Learning guitar can seem daunting. With all the different websites and teaching methods available it can be difficult choosing where to...
I'm new to the guitar. Where should I start out?
Which chords should I begin learning?For someone starting out, the inability to get a full sounding chord can lead to much frustration which, in turn, can lead to deciding that maybe the guitar is just too much trouble and not worth learning. For younger students, and also for some adults, the confidence gained by playing some single notes on various strings is all they need to make the next “step” into chord playing. I’d like to make a quick point that learning chords is not always the best way to start out, particularly for younger children.
Is there an easy way to learn barre chords?
Whenever I teach barre chords to a student, I tell them before hand that they are going to be hard to learn. They are like riding a bike, though. Once you get them, you’ll never forget them. No capo in the world can do what the barre chords do for music. If you look at your index finger, it has a slight bend to it. This leaves the center of the barre hard to press down. Now rotate the finger ever so slightly backwards so the knuckle is facing toward the nut of the guitar. This flattens the finger. Sure it still has a bend to it, but it is no longer a factor because the side of the finger, which is now flattened against the fretboard, is holding down the strings.
- The other factor to remember is that we have been used to grabbing things with our hands and curling the fingers inward toward the palm. Now, with barre chords, we have to develop muscles we almost never use to flatten out the finger. As with all muscles, it takes time for strength and size to come about. Even though the technique may be perfect, you may have to keep at it and wait it out for these reasons. But it will come to you.
The last thing I want to say about this is this, look at the barre chord. Are there other fingers doing work in the center of the fretboard? If so then you don’t have to concentrate you barring efforts behind them. Watch what you are doing and what is needed.
- Whenever someone asks “how much time,” a teacher is going to respond “as much time as you can.” That’s almost a pure reaction. The reality, however, relies on two separate things: the amount of free time you truly have and the physical condition of your hands.What pitfalls should I avoid as a beginning student?
How do I get the most out of my practice time?If you know some chords and where the notes are on the fingerboard, then you have to ask yourself, what you want to do? You already know enough to strum a lot of songs and even play song simple leads and riffs. You also know enough to start writing and playing some of your own songs. So there are a lot of choices and it’s really up to you.
I know that this may not be the answer that you seek, but without knowing what your purpose for playing is, I truly can’t tell you what to play next. I can tell you that there are TONS of things to learn! Take some time and think about what you want to do.
ld I learn to play on acoustic or electric?
There are a lot of similarities between the electric and acoustic guitar; they each have advantages and disadvantages to the beginner. It is easier to learn to finger pick on an acoustic. Barre chords and power chords are easier to learn on an electric. Because of the nature of the acoustic guitar, most people learn how to strum them but rarely take the time to explore the many styles and sounds that it is capable of. Because of the nature of the electric guitar, many beginners learn power chords and then little else. And when the acoustic player gets his first electric, he tends to play it like an acoustic. And vice versa.
Which is “better?” If you say right off the bat that you want to learn electric, I would tell you that electric is better for you. Is this necessarily true? No. But since this is where your interests currently lie, it is true for you.
What you learn from the guitar, or anything, is usually a combination of what you want and whether or not what you discover on the way interests you enough to take a detour. If you really want to learn a riff or a solo and you learn it, will you also take the time to figure out how you can use what you learn in another song or in a different style? Only if it interests you to do so.
It used to be that people started out with acoustic guitars mostly because it was expensive to get an electric guitar (and an amplifier and everything else that you’d need). That is not the case these days. If you want to play electric and you can get yourself a good set up, then by all means do so.
Because here’s the fun thing – if you choose the electric guitar now, there’s no reason why you won’t find yourself with an acoustic guitar somewhere down the road. I’d almost guarantee that this will happen.
- Impatience. Perhaps this is a bit of my trying to lump a lot of stuff into a small and neat package, but I think that it is impatience, however it might be disguised, is at the root of a lot of frustration, for guitarists and many other people as well.
Time is one of those things that we approach differently depending what we want to do with it. We find that we make time for things when we need to or want to but don’t always see where that time comes from.
Time adds up. Even if you manage to find fifteen or thirty minutes a day, it adds up. And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll FIND that time and then MAKE it your guitar time.
Buy a guitar stand. When I first started playing, it seemed like a lot of work to take the guitar from the case, make sure it’s tuned then make bad sounds. Then I bought a guitar stand and placed the guitar in my living room. It serves as a monument to remind me that I am not playing the guitar with the 15 minutes I’m wasting on the couch. It catches my eye when I’m surfing the channels and says “play me instead”. The instant access of the guitar allows me to get that 10 or 15 minutes in (which often turns into an hour) while I’m waiting for something else. Also, you have to practice your chords and chord changes until you master the skill. However, learn some 2 chord songs (G7 and C) or simple 3 chord songs so that you can have some feeling of accomplishment while learning. You can make “music” with these simple sings and see your progress.