Anyone who says they’ve never fantasized about being a guitar player is straight-up lying. At some point or another, we’ve all wanted to strum our fingers on those strings and play Hotel California. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that learning to play the guitar is much easier than you imagined, provided that you commit to the process.
Since you’re here, we assume it’s because you’ve finally decided to learn how to play this stellar instrument. First of all, great decision. Second of all, an even greater decision to come here because this is your ultimate guide to learning how to play the guitar. If you follow the tips and tricks below, we guarantee you’ll be a budding rockstar by the end of the year.
1. Finding your inspiration
Before you start learning to play the guitar, finding your inspiration is important. This endeavor will determine your vibe and help you decide what type of guitar player you want to be. For instance, do you want to be a casual guitarist who plays as a hobby, or do you want to pursue music as a career? Also, what kind of guitar do you want to play – bass, acoustic, electric, etc.?
You can’t begin learning without answering these questions because there are different things to learn for different guitarists. For hobbyists, a few base tracks and identification of the keynotes are sufficient at the beginning, as you can continue slowly improving your skills.
However, if you want to be a professional guitarist playing backup for your favorite artist’s performances, you must go for a much more intense program. Speaking of which, attending your favorite icon’s country music tours is an incredible idea to find your inspiration and boost your zeal.
2. Learning to play the guitar
Before moving forward, let’s directly cut to the chase and clarify now and here that there is no shortcut to learning to play the guitar. As with any musical instrument, or any artistic skill at all for that matter, you must put in the time and effort to become a guitarist.
As it says over at YourGuitarBrain.com, “Lack of commitment to practice is like expecting to run a marathon without putting in the miles. Mastery of any skill, including guitar playing, requires dedicated practice and consistent effort.”
Learning the guitar requires patience and an open mind above all else. You must be willing to learn, and you must be willing to allow yourself to take the time to learn. Now that you have the right attitude, it’s time to look at the best learning methods for playing the guitar.
3. Understand the instrument
As a novice guitar player, the first thing to do is familiarize yourself with the guitar and find out all you can about it. It’ll help you understand the instrument and how it works and also make you comfortable with the idea of handling it. To start, do the following:
- Look at the different parts of the instrument and recognize each one separately
- Memorize the names and order of the strings
- Figure out how to set up and tune your guitar
- Learn how to hold the guitar and the guitar pick.
4. Hire an instructor
The easiest way to learn any skill is to take the help of an expert. In this case, that would be a guitar teacher. You can find many great guitar instructors in your local area or through a quick search on Facebook. Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend too much with a personal instructor, you can join a guitar class at your local community club, arts center, or music school.
If your hectic routine makes it difficult to commit to a class or instructor’s schedule, you can consider using the plethora of online tools available for beginner guitarists.
There are several applications available that can help you learn the guitar and many tutorials available on YouTube and other websites that are more than enough to help you start.
5. Start with the basics
You can’t be a professional-level guitarist overnight, so for now; you have to settle for the basics. Begin by learning the basic notes that each string produces. From low to high, the six strings on a guitar are E, A, D, G, B, and E, each of which produces a specific note and several chords. A fun way to remember these is to memorize one of the many sayings, such as Eat A Dead Grasshopper Before Everything. After that, take the time to learn the basic chords, which are a combination of notes.
Once you’ve figured out how to play basic notes and chords, the next basic you must cover is learning how to strum the guitar. While guitarists make it look effortless, strumming is a true art that requires great practice and skill.
Until you learn how to strum smoothly, the music you produce will sound broken and uneven. So, take your time to become a strum master.
6. Pick out a guitar
After covering the basics, committing to one specific instrument for the rest of the learning process is essential. Now is the right time to pick out your guitar. You may have started learning the guitar with dreams of becoming an electric guitar maestro, but after trying your hand at it, maybe acoustic is where your heart lies. So, this is the time to decide what kind of guitar you want to own.
A new guitar is not a small investment, so if you’re a student, you may need to pull a few strings to convince your parents. Alternatively, you can look for a second-hand guitar at thrift shops or ask around if anyone has an old guitar they would sell to you for a reasonable price.
A guitar is, after all, a strong instrument and generally ages well. Whatever you may decide, make sure you get your guitar at this point because the rest of the learning process will require you to have a guitar on hand every day.
7. Create a Zen zone
Art requires focus. So, create a focus area for your practice to ensure you attain the most out of your learning process. It could be your room, the rooftop, or any other peaceful place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. It’s important to be in a relaxed mindset and calm atmosphere for practice, so decorate your area accordingly while adding a comfortable chair, sofa, cushion, etc., where you can sit.
Pay attention to things like lighting, temperature, silence, and other factors that may disturb your practice sessions. By creating a Zen area for your guitar practice, you can put yourself in the zone and focus on the music. Not only will this boost inspiration, but it will also help you learn concepts and chords more quickly.
8. Find a community
Learning a new skill by yourself can be difficult and sometimes quite boring. Finding a community you can join is a surefire way to keep yourself motivated and involved. Start by checking out local guitar clubs or finding online groups for beginner guitarists. Connect with like-minded people who can support you in your journey and keep you motivated when you don’t feel like putting in the effort.
Being part of a group will keep you regular in your practice and give a sense of purpose to your learning journey. Plus, in a community, you will interact with guitarists of all levels, from beginners and casual musicians to experts. They’ll likely share their experience-based knowledge and tips to help you become the ideal guitar player.
9. Learn simple melodies
With the technicalities and basics out of the way, you should start by learning basic melodies on your guitar. A great start is learning the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” melody, the same as the famous “Happy Birthday” song. Once you’ve mastered a few simple tunes, it’s time to move on to learning easy songs for beginner guitarists, such as Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes.
By learning these melodies and songs, you’ll build the confidence required to take on more complicated tunes and play the guitar with ease. It’ll also allow you to use your strumming and notes/chord identification skills. Think of this step as passing phase one of the course to learning how to play the guitar.
10. Practice makes perfect
Remember what we said at the start? Becoming a great or even a mediocre guitarist requires a lot of practice. The music icons you look up to who light the stage on fire with how their fingers glide across the strings have dedicated years to learning the art of making music. If mastery is your goal, practicing should be akin to breathing for you.
To perfect your skills as a guitarist, commit to practicing regularly. Let’s go over some tips to help you stay regular in practice:
- Set a fixed time of day for practice
- Have fun with the guitar instead of setting definite goals for each practice session
- Record videos for social media and share your progress with friends
- Participate in jam sessions with your group through physical or online meetings.
11. Use the musician’s ear
Once you learn the art and science behind music, it is as if a hidden world opens up to you. You start to develop the musician’s ear, which allows you to identify different instruments and notes in songs. Use this ability to decipher melodies and learn what makes up a specific tune. This ability will not only help you learn how to play new songs but also make you a better guitarist who knows which chords go well with each other.
By honing your musician’s ear, you will slowly be able to identify the different variants of a single note and increase your understanding of music. A key benefit of developing this skill is that once you become an expert in identifying and deciphering music, you can create original tunes.
12. Listen to yourself play
The last tip on our list requires you to judge yourself. To do that, you need to play with all your focus and then listen to yourself play. In the past, this required various tools, from cassettes, tape recorders, microphones, etc. However, in today’s age of technology, all you need is your mobile phone with a voice recorder application.
When you’ve learned a new song and practiced it sufficiently, record yourself playing and then listen back to the recording to identify problem areas.
Often when playing an instrument or singing, we fail to realize our mistakes. By recording yourself and listening to yourself play, you can scrutinize your performance and make changes and improvements where required.
Learning a new skill is a time-consuming process. However, if it’s something you’re truly passionate about, the process can become fun and inspiring. Music is hardly something you’re forced into, so if you’re here, we’ll take our chances and assume that it’s due to your interest.
By following the above methods and tips, you can become a master guitarist within a few months. All that is required is your own will and dedication.