When you start out learning to play the guitar, you think that it’s an easy instrument. You don’t think that it will take that long until you know how to play guitar. You think that you can become a guitar player easy peasy with the help of various online guitar videos.
And, yes, that’s sometimes possible.
But more often, when learning to play the guitar, you’re going to need to show some persistence and it will take time. Guitar skills, as for all musical instruments, aren’t picked up in the blink of an eye and you won’t actually know how to play the guitar in one weekend.
Even if you’re gifted, you’re going to need to learn certain guitar techniques. If you’re a true beginner or if you already know some basic principles – such has how to position your hand on the fretboard, the main guitar chords, or how to hold a guitar pick, among many others – there is always something else to learn on the guitar, and that’s what makes this instrument so interesting.
Between online guitar courses, a personal guitar lesson with a music teacher, learning about the guitar through a book, an ebook, a DVD, or by playing with friends, there are many different ways to learn to play the guitar.
So, let’s explore some of these different ways to learn guitar. It goes without saying, really, that each of these different methods are not necessarily discrete. You are more than welcome to take online guitar lessons at the same time as you practice rhythm guitar with your mates. Just as you are perfectly entitled to do guitar practice through a guitar book at the same time as you get professional guitar instruction in music theory, tablature, and anything else.
There’s no correct way for learning guitar. Just find the way that works for you.
First there is the self-taught approach. Obviously, this is when you teach yourself. However, no guitar players would ever do this without the help of various forms of support.
Being ‘self-taught’ only means that you don’t have a formal guitar instructor. But all the time you will be receiving teaching from all the resources available.
As your own teacher, though, you’ll need to have the necessary focus, energy, and necessary motivation. You’ll need to be able to find all of the useful information in terms of learning the essential basics, and not waste time with useless paths, while also practicing exercises.
This is easier said than done, but not by much. As soon as you have progressed beyond beginner guitar, you will have the nous and the correct sense of your ability to work well on the things you want to learn. Whether that’s blues guitar, fingerstyle, rock guitar, lead guitar, or classical guitar, you will develop the sense of how to learn the guitar in that way that works best for you.
This requires a very strong will – but so does all methods of learning the guitar. If you want to play guitar solos like Hendrix, or play the power chords and barre chords of your favorite songs, everything takes a bit of work.
Teaching yourself can be done… but it’s not easy.
The first instinct you’ll have when you pick up a guitar is that you’ll want to play at home by yourself, or with friends. Others might be better than you, their levels maybe at a point where you can learn a few interesting guitar tricks and guitar licks.
Being able to play within a group is a great feeling: you’ll listen, observe, understand, be able to discuss one technique or another with your friends, and you’ll learn some useful tips.
Nonetheless, this instinct has its limits. First, you run the risk of adopting bad habits (the positioning of your left hand when you are strumming, holding the pick, placing your fingers to play a chord, etc.) and no one will be there to correct them.
Secondly, once you’ve gotten a handle on the basics and can play two or three songs, string together a few chords, your level may not advance too much. You can stagnate and there’s a risk that you’ll lose motivation and feel the urge to abandon the guitar altogether.
There are lots of written supplemental materials: a number of books, including those on approaches to specific guitar styles (jazz guitar, blues licks, fingerpicking or fingerstyle guitar, or reggae or flamenco guitar songs), can be found in specialty stores.
This is a very good form of support, one not lacking in educational structure.
Most of the time, these books and methods will show you the basics, offer some exercises, and some help you play a few songs as you get started playing your first guitar, but they won’t be able to really help you make progress.
It’s possible that a CD or DVD comes with the book, enabling you to listen to audio examples.
Another way is through videos. Now all on DVD – and pretty much all available as lessons online – this technique allows direct access to relevant segments, those that correspond to your level of progress on the guitar.
With this kind of support, the sound quality is perfect, as are the images, which allows you to study the placement of the hands and fingers, the different sequences, how to position your body, and much more, all in great detail.
This method is very effective because it offers audio and visual samples – to help your ear training – a bit like you’re sitting with a real teacher—but without the benefit, of course, of the interaction.
The third way can be found in the form of magazines. There are a great many that specialize in the subject. Yet, even if the educational aspect is often less substantial than with the other methods, you’ll find a lot of short exercises, excerpts from well-known songs, and even news about your favorite musicians.
There might be a feature on the pentatonic, say, or on how to solo with the major scale. You’ll also find lots of help with different songs to play.
There are also often product reviews of the items used in the guitar world: guitars, amps, cords, tuners, strands, etc. All the guitar gear that you will need.
These magazines are not going to properly teach you how to play the guitar. But, they don’t cost very much, they add something extra, and they’re a smart addition.
Another method that’s more and more popular: the Internet. But clearly you know about this – as you’re here already.
But how do you navigate it? Today, it’s unthinkable to imagine a world without this fantastic tool. With the web, learning to play the guitar is made both fun and exciting through videos and other tutorials. There are so many ways to learn guitar online – from guitar tablature to play songs to actual proper online lessons. These days, you wouldn’t really look anywhere else for guitar tabs.
On the Internet, you will find numerous examples for whatever style of guitar you want to learn, with videos and educational lessons, soundtracks to accompany you as background music, and even online magazines.
The Internet is a fantastic tool for learning to play the guitar.
The problem with the Internet, and this is also it’s greatest advantage, is that you can find everything there, absolutely everything, the worst as well as the best: free videos, free classes, educational games, paid methods, sites for beginner guitarists, etc.
So you don’t get distracted and waste time in front of your screen, you need to know precisely what you’re looking for.
Don’t hesitate to consult several sites to cross-check information. And guitar forums are pretty good too online: maybe some other guitarists are facing the same struggles that you are?.
The last way to learn to play the guitar is surely the most traditional path but also the most effective: that’s guitar lessons with a teacher.
This can be done in a music school, conservatory, or at a cultural center, but it’s important that there’s a teacher and a student.
By taking private guitar lessons, you’ll benefit from a privileged relationship with your guitar teacher. You’ll be able to ask questions, such as: how do you play the guitar if you’re left-handed?
According to whichever style of guitar you want to learn, you’ll be able choose your teacher and enroll in a weekly course for a set cost.
There are lots advantages to this method of learning to play the guitar: progressive learning according to your evolution, corrections of your inevitable mistakes and bad habits, encouragement when things are going well but also when you face challenges or when you stagnate, continuous discussions about the instrument itself, the world of the guitar, and of music.
Private guitar lessons offer constant attention.
It’s true partnership that forms between you and your teacher, a trusting relationship based on the exchange of ideas that enrich both of you.
The inconvenience of this method of learning to play the guitar—because there are one or two—is that this comes at a not-insignificant cost.
Compared to the other methods that are free or more or less low-cost, private lessons with a teacher require you to dig in your pockets. However, the progress you will make – particularly in beginner guitar lessons – will be worth the cost.
The other black spot is there’s not always a music teacher and especially not for the guitar near where you live, especially if you live in a small town.
It’s recommended that you look for small ads on the Internet, in music stores, in music schools, or simply consult a directory to find THE teacher for you.
As you can see, there are many ways to learn to play the guitar: between online courses, lessons with a teacher, or even the different methods you can find in magazines and other books, there’s something for everyone.
But you still have to do it intelligently! And that means finding the best combination to shape how you learn to play the guitar.
The guitar, like all other musical instruments, isn’t learned via one single method; there are as many ways as there are students.
The guitar isn’t an easy instrument to learn if you don’t have the desire to become a good guitarist. Desire is everything. Desire will have you learn any guitar chord or chord progression you want to play. It will take your improvisation all over the fret board. It will nail your guitar technique and will move you swiftly on to advanced guitar.
Without desire, you can be playing easy guitar songs for the rest of your life. You’ll never get the solid foundation you need to be a Clapton or a Satriani.
But for those who simply want to strum a few chords and impress their friends, there’s no problem. However, if you want to be the best guitar player you can be, if you want to truly master your instrument, you’ll have to take advantage of all of the options available to you.
Once you understand the guitar, its capabilities, then the more you can train and the more you’ll know how to play, it’s as simple as that.
You should understand that the best path to learning to play the guitar is not usually the shortest.
A really good way to learn to play the guitar could be summarized like this: it makes the student a better guitarist, whereas a bad method makes him or her worse. Or, if not worse, it won’t allow them to progress: they’ll be on the same basic chords, playing the same level of guitar music, and they won’t feel as though their guitar playing is improving.
With a guitar teacher, for example, the student becomes a co-teacher, not waiting for answers to be hand-delivered, but finding them yourself, making effort, working on exercises, sharing what you’ve feel with your teacher.
A good guitar student must be able to create a coherent vision from different reference points in order to become an excellent guitarist.
With all of these methods, by practicing regularly, and by doing your best to progress, you should learn to play the guitar fairly quickly and with a solid base.
In just a few months, you should know how to play any song and understand the music and your instrument, and your passion for the guitar should be richer. But again, that passion should be there from the first song and guitar solo you play through to the advanced arpeggios and chord shapes and progressions.
Develop good habits, stay motivated, and keep up hope—no matter what your guitar level! But, soon enough, you’ll get to know the guitar fretboard like a pro – and be able to teach guitar yourself.
Playing guitar – and no guitarist ever stops learning how to play guitar.
Follow Superprof’s tips for learning to play the guitar by ear…