With our interactive lessons, designed especially for beginners, you will be able to quickly understand the basics of playing an acoustic or electric guitar.

We made a thorough research and made a top of the greatest online guitar lessons websites, where you can find a comparison table with head-to-head features comparison and see which of them would suit you if you feel overwhelmed and you want to get extra help.

For beginners, the best online guitar class in our chart is JamPlay (check here for the free trial), closely followed by GuitarTricks. Also, you can find on GuitarFellow a full analysis of JamPlay and a comprehensive report of GuitarTricks, where you will have a detailed view of each of them.

 

We've spent hundreds of hours on these reports and we hope it will be useful to you in deciding which of these sites is right for your needs in order to give a new dimension to your adventure of learning to play the guitar.

 

18. Practice, practice, practice

The idea that you need to put in 10,000 hours to become an expert isn't necessarily true. In fact, research from The Boston Consulting Group suggests that you can become world-class in any given field with just three years of deliberate practice.

Learning guitar is similar to learning anything else. Even if you’re a quick study, you’ll need to dedicate some time and energy into practice in order to make any progress. If you’re serious about learning guitar, set aside at least 30 minutes every day to practice. Learning something new takes time and effort, so schedule your practice sessions accordingly. If you want to learn something new, but don’t have time in your daily routine, try practicing a little bit each day (even just five minutes is fine) and then increasing your practice time by five or ten minutes per week until you’re able to fit in a full thirty-minute session every day.

 

Final thoughts

So, how long will it take you to learn guitar? The answer is anybody’s guess. A truly talented individual might be able to learn everything they need to know in a few months. Meanwhile, someone who is just starting out might need a whole year before they’re ready to pick up the guitar and actually play a song. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else on this front. Just put in the time and practice necessary for you to progress toward your goals. Then focus on refining your playing rather than trying to rush the whole process along.

 

All in all, it’s important to remember that learning guitar isn’t something you’re going to master over the course of a week. Guitar learning is not a linear process - you will experience both success and failure along the way. It’ll take time and patience, but if you stick with it and practice diligently, we’re confident you’ll make progress. Take your time and have fun with it. It's guitar time!