How To Play The Guitar

The guitar is one of the most popularly played instruments in the world. Every day, people want to learn how to play the guitar, but, most do not know where to start. If you are reading this, our guess is that you are interested in learning the guitar.

How To Play The Guitar

This article is targeted at giving you a detailed step-by-step breakdown on playing guitar.

Whether you have little or no knowledge prior to reading this article, you don’t have to worry. We have made the information in this article as basic as it can be. Are you ready to learn to play the guitar? Yes? Then, let us get started.

Buying A Guitar

To learn to play the guitar, you need to have a guitar. We assume that you don’t have someone who can “handy-down” one to you right now. 

So, the first we’ll be doing is to briefly show you a few things to consider when purchasing a guitar. This will help you get the best out of buying the guitar.

Now, here are the factors to keep in mind when purchasing a guitar.

Your Budget

The first thing that will determine your choice of guitar is the cost factor. The budget is the most important part of your buying process. This is because it will determine how the rest of the factors in this section will affect your decision.

Guitars come at various prices for different reasons. Some as a result of their features and functions, while, others are just a thing of the brand.

You might have heard before that in order to secure a decent guitar you would have to spend about 300 to 500 bucks. This isn’t entirely a lie, however, it isn’t true either.

Getting expensive guitars are great. Nonetheless, if your financial condition isn’t solid enough to comfortably cover the expensive ones, that isn’t a problem.

There are a lot of great guitars that you can get even with a budget of 100 to 250 dollars.

So, whatever the depth of your pockets, make sure you have a price range in mind that you plan to spend.

Now that it’s settled, we can move on to other factors.

Your Style

There are many different music styles, and different guitars fit into these different styles. So, depending on the kind of music you want to play, you might be needing a specific kind of guitar.

Also, there are also different types of guitars, so, you need to decide which you want to specialize in.

Now, as a recommendation, we advise that you first start with an acoustic guitar,  before moving to specifics. The standard acoustic guitar is the best way to start learning the basics of playing guitar. This is why it is usually the best option for any beginner.

When you have covered the basics, you can now go back to get something more specific for the type of music you want.

For a good acoustic guitar that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Yamaha FG830. It’s made from solid wood all around, with a spruce top, Nato back and sides, and a rosewood fingerboard. All these make for a solid guitar, especially considering how affordable it is. 

Yamaha FG830 Solid Top Folk Guitar, Natural

Click here to get yours now!

Age And Size

Guitars come in different sizes for different ages. So, depending on your age and size, you should find a guitar that would fit perfectly in your arms.

The Condition Of The Guitar

This is where you decide whether you are buying a used or new one. Used guitars aren’t entirely a bad idea. However, you need to be sure you will get the value for your money.

If your budget squeezes you so thin that you cannot but get a used guitar, make sure you go with a more experienced person.

These persons would know what and how to check for the durability and trustworthiness of the guitar before buying.

Where To Buy Your First Guitar

As unimportant as this might sound, it is also an important factor when buying your guitar. Why? Well, there are a lot of options for where to buy your guitar. However, as a beginner, not all the options are the best for you to buy from.

One option we advise that you try to stay away from by all means is buying at pawn shops and yard sales. This is because these guitars are mostly used, so, they may not be functioning at the maximum.

Also, since you are a beginner, you might not know what to look out for when buying these used guitars. This could now result in buying bad or damaged guitars.

As a beginner, the best choice is to get your first guitar from a music retail store. This way, the experts there can examine your needs based on the factors you have considered and pick the best guitar for you.

The Basic Elements Of The Guitar

In the first phase of this article, we’ll be looking at the rudimentary parts of learning the guitar. The better you understand these elements, the easier it will be for you to learn guitar, and eventually play better.

Holding The Guitar

This aspect of playing the guitar is usually ignored by most at the first stage of learning to play the guitar. However, it is a very important part of playing the guitar, so you need to get it right.

There are a lot of different ways to hold the guitar. But, we’ll be looking at the most commonly used in this article. It is also the easiest to perform, which is why it is best for you as a beginner. This is the causal method. 

The casual method of holding the guitar is the regular style of placing the guitar on your dominant side and pulling it close to your body.

For beginners, it is normal to want to have the guitar down your legs in order to see the top of the guitar. However, you need to try as much as possible to resist this temptation. This is because it will not let you play efficiently enough. Keep the guitar close to your body and up straight.

The Numbering System

The next element of playing the guitar which is also sacrosanct is the numbering system. The numbering system involves your fingers, the strings, and the guitar frets.

The Fingers

For the fingers, it is a very simple system that is key to playing the guitar.

Your index finger is the number one finger, number two is your middle finger, three is your ring finger, and finally, your pinky is number four.

These are the fingers you’ll be using to hold the strings on the fretboards to create different notes. Learning the numbering system for your fingers will be very useful when you start playing chords. So, be sure to master it properly.

The Strings

This is the easiest to learn and remember. However, it is also very important. All you need to remember here us that the strings are numbered from one to six starting from the thinnest to the thickest

Pretty easy, yes?

The Frets

This is the final numbering system we’ll be looking at. It is also very easy to remember.

Stand the guitar upright on its box. The frets are numbered from 1 downwards from the first fret at the top. The number of frets differs from guitar to guitar. However, most guitars, especially beginner guitars, will have between 22-24 frets. 

Guitar Picks

The guitar pick is an alternative to using your hands to strike the guitar strings, and it makes the job much easier. There are a lot of different types of picks, which means knowing the one to use might be a challenge.

For beginners, we recommend that you go for a pick with standard size and thickness. Nothing to thin and nothing too thick either.

How To Hold A Guitar Pick

When it comes to holding the guitar pick, the best is somewhat subjective. Somewhat because there is a generic standard way that you should start with before you start experimenting.

The normal way to hold the guitar pick is to hold it down on your thumb with the side of your index finger. Now, the important thing when it comes to holding the guitar grip is relaxation.

So, if at your first second or third try, you do not still feel relaxed with the grip, you can try out other grip styles.

We do, however, have a full article on How To Hold A Guitar Pick. We suggest you read through it before coming back to complete this article. 

Strumming

This part is often ignored when learning to play the guitar. If you play the electric guitar, you might not have to worry much about this thanks to the effects that are used. For acoustic guitars, on the other hand, everything you do is completely dependent on how well you strum.

Nonetheless, whether you play electric guitar or acoustic, learning this is always a plus.

To get the best out of your strum, the magic starts with your movement. Most of the motion should be coming from your elbow. Avoid moving your wrist.

To get the perfect motion, keep your elbows in a position where it can comfortably swing. While your wrist should be kept straight, ensure that you resist the temptation to bend it.

So, if you are doing it right, then, your arm should be having a movement like that of a pendulum or swing. Just going from up to down.

For a proper understanding of this concept, we implore you to watch the video below. It will benefit you greatly.

The Guitar Strings

Before we conclude this section of the article, let’s take a quick look at the strings of the guitar and how they are labeled.

We already explained how the strings are numbered. Now, we will be looking at how they are lettered in terms of notes.

From the thickest to the thinnest string, they are lettered, E, A, D, G, B, and another E. The first E which is for the thickest string, is the lower pitch (octave), while the second is the higher pitch.

Now that we are done with the basic parts of playing the guitar, let’s go further.

Parts of the Guitar

To play the guitar, you also need to know the guitar. So, let’s look at the different parts of the guitar.

The Headstock

Let us start from the headstock. The headstock is the top area of the guitar when you place it upright. This area is where you find the tuning pegs of the guitar. The tuning pegs help you increase or decrease the pitch of the strings – you’ll understand this better when we start discussing tuning the guitar.

The Fretboard

The fretboard is the part of the guitar that you put pressure on to create different chords and notes. On the fretboard, you will find the frets – of course. The frets are what determine the note the strings will give off.

The Bridge

This is where the strings of the guitar are held in place at the end.

How To Play Chords On The Guitar

First off, what are chords? Chords are a harmonic collection of at least three notes. There are two basic types of chords. They are the first position chords and barre chords.

The first position chords are created by a fusion of open and fretted strings in the first three frets of the guitar.

The most common major chords are C major, A major, G major, E major, D major.

Let’s take a quick look at how to create these chords.

The C Chord

The C-chord is created by fretting the B-string with your index finger on the first fret, then, the D-string at the second fret with your middle finger. Finally, fret the A-string on its third fret with your ring finger.

When you strum this chord, strum all five strings down from the A-string.

The A Major Chord

To play the A major chord, you need to fret the D-string at the second fret with your index finger. Your middle finger should fret the G-string on the second fret also, while your ring finger should also fret the B string on the second fret.

When strumming, you should strum the five strings down from the A string and let the notes sustain.

The E Major Chord

For the E major chord, you need to fret the G-string at the first fret with your index finger. The next is the middle finger on the second fret of the A-string. And finally, your ring finger fretting the D string on the second fret.

Strumming the E chord is done by strumming all the 6 strings from top to bottom. The full and fleshy sound of the E chord is gotten from ensuring that all 6 strings are hit.

The G Major Chord

The G major chord is played by fretting the A string at the second fret with your index finger. Your middle finger should fret the lower E string at the third fret. Finally, your ring finger should fret the higher E string at the third fret also.

With your fingers in their correct positions, you can now strum all the six strings.

We have now covered the easiest ways to play some of the most commonly used major chords and also minor chords. However, we advise that you learn and master the major chords before moving to the minors.

With the knowledge so far, you should be able to write some simple music of your own with these chords.

Tips For Playing Chords

When playing chords, you want all the notes to ring right and not having muted or muffled notes. As a beginner, you might encounter this a lot, however, there are tips that could help you avoid them.

Use Your Fingertips

When holding the strings down on the fretboard, it is advised that you make use of the very tip of your fingers. Using the fleshy areas could result in having some parts of the finger holding or muting unwanted notes or useful notes.

So, make use of your fingertips so that there is just enough space between the strings.

Keep Your Fingers Between The Frets

Some people play and hold their strings on the frets, but this is incorrect. The correct way to strings is between the frets. This way, you can avoid dead notes and produce cleaner sounds when you play.

Your Thumbs

For better relaxation and grip when fretting chords, your thumbs should be positioned in the middle of the neck. They should also be facing the ceiling, that is, upright.

Final Tips

Now, there are a few other things that you are certain to come across in your journey as you learn to play the guitar. Let us now use this section to take a look at some of those things,

Tuning The Guitar

As you play the guitar, there is a tendency that after some time, the string(s) might get out of tune. Playing an out of tune guitar is really no fun at all. So that is why you need to learn guitar tuning.

Tuning the guitar isn’t a complex activity at all. We have already shown you earlier what each of the strings stands for. So, all you have to do is turn the knobs on the head of the guitar until the notes are correct

So, how do you know the notes are correct? Well, there are different ways to get to the right note on your guitar. The most common one is the use of other instruments. All you have to do is hit the corresponding note on the other instrument and turn the tuning pegs so they sound the same.

You can also make use of electronic tuners. There are a ton of those. There are clip-on, desktop, and even mobile tuners. These are great for beginners as all you have to do is follow the instructions and turn the tuning pegs.

For a full understanding of How To Tune Your Guitar, check out our article by clicking this link: How To Tune Your Guitar.

Practice

Your practice culture is almost as important as learning to play the guitar. You’ve heard it said that practice makes perfect, and this is no different from the guitar. Also, practicing the guitar isn’t just about how many times but how well.

When you practice, try as much as possible to stay away from the advanced stuff. As a beginner, if you haven’t gotten a grip on the basic parts of playing guitar, then, continue practicing them till you do.

If you start trying out the advanced areas too soon, you will most likely get frustrated and probably give up on the instrument.

At the initial stages, your chords might not sound exactly as you want them. The important thing here is to keep trying and practicing, it takes some getting used to.

Finger Pains

As a result of the weight and strength of the strings, fretting will definitely cause you pain at your fingertips. In fact, the more you play the more you will see string marks on your fingertips. You would need to endure all these as you will get used to them over time.

However, at this beginning stage, there are a few steps you can take to manage the pain. Icing your fingers or dipping it in apple cider vinegar could help give some relief to the pain. 

You could also dip your fingers in rubbing alcohol after playing. This will help you develop the harder skin faster. However, avoid doing this before you start playing as it could damage the strings.

Start Trying Some Songs

As you start learning and understanding the basic techniques in this article, you should start trying out some songs. This will help you measure progress in your practice and learning. There are a lot of simple 3 and 4-chord songs that you can try out that will be easy to learn and play.

Try playing some of these songs to test all that you have learned. The video below might be comedic but it’s a great eye-opener as to just how many popular songs you can play with just four chords. We suggest you give it a watch to see the possibilities you have, even as a beginner. 

Look Around For Videos

Most of the techniques in this article are not standard or generic, so, not all of them might work for you. Remember that the important thing in most of these techniques is relaxation.

So, you can go online and find videos that explore different tips and tricks that can help you get the best out of playing.

Conclusion

Of everything written in this article, the most relevant part is the patience that learning the guitar requires. 

Don’t rush yourself, take each thing one step at a time and you’ll be just fine. All you need to do is patiently follow all the tips and steps we have given you in this article. This will surely help you learn to play the guitar with ease.