Learning new things sometimes can be scary. It is never easy trying to learn how to play an instrument. And if you are trying to teach yourself to play the guitar, it might get even harder. But there are some steps you can take to make your journey a bit easier.
Practice Guitar Daily
Progress won’t come overnight. No one became guitar virtuoso investing several hours. You need to be prepared to play every day. You shouldn’t be discouraged by the lack of visible progress because as long as you play, progress will happen. The lessons won’t always be to learn something that is hard to play. Sometimes the exercise might look simple, but you need hours to continue practicing. One of the most important things in playing is muscle memory. If you invest time in playing and practicing, your muscles will remember that much better than your brain. The more you play, the better you’ll get. It is a common misconception that famous guitar players don’t practice or that they just bought a guitar and started playing. If you wish to learn something or be better you will need to work hard to get there.
Practice In A Smart Way
Don’t force yourself. It is good to play guitar every day, even for a few minutes. Create a routine that will keep you practicing every day for a little. Going for this option is much better than playing seven hours straight for one day and then doing nothing for six. Instead of this, you should play for one hour a day for seven days for example. Find the tempo that will keep you occupied and create some kind of a schedule.
Learn Most Used Guitar Chords
While music theory might sound boring to a beginner, chords are fundamental. Learning basic chords will help you play songs, probably even the most popular that you know. Start simple and build your knowledge. Minor and major chords are basics of guitar theory and make sure you dedicate time to learning them. The simplest types of chords are “open chords” that is played at the top of the neck while leaving some strings open or unfretted. This will be your foundation for future playing because almost every song you can hear on the radio is built using some type of chord progression. It is one of the best ways to start learning and you will be able to learn how to play a few songs too.
If you don’t know all the beginner’s chord you can check out my post Beginners Guitar Chords – The Ultimate Beginners Guide
Teach Yourself To Tune A Guitar By Ear
One of the most important things is tuning your instrument. While there are guitar tuners out there that are both affordable and easy to use, learning to do it yourself is something you should try mastering. It is quite important for a beginner to know the basics of guitar tuning because the guitar that is out of tune will be impossible to play. Even if your fingers are at the right place, the sound that comes out of the guitar will be bad. You won’t be able to practice and you won’t be able to progress. As you learn more and more about guitar theory and playing, you will perfect your ear and in time you’ll be able to tune the guitar without the use of tuners or any other help.
Learn The Names And Numbers Of The Strings
While there are different opinions on the importance of music theory for guitar playing, one thing is certain. You need to learn is the names and order of guitar strings. In standard guitar tuning, six-string guitar, the “names” are: E A D G B E counting from the top of the neck or the thickest string. The strings are counted from the bottom. So the first string would be high E, the second one would be B and so on. It is important to learn these for easier communication. It’s standardized and it might save you some time in the future.
Learn How To Hold The Guitar
Taking the first steps toward playing guitar can always be hard. Learn how to hold the guitar properly. Whether you are left-handed or right-handed, there is an option for you. You should never feel pain or sore or any type of discomfort. While many of us know the basics of holding the guitar, there are other fine things you might not know. Of course, depending on the model of the guitar there are different ways of holding it. You will not hold Gibson’s Flying V the same way as the ES-335 model. So try to make yourself comfortable with the guitar you have. You might find that some of the problems you had were because of bad posture or bad hand positioning. You should also try to feel comfortable while playing both standing and sitting.
Practice The Chords By Playing Songs You Love
The practice is not always fun. What you can do to make it more interesting is to learn how to play songs that you like. Most of the books about guitar theory have some sort of beginner songs. The main problem is that you might not even hear these songs or that you don’t feel any kind of connection. You can always find some songs that you like that are not hard to play and practice chords and shapes on these songs. It will keep you motivated and it is a great practice. There is a great level of satisfaction hearing yourself play a real song by the band or player that you admire. And if you really love the song, you won’t have a problem practicing for hours to perfect switching between chords. It was hard for everyone at the beginning but remember that practice makes perfect.
If you are interested to find out songs that you can easily play, you can check out my post 15 Famous Easy Guitar Songs With 3 Chords For Beginners
Practice Chromatic Exercise Every Day
While learning guitar scales might sound too difficult for a beginner, there is one scale or exercise that is great for practicing dexterity of both left and right arm. The chromatic exercise or chromatic scale is a scale where you play every note with each semi-note that exists. For example, you would start at the sixth string and play an open string, then put your index finger on the first fret and play the note. After that, the second fret is fretted with a middle finger and the third one with the ring finger. The fifth note you’d play would be the fourth fret with your pinky finger. You would repeat this on every string. It will make your fingers more agile and you will create a nice foundation for future more complex exercises and scales. You should practice this daily.
Learn With A Guitar That’s Well Suited To You
We are all different. Try to find the guitar that is suited for you and your wishes. Whether you chose to play rock, metal, blues or anything else, you should try to find the guitar that will be able to create the sound that you desire. There are almost countless models of guitars. The sound, shape, color, number of pickups, these are all the options that you should consider before you buy the guitar. If everything is right and well suited for you, it will make your practice easier and more pleasurable.
Learn How To Strum A Guitar
If you are right-handed and you play right-handed guitar, you will use your left hand for fretting and right hand for strumming. One of the most important pieces of good music is rhythm. That is what drives us to a certain genre or a certain song. You will need to know how to pluck strings or how to strum if you want to play the guitar. Learning basics of rhythm, tempo, and strumming might sound too difficult at the moment, but once you perfect this you probably won’t think of it again. There are some basic strumming techniques and patterns that you should check out and be sure to spend some time learning them.
If you still don’t know any strumming patterns you can check out my post 13 Easy Guitar Strumming Patterns From Well Known Songs
Fretting The Guitar’s Strings Correctly
It is important to learn how to fret strings. When you put a finger on a fret, between two metal lines, you will get a clear sound. While playing chords, you’ll be required to fret sometimes even six strings in a different way and it might be a problem. Beginner guitar players usually have quite a lot of trouble with barre chords and making them sound right. You should practice fretting properly and in a way that all the strings create clear sound. If there is a buzzing sound, that usually means that you are not fretting hard enough or that your fingers are not in a proper place. Whether you are practicing chords or scales or some simple melody, it is essential that you get a perfectly clear tone. This, of course, takes hours of practice. Practice as slow as you need as long as every note that you play can be heard perfectly and without any noises or buzzing. After you perfect it, then proceed to reach the desired speed.
Learn How To Hold A Pick Properly
Guitar pick or plectrum is essential for playing electric guitar. While there are players who play an electric guitar without using one, you should still know how to use one. It might sit in your hand awkwardly at the beginning. You should try several picks to find out which one suits you the best. There are all kinds of shapes and thickness out there, so be sure to find the right one for you. Hold it between your thumb and your index finger and use the pointy bit for plucking strings. There is no 100% correct way to do this and it is very important to find a way that is comfortable for you and that will make you play better.
If you are not sure how to hold the pick correctly you can check out my post How To Hold A Guitar Pick – Best Way, Techniques And More
Make A List Of Songs You Love
Creating a list like this will make you more eager to practice and you will enjoy it much more. If you create a list of the songs you love that you wish to learn, your teacher (if you have one) might help you with them. You can always prioritize or sort them from easiest to the hardest. With the checklist like this, you will notice the progress you make. Playing the guitar should be fun and you should always enjoy doing it. And doing the thing you love is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world.
Find A Good Guitar Teacher
Finding a good teacher is always a great idea. While it is not an easy thing to do and it might take you a few tries to get it, in the end, it will pay off. With the help of a teacher, you will progress much faster than playing alone. He will be able to point out any mistakes you might have and help you correct them as soon as they appear. Those mistakes would be very hard to notice if you are self-taught and you might do something wrong for ages before realizing where the mistake is. Also, by setting some kind of goal, your teacher will know what are important steps and lessons for you specifically and he will help you get there faster.
Be Patient With Yourself
Take your time. When you create a schedule, you should just continue with that and do your best. It might get hard from time to time. But it is important to be patient with yourself. You might have trouble with some bit, changing from one chord to another or some specific technique. And this is quite normal. You should never feel bad about it or feel like you should learn it faster or better. Take your time and follow your own tempo. There is no general schedule saying how fast you should learn something. Take your time and keep practicing. If you continue trying and trying again, eventually you will overcome any issue you might have. It is important not to get angry or frustrated and just keep practicing.
Don’t Be Discouraged By Other People
Music is not an Olympic discipline. Guitar playing is not a competition. You should not look at other players and compare the progress. Some of your friends might have started playing guitar too and there is a chance that someone is making great progress. This doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong or that it is not for you. It probably means that he is practicing more. The only reason you should ever look at what others are doing is if you want to learn some cool lick or solo or a new technique. Otherwise, don’t bother with other people’s progress and focus on your own.
Learn How To Care For Your Guitar
It is not rare that a guitar player develops a special connection with his instrument. You should always take care of your guitar. Keeping your strings clean, your fretboard polished and all the metal parts of the guitar shiny will result in better sound. On top of that, playing a well-maintained guitar will be more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than rusty, dirty guitar. It’s hard for playing and looks really bad. There are tons of cleaning products out there. From string polishers and cleaners, fast fret liquids, wood, and metal polish. They usually come with a special cloth that won’t damage the instrument. These polishes and liquids are designed for guitar and you should always choose them instead of kitchen cleaning products that might damage the finish or other parts of the guitar. You can always check maintenance kits that contain everything that you might need to keep your guitar in perfect condition.
For more information about maintenance, you can check out my post 22 Essential Guitar Maintenance Tips – Extend Its Life
Learn How To Set Up Your Guitar
Along with cleaning and polishing, you should also try to learn how to do guitar set-up. Setting the proper action, intonation, string height, neck straightness, are all parts of customizing your instrument and creating something that is unique and perfect for you. It is never too early to learn to do any of these things. And by keeping your guitar clean and set-up, you can be sure that you will get the best results and the best quality of sound that you can.
Learn The Different Parts Of The Guitar
You should try and learn what are parts of the guitar and what is their purpose. There is a body of the guitar. It’s usually made of wood. The type of wood may vary and it depends on the guitar type or model you have. The other distinctive thing is the neck of the guitar. On the body, you have potentiometers (usually tone and volume), two or three pickups, pickup selector or switch and the bridge. There may be some other things, but these are essential. You should learn what they are and what they do. On the neck of the guitar, you have fretboard which is the part where you put fingers, on the fretboard are frets. The number of frets depends on the model of the guitar. And the head of the guitar with tuning machines and tuning pegs. With a better understanding of the guitar anatomy, you will be able to use a guitar in a better way. It’s easier to know how to use something once you know what it does. You also might learn more and realize that you don’t like a certain type of bridge or want to replace some parts of your guitar. The more you learn the more freedom you’ll have to explore and experiment with your instrument.
Many beginner players tend to be tight and hold everything too hard. You should try to relax as much as possible while playing. It will allow you to play longer without hurting yourself or simply getting tired. Your hands, both strumming and fretting should be relaxed as well. You want to hold your pick not too tight and allow wrists to do their work. The same goes for the entire posture. Relaxing your entire body and releasing the tension will allow you to play properly and for a longer period without being tired or hurting yourself. Muscle or wrist pain is usually a sign of a bad technique.
Manage The Finger Pain
The heavier the strings are the tighter they’ll be which will result in finger pains. It is normal for your fingertips to hurt. Over time your fingertips will become tougher and they will rarely hurt. But as a beginner, this might seem like too often. Usually, the best idea would be to play through pain. But of course, if the pain is too high, you should take a break. If you don’t want to change the string gauge, you might want to check if the action is too high. Action is the term used to describe the distance between strings and the fretboard. Try not to press strings harder than necessary. After a few days, your fingertips will have calluses on them making them stronger and allowing you to play for longer without feeling any pain. Over time, you will stop thinking about your fingertips because your skin will become a bit thicker.
If you want to toughen your fingertips you should defiantly check my article How To Toughen Up Your Fingertips
Learn How To Read Guitar Tabs
Guitar tabs or tablatures are one of the most popular ways of writing music for guitar. Besides music notation that is universal for any instrument. While notation requires you to learn music theory to read them properly, guitar tabs are more visual and more beginner-friendly. They consist of six lines that represent guitar strings. They are marked so you know what tuning is used to write the song you’re trying to learn. If it is standard tuning, you’ll notice EADGBE at the beginning. After that, each string is a number that represents the fret you need to play. For example: if on A string line there is a number 3, that means that you need to play the third fret on A string. Zero would represent playing that string without fretting anything. If there are two numbers on two strings in a vertical line, that means that they are played at the same time. There are other symbols that represent guitar techniques like a hammer on or pull off, slide, vibrato, staccato, and others. They usually have a short description at the beginning along with a little legend that explains the techniques used in that particular song. Guitar tabs are easy to read and fun to use. They will help you progress faster and learn songs you always wanted to play. So be sure to check them out. There countless websites online that contain guitar tabs that might help you become a better guitar player.
Learn Guitar With A Metronome
The most important parts of the song are rhythm and tempo. We already mentioned strumming as a rhythm technique. The other thing you should always be aware of is tempo. It is one of the most ignored things by a beginner guitar player. It is rare for a guitarist to even own a metronome. If you ever wished to play the guitar and especially if you want to play with others in a band, you should get a metronome. It will help you keep the right tempo. You can adjust the bpm or beats per minute from slow to fast. Even if you practice scales or some simple exercises you should do them with a metronome. Set the tempo to the slowest and slowly build your speed. You should always focus on precision, accuracy, and tempo before speed. If you learn how to play fast but out of tempo, it will sound bad. Speed will come in time and with practice. Slowly build your speed by setting the metronome faster and faster until you reach the desired speed. One of the other methods you can use and that you probably saw people do is foot tapping. If you tap your foot on the ground in the same way the metronome would, you will always be on time. Like most of the techniques, if you perfect it and let them become the part of your playing, you will always be aware of the things you can play even if you improvise solo or some section of the song.
If you are still not convinced why you should practice with a metronome, check out my post 15 Important Reasons To Use A Metronome As A Guitar Player
These are some of the most important tips for learning how to play guitar. But one of the most important ones is to keep practicing. As long as you practice and do what you love, you will be able to progress and become a better guitar player. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep on rocking.