So you want to learn to play the guitar

I know this a little off-topic and one of the main reasons for not posting for a while, but I thought I would do a post about what my opinions are when learning and some advice I would give other people wanting to learn guitar:

Consider buying an electric before an acoustic the reasons being electrics are easier to play (thinner strings, lower action) they are also more adjustable you can also pick really good electric guitars for cheaper price a good example being the Yamaha Pacifica. Acoustics on the other hand are harder to play (thicker strings, higher action) and generally you have to spend quite a lot to get a good sounding and easier to play acoustic. When I first started I was borrowing a cheap acoustic off one of my friends and it was awful to play the action was ridiculously high (ok as a slide guitar!) half an hour and my finger tips looked like canyons!

Take your guitar to a luthier to get setup when I got round to buying quite an expensive acoustic at the time I thought it was ok to play so carried on learning on it, this was a mistake I took it to a local luthier on the island who did an amazing job of lowering the action right down while having no impact on the sound it was like having a brand new guitar and much easier to play (especially when learning barre chords).

Kit you need to buy should include:

  • Electric tuner – Time should be spent getting your chord shapes, rhythm, changes etc… down and not spent ages trying to tune manually, until you can get good at the former.
  • Capo – Seriously worth getting one especially before your barre chords are down or if changing key for singing is necessary.
  • Picks – plenty of them brand doesn’t matter, make sure to get a range of different thicknesses

Don’t buy guitar learning books if they don’t include CD’s, DVD’s I made the mistake early on of buying a book on learning the guitar but didn’t include a CD or DVD so I couldn’t get any visual or sound feedback to see how I was doing rendering it pretty much useless, so I spent a bit more and got a book which included a CD so I could play along and also get feedback as to how parts should sound.

Learn chord boxes and guitar tab  as these 2 items are used everywhere from learning guitar books to YouTube guitar lessons so you should spend time to understand what they represent.

Buy Justin Sandercoe’s (www.justinguitar.com) Beginners Guitar Course if you can afford to do so if not you can view his lessons from his website but seriously consider making a donation as this is provided by Justin’s goodwill. I wish I had bought this from the beginning as this course has everything you need and following it will get you playing guitar if you put the time in.

Don’t worry about the rhythm until you have your guitar shapes sorted and are able to switch between them relatively quickly because until you can do this your rhythm sound stuttered.

When learning to use barre chords I was paranoid that my first finger was not long enough which was why I could not get the bottom E string barred this was of course not the case and was just getting the positioning right and building up strength between my thumb and first finger, this just takes time, it may also be that the guitar action is too high.

Take some time out to learn a riff or a certain song you have wanted to play by checking YouTube for guitar lessons on it you can quickly establish if it’s within you current ability and makes you feel good once you can play it, for instance after a few month’s in I was on Beatles Rockband and was playing Day Tripper I liked the riff tracked down a guitar lesson and was able to play it after about an hour (slower than the record of course!) I also like Oasis and found that a lot of there songs are great to play as most are open chords. Doing this kind of stuff keeps it fun which keeps you interested.

Singing and playing is difficult I’m still trying to get to grips with this, as I always find that my rhythm goes to hell once I get passed the first line! I would recommend going slower than the record and picking a song you know inside out.

And the most important…be prepared to put lots of time in you really need to put the hours in to progress and you want to aim to do a few hours over a few days rather than play for many hours on a single day.

Hopefully this will in some way help others who want to learn to play guitar, I’m really glad I took up playing the guitar it lets me unwind from programming and makes me happy, good luck and enjoy playing.

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One thought on “So you want to learn to play the guitar

  1. I would also recommend purchasing the software “Amaxzing SlowDowner” from http://www.ronimusic.com/

    It lets you slow down the speed of music without changing the pitch so fast passages become far easier to learn. You can speed it up as you get more proficient.

    Bret

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