So you want to learn how to play guitar but are overwhelmed by the road ahead? You have come to the right place! In this article, we are going to explore five tips and useful tricks to make your journey a pleasurable and stress free one. By following these pointers you minimise your chances of breaking your guitar up into little pieces in frustration and more importantly of giving up at the first obstacle you come across.
For the purposes of this article, I am assuming that you are a complete beginner and have not yet purchased your soon to be beloved guitar. Of course, if you are a little further along the line there is still much you can learn from the tips we are going to explore here.
So, first of all let us look at tip number 1 which is….
#1 Buying the right stuff!
You may have heard the saying ‘a bad workman always blames his tools’? Well the same can be said of learning to play guitar. Often beginners will go out buy loads of expensive, professional level and, to be quite honest at this point in the journey, pointless pieces of kit to make the feel professional. The reality is that if you are a complete beginner at guitar playing this is most likely to put you off playing and overwhelm you with options, gadgets and possibilities.
It should also be said that the majority of people who begin playing guitar will, after a short time, realize that it just is not for them or they may find another interest take over. I am not saying this to discourage you in any way or put you off! I am saying this to save you money, time and unnecessary frustration.
With this in mind please start out with a basic acoustic guitar without the distraction of jazzy electric guitar sounds and the danger of electricity put unnecessarily into the mix. In this way, you can concentrate on learning the basics of guitar playing without wasting money and time on the fancy stuff.
#2 Keep it Simple!
Shock announcement alert! Unless you are incredibly naturally talented, have a background in some other musical instrument or music or are incredibly lucky you are not going to be playing guitar like Jimi Hendrix by week 2.
In fact, you will make far more progress by taking things slowly and keeping things simple. And when I say simple I mean, at least on lesson 1, don’t worry about chords, harmonics or pentatonic scales. Keep it simple! Fine if you want to know the names of each major component of the guitar. But beyond that get comfortable with holding the guitar, plucking and strumming the strings, putting your fingers at different points of the guitar neck to see what effect it has on the sounds produced or using a plectrum instead of your sore fingers.
That is what I mean by keeping it simple. Have fun experimenting with your new guitar and enjoy the different sounds you can make with it or buy earplugs to drown out the bad ones. By making this connection with your guitar you can truly appreciate what it and you are capable of when working in partnership with each other.
#3 Practice consistently and introduce variety
Okay, so you caught me out! I sneaked in a two-in-one tip when you weren’t expecting it. But they are related so I am counting it as one tip.
Beginners often ask how long and how often they should practice for to make progress. I am sure there is a standard answer that has been long established by guitar players around the world but to me it is consistent practice that makes the difference. Of course, if your goals are higher then you will need to practice more guitar to reach them and certainly professionals will put in a LOT of practice to keep their skills honed.
But we are just starting out on our guitar learning journey and so you need to decide how much time you can realistically devote on a regular basis to leaning to play your guitar. If it is one hour three times a week (for example) it is better to do that consistently then not practice at all.
Many beginners make the mistake of over practicing and burning themselves out as a result of doing this. As a general rule in life if you practice something consistently (and with sufficient regularity) then you will improve whatever it is you are trying to learn.
As a final thought, if you find that you are losing motivation with your guitar practice then shake things up a little. Do something different. Change the training time or day, take a break from learning theory and switch to practical sessions (or vice versa) or maybe try and play a completely different genre of music even if you don’t think you like it.
#4 Don’t do it alone!
Of course you can learn and practice guitar on your own but it is very tough particularly in terms of staying motivated. Therefore, at least some of the time, it is worth getting together with others who either know how to play guitar to help you overcome any difficulties you may be having or those who are learning so that you have some empathetic support from others and don’t feel like you are struggling alone.
There are a number of ways that you can find fellow guitar enthusiasts. Online, there are numerous forums where you can ask questions or seek advice. In addition, there are lots e-books, information products and courses. Established guitar players and / or online forums will be able to suggest tried and tested books, courses or online guitar training lessons that may help you in your quest. Two of the most successful truing sites (proven to improve skill) are Jamplay and Guitar Tricks.
Back in the real (offline) world, local musical supply or guitar shops will be able to point you in the right direction and will often have contacts they can recommend or adverts showing in their shop. Local listings may have tutors if you are looking for lessons for on-going tuition or even just one off advice. Occasionally, you may even find local courses or groups that you can join at low cost.
#5 Have fun and Enjoy your Guitar Playing
Many beginners will get overwhelmed by information, advice (and some of it is bound to be good and some bad) and lose sight of the fact that learning to play the guitar should be a fun experience not a stressful chore. If you do begin feeling like this it is definitely time to take a break and (quite literally) go back to tip #1 after you feel refreshed and are motivated again. You will be amazed at the difference this advice will make to your whole approach to learning to play your guitar.
Whether you are learning to play guitar for a particular purpose or just for your own pleasure it should be a fun and enjoyable journey not a stressful or unpleasant one. As your guitar playing abilities develop you can move on to different types of guitar and learn a wider variety of musical genres to play. The possibilities are almost endless and the rewards of taking things slowly mean that you will develop your own unique style and technique of playing guitar. This way you will get the best possible results and learn skills that will last you a lifetime.