You’ve always wanted to learn how to play guitar but now you feel it’s time. You’ve listened to the records of Hendrix and Clapton over and over and now you want to aim to be as good a guitar player as them. Maybe you’ve already bought yourself a beginner guitar and are ready to track down a good guitar teacher.
Do you know what you need to do to learn how to play the guitar? Do you know the difference between barre chords and power chords? Do you know the difference between alternate picking and fingerpicking? Do you know what tablature is and how it corresponds to the fretboard?
These are all things you’ll need to learn – alongside the differences between the guitar solo and rhythm guitar, between blues guitar licks and rhythm guitar, between an arpeggio and a chord progression.
But don’t worry if you’re not there already. With a guitar lesson or two you’ll be right there, understanding all sorts of guitar solos on that first guitar of yours.
Here, we’ll run through some of the basic guitar ideas – with some help from a couple of guitar techniques – and you’ll be up there among the best of guitarists in no time.
Wanting to learn guitar is great, but how do you go about it? How do you start playing guitar?
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, the basics of the guitar are the same for everyone.
The first steps of learning the guitar!
Here are the first steps for playing guitar:
To begin the guitar, you will have to learn the basics and the main techniques – fingerstyle, the placement of your index, middle finger and thumb, and basic chords, like the major, minor and seventh chords. You will have to have some notions of music theory – including chord progressions and the major scale and pentatonic scale – and know how to read a score and tablatures.
A teacher may prove very useful because they will help you, advise you on the correct approach, and give you tips to improve your playing and your practicing. They may talk you through the basics of improvisation, ear training, and chromatic technique exercises.
To play the guitar, you will of course need a guitar, but be careful how you choose it: it is important to determine which style of music you wish to play with it, whether blues, rock, jazz guitar, classical.
Each guitar style has a corresponding type of guitar: the electric guitar is perfect for rock and electric pieces, but acoustic is better for blues, pop and jazz.
Fans of classical or flamenco music will need a classical guitar. You will need some basic kit:
The important thing is not so much why you are learning, but the enjoyment you get from it and the journey you are going on.
To play your guitar properly, it must be perfectly adjusted, starting with well-tuned strings. Tune your guitar!
Tune your guitar!
There are many methods to tune your electric guitar, some traditional some more sophisticated:
It’s really not difficult to learn how to tune a guitar, once you know how!
Learning to play the electric guitar is no more difficult than learning another kind of guitar.
The electric guitar is more versatile than other guitars (acoustic, folk or classical), you can string notes together faster because the neck is thinner and longer. It’s also the iconic instrument of ‘lead guitar’ – those crazy guitar solos you sometimes hear, and generally the melodies in guitar music.
The electric guitar
To play the electric guitar, take classes with a teacher who uses this type of guitar for blues, rock, funk, jazz, etc. Most guitar teachers will be able to offer this – as rock guitar is one of the most popular styles for guitar songs.
Private lessons are an excellent alternative to music school classes or a club because the program is personalized to you. Alternatively, sign up to a guitar course and learn your first song in a social environment.
The ultimate guitar experience is being able to sing your favorite songs while playing the rhythm and solo, right? To play songs in which you are in control of the guitar chords, the vocal line and the melody?
It is possible to sing and play the guitar at the same time. Of course it is – many many guitar players do it, and make it look very easy – but it requires practice and time. We advise you to work on your guitar and vocals independently, if possible starting with the latter.
Singing while playing the guitar is possible!
Playing guitar is not just about doing a few solos from time to time or playing a few minutes of rhythm.
To play the guitar faster, you need to break down the exercises, arpeggios, and your pieces to understand the strings you are playing and interpret the tablatures and scores.
Accelerate your guitar playing. You can reach speeds of about eighteen notes per second
Start playing very slowly and then increase the tempo bit by bit. Do not forget to train your fingers and increase flexibility in the wrist as well.
The key to fast playing is in how to hold your guitar – and the placement of your fingers. After that, it’s all about good technique and practice.
Playing the guitar with one hand works best on an electric guitar using your amp with some distortion so that the sound lasts when you pluck a string.
Play the guitar with one hand in the pocket!
You can also learn techniques such as legato, pull-off, tapping or hammer, which allows you to play several notes on a single string.
If you don’t yet have your first guitar, we recommend getting one. Whilst it might be a bit nerve-wracking to have to invest a bit of money in an instrument, but they might not be as expensive as you imagine.
Affordable guitars are just about everywhere, with really decent beginner guitars available from pretty much any music shop in the world. You could also try getting one second hand, as there are a lot of deals out there too.