11 Steps to Learning Guitar (Kick-Start Your Journey)

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Regardless of your age, there is no better feeling than learning to play an instrument.

While many people attempt to learn guitar, unfortunately, most of them give up only after a couple of months. Learning guitar needs patience and time.

And to some, the steps required to learn guitar might be unclear. Websites like this one, or All Stringed, try to provide as much value as possible to help beginners get a good grasp on what they should be doing to get better at playing guitar.

That’s why in this article, we’re going to go over the 11 steps to learning guitar. Everything from choosing your guitar to learning your first songs will be covered. This is the order you should be following as a beginner guitarist in order to maximize your playing potential.

Let’s get started!

Steps to Learning Guitar

Step 1: Choose a Guitar That Is Well Suited to You

Before you begin your guitar-playing journey, you need a guitar. Your decision about buying one will be based on personal preference. Although, there are some key factors you should consider while purchasing a guitar as a beginner player:

  • Budget
  • Acoustic or electric
  • Guitar body size
  • The age of the player
  • The place of purchase

For a full breakdown on what I believe are the best guitars for beginners check out this guide.

Step 2: Learn to Tune Your Guitar

A guitar tuner is a wise investment. You can tune your guitar using:

  • Vibration-based tuners
  • Pedal tuners
  • Smartphone apps or web apps

You can choose any of the tuners to tune your guitar quickly. Some guitars are available with built-in tuners; however, dedicated tuners typically give the best results.

Step 3: Hold Your Pick Properly 

For beginners, it’s a good idea to buy many different picks to experiment with. Whatever pick you choose, hold it properly between your thumb and forefinger so that the pointy end is sticking out.

A beginner can get a pick of 0.65-0.73 thickness for better strum fluidity.  You can also play fingerstyle guitar but this like likely only come later.

Step 4: Learn the Names and Numbers of Your Guitar Strings

Learning the names and numbers of your guitar strings is an important step in becoming a successful guitar player. It is the foundation for understanding how to tune and play your guitar. Knowing the names and numbers of each string will help you to quickly identify and play each note on the guitar. From the thickest to thinnest, the strings are named as follows:


Learning the names and numbers of your strings will also help when reading guitar tabs or chord charts.

Step 5: Learn Basic Chords

Learning basic chords for guitar is an essential step for any aspiring guitarist. It’s important to know the basics so you can progress to more complex chords in the future.

Tip: Start with the basic chords outlined in this post

Once you have these down, you can add more complex chords to your repertoire. Learn the fingerings for each chord and practice strumming them in different rhythms.

It may take some time to get the hang of it, but once you master the basics, you’ll be able to use them to play thousands of songs.

Step 6: Learn 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.

Tip: Use a piece of software like Guitar Pro to help you read and understand tabs faster. Check out my full review.

Step 7: Learn How to Play Rhythm

The most important component that goes into making music is rhythm. To learn guitar like a pro, you must be able to strum chords rhythmically.

You don’t need to put too much power into the strums even if you want to play loud. Playing in time is more important than playing loud regardless of the music style you are learning.

If you want to play with a backing track to help you keep the rhythm and have much more fun, check out Gemtracks. There you will find a lot of backing tracks for many different music styles.

Step 8: Make a List of Songs You Love

A major part of the complete guitar learning process is to understand what motivates you to pick the guitar up and play. The more you love the music you play during your practice, the more you will enjoy your practice.

Get a list of your favorite songs ready to let your teacher know what you want to learn. Some songs might be difficult, to begin with, however, they will act as motivation and your teacher will be able to simplify them a bit for you.

If you need some inspiration for songs check out a few of my guides below:

52 Best Easy Guitar Songs (Start Learning Guitar With These)
Top 10 Easy Country Songs on Guitar for Beginners
27 Easy Rock Guitar Songs (MUST Learn)

Step 9: Find a Good Teacher

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 in-person or by using online guitar lesson platforms.

Private tutoring for guitar is highly beneficial to your playing. You’ll get immediate feedback on what you’re playing so any bad habits will be eliminated right off the bat.

Finger positions, picking, and posture are all things you will learn in your lessons. Many people find that they don’t want or need to read sheet music as part of their guitar-learning journey. But, of course, there is a huge benefit to anyone who can read music, as it makes everything else easier to understand.

Step 10: Practice Smart

Being a good guitarist isn’t exactly rocket science. The more you practice, the better you’ll be.

Most great guitarists don’t get to where they are because of their genetics. The thing that makes the biggest difference in anyone’s skill level is practice. To learn guitar you need to be smart about the way you practice in two ways:

  1. Practice every day for at least 15 minutes
  2. Don’t try to cram all your practice into a single day

Read Next: Practicing Music The Right Way (5 Habits to Adopt)

Step 11: Be Patient With Yourself

No one will ever learn how to play the guitar well overnight.

As you move forward in your journey, you will learn new things and will confront various ups and downs. If you are struggling with a particular chord or technique, be patient and don’t get frustrated with yourself or your instrument.

Keep practicing to get better results. Being impatient will not make you a better guitarist, rather, it will make things worse. Get advice from your teacher whenever you hit a roadblock. 

Steps to Learning Guitar FAQs

Am I too old to learn guitar?

No one is ever 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. Just check out our post: 4 Lessons I’ve Realized Learning Guitar As An Adult.

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 they are great for beginners because they require less hand strength. Acoustic guitars are louder than electric ones (without an amp) so they’re great for parties or campfires. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll be able to play both eventually.

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 and amp 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 will hurt when you begin playing but don’t let it discourage you. You may experience your arms hurting as well as you build up your strength. The pain will eventually go away and within a few weeks, you shouldn’t have any pain.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to play guitar is a rewarding experience.

Does it take time? Yes

Does it take effort? Yes

Will you become the next Jimi Hendrix overnight? Umm… no.

BUT! With time and patience, you’ll become better and better. Concepts that were difficult to grasp in the past will become effortless and each piece of the guitar learning puzzle will just seem to fall into place.

So, follow these 11 steps to learning guitar and use online resources to your advantage. If you have the funds, start taking online or in-person lessons. Seriously, this will ultimately fast-track your guitar learning journey tenfold.

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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