Guitar Playing: A Beginner’s Guide

by Manish Singh

Picking your guitar- the first step to playing.

So, you have decided that you want to play the guitar. Great! Have you got your guitar yet? If not, consider if you want to play acoustic or electric. If you intend on mainly playing acoustic then an acoustic guitar is great, however, if you are interested in electric guitar playing, there is nothing wrong with having an electric guitar as your first.

When you play acoustic guitar you do not need an amplifier, however, to get the most out of an electric guitar you do. So, it is worth considering which road you want to go down. Of course, if you are unsure about playing the guitar then perhaps start with an acoustic, as it will be cheaper and thus less of an expense if you decide that guitar is not for you.

Once you have your guitar, you now need to learn the basics, understand the instrument and how it works. Sure, you could jump straight in, but understanding the instrument is necessary.

Learning the basics.

You probably already know where you pluck the strings, that part is obvious. You pluck in the center of the guitar’s body, you play the chords or tabs on the neck of the guitar.

Now, you need to look at the strings. Working from the string closest to your face when you hold the guitar, the strings are lettered like so, E, A, D, G, B, E. The first E is the thickest string and therefore has the deepest pitch, the last E is the thinnest string and therefore has the highest pitch. Now you will see the fretboard go down the guitar, depending on the size and type of your guitar you will have a different amount. There are often inlay markers (usually dots) at regular intervals, usually on frets 3,5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, and 24 (if the instrument has 24 frets).

Do not forget the head of the guitar and the tuning pegs. Whenever you play, ensure your instrument is in tune. There are apps you can get that will help you to tune your instrument, and most of these apps are free.

Chord playing.

Now, once you understand the body of the guitar, you feel comfortable with it and understand how it works, you will want to start learning your first chords. As a novice to the instrument, you will want to look for guitar chords for beginners. The chords we recommend you learn first as a beginner are Am, C, D, and G. You can learn either the standard or easy version of these which are known as Am7, Cmaj7, Dsus2, and G6, however, we always recommend learning the standard version from the start so that you can get used to the positioning of your hands.

Regular practice is key with guitar playing, while you might find your fingers getting sore after a bit, and the skin getting rough, this is part of the practice and over time your fingers will become accustomed to it.

The best songs to learn as a beginner are ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison, and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, you might find other songs easier. Take your time and find your playing style.

Things you might want to invest in.

It is worth investing in some kit once you feel comfortable playing. We certainly recommend investing in guitar picks, while they are not for everyone, plucking with your fingers can be more problematic, you may hit the wrong strings, and it can make your fingers sore.

You should also get a guitar strap as it will make you more comfortable. If you get an electric guitar, a decent amplifier and the correct cables are necessary. It is also worth getting a guitar tuner, you can either get an electronic one or use an app. You may also wish to get a capo once you have picked up a few songs, and maybe a slide too.

However, start off with the basics and go from there. If you do not want to buy a book to learn songs, it is worth investing in an online database (there are many) and paying a subscription to access a multitude of songs online.

Get a tutor Vs self-teaching.

This is a decision for you. While many will appreciate guitar lessons, some may find they learn better on their own. No one can tell you which works best for you but yourself. If you find yourself struggling, a tutor can help, it is really a personal preference.

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