Guitar is a wonderful experience that all should learn! Most of the music genres involve guitar. There are so many types of songs you can play. Playing guitar is also fun! But, to many people, playing guitar seems hard. It’s quite easy, if you are not lazy and practice a lot. Read on, to see how to learn to play this wonderful instrument.
- Buy a guitar and learn how to tune it. Take a friend who already plays guitar to your local music shop. This person will understand what you’re looking for, make sure you don’t get ripped off (a lot of cheap guitars vary in quality dramatically from instrument to instrument), and be able to effectively communicate with the salesperson. Acoustic guitars are the best to learn with. Their strings are bigger and have more tension. This will help build callouses and finger strength. Good habits will form more often with acoustic guitars also, but if you want to get an electric that’s fine but make sure you don’t start forming bad habits. When you get your guitar, also buy a tuner (a cheap one will do) and some picks (light gauge or “thin” ones are best for beginners.) There are 6 guitar strings. 1st string (skinniest, closest to the ground) is the highest sounding one and 6th is the lowest sounding one. E on piano is 6th string. A is 5th string. D is 4th string. G is 3rd string. b is 2nd string. And, higher E is 1st string. A good way to remember is (from top to bottom) Eat All Day Get Big Easy. Another method of tuning should be done in couple days after the guitar use. It’s called relative tuning. 5th fret sound of every string except for the 3rd string equals to sound of the next string. On 3rd string, sound of 4th fret equals to sound of 2nd string. The last method of tuning is electronic method using the computer and a microphone. Recognize that in electronic tuner you have a scale. When you play a note, the computer records it, recognizes the note, and in about 0.01 seconds points the needle on the scale (-20 to 20. Cent units). If the needle is pointing straight up to zero, then you are in tune. If it’s pointing to left, then you are flat. If it’s pointing right, then you are sharp. It even tells you how sharp/flat you are in cents scale. Probably, the best free “needle-based” electronic tuner would be Audio Phonics Tuner (AP tuner for short). Link to download can be found in External Links section. Some electronic tuners do not have the needle. Instead, the light just flashes green when you’re in tune and it flashes red when you’re not.
- Get some picks and learn how to use them. Buy three types: Heavy, Medium, and Thin.
- Heavy picks are used to play entire chords and accords. They have more control and are used for fast and precise music. Heavy metal guitarists generally use thick picks which gives greater control when playing lead solos. Jazz guitarists also favor heavier picks.
- Medium picks are the ones that are used the most. They are, mostly, for guitar solos and simple intervals/accords. If you play too fast, especially with accords, the pick will break.
- Thin picks are for more messier and uncontrolled sound. They also produce a brighter tone than thick picks. There are also Extra Thin picks and Extra Heavy picks, but you probably won’t need them until you know how to play guitar on intermediate level. Medium or thin picks are appropriate for beginners.
- Learn some chords. Try to learn the C,D,G,E,and A chords first, then continue to barre chords.
- For the E Chord: Put finger 2 (middle finger) right next to fret 2 (gold line 2nd closest to the headstock). The headstock is the top of the guitar. It goes on the fifth string (A) Put your 3rd finger (ring finger) on the fourth string (D) on the 2nd fret. Strum all strings together.
- After getting a firm base in these chords, begin to learn how to play barre chords. These include B and F. To play a barre chord you lay your index finger across all six strings, and make the rest of the chord with your other three fingers. If you master barre chords you can play every chord without even lifting your index finger! Some consider barre chords the hardest chords. This is due to how hard you have to press in order to get a good, clear sound out of the chord. If you don’t get it right the first time, you’re NORMAL. If you master it right away, I’m not sure why you are reading this manual! As with all things to do with guitar, practice often.
- Learn how to mute your guitar. To do a standard mute, rest your fret fingers on the strings, but don’t press down. This will create a satisfactory muted sound. Another way is the Palm Mute. This is where you place the palm of your picking hand near the bridge.
- Entire chords don’t sound good with palm mute. If you don’t do this right, you won’t like the sound, although muting your guitar is very easy and makes very cool sound.
- As you move closer to the bridge, the more muted your strings are. If you do this with distortion on, your guitar will make this cool sound you hear in heavy metal songs every once in a while, this is called a squeal or a harmonic. If you do it without distortion, your guitar will sound like 60s oldies Rock’n’Roll. Symbol for Palm Mute in tablature is P.M.
- Move on to specific patterns and techniques. Learn new riffs. Good practice would be a simple chromatic scale of accords. Then you can move on to melodies. Experiment. Improvise some Hard Rock riffs. Pretend to play a guitar solo. Try on Palm Mute every once in a while. Be sure to practice a lot.
- Learn to read tablature otherwise known as tabs. A good website is Ultimate-guitar.com. Tabs provide a lot easier way to read and play guitar music. But, be sure to learn regular notes too.
- Buy some songbooks. Sometimes, you might discover new techniques by accident, result of experimenting. If you’re trying to learn a rough song and can’t seem to get it, move on to something easy. Then, increase difficulty and in a month get the hard piece out again and play it really slow. Every day, make it faster, until you get to the full tempo. You’ll be pretty surprised how good you can play!
- Learn to play solos and improvise. If you learn to play a song that does not have a solo, make one up. Match the style, key and time signature. If you do have a written down solo, learn it. Play it many times. Master it as it might take couple weeks, depends on hardness of the solo and then make your own version of the same solo. It would be better for your skill if you play a solo by ear. For example, you have tab of “Stairway to Heaven”, but it does not come with a solo. You make the solo up with your ear and now you can play entire song. Play around with your solos a lot. You will have a very hard time learning a new solo. But then you learn to play something even better and when you go back to the old stuff, it seems very easy.
- Master Vibrato Techniques. Doing a vibrato on electric guitar isn’t very hard unless you try one with multiple strings and faster speeds. It seems easy, but when you start trying to play fast and vibrato at the same time, you will get that it is hard. There are several ways you can do vibrato technique. The one designed especially for electric guitar is one with vibrato arm (whammy bar/vibrato bar/dive bomb bar). Vibrato arm is this weird stick sticking right out of the bridge (above the power cord and next to the volume control). If you play a chord with distortion on and rotate this arm all the way until you can barely move it, you will hear the difference between the tone. It’s very easy to do that, but some people can actually play melodies using vibrato arm only (“melodies” sound fuzzy, but they still count). Other ways of creating vibrato that are more commonly used are made with hand. Bend the string downward right on the neck with your finger. Then, bend it back up. Do this in a pattern so it sounds good. That is also hard to do during a fast song. Other way of doing vibrato is slightly taking the finger off the string and instantly putting it back on. Vibrato makes your guitar sound a lot more professional. Be sure to practice a lot and be careful not to break the guitar strings.
- Practice. Jazz guitarists, some of the best known guitar players, practice up to 10 hours a day, every day. While you can get away with playing some simple chords without much practice, to really get to the point where you’re having a great time and doing things you’ve always dreamed of, you need to play frequently.
- When learning chords, try to learn them all over the fretboard. This will be extremely helpful when you try to learn songs by ear or improvise solos in the correct key.
- When tapping, a simple free way to stop unwanted open strings playing, is to put a rubber band over the bottom of the first fret.
- Callouses are the key to ultimate guitar playing. Build them up, and the things that seemed so hard will be so natural. you wont even feel the pain you do in the beginning.
- Playing the guitar helps you voice singing, you can also learn how to sing with your playing of the guitar.
- Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Make sure you’re practicing right.
- Don’t try to play anything too rough in the beginning. Start with easy songs. Play Boogie Patterns. Learn some variations. Some good places to start are “Smells Like Teen Spirit” By Nirvana and “Seven Nation Army” By The White Stripes, because of their easy chords and there are very few changes in the song so it is very easy to play.
- Learn all of the chords and memorize them.
- Buy some music books that are not for guitar (don’t waste too much money!). Learn music theory. Get into music. Consider playing another instrument. All those things develop your “musical thinking” and help you master a particular instrument.
- Consider downloading a MIDI program and play along with famous songs. It sounds a lot different when you have an accompaniment and it’s easier to master a particular song.
- Tune your guitar often using relative tuning. Tune the guitar to piano every month. If you have an electronic tuner, tune everyday.
- Master many guitar techniques that are used in famous songs, like tapping, pick slides, vibrato, and others.
- Organize a band. You won’t believe how fun it is to play with other people.
- When you and your band have learned enough songs to play a show, do it. It is estimated that 1 show in front of an audience is about equivalent to 10 practice sessions.
- Record your songs every once in a while. Sometimes, you only notice your mistakes when you listen to it while you’re not playing.
- Be sure to buy some extra strings, in case old ones break.
- Remember that as you get past the basics, guitar learning gets easier and easier – you probably won’t even notice you’re getting better! So reassure yourself that when in the early stages. It’ll help to stick to it!
- There are two types of basic guitar playing, lead and rhythm guitar. Lead guitar consists of playing riffs, scales and doing hammer-ons and pull-offs. Rhythm usually is chords.
- Washing your hands well before playing will improve string life and it just feels much better.
- Be sure to practice in an environment that allows you to completely focus on playing the guitar. No distractions or outside noise!
- Learn the two main scales: Major and Minor. If you know these scales, you can handle most things.
- It’s best not to go out at first and buy a super-expensive electric guitar. What if you decide you aren’t interested? Loss of $600-&4,000. Borrow a friend’s guitar and see if you’re into it and if you’re ready for the work. Ask the friend what it’s like playing guitar, and how hard it is. When you know you’ll like it, go to a guitar store and try some acoustic ones out. When you find a good, hardy one, buy it and a soft case. (unless you plan on traveling with it, then a hard case is best) Learn guitar inside-out. If you’re interested in electric, try a few at a good guitar store, and buy it and all the necessary accessories.
- If you’re a righty, then try building muscle in your left hand by doing more tasks than you usually do with it. (like pouring some juice or opening a container) It’ll feel funny at first, but when you do it, you’re strengthening your fingers so it’s easier to hold down the strings.
- When it comes to picks, almost everyone has a preference. Try playing with thin, medium, and heavy picks and see which ones you like best.
- If you want to be a good guitar player sometime, try to learn the basic chords, and barré-chords, and some beginner techniques, and then get a private guitar teacher.
- Try easy songs at first and as you get better move on to harder songs.
- You will do just fine. Don’t let anyone bother you.
- When tuning your guitar, Always hold the guitar away from your face. If a string breaks, it might hit you in your eye and cause serious pain
- Do not turn your amplifier too high, especially on distortion. If the distortion is on, you will not notice that music is loud and you will receive some ear damage. If you like to play loud, get some earplugs and put them in your ears (there are special, musical earplugs which allow you to hear music with same volume without causing any damage). Also, amplifiers can sometimes explode.
- At first, it might hurt your fingers to hold down the strings, but later on, you’ll grow calluses. Don’t practice until your fingers bleed. Set practice times for yourself, getting longer and longer as you get better and better. Or get Nylon strings they are softer on your fingers, but are slightly restrictive
Things You’ll Need
- an instructional booklet for the guitar (optional)
- Picks: Medium, Heavy, and Thin (Picks Make it easier sometimes; also, they add more sound and better tone)
- Music books (optional)
- Extra strings
- A Strap
- A lot of PATIENCE
- Amplifier (if you have an electric or semi-acoustic)
- How to Get a Great Guitar Sound for a Low Price
- How to Tune a Guitar
- How to Read Guitar Tabs
- How to Alternate Pick
- How to Play Guitar Like Eddie Van Halen
- How to Play Pink Floyd Music on Your Guitar
- How to Afford an Expensive Guitar
- How to Play Twelve Bar Blues
- How to Write a Guitar Solo
- How to Find a Tap Harmonic on the Guitar
- How to Become a Rockstar
- How to Rock Like Angus Young
Sources and Citations
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