Learning how to play guitar isn’t always easy.
To help you learn, our guitar experts have compiled their top tips and advice on guitar playing in this article.
How to begin learning guitar
In many ways, the guitar is an interesting instrument. But before you begin learning guitar, novice guitarists may feel besieged with doubts.
Can you learn guitar on your own?
How should you start learning guitar?
What are your reasons for wanting to play the guitar?
These are all normal questions, and our experts have weighed in on them to help you get started.
Learning a new instrument can be frustrating, and some learners may even give up.
You must learn to navigate these choppy waters. Here are a few of our tips to stay motivated:
- check out free resources online
- follow the example of other guitarists,
- practice your guitar daily,
- develop an ear for music,
- continue improving and studying,
- and finally, enjoy it!
And most of all, just go for it!
The best way to learn guitar
There’s always the question of method. Is there a magic recipe to learn how to play guitar?
Unfortunately there’s no magic wand to make you an expert. Finding the best way to learn guitar is a bit like searching for utopia.
Like any other musical instrument, you will need more than one method to learn guitar. There are as many potential methods as there are students.
There are many different methods and ways to learn guitar - online guitar lessons, one-on-one tutoring with a music teacher, learning the basics from a book or DVD, or just playing around with your friends.
Unfortunately, the best path may not always be the shortest.
An optimal method might be defined like this:
It must make the student a better guitarist, when a bad method would hold them back.
Don’t worry, guitar is actually one of the easier instruments to learn.
To help you decide, we've gone though the different ways to learn guitar.
The main methods to learn guitar
To learn guitar, there are two main strategies:
- Learn on your own
- Learn guitar with a teacher
On one hand, the teacher can help and support you with the advice of an expert, and introduce you to the world of music.
On the other hand, learning guitar on your own gives you freedom and liberty. You can go as quickly or as slowly as your like. But you also risk hitting a wall and getting frustrated.
In either case, guitar students can find other tools to supplement their learning.
- Paper resources, like books or magazines
- Online links, like tutorials, videos, and blogs
- DVDs and mp3s
The different ways to learn guitar
It’s important to figure out what you want to do on the guitar. Then you can decide which method will make the most sense for your goals, and how much time and money you want to spend learning to play the guitar.
Once you’ve begun to get the basics down, guitar students often have two big questions.
- How do you learn to improvise and compose on the guitar?
- How do you play guitar if you’re left-handed?
Learning to jam and improvise on the guitar
As you practice, slowly and steadily, you will pick up the basics of guitar. You can learn and break things down, and you’ll soon be creating your own combinations of chords and pieces of music.
Once you know how to play on the guitar, improvising will quickly become one of your top goals.
One of the pitfalls of improvising however, is the inclination to repeat yourself.
When you’re improvising, there’s a tendency to use the same pieces that you’ve already learned. They can be broken down, changed, and adapted, and soon they’ve become something of your own.
The best way to avoid the pitfalls of improvisation is to keep mixing it up. Never stop trying new things.
How should you go about learning to improvise on the guitar?
- Follow the example of famous guitarists
- Use what you’ve already learned
- Look for new sources of inspiration and listen to other styles of music
- Start from scratch
- Turn on your computer and sign up for lessons!
Now you know how to improvise - but how about playing left-handed?
Learning to play guitar left-handed
90% of people are right handed. But how do you play guitar if you’re left-handed, or you just want to learn how to play with your left hand?
Don’t worry - Kurt Cobain, Paul McCartney and Jimmi Hendrix are all left-handed.
Being left handed won’t make it any more difficult to learn how to play guitar. It’ll give you a chance to play differently, but it shouldn’t hold you back. How you do it is all a question of motivation and choice.
There are also guitars that are specially made for left-handed people.
Another option (and one that’s much simpler) is just reversing the guitar. A leftie can use a standard guitar to play left handed.
Whichever way you decide to go, don’t let being left-handed turn into a problem that holds you back. Talk to a guitar teacher after class, speak with a guitar seller, or do some research on specialist websites to figure out which method will suit you best.
Learn guitar by ear in 6 easy steps
Do you want to work on your ear for music?
Here are 6 easy suggestions to improve:
- 1. Playing the guitar by ear is great, but start easy!
- 2. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when learning to play by ear.
- 3. Listen to the sounds, and then study the written version of the music
- 4. Persevere, don’t give up, and challenge your ears
- 5. Learn to play guitar by ear without losing your sense of rhythm
- 6. As you begin guitar, remember it all begins with the blues
The steps are easy to follow! You just need to have some patience, and you’ll soon discover new facets to guitar music.
Above all, don’t give up when it gets hard!