How To Play Guitar for Beginners Step By Step Tips and Tricks

Playing the guitar is fun, especially when you start to learn how to play some of the things on the radio that got you interested in the first place.

When it comes to actually learn how to play the guitar, you could go the route of paying an instructor to give you lessons. An instructor can help you go far in your playing and help you to isolate things you need to work on, giving you some great tips for learning guitar. Many people, however, have been highly successful at teaching themselves how to play.

How?

Beginning guitar players are at an incredible advantage with the amount of instructional material available.

You can check your local musical instrument dealer and you can find many books that can walk you through guitar basics. Without even leaving the comfort of your own home, you can find great guitar instructional material on blogs like this one.

Learning to play the guitar isn’t difficult, but if you take the route of learning on your own, here are some tips for learning guitar that will help you to go further faster.

Consider What Sound You’re Going For

Do you want to sound more like Jack Johnson or Slash (Guns N Roses)? John Mayer or Mike Einziger (Incubus)? Jason Mraz or Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge)?

The list could go on an on. Chances are that you decided to play guitar because you wanted to play the music of your favorite brand or music artist. If that’s the case, there are a few factors to consider when it comes to your own guitar sound. Things like:

  • What kind of music style do you want to play?
  • Do you want to play acoustic guitar or electric guitar?

Knowing what type of music you want to play will help you determine exactly what types of things you need to practice in order to achieve your ideal sound.

music artist

Practice Consistently

Not everybody who begins playing guitar finds the motivation to keep at it. You don’t want your guitar to become a decorative piece that sits and collects dust, right? Then you have to practice.

The only way practice will actually help you progress as a player is to do it consistently. Techniques need to be built on each other, but if your practicing is sporadic, each time you practice, you’ll essentially be having to reteach yourself things you should have already mastered.

Practice Strategically

Guitar players to start learning how to play the things that they think sound the coolest, which means their arsenal becomes full of killer licks and their favorite chord voicings.

Those things are the high points of playing guitar, but playing guitar isn’t all about the high points. Many of the best guitar players in the most popular bands realize that their playing is in service to the song; not the other way around.

high points of playing guitar

When it comes to actually play a song all the way through, you need more than the few tricks that sound the most appealing to you. This means you need to learn basic guitar playing techniques like:

  • Correct finger placement
  • How to hold the pick
  • Correct posture
  • Strum patterns
  • Chord voices
  • Switching between chords
  • The harmonic and melodic structure
  • Scales all along the fretboard
  • Reading chord charts and guitar tab

You’ll want to start with the basics, and it’s important to not move on from one technique to another until you’ve mastered that technique. Playing guitar is fun when you know what you’re doing, but you have to log in the time to get there first. These tips for learning guitar will help you to get where you want to be with minimal struggle.

Another integral part of practicing strategically is practicing with a metronome. This helps you to develop solid rhythm and timing skills, which will serve you well if you’re playing in a band.

Choose Accuracy Before Speed

Every guitar player wants to be able to play fast, but if you rush into trying to play fast, your playing is going to end up being sloppy. Master guitar instructor Troy Stetina always encourages budding guitar players to learn the techniques they’re trying to master slowly at first and slowly increase speed.

That’s the only way to avoid developing techniques are sloppy because you didn’t master the technique at a slower speed first.

The Most Important of the Tips for Learning Guitar

There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting down with a guitar and creating your own music or emulating the music of others. It’s that hope that got many of us into playing guitar in the first place.

Don’t make it a chore.  Don’t force yourself to do a bunch of things you don’t need to.

Have fun with your guitar playing and be who you want to be.  There is no right or wrong way to become really good at playing the guitar.

With these tips for learning guitar, you can be on a journey to being the kind of player that inspires someone else. Learning the guitar takes work and practice, but remember to enjoy the journey on the way.

playing the guitar

Easy Way to Learn Guitar With 4 Chords

If you’re a beginning guitar player, it’s really important that you don’t get discouraged early on by how difficult learning the mechanics of guitar playing can look sometimes.

When you watch a seasoned guitar player, they often have a way of making playing the guitar look both easy and difficult at the same time.

“Easy” because they seem to play well with very little effort. “Difficult” because when you pick up the guitar, you have no idea how to do what they just did.

You don’t even know where to start. You just know that to get to that level of playing will take a lot of time, but does that mean you won’t be able to play anything until you’ve been practicing for weeks, months, or years?

Fortunately not. What you need is an easy way to learn guitar that will have you playing songs in no time.

Start With These Chords

There are a lot of musical keys to learning with a lot of chords to learn in each key, and someday you’ll want to learn all of them.  But you don’t have to learn them all when you first begin playing.

For now, you can cover a lot of guitar mileage by just learning four chords. Specifically, you’ll be learning the primary chords in the key of G major.

Here are the four primary chords in the key of G:

  • G            (320033)
  • D            (xx0232)
  • Em7      (022033)
  • Cadd9   (x32033)

The great thing about these chords and why they’re the best chords to learn if you’re looking for an easy way to play guitar is that the shapes of the chords share many of the same fingerings.

the best chords

4 Time-Efficient Guitar Lessons for Beginners

It’s often been said that it’s not how long you practice the guitar but rather “how” you practice that produces results.

One of the biggest mistakes new guitarists make is to practice for hours and hours each day thinking they are improving their skills. While practice is certainly essential to getting better at playing, sometimes it is not really practical with work, school, and other responsibilities.

On top of that, practicing only one type of skill or song is not really going to produce the well-rounded results you’re looking for.  To get the most out of your sessions you’re going to need to attack your practice lessons with a bit more strategy and effort to really maximize your return.

So with that in mind, let’s look at four great guitar lessons for beginners that are completely time-efficient and will help you get you rocking as quickly as possible.

Lesson 1 – Warm Up your Fingers

Before you start any kind of sport or exercise of any kind, the first thing you have to do is stretch to get your muscles in shape and ready go.

With the guitar, this is no different.  Your fingers are all controlled by muscles and sometimes having them go through the chops is a good way to wake them up.

What I like to do is to put them through a simple chromatic scale exercise like this one here where each finger is involved.  Basically, I’m moving my fingers up and down the string in a very systematic pattern.

Here is a good video that shows an example of the type of exercise you’ll want to open with.

Your picking hand can be involved too because it has to make sure to keep the proper rhythm and alternate notes as you strike each beat.

As you get better at this exercise you can speed it up faster and faster to get all your fingers really moving. 

However for now even if you play it slow, devote all your attention to accuracy.  Play with a metronome whenever possible.  Accuracy will always be far more important in your guitar playing, especially when it comes to moving on to other scales and arpeggios.

Lesson 2 – Play a Series of Chords:

What beginner guitar lessons would be complete without practicing your chords?

By themselves, they are not very exciting to play.  However, if you play a series of good beginner guitar chords in succession (for example the C major scale), then you will start to hear how they harmonize together and form a complete, rich sound.

Getting bored of the same chords?  Switch it up to a different scale.  Instead of starting with C, start with a D major or maybe even an E minor root.

Not only will this help you get all your fingers working together much more quickly, but this will also help you later on in your musical career to know which chords work together or “color” with one another.

For now: Focus on the accuracy of the chords and the changes.  Again make sure to use a metronome to keep timing.

If you’re feeling really advanced, use your other hand to finger pick or pluck the individual notes of the chords.

Lesson 3 – Play Along with a Song:

One of the mistakes lots of beginner guitarists will make is to learn a song “technically” meaning they can play all the notes and chords.  BUT they make one crucial mistake – when they actually perform the song, it sounds nothing like the recorded version.

I’ve made this blunder several times.  You will tell your friends “yes I can play that song” but then they will make a pretty sour expression when you try to play your hack version of the song.

My advice – pick a song and play along with it.  Even if it’s something as simple as just strumming the chords to the rhythm, do it anyway. 

You’ll probably learn that you don’t necessarily keep time as good as you thought or that there are some strange pauses you weren’t quite playing right. 

Regardless, by doing your best to imitate your favorite song by playing along, you’ll be developing one of the most important skills that a musician will need later on in their career – the ability to play with others!

Lesson 4 – Learn a Song from Start to Finish

Along the same lines with Lesson 3, another really popular mistake by many new guitarists is to simply learn the “main riff” or the part of the song that everyone recognizes right away. 

While that is fun and sometimes challenging all by itself, it creates problems for you later on in your musical journey when you actually want to perform the piece for other people.

Again: Pick a song at your skill level and learn the whole thing from the first note to the last.  It can be just chords, finger-picking, whatever.  It will be helpful if you choose a song that easily sounds good on just one guitar. 

It’s not very exciting to play only one guitar part and have your audience “imagine” the rest of the song.

Not only will this help build the library of things you can readily play when you’ve got an audience, but it will also be a terrific lesson in commitment and really challenging yourself to play something 100% all the way through.

Focus on Guitar Lessons for Beginners that Maximize Your Skills

Though there are many good tips and guitar lessons for beginners all around the web, I’d really encourage you to focus on these 4 lessons if you’re just starting out. 

Like we said in the beginning – you could play for hours and hours, but it could all end up being a waste of time if you don’t remember to practice with a purpose and make sure your time counts.  Get the most out of your practice sessions and accelerate yourself to a point where you can confidently play in front of others.  Think quality over quantity.

Learn to Play the Guitar By Developing Your Fret Hand

When country music artist and guitar player Brad Paisley was 8 years old, his grandfather gave him his first guitar, a Sears Danelectro Silvertone. His grandfather helped him learn to play the guitar, and he was soon playing small gigs around his small home town.

Today, Paisley is one of the most popular country music artists around.  But it wasn’t just luck.  His phenomenal guitar skills make him a hero to many aspiring guitar players. His book Diary of a Player chronicles the love he and many other players have toward their guitars.

While Paisley is a great guitarist now, it’s clear that his guitar journey began where all of our journeys begin – with a starter guitar and the dream of being able to play. The good news is that anyone can develop the skills to be a great guitar player with practice and a solid foundation to build on.

Most beginner guitar lessons focus on teaching you a few good beginner guitar chords, strum patterns, and basic scales. All of those are important, but there are a couple often overlooked fundamentals that form the basis of learning to play the guitar well.

Player chronicles

Learn to Play the Guitar With Finger Strength Exercises

Guitar chords and scales are important to playing music on the guitar, but another important aspect of guitar playing that isn’t often focused on is finger strength.

Think about it. Your fingers have to do a lot of work, from changing chord positions to playing single-note runs. With that much work, your fingers need to be strong.

When you first learn to play the guitar, your fingers will be sore from pushing down on the strings. The pain isn’t something you’re often told about when you’re first starting out, but it’s definitely a hurdle you have to move beyond.

The more you practice pushing down on the guitar strings, in the beginning, the more your fingertips begin developing calluses. As your fingers gradually develop calluses, the pain in your fingertips reduces until it’s finally gone.

With your fingers working to play strings up and down the fretboard in various combinations to form chords, as well as playing hammer-ons, pull-offs, and string bends, you’ll need to develop the muscles in your fingers to perform well.

The primary way to work on finger strength is to play finger exercises up and down the fretboard.

Here’s a great example to get you started.  Use each one of your fingers (starting with your pointer all the way down to your pinky) to play the following:

|————————————————————————————————-1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1-|

|——————————————————————————1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1——————–|

|———————————————————-1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1—————————————-|

|—————————————1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1———————————————————–|

|——————–1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1——————————————————————————|

|-1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1————————————————————————————————-|

After you play this at the first fret, move the whole thing up to the second fret and repeat!  You could literally repeat this pattern moving all the way up and down the fretboard, practicing it repeatedly.  As an added bonus focuses on an even rhythm while making sure your fingers push each string straight down onto the fret.

A secondary way to develop finger strength is to use a hand exerciser like this one from Planet Waves.  

This cool toy is designed specifically to help people strengthen their muscles in their fingers. It’s ideal for guitar players because you can use it anywhere, and you don’t need your guitar to use it.

You simply grip it in your hand and press down each of your individual fingers. The built-in resistance helps you to develop finger strength. You’ll probably find that your ring and pinky fingers need the most exercise.

Don’t Forget to Work On Your Finger Accuracy

If you want to play guitar well, it’s best to develop accuracy early on. Many guitar players get overly excited about playing fast lead runs and focus on playing fast at the cost of precision. If you don’t develop precision at slow speeds, speeding it up is only going to make your playing sloppier.

Using the same exercise pattern you used for developing finger strength, pay particular attention to making sure your fingers are pushing down on the strings with the tips. Ensure that your fingers are pressing all the way down onto the fret.

An important part of developing precision is making sure your fingers hover as close to the strings as possible so that the distance your fingers have to travel to push down on a fret is minimal. This is how great guitar players like Brad Paisley develop the ability to play fast leads.

Practice the pattern slowly and make sure it’s precise. When you notice you’re playing getting sloppy, slow down and correct it before picking up speed. Accuracy is vital to being a great guitar player.

great guitar player

Obviously, there is much more to playing the guitar than isolated finger movements, but these are two aspects that are worth focusing on early on as you’re practicing beginner guitar techniques.

By working on your finger strength and accuracy, you’ll put yourself ahead of many aspiring guitar players as you learn to play the guitar the right way.

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