The Ultimate, Complete Beginner Guide for Learning to Play the Guitar!

In this guide, you will simply learn how to play the guitar for beginners. Learn the basics of guitar playing, the importance of learning the fundamentals and how/where to acquire this knowledge, how to practice the guitar properly so you get the most benefit out of your time, what are some of the best learning methods and sources available for you, and lots, lots more.

If you are a beginner and you want to learn the guitar, then you are in the right place.

Introduction

According to statistics from different sources on how many guitar players in the world are there (From Quora and Google Answers), it's safe to say that there are no less than 50 million people in the world who know how to play guitar, and between 2-3 million new players emerge every single year.

2 – 3 million new guitarists every year, that's huge!

Now there are those who just bought a guitar out of curiosity or wanting to learn on a random musical instrument just for the sake of it. A big percentage of those never go beyond the one to two months mark before they break down and quit it, simply because the passion is just not there.

If you're new to playing on musical instruments in general, then you should know that this kind of occupation thrives and feeds on passion, dedication, and discipline. And I put a HUGE emphasize on passion because it's what will fuel your motivation, your thirst to learn, persevere, and to eventually become a good instrument player.

So if you're not completely sure whether you have the passion for guitar or not, that's okay, we're not all the same and we definitely have different levels of “passion” and “thirst” for the same instrument.I'd still suggest that you do go for it and give it a try and if you're considering on buying

I'd still suggest that you do go for it and give it a try, and if you're considering on buying a first guitar, then make sure that it's not too expensive, and also, not too cheap, because too cheap a guitar will sound just terrible, and a too expensive one, well, it'll sound very good but if you just couldn't find the passion for continuing playing the first month of two, then you would have just flushed a couple hundred bucks down the drain and you'd feel terrible about yourself.

So in conclusion …

Not so sure whether the passion is there for playing the guitar but still you feel kind of excited about it? I'd recommend you at least try it, you might find that playing guitar is the only thing you want to do for the rest of your life. Nobody knows! Everything is possible …

And about getting your first guitar, as I said, not too expensive and not too cheap. I'd say 120$ – 160$ is just fine.

Anyhow, back to our statistics!

Roughly around 50% of those 2 – 3 million new players (And this is my own speculation) quit within the first couple of months, and around 20%-30% quit after a year. What left is the 20%-25% who'd actually progress and persevere through everything to become advanced, expert, and quite very few of them actually manage to go even beyond that and reach “virtuoso” level on par with the likes of Steve Vai, Malmsteen, Paul Gilberts and so on.

And the reasons for quitting, besides the lack of passion, vary from person to person.

Some would find it too difficult, some would feel that they're not getting any progress, therefore they start thinking guitar might not be for them (Though actually, that's a normal thing, at some point your progress would be extremely minimal if any, and would require a lot of practice and time to overcome that difficult phase that every guitarist go through), some couldn't just get past the annoying calluses phase that every beginner faces, some might quit due to personal reasons or lack of time, and a lot, lot more reasons.

So if you want to be among those 20%-25% winners who succeed in becoming good guitar players, achieve their goals, and fulfill their dreams, then you've GOT to have:

»» PASSIONDEDICATIONDESCIPLINEPERSEVERANCE ««

And that would be my first ever crucial tip for guitar playing for beginners and with the following infographic I'll finish my introduction:

Are you a winner guitarist infographic

The Beginner Gear

(Buying Your First Guitar)

The first decision you'll have to make after you decide that you want to learn how to play the guitar, is of course, which guitar is the best to buy and start your learning with.

Don't worry, I got you covered on this matter!

I will make sure that you buy exactly the guitar that you need without busting the bank.

Read on …

Guitars are split into three main types:

  • Classical Guitar – Nylon strings

This is the ideal guitar for beginners regardless of what genre or style of music you would like to learn. It's great for beginners because it's the least expensive of all guitars, got nylon strings which are softer on the fingers, and it's just the most basic guitar form out there – Which makes it easier to learn about how the instrument naturally works, how it originally plays and feels, and it got a wide neck which makes it perfect for playing chords and fingerpicking and train your fingers to stretch right from the start.

Classical Guitar is used mainly to play Classical and Flamenco music, but beginners can use it to play just about anything. Practice fingerpicking, chord progression, picking techniques, songs, arpeggios, and so on.

Recommended Classical Guitar brands are Yamaha and Cordoba.

Conclusion: Highly recommended as the first guitar but not mandatory. Inexpensive, beginner-friendly, good finger exercise.

  • Acoustic Guitar – Steel Strings

There's not much difference between the acoustic guitar and the classical guitar, except that the “Acoustic” guitar comes with steel strings instead of nylon, a bigger body for bigger voice, and a slight change in the body build from the inside and on the fretboard to be able to support the steel strings without damaging the neck and to dish out a sharp, resonating sound that we're all used to and love in the country, blues, and rock songs that we know.

Acoustic Guitar is very popular in all modern music, most notably: Rock, Country, Blues and even Jazz.

Recommended Beginner Acoustic Guitar brands are Yamaha, Seagull, and Cort.

Conclusion: Also recommended as the first guitar, many actually decide to start on the Acoustic guitar because of its beautiful, sharp, modern sound and it's not very different from the Classical guitar. The steel strings, though, might hurt your fingers more than the nylon strings at the beginning. So choose wisely!

  • Electric Guitar – Steel Strings

The Electric Guitar is in a whole different category, with its own world and rules. It relies on a peripheral device to amplify its voice (Rather than acoustically like with the Acoustic and Classical Guitar), called the Guitar Amplifier, which you use a cable to connect between the two. Many beginners decide to pass on the electric guitar at first because involves a lot of “external” sources to actually generate sound and transitioning from Classical/Acoustic to Electric is far easier because of the narrower and smaller guitar neck of the Electric Guitar.

Nevertheless, there's nothing wrong to go for an Electric Guitar at the beginning if you're very passionate about it, many people do and they don't regret their decision.

The Electric Guitar is most famous for Rock, Metal and Blues music, but it's a very versatile instrument which you can use to play practically ANYTHING and still sound awesome and fantastic.

Recommended beginner Electric Guitar brands are Ibanez, Epiphone, Schecter.

Conclusion: Not the typical first guitar pick, but it doesn't harm to go with it to start learning guitar.

So now that you've learned something about guitars in general, let me show you where you can get your first guitar from, and where you can expand your knowledge on Guitars, how they work, the difference between each type, and more, all from our blog here. See the references below.

REFERENCE:

BUY A GUITAR!

Visit our shop to check the best guitars for beginners from Amazon

Learn how to pick and choose your own guitar, and the difference between Classical, Acoustic, and Electric Guitar.

Learn how to tune your guitar and what recommended tuner apps and products to use

Learn how to string your own guitar with video instructions – Valid for all guitars

Learn more about the ACOUSTIC GUITAR

Learn more about the ELECTRIC GUITAR

Ready to Begin Your Guitar Training?

By now you should be ready to pick up your guitar and begin your training. If you made it so far, this means that you are serious and inspired enough to know that playing guitar is really what you want.

I mean, why wouldn't you?

The guitar is the most beautiful and popular instrument in the world, and it's the most versatile as well. Having the option to choose between a classical guitar for classical music and flamenco, and acoustic guitar for folk, jazz, rock, and blues, and the electric guitar for rock, metal, blues, and just about anything you want, besides being a very affordable, portable, and a good looking instrument with a soothing sound that can grab the attention of anybody, all this and more make the guitar the great instrument that we all love and cherish.

Anyways, enough talking, I know and you know that you love playing guitar and with some dedication and time, you can become the guitarist that you always wished to be.

We have covered two first major steps toward your success learning the guitar:

  1. Determination: Your decision to learn to play the guitar, knowing that you must have the four most important traits within you: DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE, PASSION & PERSEVERANCE
  2. Choosing Your Gear: Knowing which guitar is your favorite and buying one (If you don't already have one, or would love to upgrade to a better, affordable one)

Next on our list would be: GOALS.

The Importance of Setting Goals for Yourself

Steve Vai touched on this topic beautifully in his online guitar lesson found on Youtube, of which we analyzed and added our own interpretations to it in a separate post so people would find it easier to follow and understand. I recommend you go see it and read our notes, he also talks about a lot of other basic stuff that beginners and intermediate players can relate to, and should be aware of.

Find it here: Our Analysis of Steve Vai's Online Guitar Lesson

Goals are very important to set if you ever want to achieve something or reach a tough target. It'll help you stay focused on a target, and not give up until you are satisfied with the results. It will urge you to practice more, be more serious with your training, have more motivation, and overall it's an essential step that all successful pro guitarists take or have taken to reach higher levels of skills. And there's no reason why you shouldn't take it too.

Setting goals are like making a pact with yourself. If you don't respect that pact, it'll turn the goals useless.

Your goals should be SMART. That means:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable/Attainable
  • R – Relevant/Realistic
  • T – Timely/Time-Limited

Specific, meaning your goal should be specific and not too chaotic or broad. For example: “My goal is to become like Steve Vai”. That's a specific goal, but a bit too broad. It's better to say something like this: “I want to learn all the A – G chords by the end of next month”. Now that's a very specific and narrow goal, which is what we need. Once you achieve that goal, you can move up to the next one and so on, until you achieve the “Playing like Steve Vai” goal which could be your ultimate goal.

Having too broad or big of a goal could lead you to lose track, or even worse, interest, somewhere in the middle. That's why I recommend setting smaller goals and tackling them one goal at a time.

Other good goals could be something similar to: “Learning alternate picking with X speed”, “Learning 10 new arpeggio patterns by heart”, etc.

Measurable, a goal that you can measure. For example, being able to play a specific song or exercise at a specific speed, like 100 BPM, or 60 BPM, or whatever. That's a measurable goal. Learning any number of chords is also a measurable goal.

Achievable, for example, if you want to learn a new song, and you know that it's a difficult one with many techniques involved, you would set a goal to learn that song within a month or two, rather than a day or a week. That would be something much more achievable and realistic.

Realistic, pretty much like achievable, your goals should be realistic and according to your own progress pace and skills.

Timely, your goals should have a time limit to them to create some sort of urgency, and you should take your own timing very seriously for that urgency to take effect. That “urgency” will encourage you to practice more often and harder so you could achieve whatever you are working on right on time. It'll help you stay focused, determined, and dedicated to your schedule, and thus increases the effectiveness of your guitar training sessions. Again, for that to work, you need to be dead serious about your own timings.

Here's a good planner sheet that you can use to set SMART guitar goals for yourself:

Download this, print it, use it as you like, send it to whoever you like, hope it could serve you well in your journey learning the guitar.

Next, Learn the Basics of Guitar Playing

(How to Hold the Guitar and Use Your Hands & Fingers, Posture, etc.)

Now it's time for you to pick up your guitar and begin to actually “play”!

The first and MOST important lesson you have to take is how the hik you hold this thing and play it!

There's no one definitive correct posture to holding the guitar. The traditional classical guitar playing posture requires a stool under one foot while you leaning slightly forward and the body and neck of the guitar facing toward the upper corner of the room. It looks something like this:

Of course, this is only optional, I myself don't hold my classical guitar that way, but this is the textbook, traditional classical guitar posture, so if you're just starting out on the classical guitar, I would actually recommend you to get yourself used to this posture from the beginning because it'll become difficult to change later on.

Andres Segovia, a Spanish and classical guitar legend, is said to be the one who created this classical-guitar-exclusive posture and inspired a whole generation of guitar icons such as Julian Bream and John Williams who built on his technique and followed his footsteps in the realm of guitar classical music.

Alternatively, you can hold the classical guitar just as you would hold the Acoustic guitar!

Holding the acoustic guitar (And electric guitar as well, for that matter) looks something like this:

Straight body, straight back, the body of the guitar should lie comfortably on your leg and be almost vertical to the ground.

Some guitarists like to learn slightly forward (Like the image to the left) to look at the action, and some would instead push the bottom guitar body part away from their body.

You would actually find a lot of variations to guitar posture, but they're all derivative from this basic one. And no matter how you decide to hold it, try not to deviate very far from the basic posture because it ensures the best and most comfortable posture, and gives your hands and fingers a fair amount of freedom to move quickly and easily along the body of the guitar while playing.

After all, the basic guitar posture was not invented out of thin air, there was specific reasoning as to why this posture was assigned as the basic posture, just like in everything else in life.

And while at the beginning it might feel a bit difficult to maintain this body posture continuously, with enough practice and time you will quickly start to feel how surprisingly natural holding the guitar this way actually is.

So practice, preserve and remember the four key elements we talked about earlier in this article.

The electric guitar should be held the same while sitting down. If you intend to play the guitar while standing up, then you will need a bit more practice and change in technique, mainly regarding the guitar belt and adjusting its height to your comfort zone, and from there just practice, practice and practice.

We've actually covered all this, plus how to fret the guitar and use your left hand correctly, how to pick the guitar strings or pluck them, and some precious tips for the guitar beginner in the page below. Check it out before moving to the next section!

Learning How to Play the Guitar Chords

Chords are simply two, three, or more notes played simultaneously at the same time by strumming them with your hand, pick or fingers, usually in a specific known pattern.

The opposite to it would be Arpeggios, where you pick each note individually one after the other in a specific pattern.

While the term is a general musical term, it is almost only used with guitars.

You wouldn't hear the term being used with Violins, like playing chords on the Violin, or the Piano, or the Flute, but with guitars, it's actually the most popular musical term used in conjunction with guitars. It almost became a synonym to guitar (Okay, I may be overexaggerating, but you got the point).

Lots of guitar instructors love to start teaching a new student with the chords because:

  • Chords are relatively quite very simple to play
  • Easy to remember
  • Fun
  • There are several “basic” chords that are easy to learn, that you can use to –
  • Play hundreds of songs or even –
  • Create your own songs, right from the beginning of your training.

So it's no wonder that “chords” is the number one target topic for both teachers and students alike.

Start with learning the basic chords:

  • THE “C” CHORD
  • THE “A” CHORD
  • THE “G” CHORD
  • THE “E” CHORD
  • THE “D” CHORD

If you read the above chords from top to bottom, they represent the word “CAGED”, and I sorted them that way for a reason.

The CAGED system is a well-known system for playing the C, A, G, E, and D chords on different positions along the fretboard, all along the neck of the guitar, instead of just one static position for each chord.

For example, the simplest example I can give you is G -> E chord transpositions.

The CAGED system simply says the following: If you want to play the same G chord that you always normally play, on a different, higher position on the fretboard, then all you have to do is note the ROOT note of the chord (Which is, of course, the G – Played on the 3rd fret of the lowest strong), then USE that root key to play the NEXT chord in the system (After G comes E), right on that root key, rather than the normal open position of the chord.

Go ahead, try it yourself and see that you will get the same tone of the G chord when you play the E chord while barring on the G.

You will notice that with time, once you start playing songs that involve barre chords, you will be using the CAGED system naturally without even noticing.

Now, while it's tempting to learn this system and get used to it for easier implementation and remembering of the chords, there are some disadvantages to it, mainly the following:

  • The CAGED system is limited to … the C, A, G, E, D chords, of course. There are hundreds of chords, arpeggios, and combinations that aren't provided under the umbrella of the CAGED system, which would limit your playing significantly
  • It's limited to guitars – You can synchronize it with other instruments (Such as when playing with a keyboardist)
  • Limited to Major chords
  • And more …

So my take on the CAGED system is, it doesn't harm that you know that it exists, it doesn't harm that you learn it and implement it “wisely” and in very specific “situations”, but by all means NEVER learn it so you would rely ONLY on it to play the chords.

If you do, then you will notice down the road that you are actually limiting yourself very much, and would be difficult to change.

Here's an example of a chord, the C chord:

The C chord is one of the most popular and common chords in the modern pop and rock music. Luckily, it's also very easy to learn, and very fun to play and listen to.

Start by acquiring the correct body and hand posture that you learned here and on the basics page, make sure that you're placing your left-hand fingers comfortable but pressing them FORCEFULLY on those strings, make sure that there's enough spacing between your fingers and the rest of the strings to avoid making unintentional contact and possibly mute or produce unwanted or buzz sound, just like in the picture above.

There are several ways to play the chord, different finger positioning, but this is the basic and most used one.

  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the second string (From lowest to highest)
  • Your second finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string
  • The 4rth string is kept OPEN
  • First finger on the 1st fret of the 5th string
  • And lastly, the last, 6th string is played OPEN and should RESONATE nicely and loudly. And I mean it, don't make it sound like a “shy” sounding 6th string, it's very important that these higher notes (And the base notes as well) be played correctly and make them heard sharply and loud enough because they define your chord. And that's an important tip that you should always remember.

Congratulations!

You've played your very first chord on the guitar, you've learned what a chord actually is, what is the famous (Or infamous by some) CAGED system, and why the vast majority of guitar instructors just love to start with them.

Now it's time for you to learn ALL the rest of the basic chords (Around 13 in total, but could be more depending on how you define a “basic” chord), and how to actually strum them – Do you strum them with your hand? Do you strum with your fingers? With a guitar pick? And what is the correct hand and wrist motion for strumming?

And of course, after you learn some basic strumming techniques, you would want to learn some actual basic strumming PATTERNS that are widely popular and very useful, so you could use them to strum the chords that you've learned beautifully and on the beat.

Continue your learning below:

Leverage the Power of the Internet to Train Yourself

(Finding Trustworthy Practice and Learning Material on the Web)

The web is a very big place, no doubt about it. Today, there's almost NOTHING that you can't find information about on the internet. And luckily for us, that includes the guitar as well.

I will teach you exactly how to leverage the power of the internet to amplify your guitar training, big time.

So let's DO it!

1. Youtube – Good and BAD! (Be careful)

Youtube is the biggest streaming video source on the internet. There's no wonder that there are tons of video guitar lessons on Youtube out there, and some of them are really good, done by greats like Steve Vai and Tommy Emmanuel.

However, the “catchword” here is “SOME“.

Most of the free guitar lessons on youtube fall into one, some or all of the categories below:

  • Bad instruction – Inexperienced instructor or amateur giving his/her own tips and insight. Really appreciated, but could barely learn anything from it. I suppose that's “okay” for a free source
  • Wrong information – Again, amateurs giving wrong or incomplete information, and there's no way for you to double check what they're “preaching”. Maybe the comments section is your best bet.
  • Incomplete lessons – Professionals that tend to give good, solid instructional material, but they don't give you “ALL” the information. Usually, these lessons end with something between the lines of: “… To learn more about …”, “Visit my site here where you could pay for premium guitar instructional material and continue learning”. Again, I have nothing against this, but we are judging Youtube lessons here, not the instructors themselves.

That's about most of the negative stuff about Youtube guitar lessons.

What would I suggest instead?

Use Youtube as a reference or “supplementary” source for your training, but never the “main” source.

2. Forums And Social Media

Forums and social media can be great supportive sources for your guitar education.

Sign up for the Acoustic Guitar Forum and get involved with the community. This forum is probably the most popular guitar forum on the internet. It has over 360,000 threads and over 104,000+ members.

I wouldn't imagine a question that you can ask there and not be able to get an answer to. Ask questions like “how to”, “where to find”, “what is the best”, or even ask for reviews on any product or service regarding the guitar, there's a big chance that you'll find satisfying answers there.

Also, go to Facebook and Google+, join guitar-related groups and communities and talk with like-minded guitarists and try to learn from each other.

Who knows, you might even find your future band members there!

Drooble - Interview with Melina Krumova

Another new, interesting social media website on the rise is Drooble. Drooble is a social media site for musicians where you can create a free account with information about your musical orientation, experience, favorite instruments and so on, and then start searching for other musicians to discuss your favorite music with, or perhaps you're looking to establish a new band, or find a personal instructor online, or even be the instructor yourself when you become a more advanced player, and offer your services there for those who seek it! Lot's of options available.

3. Download Tabs/Tablature

The internet is the BIGGEST source of tablature. Bookmark websites like Ultimate-Guitar.com and every time you want to play or practice a new song, you just go there and get it. Use the search field and search for whatever tab you like, see ratings for each tab file, and download the one with the highest ratings. Simple as that.

Many people create their own version or interpretation of a song or piece of music and upload it there as tabs. Normally the one with the highest ratings is the most accurate one.

Note: Most of the tabs that you'll find there are “.gpx” files, which require the Guitar Pro software to open. Guitar Pro is the leading guitar software for viewing, editing, and playing tablature. It does all sorts of other stuff as well like creating your own tabs, adding other voices and instruments, and so on. I suggest you read my review on it for the full features.

4. Use Our Amazon Shop

Amazon has some of the best prices and products in the world, with leading shipping times and customer support. If I want to buy something for my guitar, perhaps a new set of strings, a capo, or even a brand new guitar, I'd use amazon.

Check our shop here or from the main menu above and see all our favorite and top pick guitar products from Amazon. Many of the products there we've actually reviewed in the past or have written useful information about. You will find all this on the product page itself.

Know How to Practice the Guitar Properly

As a guitarist and an instrument player, regular practicing should be an integral part of your routine.

However, more important than practicing, is actually doing it right. You can practice for hours upon hours but if you're not doing it efficiently or correctly, then you're not benefiting yourself.

Here are the most important tips about practicing the guitar which I strongly recommend you applying every time you go practice:

  • TIME

Time for Practicing the Guitar

Time is the most important factor when it comes to practicing the guitar. You MUST dedicate a good amount of time (And effort) into practice. And by “good amount” I really mean a minimum of 15 minutes a day, every single day, IF you want to see “some” progress with your guitar playing.

Trust me when I say this, 15 minutes is hardly enough.

Just to give you a perspective, professional guitar players train for 6 – 10 hours A DAY regularly, of course when they're not touring or playing in gigs and events.

Now you probably don't have those 6 – 10 hours per day to practicing your guitar, and that's totally fine and understandable, but if you could pull off 1 – 2 hours a day, that would be really good for amateur players, and if you could up it to 4 hours a day, then you could really boost your skills much faster and potentially jump to the expert level of professionals!

So in conclusion, here are the recommended practicing times:

  1. IDEAL: ~4 hours a day
  2. Good: 1 – 2 hours a day
  3. Fair: 0.5 – 1 hours a day
  4. Minimum: 15 minutes a day

And if you want to push it to Vai level after you reach an expert level, then prepare to put more than 6 hours a day practicing.

  • MAKE IT A HABIT

Get yourself used to practicing and playing guitar, and make it a habit.

Set a specific time in your day only for practicing and stick to it. Make a daily or weekly practice schedule and follow it strictly as if it was an actual job schedule! Be really disciplined about it and be organized, and with time it'll become a natural part of your day.

Let's take an example:

An individual with a 9/5 full-time job – Gets home at 5 pm, eats dinner, takes a shower, and spends an hour or two with the family. A good time to set for a training session for that individual would be 7 pm in my opinion. Practice until 8 pm or 9 pm, then spend the rest of the evening outside with friends or at home with the family.

See? Even a full-time grown married adult can have enough time to practice and play the guitar, just in case you thought you had good excuses not to.

So yeah, schedule a specific time in your day only to practice and play the guitar and make it a habit for yourself.

  • USE THE PROPER TOOLS

There are some optional tools that you can use to help you practice the guitar better, and there are others that are mandatory.

The ONLY mandatory tools, in my opinion, that you should consider getting right away, is a metronome (We particularly like the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome because it's silent and works on vibrational pulses instead of the so annoying “tick” sound of the normal metronome), and a guitar tablature software.

A Conventional Metronome Photo with Guitar on Background

And to be fair, if you're a beginner and just starting out, you COULD allow yourself to pass on those too and focus only on learning the basics and establishing your guitar playing foundation. If you're learning with a private teacher that provides you all the tablature that you need, printed out, then that's even better and the guitar tab software would become optional for you.

However, I still do highly recommend that you consider getting a metronome, even if just a basic, very cheap one (Though be prepared to tolerate its intrusive ticking sound) right when you hit the intermediate level.

With time, as you progress with your training, you will realize how important a metronome actually is for improving your speed faster, as well as getting you to play correctly on the beat.

Remember, rhythm is also a very important aspect of music and you should give it equal time for practice and training.

OPTIONAL TOOLS WOULD BE:

  • A Drum Machine:

This device would give you a drums track that you can play and improvise on. Steve Vai endorsed this device and said that it's a tremendous tool to help you develop your musical ear, rhythm, melody, and most importantly, as a result, develop your improvisational skills. These devices' prices range from 30$ to over 200$ for the regular ones, however, we particularly like the one from Singular Sound called Beatbuddy which is the first drums machine implemented as a PEDAL mainly for guitarists, which lets you have a tremendous amount of control over the beats super easily using only your foot, plus they give you the ability to save and play many drums presets in addition to many other features. See our full Beatbuddy review here.

  • Fingerpicks:

Fingerpicks and thumbpicks are used to play fingerpicking style mainly on the acoustic and classical guitar. They replace the natural nails of the guitarist. They're optional because one can easily let his/her nails grow and then use them to pluck the guitar strings and play fingerstyle picking, and some even don't need the nails, they're okay with plucking the strings with the tips of their fingers.

All methods are fine, use whatever makes you comfortable.

However, for those who can't play fingerstyle with their bare fingertips, and they also dislike growing their fingernails, but they love to play fingerstyle picking and it's their main playing technique, then the Fingerpicks is their only solution.

I personally don't mind growing my nails to a certain degree and then play the guitar using them, and I don't have any difficulty using my fingertips instead when my nails get too long and I cut them. But if you're looking for a good set of Fingerpicks, then I suggest the Dunlop ones that come with a thumbpick as well and are made of good quality Metal and Nickel Silver:

  • Books:

I love guitar books. They come in a variety of styles: Songbooks, Theory Books, Instructional Books, a combination of tablature and theory, and more.

A book could also include a HUGE amount of information and songs while costing no more than 5-10$, and you own it forever. You can store it in your guitar gig bag and take it with you wherever you go, and of course, it doesn't require “electricity” to function.

There are quite some amazing books that you can get for under 10$ like the Guitar Aerobics book – a 52-week, one-lick-per-day training program with lots and lots of exercises on most of the guitar techniques. I also like the First 50 Rock Songs You Should Play on the Electric Guitar, cause I just love the genre and the songs in that book, and of course, it includes all the tablature and notes for the songs.

  • FOLLOW PROPER GUITAR PRACTICING PRINCIPLES

So what are these proper guitar practicing principles?

First things first, know how to choose the proper exercise/song for you. It shouldn't be too difficult, and not very easy. Pick an exercise/song that matches exactly with your skill level, and includes techniques and tricks that you already know but would want to improve.

Next, once you've picked an exercise or song to practice, start SLOWLY, and use a METRONOME. It's a bad practice to learn a new exercise or song with high speed, you won't be able to learn it as effectively and you'll end up rather slowing yourself down. Also, try not to improvise over the song/exercise until the finish. Trying to improvise while learning a new lick will just hold you down. Instead, finish learning the lick completely, then do whatever you like with it.

Chop down the song/exercise into smaller parts and segments and practice each segment individually, and slowly. Then, when you finish all the parts, play the whole thing including all the parts, with the same speed you started with.

Repeat the whole process while increasing the speed with an increment of 5 to 10 BPM, until you are satisfied your results.

The following infographic concludes all of the above steps:

Establishing a Good Foundation for Playing the Guitar

(EXTREMELY Important for Your Progress Down the Road)

Focusing on building a good foundation as you start learning the guitar is of utmost importance.

Some of the basics and exercises at this stage might be a little boring for some, and for that reason, many beginners make the mistake of skipping some of it or pass on the whole thing and go directly to playing their favorite songs and that's it.

By doing that they are unintentionally and indirectly limiting their ability to learn the guitar later on when they hit the advanced levels.

NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU PRACTICE IF YOU HAVEN'T BUILT A STRONG GUITAR FOUNDATION, YOU WON'T GO FAR.

This can't be any truer.

You might be wondering, what is a good guitar foundation?

A good, solid guitar foundation can be summarized by the following:

  • Getting the basics – This is the most important thing for building a strong playing and technical foundation. Learn how to properly hold the guitar, how to sit properly (Or stand), how to fret the strings properly and angle your wrist and fingers, how to pick or fingerpick the strings correctly, and so on.
  • Learn basic music theory, basic chords, and chord progression. Learn how to strum the guitar and some of the basic strumming patterns as well to put your rhythm play into proper context.
  • Learn scales that are important to your genre. If you're going into rock, blues, and country, you might want to focus on the major pentatonic scale and all of its five shapes. If you're going for Jazz, then the chromatic scale is what you want to focus on. Nevertheless, for beginners, it's widely accepted that one should start on the pentatonic scale for its simplistic nature and relatively easy to learn, and from there you branch out to any genre you want.

By acquiring all of the above and establishing a strong guitar playing foundation, you are setting yourself ready for anything to come in the later more advanced stages of learning the guitar, and your only limits would be how hard you practice, how much time you put into it, and how far are you are willing to take your training.

YOU ARE READY!

Time to Start Your Actual Guitar Training

So far, you've learned EVERYTHING you need to know about playing and learning how to play the guitar – The best instrument the world has ever known. 🙂

Now it's time for you to actually START!

Here are ALL the options presented to you:

  • Learn alone – NOT recommended
  • A private local guitar instructor
  • A private online guitar instructor
  • Buy instructional guitar courses/DVDs online or from local stores
  • An online guitar lessons program – HIGHLY recommended

Basically, these are the only options available to you for learning the guitar. It's up to you, your willingness, and how much you are willing to invest in yourself, to choose the right option for you.

Obviously, you can “mix” between some of these methods together, but ultimately, it's completely fine to pick one and stick with it for each specific phase of your guitar training, because some of these options are better for beginners phase, while others are better for advanced phases, and so on.

Learning Alone – NOT RECOMMENDED

Unless all you want is to learn a few chords, how to strum them, and sing along with yourself, learning an instrument alone is actually more destructive than you thought.

And I'm sorry for being too dramatic but that's the truth.

By learning alone I mean trying to figure stuff out by yourself by watching others play, or watching some free Youtube lessons, and downloading tabs.

You have no idea where to start or what's the best material to start with, you don't know whether the material you are getting for “free” is legit or not, and you simply don't have enough training material and no learning system and FEEDBACK to basically tell you what's right and what's not, and there's simply NO way for you to build a GOOD solid playing foundation all by yourself.

Players who are only self-taught barely go beyond beginner phase and those who manage to reach intermediate level tend to have some obvious playing technique flaws and they never break through to high advanced and expert levels.

DVDs and Single Guitar Courses

I actually like the DVDs option and some courses out there are really great ROI (Return on Investment) for the material in them and their cost.

There are some really amazing instructional guitar DVDs that you can purchase online, that have some of the best instructional material for the guitar you could ever imagine.

Ranging from Steve Vai and Angus Clark, to Tommy Emanuel and Chris Buono, all these fine musicians and more have made a series of lessons into single DVDs that you can buy for 10-30$ only!

If you're interested in checking some of these DVDs then I highly recommend either Truefire or LickLibrary. Amazon could have some good guitar DVDs as well so you might want to check there too.

Good DVDs and purchased online courses are great material that stays with you forever and you can check anytime, anywhere you like and learn or relearn on your own pace.

My problem with them is that they are kind of limited and one-directional. Meaning, usually they cater to one topic only (Scales, Theory, Genre-Specific, etc), one level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, etc), might not have ALL the information you need on a specific topic, and you don't have to ability to ask the instructor or get feedback. So for me, they stay complimentary only and rather a good addition to my main training.

Recommended Courses:

Elmore Music – Buy Guitar Courses Online

The Professional (Electric) Guitar Masterclass – By Udemy

Private Guitar Instructor:

While this is actually the ultimate way to learn on any instrument, it has its own fair of disadvantages compared to other available options today.

NEVERTHELESS, once you're on an advanced level, this is your ONLY option to progress any further!

The problem with this option, however, is that you can't find good, professional instructors that know their business enough to give you a good and useful experience all the time. There are a lot of mediocre guitar “instructors” out there and you could end up paying a fortune on something not very much helpful.

Plus, a single private guitar lesson nowadays costs anything between 25-50$! And you would ideally want one lesson per week, that could easily add up to 200$ a week. Add to that the cost of travel and time to get to your instructor …

Not very economic for a lot of people!

I know that fulfilling your passion is something you DON'T want to put a price tag on, but considering the other options today, these private guitar lessons start to lose their credibility, at least for beginner to advanced phases.

So what “other” options we have today? That brings us to our next and final option … And that is online guitar lessons programs.

Online Guitar Lessons Programs (Or Training Programs):

This is, in my opinion, the best thing that ever happened to learning the guitar in our modern day today.

While Truefire and LickLibrary have some good online guitar lessons and DVDs, they don't have the best “learning system” and are not that beginner-friendly.

From my own experience trying and researching online guitar programs, I found that the best guitar beginner learning programs are both Jamplay and GuitarTricks. And for a really, total beginner, GuitarTricks is even more friendly and tend to have a slower pace.

GUITAR TRICKS:

GuitarTricks, as claimed by the company itself, invented the idea of “online guitar lessons”.

GuitarTricks started in 1998, today they have the most beginner-friendly program, and one of the finest online guitar learning systems on the web.

With a constant ~2 Million subscribers worldwide, and over 11000 instructional guitar lessons on every playing style and genre (Perhaps except flamenco), more than 600 song lessons, and a 14-day free trial AND 60-day money back guarantee, for me this is one of the best two options available today to learn the guitar properly online by yourself.

With only a 14-20$ monthly fee, this is a no-brainer.

JAMPLAY:

Jamplay is another amazing modern program. It's up there on the top for me, along with GuitarTricks.

Founded in 2006, Jamplay arguably has the most sophisticated and well thought-out guitar training interface and lessons on the internet.

Fiercely competing with GuitarTricks on the #1 spot best online guitar training program, Jamplay is constantly offering new lessons, new tools, new features, and even live classes and interactions between members and teachers.

I couldn't find a free trial option like GuitarTricks, but they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee with 4 different membership plans, which would translate to a 12-20$ monthly fee in total.

Choosing between Jamplay and Guitar Tricks to learn the guitar is no doubt a very tough decision.

But since both have a money-back policy which ranges from 30 – 60 days, and the monthly subscription is really low, even lower than a single private guitar lesson, there's no harm in trying both programs and then deciding which is the best for YOU.

Both programs offer a huge selection of online guitar lessons, professional instructors only, very well-made learning systems, great social and feedback features to enhance your learning experience, and the cost, in my opinion, is extremely good for what you'd be getting in return.

CONCLUSION & WRAPPING UP

To wrap things up, let's lay down the things we've learned so far and what are the best options going forward for you learning to play the guitar online.

We've learned that learning the guitar (Or any other instrument for that matter), requires having the correct mindset first and foremost. Dedication, perseverance, discipline, and of course, having enough passion for the guitar. Setting goals is also another important aspect that you should consider once you start learning the guitar.

We've learned about the different guitar types and choosing your gear, and the best place to buy them (Check our shop).

We've also learned what are the basics of playing the guitar, what is a good guitar foundation and why it's important, how to play and strum the chords and some basic strumming patterns as well, and how to use the power of the internet to further enhance your training experience.

You learned how to practice the guitar properly and what are the principles for a good guitar practice session.

And lastly, we have given you the best options for learning the guitar online so you could build that strong playing foundation, learn all the fundamentals, learn from professionals, and have an abundant source of lessons, tools, features, and support for your guitar training by signing up to one of the two best online guitar programs: GuitarTricks or Jamplay.

From there, it is YOUR obligation, YOUR responsibility, to actually follow through the training, be serious about it, practice constantly and follow your own schedule that you've put for yourself, and eventually, make to the EXPERT level and become a really good guitar player, and fulfill your dream.

So what are you waiting for? Start NOW and become your own guitar idol.

GOOD LUCK!

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