No matter what your age is, it is never too late to learn how to play the guitar! Young or old, there is no restriction on learning this new skill. Regardless of what your age or musical background is, learning how to play the guitar can be a rewarding experience. Once you start to learn how to play the guitar, you might realize that there are tons of benefits, including better self-discipline, coordination, confidence, and creativity. By playing consistently, you can conquer your fears and become an expert player before you know it.
How to choose a guitar
Choosing a guitar can be hard for beginners. There are many different key factors to consider, but one of the essential things to consider is picking a guitar that has been inspected and adjusted for comfortable playability. The guitar should also be tuned accurately, have excellent intonation, and produce a clear tone.
Just because you are purchasing a guitar as a beginner doesn’t mean that you should buy a cheaper guitar. You might be afraid that you won’t stick with it, and therefore purchase a cheap guitar. Or perhaps you are buying an acoustic guitar when what you really want to play is an electric guitar. Doing a bit of research first can possibly help you make a better choice.
While there is no guarantee that you will stick with playing the guitar, you might want to consider purchasing an affordable guitar that is fun to play. If the guitar is too cheap, it might not be fun to play and could always fall out of tune. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for,” and this adage is often true for guitars. While there are some exceptions to this rule, in general, a cheaply made guitar is more trouble than it is worth. You are more likely to stick with playing the guitar is you choose one that you like and produces a good sound.
Something to consider is the size of the guitar. Choosing the right sized guitar for you can make a difference in how easy you can play the guitar. A guitar that is too big for your hands will be awkward and uncomfortable to play. If you are purchasing a guitar for a child, then you want to make sure that they can easily reach every fret. Otherwise, they will be uncomfortable and never want to play. A normal-sized adult should be able to use a full-sized guitar without any problems.
As you search for the guitar of your dreams, make sure to purchase one that appeals to you visually. Pick a finish and a color that excites you and makes you want to keep picking the guitar up every day to practice.
You could also download a guitar VST plugin for your DAW of choice and use a keyboard to play guitar sounds, but that’s not anywhere near the fun of playing an actual guitar.
How to tune your guitar
Something you might want to consider investing in is an excellent guitar tuner. There are four different types you might want to consider: microphone-based tuners, pedal tuners, vibration-based tuners, and smartphone apps.
A microphone-based tuner will help you tune the guitar based on what it hears. You can plug an electric and electro-acoustic guitar into most of the modern microphone-based tuners. It’s effortless and straightforward to use, even for beginners.
The next option is a vibration-based tuner, which is clipped onto the guitar and tunes it by the vibrations produced by the instrument. One advantage of the vibration-based tuners is that it can still tune in a noisy environment, which is not the case for microphone-based tuners.
Another option is a pedal tuner, which is an extremely accurate method of tuning your guitar. It can be used with electric, bass, and electro-acoustic guitars. The last option you can choose between is a smartphone app. This method is quick, and can often be done cheaply. You can find free apps for both Android and iOS.
While your guitar might come with a tuner, you might want to consider purchasing a dedicated tuner. It will typically do the job better. As you slowly learn more and play your guitar consistently, you might not even need to rely on a tuner anymore.
How to learn the names and numbers of the strings
Remembering which string is which and the names of each can be one of the hardest things for new players to master. If you don’t know what the name of the strings is, it is almost impossible to learn how to play the guitar.
Going from thickest to the thinnest string, the names of the strings are E A D G B E. Two ways you can remember this are with the simple sayings: Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie or Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears. These little phrases are a quick way to remember the string names.
The strings are numbered from thinnest to thickest starting with 1. This can trip up new beginners because when you strum, you usually start with the thickest string. Because of this, novice players will think of the thickest string as the first string.
However, once you start to understand the guitar better, it will begin to make sense, and you will remember the number and names of each of the strings without any problems. The more you practice, the more it will become second nature to you.
How to read guitar tabs
Before you can understand how to read Tabs, you first have to learn and master the three basic numbering systems that all guitar players need to know.
Frets are one numbering systems that guitarists use. Frets are the metal strips that you can see positioned along the neck of your guitar. If you are right-handed, the fret farthest to your left is the first fret. As you move down the neck, the frets increase in number as well. This method of numbering is simple to understand and is very important when you need to start playing chords or scales.
Another numbering system you will have to learn is for your fingers. This system is also straightforward, but it is something all players use every time they play. Your index finger is your first finger, the middle finger is the second finger, the ring finger is your third finger, and the pinky is your fourth finger.
The last numbering system you need to know is for the strings. As mentioned above, the thinnest string is the first string, and the sixth string will be the thickest. All these numbering systems are easy to remember but are vital to the success of your playing.
The basic layout of the tabs is essential to memorize, and you should always read Tabs from left to right. As you look at the Tab, you will likely see that there is some standard notation on the top with the Tab located below it. On the Tab, you will see that those six horizontal lines will represent the six strings of the guitar. These lines can be tricky for new players to remember. Practice and memorize that the top line is for the high E string of the guitar, with the low E represented by the bottom string. Just remember the thinnest string is the top line, and that will help you when you play.
Notes & Chords
The Tabs will contain numbers, which will dictate the frets that you should put your fingers on. Play these notes from left to right. If you see a single digit, it means you should play it as a single note, and it will represent a solo or melody that you will play. If instead, you see stacked numbers, that means you will play them at the same time as a chord.
Now that you understand the primary function of Tabs, there are some other common elements that you might run into while you are playing. A few of these elements are palm muting, muted notes, bending, sliding, and more.
Palm-muting will be dictated by a “P.M.—“ marker. You will see the dashes will show you how long you should palm mute the notes. The other element is muted notes or dead notes. This component will be shown by an “x” on a specific string. When you come across the element, you will either mute the note with your right or left hand, and then play that note, so the pitch is dead, or muted. Many times you will see that the dead note during raked parts of lead lines or strumming patterns.
Bending is another comment element you will run into when you read guitar Tabs. You will see that you are supposed to bend the note when there is an upward pointing arrow next to one or more numbers. You might see full or ½ bend. As soon as you come across a few bends, you will understand what you should do.
Sliding is another element you will see, and a fret number, a line represents it is represented by a fret number, a line, and then a different fret number. That line will either be slanted down or up, which will dictate whether you should slide to a lower pitch to a higher pitch or vice versa.
How to learn chords
No matter what type of music you want to play, and what kind of guitar you want to play, you have to learn your chords. Even if you have aspirations to be a solo lead guitarist, you still will need to know your chords.
When you are a novice guitar player, it can be hard to remember the names and hand positions for each chord. In the beginning, you won’t be able to play some of the more difficult chords like F or B, but luckily, there are often more natural versions of the chords that you can learn how to play. By starting with easier chords, you can build confidence, as well as finger strength and dexterity. As you gain more control, you can graduate to learning how to play more challenging chords later on in your playing.
While it might seem hard at first, you will have to persevere through the first hard couple of weeks. The chords might seem challenging or unnatural, but as soon as you begin to master the more basic chords, you will realize that it is becoming second nature to you. Everything takes time, patience, and practice.
If you are having trouble playing chords, you might just not be pressing down correctly. Try to use the very tips of your fingers, and don’t use the fingerprints.
How to strum
One of the most vital elements of playing the guitar is the rhythm. To play the guitar effectively, you have to learn how to strum chords rhythmically. One mistake you might make at first is trying to put too much power into your strums. However, even if you want to play loud, you don’t need to strum so powerfully. What is more critical to playing the guitar is not playing loud, but instead playing in time. Regardless if you’re going to play metal, rock, jazz, country, or any other style of music, the most important thing you should learn is how to strum in time and with the rhythm.
How to hold your pick
For a beginner, you might want to purchase several different types of picks to figure out which one is right for you. Because the picks are so cheap and small, there is no harm in buying different kinds to discover what works best for you. Most novice guitar players start with a pick thickness of .65-.73. If you select a pick that is any thicker, it becomes more challenging to strum with any fluidity.
Many people, when they are first learning how to play, will prefer to play with a softer pick. However, as their skill increases, they often will switch to a pick that is heavier that allows for more accuracy and control.
Regardless of the pick, you end up selecting, make sure to hold it, so just the pointy end is sticking out. If you hold the pick too far back, you won’t be making the right amount of contact with the guitar.
When you first start out, you might be tempted to start strumming with your fingers. There is nothing wrong with this, but make sure you are practicing with both the pick and fingers. Make sure you don’t start to strum with your thumb because this can limit your ability to play in the future.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to play the guitar, now, you have to start practicing! Try to practice your guitar for at least 15 minutes a day. Even five minutes a day is better than nothing. Try to spread out your practice over the whole week and don’t save your practice all for one day. If you try to practice for three hours on one day, and something comes up, then you lose all that practice time. It’s better to spread it out so if you do miss one day, it isn’t as big of a deal.
You also need to decide what type of teacher you want to learn from. Try to decide what kind of guitar player you want to be, and find a teacher who can help you reach your goals. While YouTube tutorials can be a great way to get started, you might find it is more helpful to learn from a real-life teacher.
When you start to learn a new skill, it can take time to master it. As you begin to make progress, you learn that sometimes you will master a skill quickly, while other techniques might take you a while to conquer. It can be frustrating if you aren’t progressing as fast as you want, but this is entirely normal, and you should give yourself a break. The only way to get over these hurdles is to continue to practice and to work on your craft. By playing the guitar 15 minutes a day, you can keep the momentum going and learn how to play the guitar.