How to Learn to Play Guitar On Your Own

If you've never played a guitar before, learning how to play one can be a bit intimidating at first. Many people choose to take guitar lessons to learn, and this can be a great option for many people, but not all. I personally took lessons for 3 weeks, and I do feel I learned a few basics that I didn't previously know. However, I feel I progressed much faster on my own and learned things much quicker by myself. This isn't to say that lessons are not for you. It just depends on your learning speed and what type of a teacher you have. When looking for an instructor, try to shop around and find the most competent one you can. If you're not comfortable with your teacher, then learning how to play will be twice as hard. But if you do choose to try learning guitar on your own, there's a few steps you should take that will most likely help you. I used these steps myself when I decided to learn on my own, and I quickly became a better player than most people my age.

Acoustic Vs Electric
The first thing you'll have to do is decide which type of guitar you want to learn on. While it's true that you can start out with both and alternate between the two (assuming you have the money), it's probably not a good idea for when you first get started. Acoustic, in my opinion, is a much better choice to learn guitar on than electric, despite the type of music you plan to eventually play once you become advanced. I say this because the strings for acoustic are harder to hold down and manuever your fingers around on. So learning on an acoustic helps strengthen your fingers better than electric, and helps toughen the edges of your fingers up more quickly. That is one thing you will probably dislike about the learning process, the pain involved when you get sore fingers. Don't worry, they will eventually become tougher and callous up and become stronger as you keep practicing. After awhile it won't bother you anymore and you'll have a much easier time holding the streets down and moving your fingers around on them. Once you learn the basics of playing guitar, such as playing full songs and solos, than you should probably start to switch over to electric to learn things that are specific for electric, such as tapping techniques and more advanced fx and solos.

Learn Tablature
After you get yourself a guitar, you should start learning tablature (aka tabs). Tablature is pretty simple for a beginner to understand, though it may take about an hour of studying it and reading tutorials to fully grasp everything. There's no need for a person to take guitar lessons nowadays, as you can easily find tutorials online, in both video and text format. The best thing to do is to learn things on your own for free while on line, but if you want to, you can even get a book for dummies on how to play, or buy a dvd program, software, or instructional video if you think it will help. Tablature is basically charts that show which string you should be playing for each note, and it shows where your fingers should be placed on the fretboard. If there is a number 12 on the 6th string, that means you should have your finger placed on the 12th notch on the fretboard and on the 6th string. It's easier than it sounds, you just have to look at some tablature a few times and you'll get the hang of it. There's other things that are symbolized in tablature, such as slides, hammer-on's and other techniques like strumming, but you'll learn that stuff as you go. There's no reason beginners would need to know how to slide or hammer-on their first week or month of playing. The strumming will eventually come natural to you and you don't really need instruction for that, though it may help.

Learn Chords & Scales
When it comes to learning chords and scales, it takes lots of time and most guitar players these days don't even know all of them. So don't feel discouraged if you have trouble learning them quickly. I myself only know a limited amount of chords and very few scales. It does help to learn the following chords: A, C, D, E, F. G. These are known as major chords. If you were to take instructional lessons, these chords are probably what the instructor would teach to you in the first or second lesson. In addition to these, the other 2 main types of chords are minor chords and dominant 7th chords. If you can learn the minors of these chords (Am, Cm, Em etc.), then you're even better off. The same goes for the dominant sevenths of these chords (A7, C7, E7 etc.). As far as scales and chord progressions, these can definitely take you to that next level of guitar playing, but most people don't take the time to actually learn these. As long as you have internet access and can read tablature, then you will probably never need to know most of these things, at least not in your first year of playing. You can always find chord and scale charts online for free if you ever need to look up something.

Practice Finger Exercises
When you first start playing, your fingers won't be as nimble and agile as most people who have been playing for a long time. This is why it's necessary for you to practice finger exercises to build-up not only the strength of your fingers, but the coordination as well. There are a number of different techniques and methods out there that you can learn, but one of the best ones to start off with is what I like to call "the 1,2,3,4 exercise". This is where you place your four fingers (with the exception of the thumb) on the on the first string of your guitar (the low E string, which is the one closest to you when you're playing). Place the fingers directly over the first four frets so they are resting on the string. Now list all of them up except for the index finger. Use that finger to press down on the string while over the first fret and play the string with your other hand to sound out the note. Then lift your index finger up, and press your middle finger down on the second fret and play that one. Then left that finger up as well, and do the same with your third finger on the third fret. Then follow up with the fourth finger on the fourth fret. After you do this, go backwards. Do this by raising the fourth finger after you've played the fourth fret, and then go back to the third finger and use it to press the string down again on the third fret. Then move back to the middle finger, and then the index again after that. After this, shift all your fingers away from the first string, and down to the second string (the B string). Do the same exercises on the B string that you did on the E. After you finish with the B string, move down to the next string. Keep doing this until you can do it pretty fast and move your fingers quickly. The quicker you are at doing this, the better player you will be. While there's many different finger techniques out there, this one helped me the most and after awhile, it's the only one I continued to do each day.

Study the Greats
When I first started, I learned tabs my first week of taking lessons. But what really helped me after I knew some of the basics was when I bought a Metallica CD along with a Metallica tablature book (It was their "Black" album). I wasn't even much of a Metallica or heavy metal fan, but I was told that it would be a great way to learn guitar, by practicing a lot of the songs on that CD and learning the solos. That was some of the best advice I ever took, because it really helped me. From there, I started studying all of the greats, many of whom made me want to play guitar, and some who I wasn't even very familiar with. Even if you're into simple guitar playing, such as Kurt Cobain's or Green Day's strumming, you should first study some of the greats so you'll be more versatile to be able to play many things. I studied people like Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Eddie Van Halen, Ry Cooder, Steve Stevens, and Slash. These guys have some of the best songs to learn, because after all, the only way to be great is to study those who are great and improvise from there. I learned every style I could, from classical, to flamenco, to jazz, to funk. Once I learned a lot of these styles, it helped me to learn and master everything else pretty fast. Within a year, all my friends and older people were impressed by my playing, and I even won a talent show at my school by my second year playing.

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