In the United States, guitar imports have shown a 35% increase over any time in the last ten years.
Many experts are comparing this boom in popularity to the growth experienced in the post-Beatles era. Combine popularity with the availability of today’s resources, and the recipe is right. Playing the guitar has never been easier or more accessible than now.
If you want to learn to play guitar, there are a few tips that every beginner should know:
1. What Kind of Guitar?
Buying a guitar can be a stressful experience if you’ve never done it before. There are a lot of types of guitars out there. The only way you can be sure you’re getting the right guitar is to sit down and get a feel for each one.
For many beginners, the first guitar they purchase will be an acoustic guitar. This way, you don’t have to invest in any other equipment. You won’t need electronics or amplification. The guitar takes care of it for you.
2. Start With Chords
One of the things that sets the guitar apart from most other instruments is the ability to play chords. This means you can play an entire song without needing any other instrument. Learn the basic chord shapes first, playing them at the end of the neck.
The chords you need to play are open chords, and they form the basis of guitar playing. The shapes that your fingers learn here will be helpful anywhere on the neck. This will also help condition your fingers for the rigors of pressing down strings.
3. Switch Chords Shapes Often
Whether playing a song or practicing the shapes, one chord doesn’t make a song. Practice switching between the various chord shapes that you know. This will help build muscle memory and precision in your fingers.
Smooth transitions between chords can make you sound a lot more professional than you are. Play chord after chord until you can begin to switch without looking. Your confidence will grow.
Being confident in what you’re playing is essential to playing the guitar.
4. Don’t Ignore Theory
Music theory teaches us about every aspect of playing an instrument and understanding notes. Nothing about chords or scales is random. Everything is mathematical. Theory will teach you the underlying reasons for every action taken on the instrument.
Theory will also help you understand different types of music. Many guitar players ignore theory until they’ve been playing for a long time. This puts them behind in understanding scales, modes, and other fundamental music knowledge.
5. Find a Teacher
There’s a lot of practice you should be doing on your own, but a teacher can make sure you’re doing it right. You don’t want to practice bad habits because they become ingrained in your muscle memory. You want to know how to play the guitar, and lessons will accelerate your learning.
A good teacher can also show you other skills and aspects of guitar playing. From taking care of a guitar to restringing the guitar, a teacher is a handy resource. The more work you put into learning how to play guitar, the better you will be in the end.
6. Pay Attention to Strumming
Someone who has been playing the guitar for a long time sounds different than a beginner. One of the main reasons for this is the way they strum the notes. Changing a strumming pattern can even make a song sound like another song.
Learn how to strum the guitar, and pay attention to timing with each up and down stroke. No two kinds of music approach this the same way, with some doing down strokes and others interrupted patterns. No matter how good you get at guitar, you’ll always be able to pick up new strumming techniques.
7. Timing Is Everything
This applies to all instruments, not just to guitar. Unfortunately, a lot of guitar players ignore this aspect of music. Timing is critical when playing guitar because that’s how you know when to switch chords and how fast to strum or pick the strings.
If you’ve ever been to a live gig, you’ll notice that often the drummer counts off “1, 2, 3, 4” before a song begins. What he is doing there is giving the time signature and tempo to the other musicians. Practice with a metronome so that your timing doesn’t become erratic and off.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
The most crucial guitar tip you can ever hear is to practice every day. Even if you can only play the guitar for a single song or a few minutes, make as much time as possible to fit in guitar practice. It is the only way to play well.
Just having the weight of the guitar against you and the feel of the wood and strings helps. Never forget to pluck a few notes, practice a few chords, and strum a few patterns. If done every day, the most basic practice is the bedrock of all the guitar gods.
9. Listen and Feel
Notes that fit have a certain feel and sound to them, whether they are played right or wrong. If a string or note is not in tune, you will begin to hear and feel that note standing out from the others. It will vibrate as the sound waves crash against one another, out of pattern.
Those who practice and play guitar can learn songs by listening to them. This is a skill that takes a long time to hone, so practice it often. Learn the chords and recognize them by the sound they make.
Playing the Guitar
There’s little that can be as rewarding and enjoyable as playing the guitar. Once you know what you’re doing, people will want to hear you play. Learning songs and playing them for people brings an energy that nothing else quite matches.
If you’re ready to begin your journey with the guitar, contact us. We can’t wait to help get you the guitar and the knowledge you need to succeed.