Learning to Play Guitar: Taking the First Step

It’s not uncommon to go to a concert, a friend’s house or even wander by a music store and really start to wish you could play guitar. Most people think that once you’re older than your teens, learning to play a musical instrument is something that just isn’t in the cards.

While playing is not something you pick up overnight, it’s not impossible to play a guitar; in fact, learning to play guitar is really not that hard. However, if you want to go beyond a few simple chords and some basic strumming, you need to be prepared to go down a different road. Good news is that this road can be traveled in five basic steps that are fun and rewarding. Some may sound like common sense, but put them all together and things will start to fall into place.

First, get a guitar.Like I said, sounds like common sense, but until you take that first step, you’ll never start. Begin with a good quality instrument. Don’t go out and think you’ve hit the jackpot by finding a $100.00 guitar. In the end, you’ll be glad you spent a few extra dollars and didn’t skimp on quality.

I’m not saying you have to go out spend thousands of dollars for a collector’s guitar or a concert performance instrument, but I am saying the garden variety pawn shop guitar generally won’t fit the bill. To gain an understanding of the different instruments out there, talk to friends that play guitar.

Get recommendations from them. Look at their guitars. Check out online sites like Harmony Central, Musician’s Friend or Music 123.

Visit a music store that stocks and sells a large variety of guitars.Look at a few of the different instruments in different price ranges and you should start to see what separates one from the other.Talk to the salespeople. Explain that you are starting out, what kind to music interest you and who some of your favorite artists are. Tell them how much you plan on playing. Make sure to discuss a budget with them.

They will be able to steer you toward a guitar that is right for you. Not only will you want to look at different levels of guitars, but you will also need to decide between electric and acoustic guitars. If you like Green Day, you likely won’t be too interested in starting out on an acoustic. If you’re a Garth Brooks fan, the electrics will probably not be your choice. However, at the end of the day, whether your choice is acoustic or electric, remember the quality of the instrument is perhaps most important.

Learning to play guitar is frustrating enough, there’s no need to let the quality, or lack thereof, provide another obstacle to your playing. By putting some time into this choice and investing a reasonable amount of money, you will have the first step completed.

Now, you have your guitar, so now what? Step two – time to start playing. The only problem is you don’t know how. From this point, you have two options. The first is to teach yourself. Many great guitar players have done this quite successfully; however, your motivation and dedication will have to be very high to deal with obstacles you will encounter. If you decide on this method of learning, you will need to do some homework and put together some resources to aid in your learning.

There are plenty of instructional books, videos, online resources and other tools out there that will make your learning much easier. Check online for free resources. Go to your library. Ebay, Amazon or any other similar online retailer has a variety or information for any budget. However, if you don’t want to or don’t feel you can’t teach yourself, you can use the option of obtaining formal instruction. Call your local music store or ask the retailer where you purchased your guitar and they should either offer lessons or be able to refer you to an instructor.

You will want to meet with the instructor prior to starting and make sure personalities mesh and that they teach a style you are interested in learning. Talk to them about course progression and what you can expect to learn. Also pay attention to their motivation. It is not unusual for guitar instructors to become burnt out from their teaching. If you end up with one of these, your motivation and, ultimately your progress will suffer.

Remember, in this process there will be challenges enough, avoid any you see coming.

Now for the glue that holds all of this together – the last three steps of the five step approach. Once you have your guitar and are either teaching yourself or taking lessons, get ready move ahead with the final steps – practice, practice, practice. There really isn’t such a thing as too much practice. There will be times you will think you aren’t learning. There will be times you may want to quit. If this happens, practice some more. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way.

Good luck playing!!

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