Four Tips for Learning the Guitar

The following is a post written by guest blogger Mark from Know Your Instrument.

So you want to learn how to play guitar. How hard can it be?

It all depends on what skill level you’re looking to achieve. If you want to be a virtuoso, you have a long road ahead of you. It takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to achieve that level of mastery for anything. Up to the task? No? That’s okay.

Almost anyone can learn to play their favorite songs on the guitar, solos included. All it takes is some basic eye-hand coordination and the ability to read tablature. Let’s begin with that.

1. Print Out a Tab of a Song You Like

Tablature consists of one line per string of the instrument you’re playing along with numbers representing notes. The numbers correspond to places on the fretboard. There is a simple key to go along with it for things like palm muting and pinch harmonics. Learn the finger positions and notes first, and then try to play along with the track.

2. Practice Often Enough to Get Calluses

At first, you won’t be able to play for long. Your fingertips will hurt too much. This is normal and gets better with time. If you have nylon strings, it’s not as much of an issue. But it’s safe to assume most of you are playing on steel strings. You have to keep going until you develop calluses on all four fingertips. Then you won’t even notice it, no matter how long you practice for. And if you’re not playing often enough to develop calluses, you certainly won’t be developing your skills, either.

Listen to Music–a Lot

Part of how I learned was by listening to my favorite songs so much that I could hear the melody and notes in my head. Then it was just a matter of learning where they were on the fretboard and playing them in proper timing. As mentioned, be sure to play along with the song once you figure out the basics, to make sure your timing is on point. A metronome can be of assistance as well.

Learn Basic Guitar Chords

Get a poster that shows all of the most common guitar chords. It looks overwhelming at first. Just focus on the basic ones at first. A, C, D, E, and G along with their minor keys are the most common ones that almost every song you have ever heard includes some variation of. There are a few others as well.

These four actions will get you started. Remember, the best way to improve at anything is to practice with someone more advanced. When I was learning, I played with a few people who were in bands. Quantum leaps of my comprehension ensued. If you learn chord basics, listen to music often, attempt re-creating that music by utilizing tablature, and develop calluses on your fingers along the way, you will be on the right track.

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