The First 5 Steps to Learning Guitar

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

If you are someone that has never picked up a guitar before, then learning how to play properly can be intimidating. The process of learning the guitar takes many forms. If you are ambitious and want to learn guitar by yourself, check out the five steps below for the easiest ways you can start right away.

Learn Through Trial and Error

Even though this is probably the slowest way of learning anything, the method of trial and error is still a viable option when learning to play guitar. Whenever we pick up a new instrument, this tends to be the first method of trying to nail the basics.

Start off by getting to grips with the instrument. Explore the fretboard, neck, and tuning pegs with one hand, then place the other hand with all five fingers wrapped around the strings. Trial and error learning is a super way to learn guitar for certain people, especially those that already have a keen musical ear. Play around and press certain frets, plucking, and strumming as you do. Note what sounds are produced and if they sound good. If they don’t move on and try something new. This method is easier for some more than others. If you’re not someone that can learn like this, then the method will be slow, so opt for one of the other ways to begin playing.

Trying Chord Charts

Everyone who picks up a guitar wants the satisfaction of strumming their first chord. Playing single notes all the time or just learning scales can get really boring. If you want to start playing harmonious and lush-sounding chords, all you need to do is get your hands on a chord chart. A chord chart is a visual way of learning the guitar. You can look at it and see exactly what you should be doing with your chord hand. Find one you like online or even buy a poster for your bedroom wall to start throwing some serious chord shapes.

Learning Tablature

Guitar tabs are a huge part of learning the instrument, so you should know how to read them as soon as possible. Tablature isn’t the same as reading sheet music. Instead, there are six lines that each represent the strings of the instrument. In place of notes are numbers that denote the fret position on the string. These tabs are quite simple, and learning the skill should be straightforward. Once you know how to read them, you will be able to play chords, melodies, and scales much more easily.

Take Private Lessons

The most efficient way of learning any instrument is to take lessons from a professional in the form of music tutoring. You can do these lessons face to face in one-to-one sessions or even as a group. Private tutoring for guitar is highly beneficial to your playing. You’ll get some rock-solid basics to build your skills on. Plus, you get the addition of receiving immediate feedback and corrections on things you’re doing, so any bad habits will be eliminated.

Finger positions, picking, and posture are all things you will learn in your lessons. Taking some lessons can be used as a supplement if you are studying a music course or you can go and learn for enjoyment. Many people find that they don’t need to read sheet music as part of their lessons. But, of course, there is a huge benefit to anyone who can read music and guitar tabs as you can translate these skills to most other instruments.

Use Online Resources

Modern technology can play a huge part in your guitar journey. Everything you need to start learning the guitar you can find on the internet. There are YouTube tutorials for one, which provides an immense resource for learning anything you want to know about guitars. You can search for video tutorials based on your skill level and take it all the way from beginner to advanced techniques in no time.

As well as using free tutorials, you may also want to take free online classes as well. These can come in useful when building the basics of playing. And if you can get it for free, it’s even more valuable. There’s a lot of websites online that offer free guitar tabs. Just make sure you know how to read them properly before diving in and trying to figure out the chords to your favorite rock ballads.

Learning Guitar FAQs

Am I too old to learn guitar?

No one is never too old to start learning an instrument. It’s a very common concern for new players, but there should be no age limit on picking up a guitar and learning a new skill.

Should I learn on an acoustic or electric guitar?

What you learn on will all depend on the type of music you want to play. An electric guitar has thinner strings, so are great for beginners because they require less hand strength. Acoustic guitars are less costly than electric ones and can help to ease the transition over to an electric guitar at a later date.

What equipment do I need to get started?

Having the right equipment will make all the difference in how you play. As you continue to play you can get the fancy accessories like slides and pedals, but to start off with you will need:

  • A pick
  • A strap
  • A cable if you are playing an electric guitar
  • A tuner so you can learn to tune the guitar quickly and accurately

Will my fingers hurt when I start playing?

Yes, your fingers may hurt when you begin playing, but don’t let it discourage you. You may experience your arms hurting as well as you build up the muscles from playing. The pain will go away, and the stronger you are, the better your guitar playing will be.


How did you first start learning the guitar? What method did you find the most effective? We would love to know what you would recommend for beginners, so get in touch if you have any suggestions.

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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