Learning to play the guitar is not always an easy path. However, you will find that it will all be worth it when you are a guitar player with a great knowledge of music theory, able to play all the different guitar chords - from open chords to barre chords to power chords - and able to shred all sorts of wicked jazz guitar, blues guitar, or rock guitar licks and guitar solos.

To help you with your training - to help you get to the point at which you're happy with the way you play guitar - our guitar experts offer their advice to help you better understand this marvelous instrument.

In short, it's about two things: guitar practice and passion. If you are endlessly looking for new guitar songs to play, if you feel the thrill of practising new guitar techniques - from different scales and arpeggios to fingerstyle and ear training -, if you get the satisfaction of nailing a new chord progression, you are going to have the skill and motivation to progress in no time.

How do You Get Started Learning the Guitar?

The guitar is an instrument that's fascinating for many reasons. But before throwing themselves into learning this instrument, aspiring guitarists might ask a few questions.

Can you learn to play the guitar on your own? Is it preferable to go to online guitar lessons with a proper guitar instructor? Can you learn from just playing with other guitar players?

How do you get started on the guitar? What's your motivation for learning to play the guitar? And, in the end, are you going to get through those beginner guitar lessons to move onto something more technical and difficult?

These questions are only natural. To answer them our experts have addressed these issues head on.

Obviously, learning a new instrument is synonymous with frustration. And, whilst you strum your first guitar chords, or try to get to grips with the extent of the fretboard, you are going to be a little frustrated. But, the greatest risk is abandoning it in the middle of your training - before you get to the guitar tricks and other parts of the guitar which really are fun. 

You must learn to accept this frustration. Our advice is as follows:

  • Utilize Internet resources - including online guitar lessons, any free guitar lessons via video you can find, for example.
  • Study the best guitarists - if you like Clapton, then listen to how he plays. If you like Metallica, work out how they play so distinctively.
  • Practice the guitar every day - literally everyday. Adding new chromatic exercises and techniques progressively.
  • Develop your musical ear - from learning to tune a guitar to being able to tell a C major chord from a D minor, to transcribing your first song by ear. You need to train your ear!
  • And lastly, have fun.

Honestly, fun and enthusiasm is the only guarantee of being able to learn how to play guitar. If you don't have this, your guitar lesson or guitar course is going to be boring - and of course you ain't going to bother learning how to read tablature, understand the pentatonic or the major scale, or bear to practice your fingerpicking or chord progressions with a metronome.

So, with these primary guidelines established, it's time to dive in!

The Best Way to Learn the Guitar

It's a question of method. But does a miracle method for learning to play the guitar exist?

Of course there is no miracle recipe. Identifying the best way to learn the guitar, then, is a fantasy.

The guitar, like all musical instruments, isn't learned through one single method. There are numerous ways for potential students to choose from. All of them, however, require practice - practice of those basic chords, those guitar tabs, that rhythm guitar.

Between online guitar courses, personal lessons with a music teacher, studying guitar basics in a book, an ebook, a DVD, and teaching yourself at home by playing with your friends, there are many different ways to learn the guitar.

Unfortunately, the best path is not always the shortest.

We could define a method as follows:

It must make the student a better guitarist than a bad method that doesn't help you progress.

Don't worry, the guitar remains one of the easiest instruments to learn. In order to help you, we are going to carefully review the different the methods for learning the guitar.

The Main Ways to Learn the Guitar

To learn the guitar, two methods are available to a student:

  • Learn the guitar on your own
  • Learn the guitar with a teacher

On one hand, the teacher offers feedback, support, musical culture, and expert advice. With a proper teacher - particularly in guitar lessons near me for beginners - you will find that you will have continuous support with that tricky guitar chord, you'll have an introduction to the best guitar music around, and you'll have an external motivation to learn your favorite songs.

On the other hand, learning on your own is synonymous with autonomy and independence. The student is in control of his pace and work. But, the risk is going in circles and amassing frustrations.

In either case, each student would be able to find educational support to accompany the training:

  • Written materials (books and magazines)
  • Online resources (guitar tutors, videos, articles)
  • DVD and MP3 methods

The Different Manners/Methods for Learning the Guitar

It's important to know what you hope to do with the guitar. Do you want to play classical guitar - with its fingerstyle guitar technique, its complex chord shapes, and arpeggio work? Or do you want to learn electric guitar or play acoustic guitar?

Knowing the answer to these basic guitar questions, you'll be able to decide which methods for learning the guitar will be best for you, as well as the time and money you'll want to dedicate to it.

Eric Clapton playing the guitar
Learn how to play the guitar with our different methods.

After having begun learning the guitar, guitarists often have a pair of questions:

  • How do I learn to improvise on the guitar?
  • And, how do I learn the guitar if I'm left-handed?

Learning Guitar Improvisation

By working towards and keeping a regular practice routine as you learn the guitar, you will learn the basics, which you need to have in order to undo them, basically, as you create your own chords and lines.

Once you know how to play the guitar, improvisation will quickly become one of your favorite hobbies. You'll be able to craft guitar solo after guitar solo when you play songs, impressing everyone with your knowledge of the fret board.

One of the pitfalls of improvisation is going in circles.

In improvisation, you often use the same sequences that you know by heart; you try to use them to their fullest potential, to change them, transform them, adapt them, and then one day they'll be integrated into your repertoire.

The best way to avoid falling into this improvisational trap is to refresh yourself nonstop.

A bass guitarist soloing on the guitar
Learn to improvise on the guitar!

But how do you go about learning to improvise on the guitar?

  • Study the best guitarists
  • Use what you've learned
  • Diversify your sources of inspiration
  • Start over
  • Use your computer to record yourself!

Now that you know how to improvise... What about playing left handed?

Learning the Guitar When You're Left-Handed

90% of people are right-handed. So how do you play the guitar when you're left-handed or if you simply want to play left-handed?

Rest assured... Kurt Cobain, Paul McCartney, and Jimi Hendrix were all left-handed.

Being left-handed is not a handicap to learning the guitar. Instead, it's an opportunity to play differently and will never prevent you from progressing: it's all a question of motivation and choice.

Eric Clapton and band live on stage
Left-handed and right-handed guitarists playing together!

Especially since there are guitars specially created for left-handed players.

The other solution (if not the easiest) is to stick with a "reversed guitar." Lefty players use a right-handed guitar to play like a righty.

Whatever you choose, you aren't alone with your lefty "problem": talk to a guitar teacher (during your class), to a guitar salesman, search online for sites that specialize in it, and choose a method that you find most suitable.

Even you will be able to tune your guitar, play songs, smash out some nice lead guitar, and read music like a pro. It's been a long time since being left-handed was an impediment - if it ever actually was.

Learning the Guitar by Ear in Six Steps

Would you like to develop your musical ear?

Here are 6 simple tips to help you:

  • 1. Play the guitar by ear, but start out simple!
  • 2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes when you're trying to learn to play by ear.
  • 3. Learn the guitar on paper after listening to the sound.
  • 4. Stick with it, don't give up, and challenge your ears.
  • 5. Learn to play the guitar by ear without forgetting your sense of rhythm.
  • 6. Getting started with the guitar: everything comes from the blues.

Learning the guitar by ear is all about knowing the placement of notes on the guitar. There are so many free guitar tools to help you do this - so don't worry in the slightest.

Know that playing by ear is one of the greatest guitar skills that you can have - and it will help you with any musical instrument too. But it takes quite a lot of work to perfect it.

These steps are easy to follow. Armed with just a little patience, you will discover new sounds on the guitar.

Above all, don't give up when difficulties arise!

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.