Guitar Learning Roadmap

How to Start Learning Guitar

This guide is specifically for beginners who never picked up a guitar before and need to know how to start learning guitar. If you already know some chords you can jump to the guitar lessons section, where you'll find plenty of tutorials, and have fun with the interactive learning software.

If you are at the beginning of your journey, please keep reading this guide to know the first steps to learning guitar.

guitar learning roadmap

So you want to learn how to play the guitar?

Congratulations! With the right instructions and correct practice, in some months, you'll be able to play some of your favorite songs.

You'll entertain your friends and family with the easiest tunes by Eagles", The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Creedence, AC/DC, and many others. You can even begin composing your own little songs and melodies.

The Journey Analogy

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 Roadmap, to show you the most interesting and important aspect of guitar training along with a reasonably timed “trip” to mastering the guitar.

Getting to Know Your Instrument

guitar

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.

First advice: start with an acoustic guitar

An acoustic guitar is great because you don't have to deal with amps, cables, and other stuff that at the beginning could make things more complex.

Action and Intonation

It is also important to have great action and intonation.

What is Action

The action of a guitar is how hard it is to press down on the strings, it shouldn’t be so hard that it hurts your fingers, nor should it be so easy that the strings buzz the frets.

What is Intonation

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.

The Bottom Line

To start, find a good acoustic guitar; you can borrow one from a friend, or go to the shops, the important thing is that the instrument must have proper action and intonation, your life will be easier.

Strings and Frets

You should know the name of the strings, and how frets are numbered.

Guitar Strings

guitar strings

Standard guitars have 6 strings, that are named in the following way:

  • 1st string - E (the thinnest, highest pitch)
  • 2nd string - B
  • 3rd string - G
  • 4th string - D
  • 5th string - A
  • 6th string - E (the thickest, lowest pitch)

So, when you have your guitar in hands, the string nearest to the floor is called "1st string" (the thinnest one)

To memorize the names of strings, you could use a mnemonic sentence like this: Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie (it would be better you invent your own sentence).

Guitar Frets

guitar frets

Each string has some frets, that are counted from 0 to 22 (or 23, or 24, depending on the guitar model). For now, we can focus on frets from 0 to 12.

The higher the number, the higher the pitch.

When we say fret 0, we mean the string without pressing any fret (open string).

How To Tune a Guitar

Every time you practice, you must be sure that your guitar is correctly tuned. The video below shows you how to tune your guitar, be sure to watch it

TIP: If you liked the tuning video tutorial above, as a FaChords user you can join the Full Course Free for 14 Day here

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

Correct Posture

It's wise to learn the correct posture right now. Bad posture can turn out in back pain and other physical issues. The video below it's a great introduction to this topic.

The Left Hand

The mission of the left hand is to press the strings to get the notes we want. We need to have the fingers of the left hand in the right position before the right hand strums the strings.

In the beginning, the left hand will take care of the chords position, while scales, legato, glissato and other techniques will be learned in a more advanced stage.

Thumb position

The classic position of the thumb is at the center of the back of the neck. The thumb provides the right force to the grip with the other fingers of the left hand.

guitar thumb position

Image credit: http://www.jasonwerkema.com/resources/acoustic-guitar/

How to press the strings

When pressing a string, index, middle, ring and pinky fingers must be perpendicular to the fretboard, so they don't touch the other strings. It's important to use the fingertips (the green area in the image below); you'll feel a bit of pain, because you have to build up callouses. Be patient; it's amatter of a couple of weeks of daily practice (at least 10 minutes a day).

how to press string

We press the string between two metallic frets, near the highest fret (the one at the right). You should apply the right force: enough to make the string sound clear, but not too much, otherwise, you'll experiment fatigue and pain.

Learn How To Read Chords Box

The first thing you want to learn is how to read chords diagrams. This is the easier way to show where to place your fingers and which string to strum.

how to read guitar chord box

In the upper area of the diagrams, we could find a X or a 0, in correspondence of each string. The X means that we don't play the string, while the 0 means that we play the string without pressing any fret (open string).

If there are no X or 0, we play the fret marked with the black dots. The number in the black dots tell which finger to use: 1: index, 2: middle, 3: ring, 4: pinky

Your First Chords

There are so many chords out there , 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.

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.

Here are your first chords to learn:

your first guitar 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. Here's a simplified version of the same chords:

your first guitar chords easy version

Use These Chords to Play Songs

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.

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.

The good news is that the 4 chords you have just learned, will allows you to play a great number of pop and rock songs. Not convinced? Have a look at this video. All the songs are played with the same C, G, Am and F chords!

All the songs in this video use the same C, G, Am and F chords

Awesome isn't it? Now go on Youtube and play along one of the songs listed below, trying to follow the rhythm, you'll be surprised!

  • Journey – "Don't Stop Believin'"
  • The Black Eyed Peas – "Where Is the Love"
  • Alphaville – "Forever Young"
  • The Beatles – "Let It Be"
  • Bob Marley – "No Woman, No Cry"
  • Joan Osborne – "One of Us"
  • Avril Lavigne – "Complicated"
  • The Offspring – "Self Esteem"
  • Men At Work – "Down Under"
  • Jack Johnson – "Taylor"
  • Spice Girls – "2 Become 1"
  • A-ha – "Take On Me"
  • Green Day – "When I Come Around"
  • Eagle Eye Cherry – "Save Tonight"
  • Toto – "Africa"
  • Beyoncé – "If I Were A Boy"
  • Kelly Clarkson – "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
  • Train – "Hey, Soul Sister"
  • Elton John – "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (from The Lion King)
  • Akon – "Don't Matter"
  • John Denver – "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
  • Lady Gaga – "Paparazzi"
  • U2 – "With Or Without You"
  • The Last Goodnight – "Pictures of You"
  • Maroon 5 – "She Will Be Loved"
  • Bon Jovi – "It's My Life"
  • Lady Gaga – "Poker Face"
  • Aqua – "Barbie Girl"
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – "Otherside"
  • The Gregory Brothers – "Double Rainbow Song"
  • Andrea Bocelli – "Time to Say Goodbye"
  • Robert Burns – "Auld Lang Syne"
  • Five for Fighting – "Superman"

Next Roadmap Step: Join a Structured Guitar Course

Well, I hope this short introduction has stimulated your curiosity and enthusiasm. The next step is to ask yourself what kind of guitar player you want to become, and find the right learning resource that will help get there.

  • As a beginner guitarist, you need structure and consistency.
  • You need lessons that build on one another in a logical and step-by-step way.

As a FaChords user, you can join for free the most popular online guitar program on the Web. Guitar Tricks will teach you everything you need to become an accomplished guitar player, starting from the basics to more advanced topics. With the help of easy to follow and fun video tutorials, you'll make progress fastly, and you'll be member of a community of millions of supportive guitar students and instructors. Check it out:

To your success on guitar!

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