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]
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.[8]
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.
To get good touch in your strumming hand, it’ll take longer than 10 hours. It’s about reps. Try to consider the amount of finesse you are hitting the strings with. Do a little research on palm mutting and other useful strumming techniques. If it sounds nasty at first, that’s cool. Your fingers and wrists will start to adjust. Focus on getting quality sounds out of the guitar.
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.

Once you have made it to your first lesson, there are some questions you should consider asking. Ask the guitar teacher about their experience. How long have they been playing? How long have they been teaching? What are they best at? What styles do they teach? What is their method of teaching guitar lessons? What extra resources can you use to further your learning? It is key to ask these questions and listen.

You do not need long fingernails to play guitar. In fact, it's best to keep your fingernails short! As for the callouses, these may be unavoidable. If you would like to avoid them as much as possible, ask your guitar instructor about lowering the action of your guitar (the action is the distance between your strings and your frets) so that the frets are easier to press down on.
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.[8]
3/4 Size Acoustic: I also have a 3/4 Scale Guitar in my apartment because they are awesome to sit beside your couch and just pick up easily and jam with. I bought the guitar a few months ago, and when I was playing it a concerned shopper came up to me and reminded me “that’s for kids you know.” I laughed. Fair enough, but I think little guitars are cool to have around the house, so if you do too (or if you have really small hands) perhaps this could be the guitar for you.

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!
Practice playing individual notes. Holding down a string and producing a decent sound can sometimes be more challenging than it looks. If you don't hold down a string hard enough, you'll get a muted note and if you hold down the string too close to the fret your guitar will buzz. Practice picking in an up and down motion on your string with the other hand. Continue doing this until you feel comfortable moving up or down the neck to a different note. Practice playing the notes back and forth until you become comfortable strumming.
In order to play your favorite song, you’ll need to learn guitar chords. Use the images and instructions below to learn how to play each chord. The ChordBuddy device can be used for assistance in knowing where to place your fingers In the images the circles represent where you will be placing your fingers (I=index, M=middle finger, R=ring finger, P=pinky). The X’s represent strings that you will not be strumming while the O represents strings that will be played without any frets.
Now many people are going to ask about other brands, like why don’t I suggest Gibson guitars? It really is a personal taste thing, and it’ll ultimately depend on yours. Perhaps by the style of music you play or the artists you admire. For me, Fender guitars represent the best in quality and feel. Many Gibson style guitars have fatter necks, bigger frets, are heavy, and feel and sound “muddy” to me, whereas the feel of a Stratocaster– light, slender, classic– feels, plays, and looks fast.  :)

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!
Electric guitar: Well the world of electric guitars is in some ways more complex, as there are all kinds of different looks and technologies. And it’s not good enough to just have a guitar, you need to buy an amplifier as well. I will just recommend mid-level stuff that’s worked for me based on my preferences, but if you like “stuff” and collecting gear, you’ll find playing the guitar to be a deeply satisfying hobby :)
Use tabs instead of sheet music. If you don't already know how to read music, it can take a lot of time to memorize and proficiently read sheet music. Tabs are an easier and more intuitive way to write music for beginners that doesn't require any formal education. Tabs will simply tell you where to put your fingers on a fret board and how to generally play a song.[8]

Okay, so if the diagram had O’s across the whole thing, then you wouldn’t even have to touch the fretboard at all, you would just strum it. However, this diagram has a couple of other marks on it, and those indicate where we need to place our fingers. In this case, they are on the 2nd fret of the 4th and 5th strings. The frets are the metal parts running perpendicular to your fretboard; they are what the string makes contact with when you press your fingers down. On the diagram, the frets are the horizontal lines. So count up to the second fret, and put your fingers down just behind the fret, like in the diagram.

The strings run between the headstock of the guitar, where they are affixed to tuning pegs that can be rotated to tighten and slacken them, and the bridge, where they're fixed to the guitar's body. On an acoustic guitar, the strings are fixed to the bridge with removable pegs, and on an electric guitar the strings are generally strung through an eyelet.


Private in person guitar lessons with a skilled instructor that is focused on you, your interests, and your progress is the most sought after experience and hard to replicate online. Plus, you tend to learn faster in person. On the other hand, online guitar lessons are quickly becoming popular. The selection of teachers is not limited to those in your geographical area and you can communicate via video in real time with your teacher in the comfort of your home. When filling out your request on Lessons.com, we recommend you select both online and local options, then compare your options and see what works best for you.


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
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I've seen so many guitar lessons where the instructor simply dives right in and begins teaching chords. Unfortunately, that assumes that the student's guitar is already in tune! Guitars are made out of wood, and wood reacts to our environment, be it hot, cold, dry or humid. As such, guitars frequently go out of tune, and they must be tuned to make them sound good. If you begin learning to play guitar on an out of tune guitar, it will not sound good to the ear no matter how hard you try, and as such, it will become discouraging pretty quickly.
I've seen so many guitar lessons where the instructor simply dives right in and begins teaching chords. Unfortunately, that assumes that the student's guitar is already in tune! Guitars are made out of wood, and wood reacts to our environment, be it hot, cold, dry or humid. As such, guitars frequently go out of tune, and they must be tuned to make them sound good. If you begin learning to play guitar on an out of tune guitar, it will not sound good to the ear no matter how hard you try, and as such, it will become discouraging pretty quickly.
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.[7]
After teaching guitar and music theory to thousands of students over past three decades, I thought that I had basically 'seen it all' when it comes to guitar instruction. Then I discovered Justin’s website, and man was I impressed! Justin’s caring spirit, attention to detail, vast knowledge base, and especially his lucid, laidback and nurturing style, allow students to fall in love with the learning process. You see, it’s not enough to simply find out how to play a few cool licks or chords. A truly great teacher will make you fall in love with the process of discovery so that you can unlock the best within you. Justin is one of these great teachers, and I highly recommend justinguitar.com to anyone who wants to tap into their best selves.
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