Don't repeat the mistakes that many beginner guitar players make. (2021)
Top 5 Tips for Beginner Guitar Players
Start your guitar playing on the right track for maximum satisfaction. Here are Scotty's top tips for getting the most out of your guitar playing. If you'd like to hear more from Scotty, check out his four hour-long introductory guitar lessons, totally free.
1) Learn guitar music theory
Playing the guitar is great fun, and you can certainly knock out a tune or two without really knowing what you're doing, but if you really want to have fun then you'll want to get creative. Creative guitar playing is easy once you understand that music is just a language, and your guitar is just the tool that you "type" this language on.
If you spend a bit of time learning guitar music theory at the start, you'll find you will learn how to play guitar in a fraction of the time once you actually understand what you're doing. The best bit is that with all that knowledge you'll be able to play the guitar by ear ... maybe write songs and jam and solo like the pros in no time.
2) Get the guitar that is right for you
Learning how to play guitar with the wrong instrument can doom you from the start. First, decide whether you want to learn how to play electric or acoustic guitar. This depends on what kind of music you enjoy. Don't get your child an acoustic guitar if all they listen to is hard rock! They'll just lose interest.
If you don't know anything about guitars ask a friend or sales person to check the guitar out for you. Also, check out Scotty's other article on getting the right guitar.
3) Get a beat machine
You'll want to get some kind of beat machine to help develop your rhythm while you learn how to play guitar. Don't get a metronome. They're boring! Get one of those cheap, plastic, department store keyboard instruments (Casio or Yamaha) with a built-in drum machine. A good price would be around $100.
Learning how to play guitar along with a beat machine is way more fun. It's like you're jamming with a drummer! You can slow the beat down to start with and then speed it up as you improve.
4) Get an electronic chromatic tuner
It is virtually impossible for beginners to tune a guitar by ear and all pros use tuners now. They do a better job in less time and work best in performance situations. Get a chromatic tuner instead of a regular guitar tuner. There are many altered tunings you'll want to know how to play on guitar and a plain old guitar tuner won't do them. Chromatic tuners can cost as little as $20 USD.
5) Get the right strings
You'll need to make some decisions about guitar strings. You need to change them every month or so as they begin to corrode and lose their tone. Pros might change their strings for every gig! Electric guitar strings are made from different metals than acoustic strings. Make sure you get the right kind. There are a million different brands to choose from. You'll decide which you like by trial and error. They also come in different gauges or thicknesses. Thicker strings might sound better and last longer but they're tougher on your fingers and harder to bend. Most acoustic players play 12 gauge strings while electric players are pretty evenly split between 9 gauge and 10 gauge strings.
Scotty West, guitar teacher and creator of the Absolutely Understand Guitar Video Lesson Program