So last year I started learning guitar. I must admit learning a new instrument can be pretty daunting, especially at the beginning when you can’t play a single note or tune. But one year later, I believe that this is one of my best decisions yet. I have always loved singing, and now that I can play basic guitar chords I can sing and play to my heart's content. Learning a musical instrument is about the journey you take; it its food for the mind and soul. So if you have ever considered learning guitar I 100% say GO FOR IT. You might end up becoming a lead guitarist in a band – or like me – simply fall in love with the music. Here is my advice for absolute beginners that are interested in learning guitar.
1. Buy a Cheap Guitar
I would recommend buying a second hand acoustic instrument if you're learning guitar. So many people half-heartedly take up guitar that there are loads of really cheap second hand guitars on the market. Just make sure that the guitar is in tune before you start, otherwise you will be left wondering why everything sounds so bad. Also I am quite a short female at 5'2" so I actually brought a ¾ size guitar. I am sure these are meant for children or teenagers, but this seems to be the perfect size for me.
2. Get a Good Book
Everyone’s learning style is different. Some people I know have learnt guitar from watching tutorials on YouTube so you may wish to give that a try. I however brought a truly fabulous book called The Justinguitar Beginners Songbook (justinguitar.com). I highly recommend this book to get you started. It teaches you all the basic chords you need to learn, and has some great popular songs to practice too. Once you progress there are other books in the series you can find on his website. The main thing is to get a book that will teach you the basics of learning guitar, and then you can decide how you wish to progress with your guitar style.
3. Get a Tuner
You will need to find a way to tune your guitar. Most of us don’t have pitch perfect hearing, and whilst I would love to learn how to tune my guitar by ear, as a beginner you will need to get a basic tuner. I actually use an app (Ultimate-Guitar Tools) on my IPhone which only costs a couple of dollars and does the trick perfectly. The app also has a metronome and chords library that you may also find handy. Again you don’t need anything too flash, just something that adequately works.
4. Start Practicing
Don’t be scared of your guitar! As soon as you start practicing, you will start to gain in confidence and momentum. I remember learning my first two chords and being bemused at how people could play guitar, full stop; it seemed impossible. But let’s not forget that our bodies have muscle memory, so that once you practice an action a few times, you start to remember the movements without thinking about it. Just like riding a bike, your body begin to remember the placements for your fingers, so that you don’t have to keep looking where they are on the strings.
5. Sing along
I have an absolutely terrible singing voice but I love to sing along to my guitar playing. Let’s remember that learning the guitar is supposed to be a fun hobby. If you aren’t enjoying yourself then you are doing it wrong. Singing, humming or whistling along to the tune, will help you to improve on rhythm and style. Plus as you getter better you may find that other people will want to join in singing along to the tunes.
6. Working on Style
There are different styles of learning guitar – as a beginner try to learn both Chords and TAB and see which one you prefer. I prefer chords but many people much prefer TAB, so it’s a matter of personal preference. If you are looking for new music to practice with definitely look at the website: ultimate-guitar.com - this is in my opinion the best website for sharing guitar music. No matter what your music tastes are, you are bound to find music to download and practice with. I can’t recommend this site enough.
7. Don’t Give up
Recently I had a dip in my love of guitar. I felt like I was at a mental road block and wouldn’t be able to improve my practice. Thankfully a good friend told me to keep practicing and one day you will make a break through. He was exactly right! Sometimes it can feel like my music isn’t improving and that I have plateaued… but as long as you keep trying, it is inevitable that you must get better. As long as you don’t give up, you will overcome any hurdles and get better at your craft.
The main thing to remember as a beginner learning guitar is that you will definitely get better with time if you keep at it. Enjoy learning your craft, it is such a wonderful instrument to learn to play. Practising guitar is my own form of meditation, I love being left alone to practice and turn off all the problems from the day. I really hope you find these tips helpful to get you started. I’m sure many of you have already started learning guitar, what would you recommend to other readers?