Learn to play guitar

Playing the guitar changed my life for the better. I'd really like to share this passion with you.
January 30, 2020

I've been playing guitar for more than 15 years, and I've never looked back. A good guitar can last a lifetime, and all you need to buy are strings, picks, and an amp or two.

The initial investment might be relatively high, but the return is amazing: stress relief, creativity, and the ladies love it. I recommend learning to play an instrument to anyone and everyone.

Here's an idea. Instead of watching a hundred different crappy tutorials on YouTube, jumpstart your guitar journey with these Masterclasses:

  1. Go buy a guitar. It doesn't have to be an expensive one. Acoustic or Electric and an amp.
  2. Find a systematic course for beginners. I recommend the free Justin Guitar course.
  3. Buy Fretboard Logic. It will will help you a lot with the theory. Order The Guitar Handbook for more general knowledge.
  4. Sign up for Masterclass and get access to Carlos Santana and Tom Morello masterclasses. They were one of the things that improved my playing the most.
  5. Don't worry too much about not being amazing yet. Don't even worry about getting an expensive guitar or a teacher. If you're having fun, you'll get there eventually.

Why you should start playing guitar right now

Playing guitar has changed my life. I don't play in front of people that often anymore and most people don't even know I'm fascinated with guitars. It's super relaxing, there are TONS of resources for teaching yourself (I recommend Masterclass, and Justin Sandercoe) and it really helps me "escape" my regular life for a bit. It makes all the difference to have something you look forward to doing every day and don't have anyone pressuring you to be "good" at it.

Video games helped me escape too but I always found that at the end of the day it made me feel unproductive and worse about myself. It made me feel really disconnected from everything too. I know for some people it helps though, so practice whatever feels good for you.

Guitar is my current multi-year obsession. Sometimes I’ll improvise and wonder what the fuck I’m doing it and where the hell is this coming from. I only play at home alone 99% of the time. Other times I make a breakthrough and it gets me through the next few weeks to work on it further.

Why I will keep playing my beloved guitar forever:

  • It's a hobby I can do by myself or with others. At home or away.
  • Doesn't really cost me anything anymore, except new strings once in a while.
  • It doesn't matter what the weather is and I can do it year round. There is no guitar season or weather, like golf or snowboarding.
  • I don't need a partner to have fun doing it, like golf or running, but it is a lot of fun to do with others.
  • Learning theory and techniques keeps me mentally stimulated. There's always more to learn.
  • There are always other people to talk to about it and learn from in person and online.
  • I can always change focus to a new technique or theory if I get bored or frustrated with what I've been working on.
  • I can practice while watching Netflix or listening to podcasts.
  • Having my hands full keeps me offline and not wasting time surfing all the time.

What kind of cheap acoustic guitar should a beginner buy?

I've had the same acoustic for over 15 years. The Epiphone Hummingbird that my father bought me when I was still in high school. We went to a local music shop and this was the one I liked most when I played a simple chord progression. The thing has been with me through everything, and I love it and will probably never get rid of it. It still stays in tune, and sounds great.

I even travelled with it for 9 months around the world, once. Bob Dylan played the Hummingbird.

Here it is:

Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic/Electric Guitar
124 reviews
Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic/Electric Guitar
  • A Country / Rock Classic Plugs In
  • Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Back and Sides
  • SlimTaper "D" Profile Neck

And a sound check:

It might be tough to buy the Epiphone Hummingbird nowadays. If you want to get something more popular, and without the flowery/birdy decals, I recommend you get a Fender CD-60S:

Here's how it sounds in hands of somebody who is decent:

There's very little chance that your skills will ever surpass this guitar.

Here's another good one, although it's a CD-60, which doesn't have a solid top, thus a bit worse sound:

What cheap electric guitar should a beginner get?

I've played guitar for years, and can play quite technical music on a quality guitar with reasonable proficiency. Give me a cheap guitar with really high and strong action though and I'll struggle to play comfortably.

Especially for a new guitarist, the action of the guitar really impacts how easy and hard it is to play. You end up having to press way harder than normal, and it makes it so bloody frustrating to play.

It depends on what you think is cheap but I bought an acoustic guitar for 50 dollars years ago and have been been struggling to learn for a long time.

I think a cheap guitar is fine, to a point. All new students should buy a Fender Squier. The jumbo frets really help playing in the beginning and the guitar is made quite well.

I've never had luck in purchasing guitars under a $100. They usually go out of tune quickly or have horrible frets. I'd rather they spend $200 on a guitar that works, than $80 on one that doesn't. Don't buy a $3000 Les Paul and expect to get really good just because you spent a lot of cash.

Long story short, get this Squier Stratocaster Affinity Series HSS:

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar - Laurel Fingerboard - Slick Silver
110 reviews
Squier by Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar - Laurel Fingerboard - Slick Silver
  • Maple neck with "C"-shaped profile and “large” headstock
  • 21-fret rosewood fingerboard
  • Dual single-coil Stratocaster neck and middle pickups, humbucking bridge pickup

Here's a sound demo:

Another good choice would be a Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J:

It sounds and handles great too:

In general, the Yamaha has better build quality then the Squier and will last longer, but the pickups are not as exciting, so it sounds more dull.

If you want something that is both ultra-durable and has a great sound, you will have to spend a bit more. My first choice would be a Fender Player Stratocaster HSS:

This is how it sounds:

What if you want to spend a bit more on an electric guitar?

Simple. Get a Fender American Professional Stratocaster. That's a guitar that will last you a lifetime and sounds amazing.

Fender American Professional Stratocaster Rosewood Fingerboard Electric Guitar 3-Color Sunburst
8 reviews
Fender American Professional Stratocaster Rosewood Fingerboard Electric Guitar 3-Color Sunburst
  • Body Body shape: Double cutaway Body type: Solid body Body material: Solid wood Top wood: Not applicable Body wood: Alder, Ash on Sienna Sunburst Body finish: Gloss Polyurethane Orientation: Right handed Neck Neck shape: Modern Deep C Neck wood: Maple Joint: Bolt-on Scale length: 25.5 in. Truss rod: Dual-action Neck finish: Satin Fretboard Material: Rosewood Radius: 9.5 in. Fret siz
  • Often copied, but never surpassed, the Stratocaster is arguably the world’s most-loved electric guitar
  • Electrifying the music world since its debut in 1954, its natural, versatile sound made the Stratocaster the benchmark for exceptional guitar tones

Check this video for more information:

What cheap amp should you get when learning?

A 12-25 watt all tube amp is WAAAAAY too loud for practice. A 5 watt is good. Especially one that allows you to change the wattage for overdrive at 1 watt, or 1/2 watt. I have a 22 watt tube amp that can rattle my windows and scare everyone on my block if I turn it up.

If you're into blues and like that fat, warm, fuzzy sound, do yourself a favor and buy something decent like this Bugera:

The Bugera is a 5 watt tube combo that you can also switch to 1 watt or even 0.1 watts.

Here's a sound check:

For other genres like rock, get the more popular Fender Champion that allows you to use it at 5 watts (which can be heard over a drummer) and then at .5 watt so you can overdrive the tubes for crunchy distortion at a reasonable level.

Check out how it sounds here:

The Fender Champion also have way more effects and sound possibilities than the Bugera.

What pick should you use?

Get a thinner pick. The Dunlop Tortex picks are awesome. Buy the thinnest one (I think it's red). Thinner picks are better for control. Thicker picks require your wrist to power through things and possibly get stuck. A thin pick can hit every string much easier. You want to learn with a thin pick. New guitarists - BUY A THIN PICK.

Thin picks teach you way more about hand control. It's so much easier to blow through strings. For a beginner, it helps make their wrist so much stronger. They're forced to strum harder and faster to get the same tone.

Quick tips for starting playing guitar

  • Remember to play music for fun. You're allowed to practice by playing actual songs. Expand your learning to music itself, not just guitar. Learn basics of music theory, the notes on your neck, how to build keys/scales/chords, and apply it to your guitar.

  • Set some time aside to drill some things. I'm terrible about this, because I'd just rather play. My progress has not been as fast as it could have been, because of this. I hate it, but I recognise that sitting down to drill pure technique is necessary if you want better chops.

  • Practice to a metronome/backing track/drum machine. If you're not playing along to the song. You need to play in time and develop your rhythm.

  • Starting acoustic is a great idea. Your mistakes will be a lot more noticeable on acoustic, which is good. It's easier to improve when you can hear what's wrong. They are harder to play though.

  • Work on some power chords while you're learning acoustic. That will open up you to more rock songs. You'll be using them in almost every song you learn on electric. With that said, don't be afraid to play 'regular' songs on acoustic.

  • You have to be more critical with yourself if you start on electric, however. Don't develop bad habits. You'll hate yourself for it later.

  • Lastly, Rocksmith. It is a great learning tool. If you get it on PC, you can download custom DLCs which is glorious. If you really wanted to, you could jump right in and use Rocksmith as your teacher because the difficultly is dynamic and changes depending on your playing ability. Lessons are built into the game, also.

Rocksmith 2014 Edition Remastered - PC Standard Edition
391 reviews
Rocksmith 2014 Edition Remastered - PC Standard Edition
  • The latest edition of the fastest way to learn guitar and bass, newly upgraded and improved
  • Get results fast with a proven method. Studies show that over 95 percent of players have improved their skills using Rocksmith
  • Learn at your own pace. Rocksmith adapts to your skill level, and now includes expanded practice tools and a customizable learning curve

How to choose your first guitar

  • Scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge. It used to be that you had two options for full-sized guitars: 25.5" (Fender Stratocaster is a typical example; most guitars are this length) and 24.75" (Gibson Les Paul, SG, etc.; PRS also uses this length). 24.75" is easier to play and the strings are a bit slinkier, 25.5" is marginally more difficult to bend on but is basically the same while sounding tighter with distortion.

  • Baritone scales also exist. Generally, these are used on extended range instruments, but a few six-string models use baritone scales as well. On the market, we have 26.25" (Schecter does some of these), 27" (Agile, some Ibanez models), 28" (Schecter), 28.625" (Agile), and 30" (Agile, Meshuggah's custom Ibanez guitars). I think You'll probably want to stay away from baritone scales as a beginner, as longer scale lengths make it more difficult to play.

  • Number of strings. Standard guitars have 6 strings. Metallica uses 6 string guitars. I prefer 7 strings myself, and Tosin Abasi agrees. 8 strings have become popular in recent years, but they get unwieldy because the low notes require longer scale lengths. While I think 7 is a perfect number, you'll probably want to go with 6 because the rest of the world has not caught up yet and most instructional material is geared toward 6 stringers.

  • Bridge type. There are two types: fixed bridge (see James Hetfield's guitars) and floating bridge (see some of Kirk Hammett's guitars). Floating bridges come in two varieties: locking and non-locking. A locking tremolo system, allows you to do all sorts of vibrato and a bunch of other crazy stuff like divebombs without going out of tune. Try going crazy on a non-locking bridge, and you'll go out of tune. Floating bridges make things complicated, so I suggest you find a guitar whose bridge does not move, or at least block it if you get something like a Fender Strat or a budget guitar without a locking system.

  • Number of frets. Electric guitars generally have 21 (Fender), 22 (Gibson), or 24 (anyone with a shred of common sense) frets. Seriously, just go with a 24 fret guitar. That's standard for metal.

  • Pickups are how sound gets from your instrument to the amp. There are single coil pickups, which hum like a swarm of angry bees when you flip on the distortion, and humbuckers, which do not hum. Generally, they're easy to tell apart. If you play metal, humbuckers are the way to go. There are active and passive pickups as well: active requires a 9v battery to work, passive does not.

  • Guitars are pretty basic. Amps are more complicated. You can go farther with a cheap guitar and a good amp than the other way around. Save up for an amp.

  • Guitarists like to delude themselves into thinking that voodoo is real and that everything affects your tone. The most annoying of these is wood. Guitarists like to think that maple produces a brighter tone than alder or whatever, but there is no way that can physically happen. The sound of an electric guitar is produced by steel strings vibrating in an electromagnetic induction field created by the pickups. The signal goes through the guitar's electronics and eventually to an amplifier. All tone is produced by strings, pickups, electronics, things in your signal chain, and amplifier. There is no ferrous material in wood. It cannot affect your strings, it cannot affect the induction field, it cannot affect anything in your signal chain, it cannot affect your amp. End of story. Guitar manufacturers are all too willing to entertain this ignorance, and I'm sure that a large number of people involved in the industry believe it themselves. Don't let them sell you bullshit. Turning a little knob on your guitar has a measurable and perceptible (!) effect on the timbre of the instrument, while there is absolutely nothing to suggest a rosewood fretboard produces a different sound from an ebony fretboard.

Is playing guitar an expensive hobby?

Being a guitarist can be either a cheap hobby if you go for the cheapest stuff, or a wildly expensive hobby that will crush you financially if you’re not responsible with your money. You could say that’s true about a lot of things, but with guitars (at least electric ones) comes new strings, set-ups, cables, cases (not always included with the guitar), maybe some pedals, an amp (maybe two depending on things), guitar stands, a strap, maybe some recording gear (this is its own, entirely separate set of expenses), picks. And there is a lot of variability in price depending on what you’re looking at for all of those items.

That’s just for electric. Acoustic guitars can be super expensive too. Same for concert classical guitars.

For concert classical guitars, you don’t get one at a big music store like Guitar Center, Sam Ash, Reverbnation, you go to a very reputable dealer or luthier who knows what they’re talking about. The cheapest guitar they sell really may be like, $4,000. It’s nuts how expensive those things can get. I remember I booked an appointment for one of these stores and played some models and really, I think the cheapest one I played was around $3,700 USD. I got one but now am doing something totally different. Funny how life works out. I say this not in the spirit of gate keeping, but being a guitarist (musician in general) really is a great way to always ensure you’re spending loads of money.

Should you have your guitar setup at a major guitar music store?

The 30-40 dollar setup? Not worth it. They'll fuck up your guitar. They just reset it to whatever the factory defaults are for the saddle height. Find a reputable guitar service center in your city. They should watch you play, ask you questions, and charge more than $50. It's a lot of work getting the intonation right.

Do you need to learn reading notes?

Reading music is a sore spot for guitarists. You'll encounter a lot of people who just cannot stand the idea that a guitarist should ever read standard notation. If they want to learn by ear or by reading fret numbers, more power to them. If you know standard, then you'll be able to do some things faster (but not necessarily better; there is no substitute for practice).

Tablature helps for seeing where to put your fingers, but continue to exercise your standard notation skills. You know the notes, flute is a C instrument (guitar is C, with octave transposition), so carry over everything that you can. Keep playing flute, regardless. Guitarists are a dime a dozen. Woodwind players, not so much.

How to start practicing guitar to get good quickly?

The first couple of months sucks for everyone. You can't make your fingers do what you want, can't play any songs, you get extremely frustrated. Everyone goes through this. Keep going. It's not an easy instrument to learn.

Start with practicing changing chord as glacially slow as you possibly can. The trick is minimal finger movement- wiggle your fingers as fast as you can and i'd bet it's a good bit faster than you can change chords. That's because you already have the 'speed' required and you need the accuracy.

The accuracy comes from nailing your proper form and moving as efficiently as possible from one fret/chord configuration to another. Bear in mind that every guitar god out there has gone through what you have done, there's no 'shame' in not accomplishing x,y or z after a certain amount of months. Keep practicing and you will get there.

Muscle memory can take a while to develop and if you’re sticking to short practice sessions (due to hand strength or lack of calluses) then it’ll take forever to get there. Electrical tend to require less hand strength and less-thick calluses.

Guitar is not easy and it can get boring for certain especially when you are not making progress. But the best motivation is to play some of the songs you know and love. I appreciate your enthusiasm to write your own music and get famous but first you need to learn how to play covers and copycat the famous musicians.

Nobody would had over a brand new restaurant to a beginner chef who wants to mix spices together and create new flavors that have never been tested before. You are free to innovate but first you must learn a foundation of base knowledge. But as i said, I think its rude for people to downvote you just for being honest and expressing your frustrations with the steep learning curve at the beginning.

Should you get real-life guitar lessons?

I had “played” for 5 years (never very consistently) then I took some lessons a couple years back to learn the theory side. Now pretty much all I do when I play each night is work on my solo/lead improv skills over backing tracks. Being able to use your pinky as well as other fingers changes the game. As well as economy and alternate picking, string skipping, slides, hammer one, vibrato.

The teacher has allowed me to grasp these more complex ideas. New scales, modes, so many things to work on. I do find it therapeutic though, so maybe that’s what really keeps me going. For that hour or two I don’t look at my phone or worry about anything else, just zoning out to the music.

When we pay for formal face-to-face lessons from a human teacher that in itself creates an incentive (because we don't want to lose the approval of the teacher and we don't want to waste our money). If you can't afford or don't want to hire a teacher, you we will need to create your own incentives and be your own master-sergeant to keep yourself on-task.

How to learn the basics of guitar

If you want to just learn how to cover songs to impress people, then YouTube and tabs will probably get you close enough. If you truly want to learn how to play guitar your best bet is professional lessons with a teacher who is going to accept your input in what you what to learn. They should devise a lesson plan, or course of action that will best fit your needs for what you want to learn.

For instance, if you're trying to play like Eric Clapton, then they know what basics/foundation you will need to do so. Do not let yourself get fooled and have them teach you Tears in Heaven on Day 1. I've had hour long lessons where I didn't even necessarily have to play and that's saying something. Oh, and, if they're really good, then they'll give you a great foundation to begin with anyways, even if you tell them you want to just play Greenday tunes.

Before any of that, though, I would first reflect on how good you really want to get and really think about your tastes and who you want to sound like/be able to play like. When I first started out I was completely lost and my teacher gave me some music to sample. As time passed my influences and intrigue changed. I went from listening to AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix to Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Jason Becker, Shawn Lane, and the on to Jazz Standards, Fusion, etc.

I wanted to play like all of these guys, being able to shred over a complicated chord progression, be able to claw out a chord melody with all kinds of beautiful chord voicings, and be able to improvise regardless of the music. With all that goes with learning how to compose my own songs and understanding as much music theory as I could. It's all good fun! Even with all the fast playing I do, a jazz chord melody of Over the Rainbow is still my favorite piece to play, so that has to be worth something.

Anyways, enough rambling! The point is to figure out what direction you want to go in. Even if you end up going the absolutely opposite way in a couple years, it'll give you somewhere to start. Don't be lost like I was and not realize what you want after 2-3 years of playing.

Do you need to learn music theory to play guitar well?

You don't need to learn any theory. It helps, but it's not essential. I know sod all about theory, never sat in learning my scales like a good little boy. But playing guitar pays for my life.

All you need is a good ear and a feel for your instrument. That probably equates to an instinctive understanding of scales etc rather than an academic one. and it takes longer to acquire. But once you're there, you will sound more like yourself and less like yet another generic guitar player.

Once you have the root note, it's a bit easier.

I know people who can't walk down the street without being stopped by fans, and they have zero understanding of scales and music theory. One band I played with, the only people with any theory background were the session string section - and they were the least well paid members of the band - and the only ones the fans won't recognise.

What to do when you're in a guitar rut?

If you are like me you will become bored with music theory, scales,sheet-music reading and so forth but it never gets boring to learn covers of your favorite songs.

I recommend you start a YouTube channel and play some covers. The whole experience of setting up the camera, the lighting and editing your recordings and videos is alot of fun and certainly not boring. And maybe you should set your YouTube videos to "private" if the covers are not too good (at first) so that you don't get negative comments from the trolls that might dissuade you.

Another thing when you are in your 30 minute per day or 60 minute per day practice session (whatever number you are commited to) than set a timer and dont take a break or a rest (other than to pee-pee) until the timer rings its bell.

Yes its a question of self-discipline. If this is important endevour for you than access one of your split personalities and create a tough-as-nails "drill-master" that will supervise you and keep you in-line. Slap yourself in the face if you must, do whatever you need to do.

How to learn to play guitar solos?

I learned to play solo through sheer amounts of practice, and some great lessons from my previous guitar teacher. My advice to you would be to spend about an hour a day practicing scales. Learning the five patterns of the major scale would be the best place to start. Then move on to learning the minor scale, which is pretty simple if you know the major scale.

Playing blues is a great way to practice scales, because it is almost always based on a I-IV-V chord pattern, so as long as you know the root note/chord you're good. Obviously, finding a great guitar teacher never hurts either.

I think of them in my head and try to mimic it - takes forever but will teach you to play by ear.

Is it worth buying a super-expensive guitar?

I usually never pay more than 3k for a work horse instrument. I have a Fender American Deluxe P-Bass, a PRS guitar, and a nice Fender Stratocaster. About 9k out of pocket and all get used like crazy and are so great.

I don't think I would drop more than that. Especially if I'm out playing live with it. I want it to earn scars and battle damage. But not when I can get a small car for the same price.

You start getting diminishing returns after the 500-1k mark though imo. You are probably better off buying a 500 dollar guitar, paying a proffessional to adress any issues it may have. Swap some pickups in there then spending multi thousand dollars on a brand new one.

And as someone who also enjoys hand-built acoustic guitars, I can say that there's no excuse in hell for Gibson to be selling $5,000 factory-made slabwood guitars with glue and finish defects.

I just bought a $5k 12-fret acoustic, hand-built by one man over a year, and it is the model of perfection. Gibson should be ashamed of themselves.

If you still think you need an expensive guitar, take a look at Joe Satriani shredding on this $100 Chinese Walmart knockoff with a shitty electronic amp and a multi-effect:

What's the difference between a cheap and an expensive guitar?

A nice guitar won't necessarily make you play better but they absolutely sound better. Shit pickups are shit pickups and unless the sound you're going for is shit pickups (like grunge or punk), a Chinese Fender knockoff ain't gonna cut it. And cheap acoustics sound like cardboard, which maybe you happen to like, but most people don't.

And on the playing aspect: hard to play well when the neck is warped, the frets are uneven, and the thing won't stay in tune. All will happen with a shit guitar.

You can definitely enjoy the hobby on the cheap and Eric Clapton could rip it up on still on a little Squier but playing live you'll only run into trouble if you go cheap on everything. You don't need the best of the best to gig but you do need a guitar that'll stay in tune, an amp that can play at an appropriate volume without sounding like it's dying and miscellaneous things like a clean power brick if you're running more than a few pedals.

No one needs top of the line, but you do should go at least above the initial tier of everything if you're playing out. For home enjoyment, do whatever sounds great in your bedroom though!

Don't become a guitar snob, please!

Guitar/tone/gear snobs are the worst, especially if you listen to their opinions.

They're never happy. Tell a guitar snob you bought a new guitar, they'll tell you that you should have bought X guitar but you can make yours playable by changing the strings (normal), pickups, pots, nut, filing the frets down, and insulating the body cavity to make it "playable". If they're really anal, they'll tell you that you screwed up buying a bolt-on because they don't have as much sustain as a neck-through, and that the tone wood in the guitar you purchased isn't really optimal.

Tell a tone snob what amp and guitar you're playing, and they'll tell you what pedals you need to use, in what order, what speakers and tubes you should be running in your amp, what pickups should be in your guitar, what switching scheme you should be running in your guitar, and that you need a $70 hum-x and $250 isolated power supply (for pedals) to ensure you're running isolated/getting rid of 60 cycle hum.

I learned from guitar snobs how to be a guitar snob, but when I bought my Chinese made Fender Modern Player Marauder a few years ago, my eyes started opening up a bit.

Now I only buy things that sound good to me and feel right. I've been down that rabbit hole, and it's cost me thousands.

How you can start playing guitar if you got only $50

You can get a guitar for $50 or less on Craigslist or any other place that sells used gear. You can learn basic chords in two to three weeks (max) with the help of the internet (youtube). Bam, you can play beginner guitar. And that shit will change your life if you grow to love it.

Odds are you know a failed guitarist and you can buy the gear off them.

A cheap guitar is, like, $70 at the pawn shop next to me, and it almost certainly will need to be tuned constantly, but that's a skill to be gained also. And there's a million free tutorials and such online to teach you the mechanics and individual songs. It is one of the cheapest hobbies that becomes one of the most expensive if one is doing it incorrectly, or trying to save time.

Should you get a metronome for learning guitar?

Metronomes suck. They're never loud enough and they're usually crappy. Get a drum machine and a cheap amp (a solid state amp will do). A Boss DR 670 costs less than a $100 on craigslist if you're lucky and about $135 on ebay. You can program different time signatures (like 8/12 swing) and even make every other beat much louder (for people who float through a down stroke or are late on an up stroke).

I can't recommend this enough. Plus, you can program a fairly easy rock beat in 4/4 and set it to any song's BPM to easily learn it. I own a Boss DR 670 and it's helped me so much in rhythm. If you're going to learn the guitar, focus mainly on rhythm. Your future drummer and bassist will thank you.

If you want to get something new, buy the BeatBuddy:

What's G.A.S. or Guitar Acquisition Syndrome?

GAS is a very serious condition. I knew a guy once who had spent upwards of $100k on a guitar collection (granted, over the course of like 30 years), and doesn't even play most them because they are "collector's items." He treats it as an investment that will be worth a lot of money for his grandchildren or something. I had a bandmate once who would buy a new pedal seemingly every payday, and would bring them all to shows, only to use two of them for the entire set. At that point, it's just about showing off how much stuff you've collected.

Some people collect gear rather than use it, which was kind of my point. You can make amazing music with a cheap second-hand tape recorder and a $50 microphone or two, or with the hundreds (if not thousands) of free programs/plugins available.

You first start playing, and you think that $400 Fender or Yamaha acoustic at Guitar Center is the bomb. It works for a couple of years.

You start seeing dudes with Taylors, and within a few weeks, Taylors are the best guitars on the planet. You save up $1000 for a used 314ce.

A couple of years later, Taylors are still awesome. Now you want an 814ce. There goes $2000 to $2500. You go through multiple Taylors, trying out different woods and body styles, thinking all of them will be unique. You're a Taylor fanboy now.

Three years later, you want a Presentation Series or a sweet BTO. There goes $3000 to $6000.

A few years pass, and you're reading guitar message boards. You realize there's a whole world out there you didn't know existed. You start seeing words like Goodall, Collings, Huss & Dalton, Bourgeois, Santa Cruz, Froggy Bottom. You want one. You pony up anywhere from $3000 for a used Collings to $10,000 for a new Froggy. You're happy for a few months. Then you want another. Then another.

Then, you start seeing names like Kevin Ryan, Jim Olson, Kathy Wingert, Ed Claxton, Michael Bashkin, Michael Greenfield, and a hundred others. You save up for years and spend $8000 to $20,000.

You get a little bored with your Ryan or Olson, and you want to step into the next echelon of truly elite builders. You start looking at names like Jeff Traugott and Ervin Symogyi, and soon you're writing a check for $30,000 or $40,000.

Then you decide you might want a contemporary vintage-voiced instrument. You hear names like Lynn Dudenbostel, Kim Walker, TJ Thompson, Julius Borges. They range from $15,000 to $40,000 or $50,000. But be prepared to wait - Kim Walker currently has a 7 or 8 year waiting list. Don't know about the others right now.

And that's just steel strings. If you get into classical guitars, the sky is the limit - some of those dudes charge upwards of $50K (bordering on $100K) for their stuff. And don't even get started with vintage. A legit pre-war Martin can set you back over six figures if you want something with an elite pedigree (like an OM-45 Deluxe).

How my guitar story started

What inspired my to play guitar? At the core it's probably the fact that my dad has been a guitar player for my entire life. But I just love making music.

The expressiveness of it, the technicality of it, the physicality of it. The feel of the strings beneath my fingers, the vibrations through my body, the beautiful mathematical harmonies of sound. Music, man. God damn.

So I got a starter kit for my 16th birthday. I taught myself through reading things online and just by playing. I had two guitar lessons, but they were group lessons, and I already knew what they were teaching, so I didn't get anything from it and didn't go back. From there I just looked up tabs for things I wanted to play. I was fascinated with music and wanted to learn more and more, so I did. So too did my musical tastes change.

After about two years in, I realised I needed to completely reset my technique and relearn properly. So I would focus intensely on making sure every single movement I made on guitar was precise and without tension. It took a long while, but I 'relearned' my technique. From there, I would just look up music that I liked and wanted to play, then did my best to play it, making sure my technique was perfect every step of the way. I gravitated towards more complex music, which helped develop my chops.

I would occasionally practice drills, but most of my skills came from simply playing music. I found drills to be boring as hell. So I just played music that was difficult for me at the time to help build my chops.

Over time, I learned more and more about music, not just guitar. I began to learn the basics of music theory, learning the notes on guitar, and being able to see the notes and intervals. This allowed me start playing music, rather than pressing frets down in a particular order. I was beginning to be able to play critically, to understand why I was doing what I was doing. From this, and my experience with knowing how things were played and how they sounded due to tablature, my ear training was developing quickly.

And from there, I've just been playing whatever I want. I can think of a few things that I think you could benefit from, so you don't repeat my mistakes.

I'm a musician with over 15 years of experience, but I got my start on a a guitar my dad got from a grocery store for 25 bucks years before I was born. I didn't get my own electric until a year later I had proved that I loved playing enough for it to be worthwhile.

I got to a decent level of proficiency and have had quite a few moments where I considered giving it up. I just got a bit burnt out on it and it gets harder to find spare time. I also go through phases of finding the sound of a typical rock guitar incredibly cheesy, especially leads. I suppose I just need to branch out into other genres and styles but its hard when I don't really connect with most other genres!

The most valuable video about playing guitar on Youtube

If you're interested in playing guitar, please, watch this video and take it to heart:

Mark Knopfler is a genius, and he's actually managed to pack years of guitar wisdom into a 15-minute video. To be recommended.

The first strumming pattern he's covering is called Travis Picking and you can explore it further with this great video:

Good luck!

Enter your email below to join our tribe. See what you're getting here.

One comment on “Learn to play guitar”

  1. I got my parents to buy me a guitar for Christmas because I was obsessed with school of rock when I was about 9 and quickly lost interest because the guy who was giving me lessons was a friend of my parents and they had some kind of argument so he stopped teaching me after about 3 weeks, my parents couldn't afford lessons for me at the time.

    When I was about 12 I got into Metallica and convinced my parents to pay for lessons with my school which was way cheaper, I had lessons up until I left school and just stopped for about 1 and a half years because of a silly phase of teenage apathy and picked it up again last year and haven't stopped since.

    First experience: Watching School of rock and flicking the strings of my guitar and thinking that it sounded good.

    What it's like now: Kicking myself for not learning methods of improvisation earlier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter your email below to get notified when I publish a great piece of content. Plus you'll also be getting all of these freebies.

Hubs

Lifestyle

Pages

Newsletter
Sitemap
About
Legal
Contact