How to Play Guitar for Beginners: 11 Things You Should Know

man showing how to play guitar for beginners
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If you’re looking to learn guitar, you might be a little intimidated by the task in front of you. It seems like an impossible thing to learn guitar. The neck seems complicated, the strings clunk and twang when you play them, and there’s the challenge of tuning to figure out. 

Everyone faces those small challenges, though. It could take a week or two for you to work out those beginner’s kinks, but you’ll be happy you pushed through. 

We’re going to look at how to play guitar for beginners, giving you some insights into the things you should start working on right away. Let’s get started. 

1. It Feels Awkward for Everyone

Man playing guitar

Anyone who starts playing guitar feels a strain when they try to push their fingers down on the frets. On the other hand (literally), strumming feels strange and awkward. Nobody picks up a guitar and immediately plays with ease. 

So, our first tip is to accept that it’ll feel a little weird for a while. After a few weeks of playing, you’ll start to gain comfort with the practice. 

2. Learn Proper Positioning

Many people pick up an instrument and try to start playing it in the way that feels most comfortable. This is an intuitive way to do things, but it’s not the most effective for your long-term growth. 

Learn the proper positioning for guitar playing right off of the bat. Learn to place the guitar on your thighs while sitting, know where to hold your right and left hands, and start the process off right. 

Your muscles will adjust to those positions and they’ll feel normal in no time at all. 

3. Don’t Skip Basic Theory

“Music theory” is sort of a daunting term. In reality, though, it’s not too much more complicated than learning the alphabet. We get caught up thinking about professionals who understand complex theory and can apply that knowledge spontaneously. 

On the other side of things, you might know a few great musicians who couldn’t tell you the notes they’re playing. That might make you think theory doesn’t really matter. 

It’s important to know the fundamentals of music theory if you want to be a proficient guitar player, though. Take a small amount of time each time you practice to brush up on basic theory. 

4. Practice Often

Make sure that you practice almost every day when you start playing. Your sessions don’t have to be long ones, but they should be frequent. The more you repeat things in the early stages, the better they will solidify into your playing. 

Further, you’ll see a lot of progress in the early stages and that will inspire you to keep playing. Without practice, the progress won’t come and you might get deterred from the process. 

5. Learn Easy Guitar Songs

Teenager boy playing guitar

Something that makes learning guitar more exciting is knowing how to play a few easy songs. When you learn your first song, you start to appreciate the joy of playing an instrument. You can do the same things that your idols do, and it doesn’t sound half bad!

Ask your teacher to incorporate a few lessons on easy songs. If you’re practicing alone, watch some instructional videos on your favorite songs. 

So long as you know the basic chords, you can play a number of songs. 

6. Learn to Enjoy Playing

If you started an instrument in elementary or middle school, you might have a very serious approach to instruments. People often forget that learning an instrument is a mode of self-expression and that it should be a fun thing to do. 

If you’re not enjoying the practice, you would do well to think about why you’re not having a good time. Sometimes, it helps to take a few minutes each day to mess around on the instrument. 

Start using the skills you know to make something up, however simple it may be. Some of the most beautiful music is the simplest music, so there’s nothing holding you back from making art right away. 

7. Learn to Tune Right Away

This is essential. Many players fear tuning their guitars and never learn to do it effectively. You can invest in a tuner, and you should know how to use that device as soon as you get it. 

That said, you should also know how to tune your guitar by ear. This might take a little while to get the hang of. Ask your instructor to teach you how to tune by ear. 

When you can do that, you’ll be able to tune your guitar at any time, without the help of anyone else. 

8. Learn to Re-String Right Away

Tuning and stringing are two fundamentals that every guitar player needs. Stringing a guitar is a relatively simple process, but it seems complicated before you do it. 

Once you put that first string on, though, you’ll see that you’re capable of doing it. Each guitar is a little different, but your instructor can help you if your instrument is complicated to string. 

9. Be Realistic

The biggest hindrance to progress is an unrealistic expectation. If you think you’re going to be proficient in a month or two, take a step back. 

You might get very good over the course of a year, but that requires regular practice. Two years later, and you’ll be even better. In order to get that far, though, a person has to dedicate themselves to the practice and know that it takes time to improve. 

10. Master Basic Chords

Woman Sitting playing guitar

Generally speaking, the G, C, D, E, and A chords are the first that you’ll learn. If you know those chords, you’ll have the ability to play thousands of songs. Start to learn the variations of those chords, and you’ll be amazed at how good you sound. 

That said, you have to hammer those essential chords down before you start getting fancy. You’ll want to move forward, but know that those fundamentals will stick with you throughout your entire guitar-playing career. 

11. Work With an Instructor

Get guitar lessons if you want to improve. It’s as simple as that. You can learn to play guitar well if you have someone there to show you how to play guitar. 

Whatever level you’re at, there’s a guitar teacher out there who can give you advice on how to move forward. We’re here to help you with options for guitar lessons. 

Want to Learn How to Play Guitar for Beginners?

Hopefully, the ideas above gave you some good ideas on where to get started. If you’re still interested in learning more about how to play guitar for beginners, you’re in the right place. 

There’s a lot more to learn, and we’re here to guide you through the process. Explore our site for options on lessons, guitar maintenance ideas, and much more.