Try out different strumming patterns and rhythms. Once you're able to produce a good sounding chord, try strumming it at different tempos and rhythms. Rhythm is based on your strumming pattern, and how long you're holding your notes. Try a basic 1-2-3-4 beat, otherwise known as a 4/4. The number on the top represents how many beats there are in the measure. Try strumming up and down in different progressions to create a different sound for your rhythm. Once you get a basic rhythm down, you can start to incorporate quicker or slower strumming.
Minutes 60-600. Pick up the guitar everyday for 20 days for 30 minutes or so. You can do this while you do other things like watch TV or chit chat. Get your fingers used to moving around on the fretboard. Start jamming out some John Denver baby. Please do sing along. Eventually try to keep up with tempo of the changes in the actual song. Once you can change your chords on time, focus on improving your “touch” with your right hand. Strum the chords in a way that it adds texture to the recording (if you are playing along with the man himself.)
Learn barre chords. Barre chords, or movable chords, are extremely useful for starting to play songs. In a barre chord (sometimes shortened to "bar chord"), the index finger of your fretting hand "bars" all the notes at a single fret. To play an F, which is the barre chord in first position, you bar all the notes on the first fret with your index finger and play what is essentially the shape of the E chord moved one step up the neck, with your middle, ring, and pinkie.
Alright, now you know five chords. But what’s next? How do you keep moving forward and improving on the guitar? If you’ve made it this far, I highly recommend joining my free email newsletter. As my thanks for signing up, I’ll send you a free ebook with all the best chords for a beginner to learn to play guitar with. As well, you’ll receive a free video lesson once a week that will dig into a particular technique or idea on the guitar. It’s tons of fun, and you’ll learn lots along the way! Sign up below…
While there are in fact a number of songs you can play with simply the Em and Am chords, I know you're going to want a little bit more than just that. If you're still working on those first two chords, that's okay, they might take a bit to get comfortable with. Bookmark this page, work on the chords for a bit, and come back when you're ready for a few more. I'll still be here!
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.