Whether you’re old or young, there really is no better feeling than learning how to play a new instrument. While many people attempt to learn how to play guitar, it’s pretty common for a beginner to give up during the first month. Professional guitar lessons with an instructor can be pricey and it can also be very frustrating if you don’t progress quickly.
There are many misconceptions about learning how to play, many of which have prevented people from simply picking up a guitar and giving it a solid try. If you can’t afford lessons and you’re still determined to give playing guitar a shot, we’ve gathered some of the best tips that can help you along the way. Some of these tips are pretty obvious, while others are the result of plenty of years of experience.
Starting out with your New Guitar
Getting started doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. There are a number of newbie mistakes you’ll need to avoid in order to become a better player that can handle complicated pieces and different playing styles.
Whether you are taking a formal acoustic or classical guitar lesson, or whether you are doing it on your own, poor technique is the number one killer.
When you first begin playing, right away you’ll notice that pressing the strings against the fretboard is harder than you thought and it will make your wrist ache and hurt your fingers. Most players try to combat this problem is by hooking the thumb over the top of the fretboard in order to get more leverage.
This will cause you to press the strings using more of the pad of your fingers instead of using the fingertip. This is often referred to as the death grip because players do tend to end up with a pretty fierce grip on the neck of the guitar, which will restrict your reach.
The right technique involves placing the thumb on the back of the neck. This will force the hand to use the tips of the fingers, which is much better and more accurate when it comes to playing the right notes without muting any adjacent strings.
At first, it will feel awkward and difficult and your wrist will not have much strength. But if you stick with it, you’ll really appreciate the benefits further down the line. Just remember, keep the thumb placed on the back of the guitar’s neck.
Next, we recommend practicing sitting down and standing. If you’re going to follow through with your dream of learning the guitar, then one day you may end up standing in front of a crowd. Playing with the guitar standing involves a very different playing posture compared to playing sitting.
When sitting, the player tends to hunch over in order to see what their hands are doing, which is a bad habit you’ll want to avoid. Make sure you buy a good strap for your guitar and adjust it to a comfortable length and practice playing standing up, regularly.
Pro tip: Don’t start off practicing trying to learn how to play fast. Just don’t. Good guitar playing technique is all about hitting the right notes each time using accurate fingering. This is especially true for playing tricky bar chords or scales. You must concentrate on precise fingering. Once you learn how to play properly, the speed will come.
Poor technique is probably the biggest obstacle to fast playing. When you learn good technique, fast fingering tends to come automatically. Make sure to take your time and play slowly.
Experts have long figured out the best techniques for playing certain scales and chords. This means which fingers to use to play certain notes on the fretboard. Make sure you pay close attention to the correct fingering for a chord, in addition to the position of the hands on the fretboard for scales.
But what’s one of the most important things that you should keep in mind is the fact that there are best classical or acoustic guitars for beginners and for pros. You just have to figure out the right guitar that is tailored according to your skills and most especially your comfort.
Timing and Consistency can be Everything
1. Use a metronome. While in the beginning playing guitar to a click track can be a little difficult, the advantages really are immeasurable. Your sense of timing and rhythm will get an early boost. Make sure you set the beats per minute to something slow. The idea is to get used to playing at a steady tempo, in time.
2. Try not to avoid difficult chords. If anything, you should seek out difficult pieces and spend more energy and time perfecting your technique, otherwise, always avoiding these challenges can create a mental barrier making your ability to play extremely limited.
3. Practice consistently. Even if you can only practice for ten minutes, practice every day. Good technique will come from your fingers and your mind remembering how it all works, especially when it comes to tricky fingering. Make sure you set aside time daily in order to develop good playing habits. This can also work to build up playing calluses on the tips of your fingers.
4. You’re putting in the time and effort learning how to play, but maybe you’re pushing yourself too hard. When your fingertips start stinging and your muscles are screaming, it’s time to relax and take a break. It’s possible to damage ligaments and tendons if you ignore these dangers signs.
5. At times, it can be nice to just mute the strings using your left hand and practice creating a percussive rhythm using right-hand strumming. Choose an easy chord, focusing for a while on any plectrum style or finger picking that you’re learning.
The point is that right-hand technique is usually ignored in an effort to get the fingers on the left hand to do the correct thing. Learning how to play is a two-handed deal.
Final Thoughts on Playing Guitar
And there it is. Like we mentioned earlier, some of these tips on how to play guitar are common sense and pretty obvious, but most new players often make simple mistakes because they’re so enthusiastic about learning.
Just focus on getting the basics right and learn how to use the proper techniques from the beginning, this way you can learn how to become a great player instead of just a decent one.