10 Tips for Beginner Guitar Players
Are you just starting to learn guitar? Follow this list of tips to help you get started!
Learn the names and numbers of the strings. When someone says "play the 3rd fret on the D string" you should know what that means. The strings are numbered from thinnest to thickest (1-6). They also are assigned letters based on what notes they are. Check out this chart with explanations.
Make sure your guitar is in tune before you play! Old guitars that haven't been played in years will need to be tuned. Songs won't sound right at all if the guitar is out of tune. Grab a tuner from your local music store, or use the Guitar Tuna app.
Learn to read TAB. Guitar tabs are an easy way for guitarists to learn new riffs and songs. The layout is simple and easy to understand. Check out the Ultimate Guitar website to find a riff for your favorite song. If you know how to read tab, you can find virtually any song online.
Learn the 8 Basic Guitar Chords and practice switching between them. Most pop, country, folk and indie songs are played almost exclusively with chords. These 8 chords will take you a long way.
Don't avoid using the pinky! A lot of new players are tempted to play riffs with 1 finger, which may be easy at first, but it won't bring much progress. All of the fingers are equally important, so always follow suggested fingerings. If you do, you will improve at an accelerated rate.
Start using alternate picking early. Alternate picking is when you switch consecutively from upwards to downwards and so on. If you ever hear someone playing guitar really fast, they are most likely alternate picking. This is the most important tool for increasing your speed.
Use a guitar that is easy to play. If you have an old guitar in the attic and the strings are an inch away from the fretboard, it will be nearly impossible to start playing! If the guitar is properly "set up" by a professional, or another handy guitarist, it will be easy to play. You don't want to be fighting against the instrument when you are learning (or any time for that matter). Lighter strings are generally easier to push down (11's or 12's for acoustic, 9's for electric).
Don't worry about buying a ton of gear at first. All you need to get started is the guitar, an amp if you play electric, a tuner and some picks. The best way to learn to get good tone is to use your fingers. There is no pedal or amp out there that will make a bad player good!
Watch some YouTube lessons on technique. Be sure you are holding the guitar properly, holding the pick properly, pushing the frets properly, etc. The basics are important and will help make playing easy.
If you need help getting to the next level, start taking lessons. It is possible to learn on your own, but you can speed up the process by learning from a professional teacher. Sometimes you might not know what to learn next (new techniques, harder songs, new styles, picking/strumming patterns). Online videos are your best friend too!
Virtual and in-person lessons are available on my website.
(Guitar lessons in New Hampshire and Massachusetts)
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