8 Easy Steps to Get Started with Playing the Guitar

Are you still playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero when you could be playing the real thing? How hard is it to get started? Believe it or not, you could be playing a few chords in a few minutes – and that’s enough for a whole song! Become a real guitar hero and follow these simple steps:

#1 – Learn the Types of Guitars

The basic guitar types are acoustic and electric. Each one has its pros and cons, based on the type of music you prefer to play.

Acoustic guitars are just that; guitars that create sound in an acoustic (non-electric) sound board which project the sound vibrations of the strings. They come from a long line of ancient instruments and have many variations the world over.

Some pros of the acoustic guitar include the fact that you can pack up and play just about anywhere. Acoustic guitars typically do not require amplification (although, you can add some, if needed), so they do not require expensive equipment.

Some cons of the acoustic guitar include the fact that its sound is pretty much the same, no matter what. Acoustic guitars are also subject to issues with temperature and humidity, and must be well protected and cared for.

Electric guitars do not use a sound board. Instead, they use an electric “pickup” that picks up the sound from the strings and amplifies it.

Some pros of the electric guitar include the large range of sounds that you can get from pedals and sound boards. Electric guitars are also easier to play than acoustics.
Some cons of the electric guitar include the fact that it must be plugged in, so you won’t be much good on that camping trip. What’s more, it seems that the amplifiers and other accessories needed to get sound from your electric guitar cost more than the guitar did itself!

#2 – Learn the Parts of the Guitar

The guitar is comprised of many different parts, all of which work together. These are the most basic parts:
Neck: This is the long part at the top, and where you will do most of your playing. Along the neck are the frets.
Frets: Metal strips along the neck that will help you determine the pitch. You push the strings against them to create the different tones.
Head: This is at the top of the neck and contains the tuning keys.
Tuning Keys: Pegs on the head of the guitar where the strings wind and can be adjusted so that they are in tune.
Nut: The bottom of the head; that spot where the neck and the head join.
Body: The big part of the guitar, where you will do either strumming or picking.

#3 – Holding Your Guitar

Sit down and pick up your guitar. If you’re right-handed, you will rest it on your right thigh with the head pointing left. If you are left-handed, you will rest your guitar on your left thigh with the head pointing right. Let the back of the guitar rest against your stomach or chest.
This might feel a little awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it.

#4 – Identify Your Fingers

If you are using a book or paying an instructor, they will give each of your fingers a different name:
First Finger: Also called your index finger.
Second Finger: Your middle finger.
Third Finger: You would call this your ring finger. Hopefully, you are sensing a pattern.
Fourth Finger: This is you pinky.
Thumb: Luckily, this really is your thumb.

#5 – Get the Other Things You’ll Need

Whether you play the electric or acoustic guitar, there are several accessories that you will want to invest in to keep them in tune, on time, and in shape. The following are the absolute basics.

Tuner: Of course, you want to keep your guitar in tune, so you will need a tuner. There are several varieties of tuners, from a pitch pipe or tuning fork to an electronic device that uses lights to let you know when you’re in tune. The electronic devices cost significantly more, but are pretty failsafe. Tuning forks and pitch pipes take some practice to learn. Even better, if you own a smart phone, there are now several tuning apps that you can download.

Picks: Whether you play an acoustic or an electric, you will most likely want to play using a pick. Typically triangular pieces of plastic, the pick does come in a variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and thickness. Each type will create a different sound and give you a different feel. Picks are very inexpensive, so you have the freedom to try out several varieties. Your other option is, always, to simply strum with your thumb. Most classical guitarists do not use a pick.

Amplifier: If you are playing the electric guitar, you will need some sort of guitar amplifier and a cord that will connect the amplifier to your guitar. If you do not live alone, you may also want to invest in some headphones, too.

#6 – Learning Your First Chords!

You’re all set – now you can actually begin to play. These videos show you how to place your fingers for your first chords. The following videos will teach you the D, G, and A chords. Using these chords, you will be able to play several popular songs.

This first chord is the D chord. If you learn the next one, the G, you may then practice moving from one to the other.

Now, learn the A chord – and practice moving, or “progressing”, from one to the other. Does it sound like a song?

#7 – Learn to Count

Now that you’ve got some chords to switch between, learning how to count will assist you in making it sound even more like a song.

Count to yourself, “1, 2, 3, 4” while strumming on the 1 of each count. Knowing the D, G and A chords, you can play arrangements of thousands of songs, including “All Star” by Smash Mouth, “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, and the classic marching-band tune “Louie, Louie,” first made popular by The Kingsmen.

Take a look at this “riff” (a short rhythmic phrase that is repeated over and over). First look at the counting tips above the chords, and then try playing the chords to the counts. With this simple rift, you’re on your way to playing lots of songs.

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
/ / / / / / / /

#8 – Practice, Practice, Practice

The absolute most important thing you can do as a guitar player is: PLAY THE GUITAR!! If you do not practice, you will never get better. Studies have shown that it takes about 15 minutes to really get into a practice session, so give yourself at least 30 minutes for your sessions. Do your best to practice at least three times per week. The more you play, the better you’ll sound!