How Do I Start Out as a Beginning Guitar Player?

Beginner Guitar PlayerSo you want to learn how to play the guitar, but where do you even begin? Whenever you start something new it might feel a little daunting, but generally, if you keep these few things in mind, you’ll be off to a great start.

Identify Your Goals

Why do you want to learn how to play the guitar? Do you want to just be able to sit on your front porch and pick the blues? Or maybe you aspire for fame and want to write your own song? Whatever it is, it’s important to know your goals, so that way you know how to best practice the guitar.

Someone who is just playing the guitar for fun will have a different attitude towards practice than someone who wants to play guitar professionally. Different goals require different amounts of work and time. Recognize these things and be okay with them. One goal is not better than another. You have to pick ones that are most realistic and desirable for yourself.

Find a Source of Instruction

In order to learn how to play the guitar, you need to be taught in some form. This does not necessarily mean you have to sign up for private lessons or find a local instructor (although this isn’t a bad idea), but you do have to find some source of guitar instruction. This just might be a friend you know who plays guitar and inspired you to learn guitar, or it might mean searching for instructional videos on Youtube.

Another less formal, but strong, method of instruction right up there with private lessons is online guitar lessons. The advantage of a private instructor or these online guitar lesson packages is that you’re given a “roadmap” so to speak for growing as a beginner guitar player. You’re not just being thrown some random lessons and instructional information that you might receive if you’re searching around on Youtube.

However, perhaps you are set on self-teaching yourself how to play the guitar. Although it’s a bit harder, it can be done! Here are some very good places to start.

1. Start Learning Some Guitar Chords

You can’t play anything unless you know how to play some chords. Start learning some basic guitar chords. You’ll want to primarily focus on learning major and minor chords. Once you start on this, you’ll also want to start practicing barre chords. With the very basic guitar chords, you’ll be able to play a majority of popular songs out there.

2. Time, Rhythm, and Strumming

As important as it is to be able to move your fingers around the fretboard to shape guitar chords, your opposite hand needs to have a good grasp of rhythm, time, and how to strum the guitar. Start learning some basic strumming patterns. I posted some really good videos about strumming and how to do it with a good sense of rhythm and time.

3. Learn Some Easy Guitar Songs

We play guitar to play songs. This is a given. You can start applying some of what you learned about guitar chords and learning some easy guitar songs for beginners. There are quite a few of these posted right here on the website. Check them out.

4. What about soloing and improvising?

It’s all good and fun to be able to strum a song but there’s some pretty exhilarating about crafting a beautiful and melodic solo or lead line. A good start is to learn how to read guitar tab and search for guitar tabs of your favorite songs. Guitar tab is an easy way to “read music” (although you’re not really reading music) and learn how to play some of the lead lines, licks, and solos you hear in your favorite songs.

All of soloing and improvising is based on a very good understanding of guitar scales and a relatively good ear. It’s a great exercise to practice your guitar scales on a regular basis if you have an aspirations for playing lead guitar.

5. And then what?

Rinse. Repeat. As much as learning how to play guitar can be really frustrating at times, there are parts that end up being really exhilarating too. However, a lot of becoming a beginner guitar player to a seasoned one takes a lot of time, discipline, and hard work. I’ve heard it quoted that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. And while it’s true one of your learning goals might not necessarily be to become a guitar master, the point still remains that, like anything, it takes time and work. Thankfully though, playing guitar tends to be something that is really fun!

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.