Millions of people around the world play guitar, and when you have an instrument that is just So. Darn. Popular… you get to choose from loads of guitar tips to help you on your way.
Here are the best tips for beginners:
Most first time learners will try to play chords as fast as they can. Don’t be tempted to do this.
Instead, learn each chord slowly, one at a time. Once you’ve mastered a few chord shapes slowly, try moving between them more quickly. This helps you avoid bad habits that come with trying to run before you can walk.
Avoid the habit of looking at your hands
For beginners, that urge to look at your hands while playing is almost irresistible.
Although to begin with, it’s important to look at your hands when changing chord, avoid watching your hands constantly.
Looking away from your hands will help you connect to the feeling of a correct chord placement as well as the visual.
To further develop this, try practicing looking away or closing your eyes while playing and only look at your hands once in a while to confirm you’re in the right place.
Practice difficult chords
By just sticking to the chords you’ve already mastered, you could end up in a rut.
Always challenge yourself with new chords and spend time learning them instead of playing it safe with the easy ones.
Remember, some of the all-time greats (The Beatles included) used variations of chords rather than their basic counterparts, to get their distinctive sounds.
Rehearse standing up
Wha!? No really, this is one of the best guitar tips.
Standing up while practising helps break you out of that habit of looking at your hands while playing because—you guessed it—it’s harder for you to look at your hands while you’re standing.
Also, if you wish to play in bands in the future, playing standing up is a must, so get this one in the bag.
Use thin strings
To avoid sore fingers as a beginner while practicing, try a thinner gauge string than the standard.
For acoustics, try strings starting with .011 gauge, and .009 for electric guitars.
Thinner strings require less hand-strength to hold the chords, which means you won’t need such thick callouses on your fingertips to avoid soreness.
Use a metronome
To train your rhythm and timing, use a metronome so you can practice with the correct timing.
This is the key to playing with other musicians; being able to keep time is essential if you want to be in a band.
Get a tuner (and learn to use it)
No two ways about it: get an electronic tuner or an app. Then learn how to tune using our guide to standard guitar tuning.
Practicing with an out of tune instrument is worse than not practicing at all.
Start with an affordable guitar
It might be tempting to buy a pricey high-end guitar when you’re just learning but reign in those dreams of glory and learn the basics on an affordable (but not super cheap) guitar first.
Master the basics then consider buying an expensive guitar.
The reason for this is that you won’t know what guitar you feel most comfortable with until you’ve played for a little while.
Getting a comfortable guitar that you love is worth the wait.
It’s also a great incentive to get past that difficult absolute beginner stage.
Learning covers is a lot of fun.
It helps you become familiar with the elements that make your favourite songs work.
Learning covers also teaches you how to master chord progressions, strumming patterns, as well as riffs and licks.
On top of all of this, it’s great for motivation, being able to play the songs you’ve always dreamed of playing.
Play with other people
This is another great motivator.
Playing with other people also helps with playing in time, developing more practical rhythm understanding and learning about the dynamics of making music as part of a group (which is very different from playing solo).
There’s a lot to take away from this article and if only one or two tips stick you’ll be off to a great start.