Learning how to play a guitar may not be as difficult as it seems, but it will take some time to learn. There is a lot to learn before you even get to the playing part of the process.
As one might say, you have to crawl before you walk. So let’s start crawling. In this complete guide we will be showing you how to play the guitar.
We will discuss:
- It playing guitar easy
- Should you learn chords first
- What should you learn first
- The best style of guitar for a beginner
- How to play the guitar (step by step)
- A good price for beginner guitar
- Where to buy your first guitar
- How many chords there are
- Playing the 5 basic chords
- Does it take long to learn
- How often should you practice
What's In This Guide?
Is It Easy Learning How To Play Guitar?
Playing the guitar can be considered easy for those that already know how to play. But if you are a beginner that wants to learn, it can be a bit intimidating when getting started. There is a lot of information that you will be taking in and trying to process, so it can be a bit overwhelming. But having a wonderful teacher and the proper tools can make the learning process much easier for you.
Remember, if everything in life were easy then everyone would be doing it. With that being said you need to prepare yourself to focus and be dedicated to learning. But also remember that it’s not rocket science.
Should I Learn To Play Guitar Chords First?
Learning guitar chords is a very important part of the process but it’s not something you should be learning first. The reason for this is because there are other things you should know that could make playing chords easier for you. So it is better to learn those steps before you actually get to the steps of playing chords on the guitar.
At this point you may be asking yourself, well if I shouldn’t learn chords first then what should I be learning first on the guitar. Let’s dive right into that!
What Should I Learn First On Guitar?
When learning to play the guitar the first couple of things you should learn are things such as the guitar basics, which are:
- The components of the guitar
- How to hold a guitar
- How to tune a guitar
The reason you should know these things is because you need to know the components in order to know what to do to with each part of the guitar. Knowing how to hold a guitar properly can help you to avoid hurting your hand or joint pains in your arms and elbows. And if your guitar is not tuned before playing, then the chords you play will not sound the way they should which would make playing the guitar pointless.
The Best Style Of Guitar For A Beginner
There are a few different styles of guitars out there to choose from. These styles consist of:
- Electrical guitars
- Acoustic guitars
- Bass guitars
But out of these 3 main styles of guitars, the best one style for a beginner guitar user is the acoustic guitar. The main reason is that it is the most simple type of guitar out of this list. You don’t need any wires, any amps or anything else but the guitar itself to practice with.
If you where to try and start out with an electric or bass guitar you will need to spend money on amplifiers and a bunch of other things that are just not essential to actually learning to play guitar. So, let’s just keep it simple with the acoustic guitar.
How Do You Play Acoustic Guitar?
Step 1 – Learn to identify the components of the guitar.
As mentioned earlier in this guide, knowing the parts of the guitar is an important part of learning to play the guitar. It can help you to easily get adapted to the way a guitar should be handled when playing. Knowing the components of the guitar is essential for you to learn before playing. For example, if you don’t know what a fret-board is how will you know where to place your fingers when playing.
So now that you know how important it is for you to learn the all the parts of the guitar you can refer to the previous guitar components guide up above in this guide.
Step 2 – Holding The Guitar Properly.
Before you can play like the rock star you are you have to make sure you are holding the guitar properly. Many people actually don’t hold the guitar properly. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Right handed people should sit the guitar’s waist on their right leg with their right arm over the top of the guitar’s body.
Your left hand should come under the guitar’s neck for you to hold the strings and frets. Be sure that the guitar is push up close to your stomach to make it as easy as possible to strum. The neck of the guitar should also be tilted upward so that your left hand doesn’t have to hold up the neck and play at the same time. Your left hand should only be used to play not hold up the neck.
When you first start, sitting and maneuvering with the guitar like this will probably be uncomfortable for you but the more you play the easier it will get. If you want more details about holding the guitar the right way, try reading “How to Properly Hold A Guitar“.
Step 3 – Learn How To Tune A Guitar.
Playing an un-tuned guitar will not sound the way that it should when played. The notes will not sound good together and will not flow properly. It will just be frustrating trying to play so learn to tune the guitar.
Learn the name of each string. From the lowest to highest pitch (thickest to thinnest strings) the strings are named E, A, D, G, B, and E.
Hold the tuner up to the guitar and pluck the high E. The tuner will let you know if the guitar is “sharp” (too high) or “flat” (too low). Pluck each note and tighten the tuning pegs to make the pitch higher. Make sure it’s quiet whenever you use the tuner because the microphone on the tuner is sensitive and easily picks up other sounds.
Step 4 – Practice Fretting Strings.
The metal strings that run opposite of the strings that symbol each one of the notes is the frets. In order to play a note you must use your fingers to press on the frets.
Anytime you are moving from fret to fret the pitches will be half way above the last one the closer you get to the body and half way below the previous fret as you move closer to the headstock. Repeat the process of moving back and forth on the fretboard, this will help you get use to the way if feel and the amount of pressure you would need to use to keep the strings down when playing.
Step 5 – Holding The Pick Correctly.
A pick is a small tear-shaped piece of plastic used for picking out individual strings and strumming on the guitar. You can find these at mostly any music store. Although you don’t have to play with a pick you should probably start out with one.
To hold the pick right, make a fist with your picking hand and put your thumb on the top of your curled up index finger. Hold the pick in between your thumb and index finger, but only use the tip of the pick to strum and pluck the strings of the guitar.
Step 6 – Playing 1st position chords.
Chords are harmonic groups of three or more notes. First position chords and barre chords are the basic chord types for beginners. Chord combinations of open strings and strings pressed in the first three frets are first position chords.
- The most common major chords: A Major, E Major, G Major, C Major, D Major.
Step 7 – Chord Finger Placement.
Finger placement (Major 1st, Minor 2nd):
- C-Chord: Put your index finger on the 2nd string at the 1st fret, place your middle finger on the 4th string at the 2nd fret, and put your ring finger on the 5th string at the 3rd fret. Leave strings number 1 and 3 open. Only strum strings 1-5 with one stroke. Do not strum string 6.
- A-Major: Put your ring finger on the 4th string, middle finger on the 3rd string and index finger on the 2nd string, all of the 2nd fret. Strum all the string except string 6.
- G-Chord: Put your index finger on the 5th string at the 2nd fret. Place your middle finger on the 6th string at the 3rd fret and put your ring finger on the 1st string at the 3rd fret. Leave strings number 2, 3, and 4 open. Strum all the strings with one stroke.
- E-Major: Put you middle finger on the 4th string and your ring finger on the 5th string, both at the 2nd fret. Put your index finger on the 3rd string at the 1st fret.
- D-Major: Put your index finger on the 3rd string and middle finger on the 1st string both at the 2nd fret. Then put your ring finger on the 2nd string at the 3rd fret. Strum strings 1-4.
- E-minor: Put your middle finger on the 2nd string and your ring finger on the 3rd string, both at the 2nd fret.
- A-Minor: Put your middle finger on the 3rd string and your ring finger on the 4th string at the 2nd fret. Place your index finger on the 2nd string at the 1st fret. Strum all string except 6.
- D-Minor: Put your index finger 1st string at the 1st fret. Put your middle finger on the on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret and your ring finger on the 2nd string at the 3rd fret. Strum strings 1-4.
Step 8 – Focus On Getting Pure Sound When Playing Chords.
Go through each string on the fretboard and see if each one have a clean sound. Make sure the strings are not muted or muffled and sound the way they supposed to.
- If notes are not sounding the way they should, this probably means that the strings are not being pressed hard enough or your fingers are not fully on the strings the way they should be.
- Try to Keep your fingers curved over the fretboard when they are on the strings. This will help the strings produce a pure sound without distortion.
Step 9 – How To Strum.
When strumming up and down on your guitar you should try to do it as smoothly as possible. You can do this by staying relaxed and using your wrist when strumming. be sure that you keep your elbow close to the guitar and smoothly strum the pick across the strings. Remember that your elbow shouldn’t move as much and most of the work should be done with your wrist.
Step 10 – Playing Barre Chords.
Learning to play movable chords can be very helpful when playing songs. When you play a barre chord your index finger bars all the notes in one fret.
“To play an F, which is the barre chord in first position, you bar all the notes on the first fret with your index finger and play what is essentially the shape of the E chord moved one step up the neck, with your middle, ring, and pinkie.”
Step 11 – Managing Pain.
Playing for long periods of time your fingers and maybe your arms might start to hurt. This is one of those things that you can’t really avoid, but you can manage the the pain by doing things to keep it sustainable. Of course the more you play eventually you will get use to the pain and grow endurance to the pain but it is still important that you manage it. A couple of things you can do to help with the pain is:
- Soak your hands in ice when your done playing.
- Some say that dipping your fingers in alcohol after your done playing can help build calluses on your fingers so that when you play it doesn’t hurt as much.
Step 12 – Learning To Play Songs You Like.
You will enjoy playing the guitar so much more when you learn to play songs that you enjoy listening to. Most music out there is only made up of 3 to 4 chords. So learning to play the songs you like shouldn’t be too difficult when you start playing songs.
- When starting to play easier songs start off at a slower tempo, then slowly speed up as you get used to playing the songs.
Step 13 – Learning To Read Guitar Tabs.
Guitar tabs are basically a system that guitarists use for music notation. The key is to view line as if you were looking at the guitar. Each one of the lines refer to a string and the numbers tell you which fret you should be holding when strumming a string.
For instance, if you were playing this tab-notated lick from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “Sweet Home Alabama,” you would play two notes on the open D string, the B string at the 3rd fret, the G string at the 2nd fret, the A string at the 3rd fret and the E string at the 3rd fret.
Step 14 – Learning From Other People.
Learning to play the guitar doesn’t have to be done in a formal way. You can watch and listen to other play and maybe you and your friends might want to get together and practice. Learning things in groups can sometimes be a better option because you get to learn from others and experience things in a fun and enjoyable environment.
- Watching Youtube videos on how to play the guitar for beginners can be of great help to you when first getting started. There is a bunch of people making videos about playing the guitar and each one may have a different approach so you could see which approach you may like the best to make things easier for you.
- If your looking for a full break down of everything you need to know about guitars, then maybe you should try investing in an online class. Although Youtube videos may be helpful the people who post them are not going to teach you everything there is to know about guitars. Things such as learning to read sheet music, playing sheet music etc. So it’s just a thought, do what you feel most comfortable doing.
What Is A Good Price For A Beginner Guitar?
A lot of people may say that if you want a really good guitar to start out with then you will have to purchase one in the $300-$500 price range. I can honestly say that there are some pretty good quality guitars on the market in the $100-$200 price range. You can also find some cheaper but anything below this price range I would NOT recommend for the simple fact that it might not be the best quality.
In fact if you spend $100-$200 on a guitar you can more than likely get the full kit including a tuner, guitar case, strings and more accessories with it. In my eyes you can’t really beat those type of deals. I’ll even help you out and take out some of the hard work for. I’ll refer you to some of my recommended quality guitars that come with full kits included that you can purchase so that you don’t have to waste your time looking for them.
I’ll list them in the “Where To Buy Your First Beginner Guitar?” section!
Where To Buy Your First Beginner Guitar?
When your starting out you don’t want to buy your first guitar anywhere that they would be pre-owned. You want to buy brand new because pre-owned guitars may come with problems that you may not know how to fix. And ultimately I want you to focus on learning to play rather than learning to fix a guitar.
Here is a couple of places you can look for new guitars:
- Guitar Center
- American Musical Supply
- Sweet Water
- Austin Bazaar
- Same Day Music
Here are some recommended guitars and kits to get you started:
How Many Guitar Chords Are There?
I actually touched on the subject of how many chords there are in the previous article “What Is A Guitar Chords?”. Feel free to go read that article for a more detailed break down of how many chords there are.
To sum it all up there are a ton of different chords that you could play. But there are 5 basic chords that are easier to play than others. These chords are chords A, C, D, E and G. These are the 5 basic chord for beginners to play. So to answer the question, there are only 5 chords for you to worry about until you move on to a more advanced level of playing the guitar.
How To Play The 5 Basic Guitar Chords?
Guitar Frets, Fingers and Strings Guide
How To Play The (A) Chord
- Place finger 1 on the 4th string at the 2nd fret.
- Then, put finger 2 on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret.
- Next, Place finger 3 on the 2nd string at the 2nd fret.
- Leave strings 1 and 5 open.
- Now, only strum strings 1-5 together with one stroke. (Do not strum string 6!)
How To Play The (C) Chord
- Put finger 1 on the 2nd string at the 1st fret
- Place finger 2 on the 4th string at the 2nd fret,
- Then, put finger 3 on the 5th string at the 3rd fret.
- Leave strings 1 and 3 open.
- Only strum strings 1-5 together with one stroke. (Do not strum string 6!)
How To Play The (D) Chord
- Place finger 1 on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret.
- Put finger 2 on the 1st string at the 2nd fret.
- Then put finger 3 on the 2nd string at the 3rd fret.
- Leave string number 4 open.
- Only Strum strings 1-4 together in one stroke. (Do not strum strings 5 & 6!)
How To Play The (E) Chord
- Place finger 1 on the 3rd string at the 1st fret.
- Next, put finger 2 on the 5th string at the 3rd fret.
- Then, place finger 3 on the 4th string at the 3rd fret
- Leave number 1, 2 and 6 strings open.
- Now, strum all the strings together in one stroke.
How To Play The (G) Chord
- Put finger 1 on the 5th string at the 2nd fret,
- Place finger 2 on the 6th string at the 3rd fret,
- and put finger 3 on the 1st string at the 3rd fret.
- Leave strings number 2, 3, and 4 open.
- Strum all the strings with one stroke.
Having Trouble Playing Chords? No Problem!
If you run into trouble trying to learn how to play the chords above I have a solution to your problem.
There is actually a device that makes playing chords much easier for you.
Its called the Chord buddy and you can get one here along with a guide and instructions on how to use it by clicking this link: Chord Buddy.
How Long Does It Take To Learn To Play Guitar?
How long it may take for you to learn to play the guitar can depend on a few different things. Everyone is different so of course the amount of time it takes for you to learn may be faster or slower depending on you and your habits.
If your the type of person that doesn’t procrastinate often and good at focusing, then you will get much more done than the person that does procrastinate.
On average, to learn everything that you need to know about guitar and become good enough to be considered a guitarist 6 to 18 months of practicing would be a good length of time to consider practicing.
I know that sounds like a long time but it’s worth it if your serious about achieving the goal of learning. But honestly you can learn a lot in your first 2 weeks of playing.
How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice Guitar?
When you’re just starting out learning to play the guitar, you should set aside at least a minimum of 1 hour per day to practice. You can practice longer but practicing at least 1 hour per day can help to learn enough without overloading your brain with information.
As they say practice makes perfect so if you want to practice for longer you can do just that. Just be sure to take a break to allow your brain to register the information you learned.
If you enjoyed this article and it helped you on your journey be sure to leave a comment below!
Also check out some of our previous articles and guide that could also be helpful to you.
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