You’ll need to press the strings down firmly to ensure they ring out well. One of the toughest parts for beginners is ensuring you aren’t “muting” the strings that you aren’t fretting (credit natasha at www.dresshead.com). These small touches get programmed in to your fingers after hours of time, so don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on getting the best sound out of your guitar.
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
If you are practicing regularly, like you should be (at least once a day) be sure to change your guitar strings once a month. You will be amazed at how much of a difference in sound quality a fresh pack of strings will make. You don’t need super expensive strings. When I was starting out, I got by quite happily on my local music store’s house brand of strings that cost about $4 a pack.
Acoustic: I recommend a Yamaha solid top acoustic guitar. This guitar plays just as good as some that are many hundreds of dollars more expensive. It can be difficult to manufacture quality acoustics at low prices due to the importance of a solid top finish. When I was in college I scratched together the cash to buy a handmade acoustic guitar that was over $1,000 (I won’t mention the brand) but that guitar was nowhere near as good as this Yamaha.
Alright, are you ready to learn your first guitar chord? It's called an E minor. There are two basic types of chords you'll come across, major and minor. Major chords don't have anything after them, ie we just call them G, or C, or E etc. For minor chords however, we abbreviate the minor into just 'm' and add that onto the end of the chord. So, Em.
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.
When you play the right note or chord, you will hear it. It will be a pleasant sound, it will be clear and won't have any blocked string sounds (unless it needs to, but you'll get to that later). To play a note or chord correctly, you have to get your fingers in the right position and press as hard as you can on the frets; it will become a habit if you practice enough.
After you have selected a style and a teacher, you may want to keep some extra questions in mind for your first guitar lesson. An in person lesson can be very valuable, if you show up, and if you do the work that the instructor gives you for when you are not meeting. One of the greatest methods of improving is to consistently play. Play multiple times a week, get those practice repetitions in.
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.