Learning to play the guitar is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be extremely frustrating at times. It takes dedication and hours of practice to learn your first chords, let alone any songs. Read this article for guidelines that will ease you into guitar playing and help you pick out the perfect starter-guitar.
1. When you first start, don’t worry about playing songs.
This may seem counterintuitive because that’s why most people pick up the guitar in the first place, but it really is important to take things slow when learning how to play guitar. You should focus on learning chords and getting used to your guitar before trying to tackle any songs. If you try to learn too many songs in the beginning, you’ll just get frustrated because your fingers will still be quite sore and not very flexible after practicing chords. It’s similar to when people start by trying to run before they can walk; it’s much more beneficial in the long term if you take small steps towards learning something new rather than trying to run before you can even walk. Plus, you’ll have more fun if you focus on learning a few chords and slowly add in new ones as your fingers become more flexible.
2. Learn the CAGED system.
This is a way of organizing guitar chords by their root notes rather than by barre-type (i.e. open, barre) chords. The CAGED system is a great way to learn scales and songs on the guitar because it helps organize songs into ‘positions’ that you can easily transpose onto different frets when necessary.
3. Play with your fingers, not a pick (at first).
The dexterity in your fingers will develop much more easily if you use them right from the start. Playing with a pick is definitely not impossible, but it does require extra effort because you’ll essentially be learning to coordinate two different weapons of the guitar playing arsenal at once. If you’re just starting to play, I would recommend sticking to your fingers for now and then transitioning over to using a pick if you decide to play with one later on.
4. Don’t get discouraged, and keep practicing!
As any experienced guitar player will tell you, the first few months of playing are going to be very frustrating for beginners while their fingers become more flexible and they learn how to play chords and other things. It’s normal to feel like you’re not making any progress or that you’re not as good as everyone else around you, but just stick with it and keep practicing every day.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
If you know anyone who can play guitar, try to find out where they learned everything and go from there (that might also help you get a good guitar teacher too). If that doesn’t work out, try to find some local guitar classes and see if there’s any resources online.
6. Don’t worry about getting a fancy guitar at first; an entry level one is fine.
It may be tempting to run out and buy the best guitar on the market as soon as you decide to play, but that’s usually asking for trouble. First of all, if you buy a really expensive guitar and it sounds bad then the chances are that “upgrading” won’t help because you’ll just have a really expensive, high-quality entry level guitar so your sound will still be terrible. Secondly, if you don’t know how to play yet then you might accidentally snap a string and break something on your guitar or your brand new toy will just sit in the corner of your room while you stare at it every day and feel bad about yourself because you’re not actually getting any better.
This is why many people recommend buying cheaper, more affordable guitars when you first start out. Even if you break a string or snap the headstock off, it’s not like they’re completely irreparable (there are definitely some expensive ones that you can’t fix though).