Not sure how to learn guitar step-by-step? Don’t worry! Pick up your guitar and get started. This guide was created to help someone who has never picked up a guitar before, and my aim is to assist you as much as possible on your musical journey.
Playing the guitar is fascinating, engaging, demanding, and rewarding all at the same time. If picturing yourself playing sounds like a great idea, you’ve come to the right place to make it happen! You’ve come here because you’re interested in learning to play guitar, have tried before but failed, or are a beginner searching for advice on how to improve as a guitarist.
Well, I’m here to tell you that if you really want to learn to play, you can and will! I’ve walked in your shoes, and I can tell you that learning guitar is not the easiest thing to do, and it takes a lot of practice, but once you play your first song, it’s well worth it. Let’s get this timing right!
In this guide, we are going to discuss:
- Find the right guitar
- Learn the names of parts of guitar
- Learn to identify the guitar strings
- Practice reading guitar tab
- Read basic chord diagrams
- Get Introduced to strumming
- Know the Pick holding technique
- Learn good practice Habits
- Have patience
- Learn your first song
Find the right Guitar
The options for choosing the right guitar are endless, narrowing down what type of guitar you want to purchase depending on budget and many other things can be a difficult decision to make. As there are some guitars that are easy to play and some are difficult to play, the type/brand/ model that you choose will have a huge influence on your career as a musician. Making the wrong decision can lead to you quitting. So, make sure that you are investing your money righteously. There are some things that you need to consider before finalizing your guitar.
- Budget: You shouldn’t break the bank on a new guitar as a beginner, but it doesn’t mean you should get the cheapest guitar you can find and expect it to be a guitar that’s genuinely worth the money. You should look for a guitar that will stay in tune and doesn’t have any broken parts.
As personal advice, I would strongly advise against purchasing unbranded guitar kits online as a beginner. To get a better experience, go to the store and try on the guitars before making a purchase. If you don’t know how to play the basic guitar, at the very least try holding it to see if it’s the right size for your body.
- Equipment: Before you actually start trying to learn and play the guitar, you should invest your money in a few things for a seamless experience:
A guitar tuner, a Capo, guitar strap, guitar picks, small amp and a cable (if you are using an electric guitar)
The appropriate kind of equipment may make a big impact on your technique and the tone of your instrument. You may always add additional equipment to your arsenal as you grow as a
musician, but the above-mentioned items are what I would strongly recommend investing in at the start of your guitar adventure.
- Neck of the guitar: Look for any curves or bends in the guitar’s neck. In an ideal world, your guitar’s neck would be straight, preventing the strings from touching the frets while you play.
A bow or back bow on the guitar can make playing the instrument more difficult, especially for beginners. If you’re not sure how to check your guitar’s neck relief, consult an expert. They should be able to inspect and diagnose any potential issues with your guitar neck, as well as make any necessary adjustments.
- Get the right size: You should investigate small-bodied guitars if you’re just beginning out. For smaller musicians, most major manufacturers provide miniature (fourth to three-quarters smaller-than-standard) guitars, while some businesses cater exclusively to a younger market.
If you’re still unclear about your size, check with the cashier at your local music store.
2. Learn the names of guitar parts
As you can see in the image, there are many parts of an electric as well as acoustic guitar. Without knowing the instrument, you will be limited in your guitar playing ability in the long run. You can go through guides on parts of guitar. Every sort of part has its own diagram, as well as explicit explanations of what each part accomplishes. Try to remember the part names so you’ll know what they’re called whenever you hear them mentioned.
3. Learn to identify the guitar strings
When learning how to play, many beginners have the problem of being so eager to get started that they forget to study the parts and pieces that go into making their guitar. Learning to identify the strings on your guitar correctly will make the entire learning process much easier in the long run. The technique of identifying your guitar strings isn’t difficult, and once you’ve mastered it, it’ll be something you’ll remember for the rest of your guitar career!
E, A, D, G, B, the thickest string will be your 6th string (E), and the thinnest string will be your first string (e).
To help you remember the names of your strings, below are some mnemonic acronyms for guitar strings:
- Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually
- Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears
- Elvis Always Dug Good Banana Eating
- Every Boy Gets Dinner At Night
You should repeat whatever is easier for you to remember to yourself, just to get it hooked in your memory, so you don’t forget!
Which order do strings go in?
There are six strings in an acoustic guitar. The most confusing aspect of recognizing guitar strings for beginners is that the strings are not labelled as ‘1-6,’ but rather as ‘6-1.’ The thickest string is naturally the one that most people strum first, which is why many musicians believe that the low E string will be the first. However, that low string will be referred to as your ‘6th string,’ whereas the first string on your guitar is the high E string.
Your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger will be used to hold down strings, while your thumb will be on the back of the guitar’s neck to help balance the instrument.
4. Practice reading Guitar Tab
Guitar TAB is a simple way of writing out music, you will find guitar tab for every song.
The above example may not make any sense now, but once you know how to how to read guitar tab then you will be able to analyze it.
5. Read basic chord diagrams
Yay, now we can get to the fun part of learning the guitar, which is learning some chords and playing!
No matter what genre of music you want to perform, learning a few basic chords is a must. Chords are a crucial aspect of learning how to play the guitar correctly.
A chord is a combination of three or more different notes together. If you want to learn the style of music, knowing a basic chord diagram is a must. Chord diagrams show how to play a chord on guitar which brings out a song.
The above chord diagram explains well how to play a chord. You’ll be able to start learning how to play some simple open chords as soon as you learn how to read chord diagrams.
6. Get introduced to strumming
The guitar is fantastic because it doesn’t demand a lot of upper arm mobility because you strum the guitar primarily with your wrist. Don’t make the frequent beginner mistake of using your entire arm to strum the guitar with a tremendous amount of power.
Even if you want to blow your audience away with the sound, you don’t have to play your strings forcefully. Simply apply a little extra force to your wrist and you’ll notice a difference in the dynamic you’re producing, but you should never strum your guitar with your entire arm.
It’s also important that you understand that, while it’s a lot of fun to play loud and bold, you should first master rhythm before attempting to perform your melodies at a high volume. Learn to strum in time with a beat, as this is the concept that will make you seem like a musician who knows what they’re doing, rather than someone who can’t play in time and just plays wildly.
7. Know the pick holding technique
When you’re just getting started with picking, it’s a good idea to purchase a range of various picks to experiment with, including different sizes and textures. It’s almost safe to say that you can’t
have too many picks because they’re so small and easy to misplace; yet it’s always better to have too many than not enough.
When learning to play the guitar, it’s usual for beginners to prefer softer picks, so don’t let an experienced guitarist talk you out of acquiring softer picks. The more experience you gain under your belt, the more you’ll discover that a heavier, tougher pick provides you with the most sense of control.
I recommend starting with a pick with a thickness of 0.65-0.73, as anything thicker will make it more difficult to manage your fluidity while strumming.
I strongly advise holding your pick between your thumb and forefinger, since this is the most natural and comfortable method to do so. Hold your pick back far enough so that only the tip of the pick protrudes from your fingers; holding your pick back too much will not give you adequate control over your pick, making it easier to lose control.
Another common mistake that beginners make when they initially start their journey is to strum/pluck their guitar in the simplest method possible, which usually means using their fingers or thumb. While playing with your fingers is perfectly OK, playing with your thumb is the most restricting bad habit you can establish while learning to play.
8. Learn good practice Habits
Good Practice Habits
- Don’t overdo it
- Practice everyday
- Have a plan
- Don’t give up
The first objective is to make a practice area in your home. A decent practice area will help you to practice more frequently and with higher quality.
How often should I practice?
I recommend practicing for at least a half hour every day, as a half-hour practice will allow you to:
- Warm up
- Go through your scales.
- Practice alternative strumming styles or chord fingerings.
- Try to learn a new song.
However, even five or ten minutes of practice per day on days when you don’t have much time is preferable to not practicing at all. At the same time, don’t try to squeeze a week’s worth of practice into a single day.
9. Have patience
Well, there is no such thing as ‘have patience’. It just happens.
Patience is something that exists in the presence of other things. When knowledge and understanding are present, patience is there. Patience will not be present if knowledge and understanding are lacking.
I mention this because I’m tired of hearing guitar students say things like, “When I practise, I become upset.” “I’m out of patience.” It is not a lack of patience that they have, but rather a lack of information and understanding of how to play the guitar. Try to learn and understand more in order to have patience while learning how to play guitar.
10. Learn your first song
It’s time to assign yourself a challenge once you’ve learned some basic finger exercises, can play a few chords and simple strumming patterns, and have established a strong practice regimen.
The goal is to learn an entire song from beginning to end. This is an important goal for a beginner to achieve because it marks a significant milestone. The ability to perform a complete song from beginning to end demonstrates to yourself and others that you have what it takes to learn guitar.
While being able to play a bunch of riffs or strum a few chords is impressive, being able to play an entire song is even more so.
Learning to play the guitar can be a difficult hobby to get into, but it’s a lot easier if you focus on developing proper playing techniques and a consistent rehearsal schedule when you’re just getting started! Getting rid of the simple, common faults that many beginners make and mastering the fundamental methods will make the rest of your playing experience a breeze!