The beginning of a new year is a great time to start learning a new skill, and for many people all over the world that means picking up a guitar. Playing an instrument is an invaluable skill – a way to relax, challenge yourself, take pride in an activity, and in some cases, even entertain those around you.
For many who didn’t grow up playing a given instrument – say, in band classes, pep bands, or orchestras – guitar can seem like the most appealing and accessible option. Particularly today, there are so many different ways to learn the basics, it’s almost a shame not to give it a try.
With that said, we wanted to go over some basic tips for beginner guitar players for the year ahead.
Tips for Guitar Beginners
Tip #1 – Take A Few Lessons
This probably sounds like the most obvious tip in the world, but here’s the thing: you have a ton of options for learning how to play an instrument; whether it be dedicated online guitar lessons, in-person lessons, YouTube videos, etc.
It’s not just about apps or programs that run you through chords and teach you the basics. You can also find videos in which experienced teachers or even famous guitarists give you tips.
However, even if this is your ultimate plan, you should try to start with some in-person lessons. An online tutorial can be invaluable, but it can’t correct your errors if you aren’t being instructed over live video.
Tip #2 – Learn The Hard Chords
This is something you’ll have to do eventually anyway. A lot of difficult chords for beginners (for example, F major) are very important to a lot of songs you might want to learn. Therefore, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and learn it.
That doesn’t mean that you need to learn something like F#11sus2 right off the bat, but learning the essential basic guitar chords is a must.
Skipping the hard chords until later might sound appealing, and it can keep your confidence up in the early going – but you may want to go ahead and tackle the challenges.
You’ll become a more complete guitar player in less time.
Tip #3 – Study Musical Theory
It may sound dull to some of you, particularly if you’re only hoping to pick up the guitar as a casual hobby. However, music theory can and will make you better over time. Just imagine trying to learn how to organize your finances without knowing the basics about money, or trying to play a sport without knowing the rules.
This is somewhat like learning guitar without studying theory first. You might be able to manage in a basic way, but with a foundation of theoretical understanding, you can vastly improve your ability (and learn more quickly).
Now, that’s not to say that the first thing you should do as a beginner guitarist is to go out and learn how to read notation. That’s difficult and will likely lead to you wanting to quit.
However, learning the basics of music theory is always a great idea.
Check out the video below for a great primer into the world of music theory for guitar players.
Tip #4 – Learn Easy Songs First
You might be a metalhead just chomping at the bit to learn your favorite Panterra song. But whoa, isn’t there cowboy, when you pick up a guitar for the first time you should stick with songs that are easy to play. Ones that don’t using any fancy finger-tapping techniques, harmonics, etc.
That’s exactly why I put together a list of the 50+ best easy guitar songs for beginners to learn.
These songs feature easy chords and simple riffs so that you can work on your chops first. Once you’re able to work through more and more of these easy guitar songs you can start to experiment with ones that are more complex and difficult to play.
Tip #5 – Watch YouTube Covers of Your Favorite Songs
Watching someone on YouTube play a song that you want to learn will make the process so much easier. You’ll probably still need to use tabs to figure out what they’re actually doing but watching someone play it on video helps you visualize where you should be placing your fingers, how to play a certain chord, and what techniques you should be using.
Bonus points if the YouTuber ends up talking about their stack or how they played a particularly difficult part of a song.
Tip #6 – Play With Other Musicians
Playing with other musicians allows you to learn from others and to get feedback on your playing. You can also learn from their mistakes and their successes. Playing with other musicians forces you to stay on your toes and to stay focused. It also allows you to practice new techniques and to collaborate with other guitarists, which can help you develop your own unique style.
If you have a couple of friends that like to play music just get together and start jamming around. You’ll probably stumble upon something that sounds cool at some point and you’ll get better with each jam session.
This is also a great way to get comfortable playing in front of other people.
Tip #7 – Record Yourself Play
Recording yourself playing guitar is an incredibly useful tool for beginners to get better at guitar. I’ve picked up so many things about my guitar playing that I likely wouldn’t have noticed has I not listened back to it through a recording.
Recording yourself can also be a great way to track your progress and stay motivated. Using just a basic DAW for beginners is a great way to get started. You don’t need anything fancy at first, just something that can either record sound through a mic or direct input.
Tip #8 – Choose a Guitar That’s Right for You
Choosing the right guitar can be a major factor in determining how long you stay interested in playing. Different styles of guitar have various merits and drawbacks. For example, parlor guitars are great for those with small hands while electric guitars are obviously perfect for playing rock music.
If you are unsure of what type of guitar you should purchase, talk to an experienced guitar player or music store employee. They can provide advice on the type of guitar that best suits your style, skill level, and budget.
Tip #9 – Use Technology to Your Advantage
I love the advancements that companies have made throughout the years to enable people to learn guitar faster. Take Guitar Pro, for instance, this piece of software makes it incredibly easy for you to learn songs thanks to its MIDI sound engine. Through this, you can see the tabs/notation and hear exactly how the song should be played in real-time.
Although there have been great advancements in technology, there have also been quite a few gimmick products. I wouldn’t recommend using products or services that promise that they’ll “unlock the code” to learning how to solo like some of the best guitarists out there.
Although technology can assist you in your learning journey it won’t unlock incredible guitar skills overnight.
Beginner guitarists in 2023 and beyond are in luck, as there is a wealth of resources available to get them started on their musical journey.
From learning basic chords and strumming patterns to exploring different guitar styles, the possibilities are endless. With the right approach, lessons, and proper use of technology the sky is the limit for the aspiring guitarist.