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Guitar for Beginners

So you have decided to learn guitar, there will be many who will either encourage or discourage you to play, just always keep in mind that this is what you have decided and let the music come out of you.

Music is one of the most beautiful forms of expression; it can make you feel immensely happy or terribly sad. Music also have its enormous advantages and will clear your mind in foggy situations, It has been said that Einstein played violin for 10 minutes before working, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but what it is true is that music will increase your motor skills, and you’ll have a clear mind to work and a more sensitivity when listening.

OK so back to the guitar. As a beginner, you will find that what you just perceived as a regular instrument, in fact, has a brilliant technique and guitars vary in size, weight, materials and styles, although classical guitars might look the same they actually aren’t and perhaps you’ll probably get lost before beginning.

Getting Started

You have now perhaps what it’s needed the most, and that’s desire to learn. Find the best way to learn from you, maybe you can find a teacher who can teach you after school or in the weekends after work, depending what your situation may be, a teacher is not the best for you, there tons of written courses, videos, audio and even online programs that will help you achieve outstanding guitar skills. The many advantages of these courses are that they won’t charge you by the hour, they will certainly go to your own pace, and you can play, pause or rewind whenever you feel the need to. You can also practice whenever you have the time without committing to a daily or weekly schedule.

Learning by yourself can be a little daunting especially because you don’t know where to start. Many people give up guitar at this point because they feel it’s too hard, they don’t see any progress or just don’t know what to practice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, search online and learn everything you can in regard of your instrument.

Try at home methods instead of online ones; it’s easier to invest in a good course with DVDs and written content than an online subscription that will charge a monthly or yearly fee for content that you’ll probably find elsewhere for free. Stick to reputable sites and make sure you are learning quality content.

Time to get a guitar

First thing you need to do is to decide whether you want to buy an electric guitar or an acoustic one. It all depends on the style of music you want to learn. My first guitar was an electric guitar which is also a convenient option for a first guitar; strings are thinner and easy to press and if you don’t have the money to buy an amplifier there are other options for you to listen to what you are playing. There are pocket amps that you can use with headphones and you won’t disturb your neighbors with your playing.

Always have patience when buying a guitar, you’ll probably won’t enter the store and find your guitar soul mate. Just remember you don’t have to buy the guitar that day. Check other stores, compare prices and find the guitar that truly suites you. The internet is a potent source to find information on guitars, use it to your benefit. Professional and honest store employees will advise the best purchase according to your needs, don’t let anyone rush you into buying something you are not sure you want.

You do not have to be an expert guitarist to get a decent price on a guitar; you just have to resist the temptation when entering the store filled with all those beautiful guitars waiting for you to take them home. There is always of course the option to buy a used guitar. Check eBay and your local newspaper listing to find a quality guitar, in good condition for a decent price, if you are on a budget. There are also many brands that offer beginner guitars at remarkably reasonable prices. Mostly they will be electric guitars and some even will come in a combo with a small practice amplifier.

Whether you get an electric or an acoustic guitar get all the necessary gear to play like:

  • Guitar Picks: Always go for medium when learning, that would be a standard size and shape to give you a solid sound. Medium picks will work both well on electric and acoustic guitars, thin picks will work right on acoustic but not so much on electric. Again this is one accessory that you have to try and find the one that’s best for you and your sound.
  • Guitar Tuner: There are many tuners on the market nowadays that provide a reliable, user friendly tuning experience. Chromatic or electronic tuners are the most popular tuners in the market; they are intuitive and will tune your guitar with extraordinary precision. Most tuners contain a microphone or an input jack where you plug in electric instruments, and there are others that are exceptionally practical and widely used that are just mounted by a clip on the headstock (the part where the strings are) of the guitar. Clip-on tuners do not use a microphone, so they ignore background noise, allowing them to be used efficiently in loud surroundings. There are several guitar tuner apps available for smartphones, both on Android and iOS. Gibson launched an extremely useful app that not only contains a tuner but a metronome, over 30 chord charts, lessons and exclusive Gibson content. This app is available for iOS and Android devices, it’s free to download and install.
  • Guitar Case: This is an extremely valuable item to get. A case protects your guitar and helps you transport it wherever you go. There are many kinds of cases from different prices and materials. Soft cases or Gig bags are the least expensive of the choices; therefore it offers little protection for your guitar. It is typically made of nylon fabric and closes with a zipper, and some may have a lighter layer of padding for extra protection. A gig bag is light in weight, low-priced and is better than nothing. These bags often have backpack-style straps, which are extremely convenient for carrying your guitar from place to place. Some also feature external pockets for storing music, tuners, capos, picks etc.
  • A Hard-shell Case is the typical strong guitar case made of wood or fiberglass. A hard-shell case it’s generally made of a padded or plush covered interior and a snug protected fit for your guitar. The hard exterior and snug fit provide excellent protection against knocks and bumps and has strong support in case of accidental falls or crashes. A disadvantage of hard-shell cases is that they are heavy to carry; most won’t feature straps so you’ll have to carry them with a handle (suitcase style) and require some effort to manipulate. They don’t include outside pockets for music. However, they usually feature a small interior compartment, big enough for small accessories. A hard case for either an electric or acoustic guitar is best because the protection is higher.
  • A Capo: Short for capotasto this accessory is used on the neck of a guitar that can also be used on mandolins and banjos and is used to raise the pitch of a guitar so you can play in a certain key. A capo can act as a third hand when needed. There are many designs of capos; the most common capos in the market are made of a rubber-covered bar that clamps down the strings of the guitar. This same kind of capo is sold in assorted shapes and sizes for different instruments.
  • A Metronome: This is a device that produces steady, metrical signals (clicks, beats) set in beats per minute. The metronome is used to assist them maintaining a steady measure as played by performers.
  • An Amplifier: If you get an electric guitar this accessory is vital to your playing. The amplifier or guitar amp is an electronic speaker designed to magnify the electrical signal of an electric guitar through a loudspeaker. Most guitar amplifiers can add electronic effects such as distortion, overdrive, echo and chorus. These effects can also be achieved with the use of effect pedals. Amplifiers come in different wattage's ranging from 30 to 100 watts, increasing the power of an amplifier augments its volume. Practice amps go from 10 to 30 watts and are more than enough for a living room / bedroom environment or for a small gig. So if you are not hitting up the stage soon, I would suggest you start with one of those.
  • A guitar strap: This accessory may or may not be an optional one. A guitar strap is mostly a band of fabric, synthetic or real leather. It is design to hold a guitar from shoulders, at an adaptable length to fit the best position for the guitarist. A guitar strap is fastened to the guitar by strap buttons, these strap buttons are fixed to the guitar by screws and come pre attached to nearly all electric guitars, Acoustic guitars will have one or two button straps, and sometimes they have to be installed by a professional luthier at the request of the player. For a better hold strap buttons can be replaced with “strap locks,” which attach the guitar to the strap more firmly.

Getting to know your guitar

During your first lesson, your professor might teach you the parts of the guitar. If he doesn’t; it doesn’t mean he is a terrible instructor, but I would advise that you try to learn as much as you can on your own and when in doubt ask your teacher, there are many things that your teacher could forget to tech you, not because they are not essential but because they can be so basic people tend to forget them.

Time to rock

First of all learn and get used to “guitar lingo”. You will see many new words that might confuse you, my advice to you is. That you read all you can about guitars, pick up a magazine, a book or watch others play, ask questions, know your gear, the parts of your guitar and the basics of music (here’s where Maria Von Trapp comes in handy).

Don’t be afraid or put off by a word you don’t know, look it up, learn, and get yourself thoroughly immersed in music. Everything will be easier, and your lessons will make more sense.

  • Tablatures: The first lesson you should learn is how to read TABS or Tablatures. A TAB is a method of musical notation representing instrument fingering rather than musical tones and it’s the basic way guitarists write out music instead of the formal music writing called Standard Notation. You can learn both of these notation methods if you want, but Tabs are the easiest way to get you started. Learning TABS is extremely easy and once you get the hang of it you’ll be playing right away! Run a Google search on How to read guitar TABS, you will find a lot of lessons and TABS of your favorite songs.
  • Take it slowly: Get used to the feel of your guitar; practice your finger exercises don’t rush into learning advanced stuff when you haven’t even finished the basics, moving forward from an uncompleted lesson is a terrible way to start. Taking it slowly, will send you well prepared to the next lesson. Missing the fundamentals is the fastest way to develop poor habits and these habits are the principal enemy of guitar students. Mastering the basics before moving on to the next new and exciting lesson.
  • Hand and Finger Exercises: You have to develop speed in your fingers in order to be able to change chords fast, locate the strings and know the best position to play comfortably. Starting with finger exercises can be a little tedious at first but the more you practice the faster you will pass that point, you will have the speed and coordination needed so changing chords will become easier and faster for you. Another concern among beginners is hand and finger discomfort. This pain can be either in your fingertips, fingers or in your hand from stretching it out. You will experience pain at some point, and this is because you are using your hands in new ways and your hand muscles aren’t strong enough. You have to strengthen your muscles to reduce pain, it’s like when you haven’t exercised for months, you go to the gym, and have sore muscles for days! That is exactly what’s going on in your hand; you need to warm up your hands with finger exercises just like an athlete before a competition. You will also develop calluses on your fingertips from the friction of the strings, this may hurt for a few days, but the more you practice the faster the pain will go away. Great guitar playing comes from the understanding of the left and right hand. Both hands should connect with the strings at the appropriate moment otherwise your sound will come out messy.

Strumming

Strumming might look extremely easy, but it certainly has its technique. To get used to strum with a pick and give your hand a feel of your movement, try strumming up and down for a few times, then try down strokes, then upstrokes and finally play one string at a time up and down for several times. This will help you locate your strings and relax your hand for fast strumming.

Practice

Practice makes perfect and in this case is absolutely true. Many students don’t practice as often as they are supposed to. Therefore, the exercises become tedious and get stuck in a rut and get so discouraged by all the process that quit all together. Every musician you meet will give you that advice. Even if it doesn’t look like much it truly is the best advice anybody can give you when it comes to learning music.

Learning to play the guitar is about motor skills, memory and eye-hand coordination, you need to develop and improve these skills in order to become an accomplished guitar player. My advice is that you practice at least 10 to 15 minutes every day; here it’s more about the quality than quantity. It’s a 100 percent better If you practice for 15 minutes every day truly focusing on what you are doing, than to practice for an hour once a week. You are developing finger speed and memory, and that comes by consistent, continuous practice. Be persistent; prepare for hard work in the end it will have its reward, practice regularly to get results. Within a month or two you will be playing your favorite songs, and that’s when the fun truly begins.

Don’t lose motivation

In the beginning learning to play the guitar won’t be easy. Probably it won’t sound remarkably harmonious at first (not to say terrible), and you’ll feel like you lack the coordination needed. Your fingertips will hurt and sometimes after numerous hours of practice you will feel like you are not getting the results you want. Try to avoid showing your family every step of the process as they might get tired of listening the same poorly played a bit over and over and they may not be as flattering as they were after weeks of daily practice. It’s better practicing where you can’t disturb anyone, and of course nobody can disturb you. It’s terrible when you are finally getting somewhere with you guitar, and there’s a knock on the door.

Set small short-term goals that won’t take you so long to complete. Try to learn a song and divide it into sections, learn the first part, then the second and so forth, don’t try to rock that solo from the beginning.

Maintaining your enthusiasm is essential to keep playing, we’ve all started where you are now, even the best guitar players (name your favorite) started somewhere, keep playing to get where you want, don’t let anyone discourage you if things don’t sound right at first. Don’t give up.

Listen

Listening is an extraordinarily valuable skill, and it will help you become a better player. Listen to your favorite tunes, try to find out what they are doing, what kind of guitar they are using, are they using distortion or other effects? Are they strumming or picking? Find out all you can about the song you are listening, it will help you identify the sound for you to play later.

Listen to yourself as you practice. Are you out of tune? Can you hear if you are doing something wrong? Are you pressing the strings correctly? This and many other questions will arise when you listen to yourself play; the answer is your progress when playing. There is always room for improvement.

There are some amplifiers that will allow you to plug your mp3 player to the amp and play along. This is an incredibly convenient tool to have and use as it will help you improve your timing and sound. Try to imitate your favorite recordings to train your ear. This will significantly improve your playing and musical sense. Learn songs by ear, playing without any tabs or notations is a fantastic way to develop detailed listening skills, learn a variety of techniques and build a more extensive repertoire.

Always enjoy what you are doing

Find someone who makes your learning entertaining, enjoyable and patiently answer all your questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to learning. If you learn on your own remember to keep things entertaining, don’t skip a lesson and take breaks from playing, sometimes it’s best to return to a challenging task once you have rested a little.

Remember that it was your choice to learn to play guitar, it is your wish to become a formidable player. You are learning it because you like it, it’s something that you find fascinating, and it’s for your own enjoyment. The world it’s not going to end because you can’t master (yet) that chord progression. So don’t forget to have fun. The guitar is a beautiful instrument and once you get a full understanding of the tabs, notations, exercises and you practice (I can’t stress that enough) You will enjoy it so much that you won’t even remember how difficult was for you to start.

References


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