How to teach yourself guitar – The Short Effective Guide

What is common for Jimmy Page, Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Hendrix? All of them had made themselves immortal through the art of playing the guitar. Most of them are self-taught as well. Curt Cobain from Nirvana even made his guitars at the beginning.

If the sound of the guitar whether that be acoustic or electric one makes your skin crawl or your emotions moving, perhaps it is time to take things into your own hands (literally), and learn to play this beautiful instrument. Here’s how to teach yourself guitar:

Your first one

The guitar has a kind of grit and excitement possessed by nothing else. “

Brian May 

Famous "Queen" guitarist has a point when it comes to guitars. I remember buying my first six-stringed wonder. My heart was pounding, and I was excited as a kid in a candy store!

You must see for yourself that guitar suits you, meaning it's not too big or too small, and luckily, all the sites which are selling guitar online have measures strictly pointed out. The length of the guitar should be somewhere near your belly button when you are standing up, and just in case if you are uncertain, pick a smaller one. The width of the neck is also important, so if you have thin fingers, the neck should be thinner as well.

When I was shopping, I had a plan of spending around $200, and this is the fund I advise you to take into consideration. A general recommendation is to take an acoustic guitar with a metal set of strings because those are stronger and more resilient; therefore your fingers will gain additional strength.

The brand is not much of importance, but a great rule of thumb is to stick to famous bands and their less-expensive line of guitars. Those are more likely to be used even after if you upgrade to more professional ones.

As for the additional equipment, guitar picks can come in three thickness varieties. Soft and medium ones are recommended for beginners, but feel free to experiment and see which suits you the best. Also, belts are intended for standing use, so avoid them for the time being.

How to sit and hold guitar properly

Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.

Andres Segovia 

The most important thing about beginning is that you learn how to hold the guitar properly. If you lose solid foundation now, it is unlikely that you will continue practicing, because any other way of holding the guitar will cause you pain and discomfort. Subconsciously, you will withdraw from practicing and will stop eventually.

What suited me the best was a simple barstool, but any other chair will do the trick. The lower curve of the body of the guitar should be pressed on your right thigh and positioned vertically toward the floor. Back are kept straight, with shoulders slightly leaned forward.

Now, your left hand will be the one grabbing the neck, and the right one will make the swings across the strings, setting the rhythm. Keep in mind that you should keep your thumb like this because it will give you the best grip on the neck.

How to read the tabs

I taught myself how to play the guitar, and I taught myself how to play the drums.

Dave Grohl 

Now, when you have found comfortable space and enough of time, you should find something to practice. Although you won’t be shredding “The Trooper" anytime soon, you must learn how to read what is written. As an example, we will take one of my favorites, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

e|----------------------------------------------------------|

B|----------------------------------------------------------|

G|----------------------------------------------------------|

D|-----------5-----------------------5----------------------|

A|-------7-------------7---------7--------------7-----------|

E|---0----------6---5--------0-----------6---5--------------|

e|---0------------------------------------------------------|

B|---0------------------------------------------------------|

G|---0------------------------------------------------------|

D|---2------------------------------------------------------|

A|----------------------------------------------------------|

E|----------------------------------------------------------|

​Keep in mind that with “e” is marked the lowest and the thinnest string, going further toward the 6th, marked with "E," which is the thickest. The numbers here mark the fret on which you should press the string. The first three notes, therefore, will be E played empty, A on 7th and D on 5th. In the second part, we can see the line, meaning that D is on the second fret, and all of the four strings are played in one swing. It remains a mystery to me until today how it is possible for tabs to be written upside down, and I’m able to read and play them.

The first chord

I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.

Jimmy Page 

The group of tones is called a chord. Every chord is played in the same way every time, so your first set should include at least four of those. I have started with C, G, A minor, and D. I have just learned how to play them without that rattling sound which is a good sign that one of the strings is not pressed enough. There are a lot of websites which can provide you with the basic chords, so feel free to use them.

An online course is also another great option for beginners. The main advantage of this approach is that you can adjust your schedule according to this. In general, it is recommended that you practice each day without exception. The consistency will make a habit of playing, and the things will go as natural as possible.

The conclusion

At the beginning of your learning process, expect a lot of mistakes and pain. It will take the time to develop a harder skin on your fingers and to play more comfortably, and the most important thing is to take time. If you are going too fast, you will not make any quality progress, but becoming frustrated. Chord by chord, fret by fret, and the success is guaranteed.

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