How to Play the Guitar: Get Started Playing the Guitar Today

Expert Author Mark S A SmithWhen I started to play the guitar, I did things the hard way, trying to play chords and play songs. It was frustrating because my fingers just couldn’t find the right position to make the guitar sound good.

Since then, I’ve learned how to get started playing the guitar that’s much faster and much easier and I’m going to show you how you can play the guitar right away.

I love playing the guitar! I’m self-taught until a few years ago when I started working a music teacher. I bought my first guitar in 1989. But it’s only been in the past five years that I’ve really focused on playing the guitar well. And now, I’m pretty good. I can jam with good musicians and I can sit down and entertain myself for hours with my guitar.

Today, I’d rather play guitar than watch TV. Here’s why: after watching TV, I’m relaxed and I’ve wasted an hour. After playing guitar, I’m relaxed and I’m an improved guitar player.

A DIFFERENT WAY: FORGET THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR

How I got to play today was a different route from the way most guitar teachers teach guitar. Most guitarists start out with an inexpensive acoustic guitar and immediately try to play songs with chords.

Here’s the problem: cheap acoustic guitars are very hard for a first time guitarist to play. The strings are too thick. The neck is too big. Your fingers don’t have the strength to get a good sound.

The truth is, most beginning guitar players have a cheap acoustic guitar lying around somewhere in the house. And that inexpensive guitar is keeping them from being a guitar player.

So don’t start off with a cheap acoustic guitar, take a different approach.

ELECTRIC GUITAR TO THE RESCUE

It’s better to start playing with a good electric guitar. This will get you going quickly and comfortably to inspire you to keep practicing until you’re good enough to play with other musicians.

Go to a guitar store, such as Guitar Center and pick up a used electric guitar for about $300. That’s the price where you can get a decent guitar that that will play well and sound good. A professional guitar shop will make sure the guitar “action” is adjusted to play easily. I suggest you forget about the “starter guitars” because they’re usually not easy to play.

I don’t recommend buying a used guitar from anyone other than a professional guitar shop. You don’t know enough about guitars to be able to pick one out that you can play well. The guitar shop wants your business for the rest of your life as a musician, so they’ll make sure you get what you need.

Most people start with an acoustic guitar because they don’t need a guitar amplifier to play. Because electric guitars need a guitar amplifier that doubles the cost of getting started.

That’s not a problem today because you can run your electric guitar through your iPhone, iTouch, or iPad and get guitar effects worth thousands of dollars for $30 (more about this in another post). You can even get a guitar tuner ap for your mobile device for a dollar.

You’ll pay more for a cheap guitar tuner for your acoustic guitar then for the cool guitar applications. Just plug in your headphones and you’ll think that you’re playing in front of a cranked Marshall stack.

FORGET THE CHORDS

Before you try to make her fingers contort into positions called guitar chords, get your hands strong.

Strengthen your hands by just playing scales. I know, that sounds boring! Yet if you will sit down with your guitar for 15 minutes a day and teach your fingers how to move, in two weeks you’ll have much more finger strength, dexterity, and control to easily form guitar chords. If you don’t do this, you’re going to be frustrated and stop playing the guitar. This is what it takes to play guitar fast.

STRONG FINGERS FROM SCALES

You don’t have to play standard scales, all you have to do is move your fingers to make them respond to your mental commands, getting stronger in the process.

Start with your hand at the neck of the guitar and your fingers on the biggest string (that’s the E string), and pluck the string while pushing down on the string with your finger, but only hard enough to get a clean sound. This is called fretting the string and it does cause many new guitarists to “fret” about playing the guitar.

With your thumb behind the guitar neck about in the position where it is behind your middle finger, clamped down on the string. You don’t have to squeeze the neck, only press hard enough so that the string rests on the metal fret and makes a nice clean sound when you pick it lightly.

Start with your index finger, then to your middle finger, then to your ring finger, then to your pinky, and reverse the direction. Go slowly, making sure that you have a nice clean tone for each string.

Then move to the next string, and repeat. Move to the next string and repeat until you’ve gotten to the smallest string.

Then starting with your pinky, moved to your ring finger, and so forth so that you practice moving your fingers up and down, and down and up. Work your way back down to the big string.

Move your hand up a fret and repeat the process until you get all the way up to the 12th fret, that’s where there usually is a double dot as a fret market.

Now reverse the direction and go back down until you go to the get to the first fret.

That’s enough for the first round of exercises.

REPEAT

Do this for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. Over two weeks your fingers will gain strength and you’ll increase the dexterity so your brain will know how to move each finger. Now you can start to comfortably form chords. (More on that in another article.)

I learned an awful lot from a downloaded guitar course that I could watch on my computer. It cost less than an hour with a private instructor. I suggest that you check it out. http://playtheguitar.biz

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