Congratulations for your choice! Learning how to play the guitar is a wonderful, fulfilling, never ending journey. Sure, if you are a beginner your fingers hurt and your hands are weak, but don't worry, we've all been through this. Stick with it, little by little your skills will improve. On this page you'll find some basic tutorials useful to start. If you are really committed, consider taking a step-by-step complete course. Have fun!
I've been playing guitar for many years and I used and reviewed a lot of different guitar courses and online lessons. On this page I listed the best options I found..
Here's the comprehensive list of song for the 'Chords for Guitar Songs' lesson series. Learn how to play songs with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 chords..
In this lesson we're going to learn how to play an A major chord. You'll find a full video lesson with instructions on proper fingerings, hands posture and basic strumming..
In this lesson you're going to learn how to read a guitar tab. You'll learn the differences respect of the standard notation and you'll be able to play easy guitar tabs for beginners .
Free pdf ebook to download: 276 Guitar chords charts reference. Open positions, movable patterns, minor, major, dominant, augmented and diminished triads and other types of chords..
In this lesson, we're going to learn the guitar parts names, how they work and how to take care of your instrument..
A beginner lesson about basic guitar chords: learn how to play chords in open position, change them smoothly, chords qualities..
Lesson on acoustic guitar fingerpicking. Finger-picking is good to learn to branch out into Spanish Classical, Jazz, Country and bluegrass guitar..
Time to choose your first guitar? Don't buy it before reading this guide. Action, intonation, woods, neck, body, tuners, electronics, you should know all this stuff for a great deal!.
In this article we are going to learn 5 songs with easy chords: pop rock, rock, and folk examples..
In this article you'll learn how to play a number of songs with the same chord progressions. Learn the most common chord progressions composed of four easy guitar chords..
I know it can be overwhelming to learn playing guitar. I've put together this roadmap to help
process for you.
The journey to being a great guitar player is much like a road trip across the country. There are a variety of routes to take and some of the trip is exciting while other parts are just long stretches of endless highway. We could start In New York City and travel to Los Angeles by taking a direct route or wondering all about the US. In reality the best route would be one that includes some great scenery, some awesome tourist stops, yet still gets us to our destination in a reasonable time. That is the plan with our Guitar Road Map, to show you the most interesting and important aspect of guitar training along with a reasonably timed "trip" to mastering the guitar. I wish you every success on your guitar journey!
First off we need to start our journey by choosing the correct guitar. Are you looking to shred some amazing metal solos? Then you will need an electric guitar. Are you you looking to sing original country-western or folk songs? Then I would suggest an acoustic. And if you are looking to play some old style Hank Williams or Patsy Cline music, you might be looking for a slide guitar. Basically it is up to you to watch some videos of the music you want to play to get an idea of what guitar you need. Most beginning students have an idea of what they are looking to play, if so then there are a few pointers to remember.
Don’t be cheap. I understand you may be itching to play guitar and you want to jump right in, but buying an inexpensive guitar can lead to immediate failure. There are so may cheap guitars on the market today that it is very difficult to avoid the garbage. The guitar you buy needs to have a solid top (not laminate), a straight but slightly bowed neck, and tuners that hold a tune! It is also important to have great action and intonation. The action of a guitar is how hard it is to press down on the strings, it should not be so hard that it hurts your fingers, nor should it be so easy that the strings buzz the frets. The intonation is the tone of every fret on the guitar, each fret should play the corresponding note. If they are slightly sharp or flat, the chords you play will sound off and terrible. Don't jump into buying any old guitar, if you can have a more experienced player help you, by all means try that route. Otherwise take your time and check every aspect of the guitar, remember you pay for quality so don't skimp when it comes to money. Save up if you have to, and if you decide to buy online, research first, check reviews, and make sure they have a decent return policy (those that allow you to return without paying shipping are the best return policies!).
Here you have started your journey with the guitar, you have already purchased one, or it is one the way! There are a few important tools of the trade to help you with your playing. One of the most important is the tuner. These days they have a variety of tuners and in fact many smartphones have apps for tuning specific instruments. I personally use a decent tuning app that way it is always on my smartphone or tablet ready when I need it. Some guitars these days even have tuners built into them and actually do the tuning for you! However, these are of course very expensive. A good tuner will help you get your guitar ready to play and it will also help you when restringing. Speaking of strings, most manufacturers do not send or sell the guitar with the best set of strings. They are out to make a profit so they usually put the cheapest strings they can. I have a rule, whenever I buy a new instrument I immediately put a set of the best strings I can find on it. This takes a little research and perhaps asking others on a guitar forum, but great strings make a great sound. There are many videos out there that help show you how to restring your guitar the first time, remember only do one at a time to keep the tension level!
Another great tool is the metronome, such a simple little device that will help you practice your speed and timing. Again like the tuner they have hardware metronomes and software or apps available. Once again I personally use a great metronome app so that it is always available when I need it. I prefer one with the biggest variety of time signatures, meters, and speeds. You will also want to stock up on tablature and sheet music, tablature is of course easier for the guitar beginner if you have no experience in reading music. Keep in mind that tablature is limited in how much information it can provide about the song. There are specific books about tablature and of course a million free links online. The free tabs online are not always correct so you have to listen carefully if you go for that option, certain guitar websites are more popular than others because they have better quality tabs.
Other tools you may need are picks, finger picks, slide bars, capos to change key, and of course cleaning items. As you progress in your guitar playing it is fun to try new pick styles and slides, these allow you to really change your sound and explore new techniques. And of course you should always have a good cleaner and cloth, after all if you made the right decision in buying a nice guitar, you want it to remain nice forever! (In fact as you progress on your guitar road trip, you should watch videos of basic guitar maintenance, that way you will always be ready to fix any minor problems).
Now here on our first stop of the journey we will visit the Great Chord Dictionary! There are so many chords out there as you notice, some in open position and easy to play, others real finger stretchers that will push your pinky to the breaking point. As a beginner you want to stick to the basic chords of G, C, F, Am, D, E, A, Em, Dm, and many of the simple major and minor chords. You will find certain chords like Bb to be a bit tricky ay first, or the F bar chord is often very difficult for the first time player. The key is to understand that it takes time to form these chords and you need to train your muscle memory. Muscle memory is just like regular memory in that it needs practice, rest, and time. Practice is very important and needs to be done regularly but you also need to learn to give yourself a day's rest a couple times a week so your fingers can heal.
Sometimes chords can seem nearly impossible to play, but if you stick with them you will get it. I have given lessons to those with fat fingers, stubby fingers, long fingers, and even very short fingers, over time those who stick with it always learn their chords. Almost every chord has a variation so there are a number of ways to "cheat" if you are having trouble learning. That is why it is so important to always study your chord dictionary. For those times when you may not have a chord dictionary it is wise to master bar chords. A bar chord can be moved up the frets to easily find the chord you are looking for, if you move an Fm Bar chord up two frets, you have a Gm chord! It is as simple as that!
Now as you are learning your chords it is best to practice specific strums. Strumming comes in a multitude of styles, from simple up and down, to alternate bass picking, to specific complicated patterns on each chord. It can be as easy as an alternate bass folk song or the more challenging picking of The Beatles Blackbird. If you research strum patterns you will find there are a few basic ones to know, however when you are first starting out, it is ok to just play what feels right. It often sounds good to first strum one bass string (one of the three low strings) and then a couple treble strings (the three high strings). You will find if you stick to a pattern on each chord it will sound quite pleasant. Sometimes the best way to learn music is to just put the book or link down and play what feels right. Take a simple chord progression like G-C-D and create your own strumming pattern across these chords. This is often a way to learn the basic of songwriting. Yes, it is early in your guitar journey but it is never to soon to learn to start writing your own music. Play all the chords you can, see which sound good together and try every strum you can!
One of the greatest ways to master the guitar is by learning as many songs as you can. When the internet first started booming I remember spending hours just searching for the chord progression of every song I liked. Often the chords of the song only give you the simple skeleton of the piece but that is often enough to flesh the song out. And just like tablature not all chorded songs on the web are going to be correct, while this can be frustrating it teaches you to listen and soon you will notice when something doesn't sound right. It may seem like a haphazard way to learn but sitting with your guitar and your computer or tablet for hours on end just looking up songs you know is an amazing way to learn new chords and discover new strums.
To give an idea of how old I am I have always liked the Dukes of Hazzard TV Theme song. If you look up the chords to the song they are not very complicated. However, they require a capo on the first fret and you have to listen closely to figure out the great country-rock strum. This simple process of playing this song is teaching you a variety of aspects for playing the guitar. I repeated this process with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and many more of my favorites. Luckily tablature give you a little more info on the song (like where to slur, hammer on, or pull off notes) but still like chords it is up to you to flesh out the song on your guitar. Your ears are always your best teacher!
One of the best aspects of researching songs is it will force you to learn more complicated pieces of music. Eventually you will come across a song that will have a Gsus2 or a G/D or even a B6. These are not as complicated as you may think, and once you happen upon them, stop and learn! Don't just look the chord up and copy the fingering, pay attention to what notes are in the chord. A basic major chord is the Root, 3rd, and 5th and a minor is a Root, flattened 3rd, and a 5th… those are simple, but once we jump into 7ths, 6, 9, and many more it can start to get complicated. But have no fear the more you play songs with advanced chords the more they will start to make sense. In the beginning of your journey it may have been difficult to finger a certain basic chord, but over time it become like second nature. The same will happen with advanced chords, at first they will appear daunting, but the more songs you play, and pay attention to, soon enough music theory will start to make sense!
Whether you have decided to play electric guitar, acoustic, or slide, you may find the road varying slightly. However, at the end of the day many of the same principles will hold true to most guitars. Of course certain styles may be easier to play, like shredding a solo will never sound as great on an acoustic as an electric, but the concept is still the same. The basics always hold true to learn your notes, scales, and chords by playing as many songs as possible. If you find one song to difficult, put it aside and come back to it every few days to see if you can play it yet!
Many music teachers might put scales in front at the very beginning of your journey, which is actually a fine idea. In my experience students can often get bored with scales until they know how they are applied. Of course its wise to sit and practice your scales, and now is the time to start. However, they become less of a chore when you can put them to music that you like.
One of the most common scales is the minor pentatonic, this is the mother of all solo scales. Now that you have some experience with tabs and songs, you will notice that many of the tabbed solos are in the minor pentatonic. Another common scale is the Blues scale, often used in rock, R&B, and of course the Blues. When I first started playing guitar, the Blues scale was my favorite to jam on. I played it forwards, backwards and just mixed it up until I had some fun sounding music. These simple scales along with some simple chords are great ways to also start jamming with some friends, as long as you all stay in the same chord progression with the same scale, you will begin to sound like a band.
Other popular scales to know are the natural minor Scale, the major scale, Dorian mode, and mixolydian mode. Here is a great scale finder, as you spend more time practicing these various scales you will start to pick them out in your favorite tabs and chord sheets. As you may have noticed some songs you find online may not fit the key of your voice or may sound off. This usually means a key change is in order, and luckily scales and chords are very easy to change to different keys.
The Power Chord is a common element in rock and blues, however it is not technically a chord. As mentioned earlier a basic major chord consists of the root note, the 3rd, and the 5th, so a G chord would be made up of the notes G-B-D. A power chord is only made up of the first and the fifth, so a G power chord would be the notes G and D. Power chords are often played on the 3 low bass strings of the guitar, most often ignoring the treble strings. While this method has existed for many years, it was a very common style of playing throughout the 90's.
It is sometimes considered a way of cheating when it comes to guitar playing. After all you are not dealing with full chords and you often only need to learn to play 3 strings at a time when you play a song heavy in power chords. However, this method gives a very distinct sound for a lot of metal and rock music and as the name says, it can give a song a lot of “power”. Often power chords are used with Drop D tuning, the method of lowering the E bass string one note down to D. That way in open position strumming all 3 bass strings will give you a D5 (D A D). And of course playing the 2nd fret on all 3 strings will give you an E5 chord. Power chords are often structured as root, fifth, root, which can give a song a very loud and driven sound.
Some of the more popular songs using power chords are The Kinks "You Really Got Me and Deep Purple’s "Smoke On The Water." Notice these songs have a real driving force to them. So while power chords may seem overly simple never underestimate the powerful and rocking sound of the root and fifth played on the bass strings of the guitar! Remember some of the most memorable rockin’ guitar songs in history were honestly nothing complicated.
As you advance down the road on your guitar journey learning to play with other musicians is an important aspect of the process. Once you have learned as many chords, power chords, scales, and songs as possible it is time to start learning some of the basic and more popular structures of songs.
One simple but profoundly effective method of guitar playing is the Twelve Bar Blues. The twelve bar progression is one of the most popular chord progressions in modern music. It is used so often that even songs that aren’t strictly blues take advantage of its structure. The simple pattern of the twelve bar blues is based upon the I, IV, and V chords of any key. In the common key of C a twelve bar progression will often play 4 bars of C, 2 bars of F, 2 bars of C, then 2 bars of G, and finally resolving on the root chord again on 2 bars of C. Often these basic major chords involve playing the 7th along with the major, because the 7th gives it a more bluesy sound. Instead of CCCC FFCC GGCC try C7C7C7C7 F7F7C7C7 G7G7C7C7. Or even better mix up your major chords and 7ths.
The twelve bar blues does not always have to be played exactly in that manner, once you get the basic structure practiced it is ok to experiment around with it. The important aspect is to realize how often that twelve bar blues progression is used. The list of songs that use this progression are nearly endless. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, all the early rockers, James Brown...even the Batman Theme Song is in a 12 bar blues progression! If you know the twelve bar blues and are familiar with variations it makes it much easier to jam and practice with other guitar players.
As you build on your scales and chords you will start to create your own riffs, and by now you have likely come across many famous riffs in some of your tabs. A riff is a repeated phrase throughout the song across a set of chords and often involving a specific scale. Some riffs are shared among musicians while others are very unique to a song. Some of the most popular music out there has some of the most memorable riffs. In fact, if you haven't come across many riffs yet in your tabs, I highly suggest searching some of the most famous riff with our tool. This is a great way to spend a day of practice and later impress your friends. Nothing like showing off at the music store by belting out a couple memorable riffs on a guitar (just make sure you practice a lot so you don’t mess up!).
It is always fun to start learning as many riffs as possible, not only is it great practice, it can help extend your musical knowledge. As you learn riffs don’t just copy the playing and tabs, really dive in and pay attention to the structures of these riffs. Eventually you will want to create your own memorable musical moments and it helps to have a solid idea of what makes up a great riff. This is why scales and music theory become so important, some of the greatest riffs are built on very simple scales and harmonic structures. Always make sure to use different voice leadings by playing the same chords and scales all across the neck. While Power Chords are a great way to start playing songs, it is important to move out past power chords when creating your own riffs. Remember you don’t have to always play every note of the chord to get a great sound. Once you have practiced your scales and chords for awhile you will start to get the hang of creating your own riffs. Mastering musical theory will allow you to have a foundation for later creativity!
In the next sections we will be discussing topics that will build on some of these basic principles listed above. Remember that no matter what your skill level is practice is very important, at least 5 days a week (give yourself a rest every couple days). Those who don't focus and practice may be moving down the road, but their playing will be lacking. True guitar mastery, in any style, requires dedication, practice, and to never stop learning new techniques, styles, and songs!
About the author
Hi there! I'm Gianca, a guitar teacher and a software engineer from Italy. I originally created this site to be a tool for my students, and now it's available, for free, to anyone looking to get better at guitar. If it's your first time here, jump to the welcome page. To stay updated on new articles and lessons click here
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