How to Learn Guitar, Tips for Beginner and Intermediate Players

how to play the guitarLearning the guitar is a goal for many people, but far too few ever turn the dream into a reality. Some are unable to spend the time it requires to meet their short-term goals, and they become frustrated and eventually don’t pick up their guitar again. Others reach a point where they no longer progress as quickly as they would like, and their enjoyment of playing begins to fade. While it’s true that learning to play the guitar takes some time and effort, the learning process can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. All it takes are some goals, some practice, and a bit of help along the way. Whether you want to be more musical, sing and play along to songs with friends around a campfire, perform in front of an audience, or sell millions of albums and tour the world, it all begins by playing with just six strings. Take a look at these tips and get started on becoming an awesome guitar player in just a few easy steps. Want to see what you’d learn in your first month? Check out this online course that teaches everything you would learn in your first month of private lessons.

Step 1: Getting to Know Your Guitar

guitarThe first thing you need to do is to get ahold of an acoustic or electric guitar. Before investing in an instrument of your own, see if a family member or friend has a guitar that they would be willing to lend you until you are ready for a guitar of your own. This also provides an opportunity to get him or her to teach you a few chords to get started!

You should also decide whether you want to begin learning and playing with an acoustic or an electric guitar. Many people start on an acoustic guitar and then move on to an electric once they have learned some of the basics. Nearly everything you learn on the acoustic will carry over in some way to the electric. Generally speaking, acoustics are cheaper and don’t require an amplifier, are more portable, and the heavier strings require more pressure to play, so beginners develop greater hand strength while they are learning finger positioning, strumming, and basics such as notes and chords. Electric guitars produce a wider range of sounds and tones and may be better suited to the types of music you want to play. A music store salesperson can help decide which type of guitar is best for you, based on your tastes, preferences, and budget.

Buying the cheapest guitar in the shop is generally not the best way to select an instrument. Often times, you get what you pay for, but you don’t need to buy the most expensive guitar before you even get started. The temptation with beginning guitar players is to buy the guitar that looks the coolest or the guitar that his or her favorite guitarist uses, but this can be a mistake, because at the end of the day, neither you nor your audience will really care what your guitar looks like—all that really matters are the sounds and music you produce, and it is the characteristics and quality of the guitar, not its looks, that determine how it sounds. The best thing a beginning guitar player can do is talk to other guitar players, to learn and benefit from their experience. When it comes time to purchase your first guitar, you should set aside about an hour or more to try out several guitars and get advice from the sales assistant. He or she has likely helped many beginners select the guitar that is best suited for them and would be able to make good recommendations based on your discussion. Pay attention to how the guitar responds to your hands, attach a guitar strap and stand up to see how it feels, how it is weighted, how your fingers feel as they glide along the neck. The guitar that best responds to your playing is likely your best choice. Most beginners find it easiest to learn to play on a guitar with a relatively low action – which means that the strings lie quite close to the neck of the guitar – because not as much pressure needs to be applied to press down the strings.

Once you have a guitar that suits the style of guitar-playing that you want to master, you needto learn to identify the notes on the fret board and get used to some basic picking and fingerin gtechniques. In the standard tuning, the open strings beginning with those closest to you represent the notes E, A, D, G, B and E. Other notes can be sounded by pressing a string down just behind mthe metal fret and plucking the string. Frets further down the neck, closer to the body of the guitar, produce higher notes than those closer to the guitar head.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Equipment

In addition to choosing the right guitar, there are many types of equipment that a guitar player uses every day. The type of strings you use, the thickness of the guitar picks you play with, the length of your guitar strap—all will contribute to your sound and influence your playing style.

One invaluable piece of equipment is a guitar tuner. Until you have trained your ear to properly tune your guitar, a tuner is essential for ensuring that all of your strings are tuned to the correct pitch, so that the notes you play are the ones you should be hearing. Even after you have trained your ear, most if not all guitar players use a tuner before and during their performances, to ensure that they are in tune.

Step 3: Scales, Arpeggios, Chords and Rhythms

chordsNow that you are comfortably handling the guitar, it is time to get familiar with the range of sounds that you can produce. Most importantly, you need to get an idea of which notes sound good when played together or in quick succession.

A scale refers to a grouping of notes. You may have heard of the two most common scales: major scales (which tend to sound happy and lively) and minor scales (which tend to sound sad). Playing a particular scale determines which notes are correct and sound good when played together.

A group of notes played and held together is a chord. A group of notes played in succession and held to ring out is an arpeggio.

Learning scales and how to read music might seem boring at first, but they are invaluable for knowing which notes work and which won’t when you are playing or composing your own music. Taking the time to practice these patterns gives you the knowledge and a solid foundation for understanding how to approach improvising searing lead guitar solos or creating your own catchy riffs. Similarly, learning to strum with different rhythms can make even the most basic chord progression sound original.

This Beginner Guitar course will teach you the most common scales, chords, and arpeggios, and will also teach you to read sheet music that has been written for guitar players.

Step 4: Experimenting with New Techniques

The guitar is a fabulously versatile instrument. The basic strumming and picking techniques that are taught in beginner courses will allow you to become a competent guitarist, but to be truly great, you need to break out from repeating the same songs and progressions and begin to experiment with improvisation. Improving your dexterity is essential to becoming a great soloist, while all electric guitarists need to know their instrument’s pickup controls and work out how they can emulate the over-driven, grungy, clean, or smooth sounds that appear on their favorite records.

The Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced includes 220 lessons that will take you from absolute beginner to advanced guitarist. If you are looking for a comprehensive course that will cover all important bases, this is the one for you.

Any one of these lessons can provide you ideas and approaches to the guitar playing that you hear in your favorite music, to take your own playing even further. The ideas and techniques demonstrated form the basis for your own musical experimentation and exploration. From there, the sky’s the limit to the types of sounds you can create and the feelings and expressions that will leap from your strings.

Step 5: Find Your Style

Once you have become an accomplished guitarist, it is time to develop your own style. What kinds of music do you want to play? What kinds of music do you enjoy listening to? Whether you are a lover of blues, jazz, hard rock or classical music, you can use your guitar to create the kind of music you enjoy playing and the music your audience will enjoy hearing. Take a look at these online courses to develop your guitar playing in different directions:

Step 6: Putting It All Together

bandThe most important thing you can do is PLAY! Pick up your guitar and start playing notes and chords together without thinking about what you are doing or stopping for mistakes. Try to recreate a melody you heard earlier in the day or find the notes and chords that express your current mood. Play along with and learn songs that you normally wouldn’t listen to. Put on a symphony or concerto and learn how to play a clarinet solo on your guitar. Mute the sound on your tv and try to compose music to fit the images and stories shown. Inspiration for your playing can be drawn from virtually anything, and challenging yourself to use your guitar in new ways will greatly improve proficiency. At this stage, playing from your heart can be just as important as what your hands are doing and what knowledge and theory you are drawing from while you strum the strings.

One of the most important things you can do is play with other people. Find friends who also play instruments and learn some songs together, jam and improvise some melodies, and draw inspiration from each other.

But all of these—your musical feel, your technique, and your knowledge—all contribute to your performance and will both consciously and unconsciously inform your playing, so it is important to plan your learning along the way.

Once you have warmed up and had some fun exercising your creative side, you should take the time to exercise your analytical side by learning more about your guitar and the larger world of music at large. By simply playing, you will begin to just know what chords work together, but it is the expert guitar player that has an understanding of WHY they work. This knowledge is often what sets the great guitarists above the others, and having a comprehensive and effective learning program at your fingertips can greatly enhance your playing.

These Guitar Courses teach you the theory you need to improve your guitar playing by having you practice as you learn. The styles and techniques presented are as varied as your own musical tastes, and everything that you learn can be incorporated into your playing.

Thousands of students have benefitted from the information in these courses, delivered by performing guitar players in the music industry.

Check out this list of Udemy guitar courses and you will immediately begin taking your guitar playing to the next level!

The following are excellent resources to begin playing guitar, to build a solid foundation for your learning, or to master the six strings:

Beginner Guitar Method

Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced

Guitar Technique Mastery: The Ultimate Chop Building Workout


Updated by: Mark Danch