If you just want to learn a few chords to strum along to some songs, then learning to play the guitar really isn't that hard for most people. Many students are able to learn a few chords and get a decent strumming pattern going after a few weeks. If you've had prior experience playing an instrument, you can expect to pick it up after just a few lessons.
Learn the difference between chords and single notes. Chords occur when you play two or more notes on different strings simultaneously to create one unified sound. These are what make up the "rhythm" portion of acoustic music. Single notes are used more for solos and occur when you play a single note at a time. Both are skills that you must become proficient in when learning to play the acoustic guitar.[4]

The reason I gave you Em and Am first was because those two chords are among the easiest for a beginner to wrap their fingers around. However, the three chords we’re going to look at now, G, C, and D are all incredibly important chords on the guitar, and together they are the three major chords in the key of G major. If you want to learn to play guitar, you need these chords!
In 1977, I studied at the Guatemalan National Conservatory of Music with Professors Alejandro Herrera and Rene Abularach on Classical guitar. I also studied harmony and composition with Igor de Gandarias, Juaqin Orellana and Jorge Sarmientos. In New Orleans, I took private jazz guitar courses with steve Masakowski and Hank Mackie. In 1983 I started my own Jazz band, “Acoustic Ensamble”, a band that I shared with well known international musicians like: Carlos Gomes, Fernando Perez, Bryon Sosa, Miguel Angel Villagran, Igor Sarmientos, Alfredo Caceres, Antonio Cosenza, German Giordano, Rolando Gudiel, Roberto Abularach, Auri Ruiz, M ... View Profile

    I'm a performing guitarist in Dallas, TX.  I play jazz more often than not, but also have experience playing many other genres (including alternative/experimental rock, blues rock, progressive rock, 19th century classical, 20th century classical, and ambient music).  Some of the musicians I have played with have ties to jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, and Miles Davis.          I lived in Denton for 7 years while attending UNT, where I gained tremendous experience learning from and playing with others.  Additionally, while at UNT, I took class ... View Profile


Minutes 30-60. Practice making the basic 5 shapes. This is probably the hardest part. You gotta put your head down for 30 minutes and remember the chords that are demonstrated below. Once you start getting these shapes down, adding to your portfolio will be easy. You can even experiment with adding and removing fingers– you’ll find a lot of cool sounds here and you’ll continue to discover these for years to come.

Learn how to read tabs. Tabs will have six lines that represent your strings, along with numbers that designate where you should be placing your fingers. The numbers represent the fret in which you need to hold the string down. A 1 means the first fret, a 2 means the second fret, and so on. Numbers in a progression mean that you hold down the first individual fret and pick the note, then move to the next one, and so on in succession. Numbers on the same vertical line are meant to be played together simultaneously as a chord.[9]
Try listening to different styles of music for inspiration as you learn to play. If you're trying to learn to play by ear, listen to the blues and try to mimic that sound. Blues progressions are especially great for learning to play guitar because it's built on the basics of music theory. Once you learn those progressions, you can start practicing them in different keys, as well.

Strum with loose, relaxed motion.[7] Strumming consists of downstrokes and upstrokes in various combinations, striking all the notes of the chord evenly and rhythmically. Use your wrist to practice smooth up and down motions. Keep your elbow in tight towards the guitar and sweep the pick down all the strings. Your elbow should not move very much, as you strum mostly from the wrist.


The guitar is a remarkably hackable instrument for a million reasons that will be revealed to you as you spend more time with it. As you go along in your journey you’ll find a million shortcuts and fun ways to learn fast. I’ve rarely heard any of this stuff from guitar teaches, so beware, trust your instincts, and learn from people who can show you where you want to be.
Manage the finger pain. There'll be a point at which things will seem bleak: you can't quite get to each chord as fast as you want, your fingers are killing you, and it seems easier to put the thing back in its case. The reason most guitar players stop playing a few weeks in is that it hurts. After a couple of months and years of playing, callouses will build up on the fingers of your fretting hand that will greatly reduce the pain of pushing down the strings for long periods of time. Everyone who learns to play the guitar has to deal with sore fingers at the beginning. Learn to love the pain and associate it with everything that you love about music and the guitar.
Position your fingers on the neck. The dots on the chords represent where you should hold down your fingers on the neck. For instance, an A major is played by holding down the string on the second fret on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string. An E minor is played by holding down the second fret on the 5th and 4th string. Hold the strings down until they are pressed against the neck of your guitar.[6]

Practice fretting the strings. The frets are the metal strips that run perpendicular to the strings that mark each note. To play a note, press your finger down between the metal strips, not on them. To say that you're playing the third fret means that you place your finger on the string in the gap between the second and third fret. If you hear buzzing, move your finger away from the lowest fret and closer to the higher fret. Hold the string down firmly so that it only vibrates between your finger and your strumming hand, with the tip of your finger doing the pressing.
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