First, obviously, get yourself a decent guitar. That doesn’t mean “expensive” guitar. Nowadays a decent playable guitar can be bought for under $150. If it’s an electric guitar you want, look into the Fender Squire models. If it is an acoustic guitar you are interested in then I would suggest an Ibanez or a Yamaha. Every guitar benefits greatly from a professional setup. Any musical instrument store should be able to provide a setup and you can possibly talk the salesman from where you get the guitar to throw it in for free. Next step would be a chord book with box diagrams showing finger placement. You don’t need to learn every chord in the book. Concentrate on the major chords ( A, B ,C , D, E, F, and G) and the Minor chords (A thru G). Then go to YouTube and type in the name of a song you like followed by the words “beginner tutorial”. There are dozens of options. Guitar Jams is a good one and Marty Schwartz is a good teacher. If you follow these steps you could be playing a song fairly well within a month a two. It is up to you as to the quickness in which you hear noticable improvement. It all depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate to practice. Practicing is the only way you will improve, and that is a non-negotionable fact. An hour or two of un-interrupted practice every day will move you along at a decent rate. Here is a mantra with bad grammar: More practice, More better!

Hi! Thanks for the article, its really encouraging having ones like this around. Okay, so I’m 16 near enough 17 and I’ve only just started practising about a week ago. So far I’ve practised around 3-4 hours a day and I aim to carry this on, maybe most certainly even more at the weekends. Guitar is something I’ve became mega passionate about and it’s really therapeutic through tough times at home. So I’ve been playing alot as I said. I really enjoy it! Like alot! Its really put a postive in my life right now and it’s changed me even though its only been a week! I’ve started off with acoustic, like everyone else, but I know my real passion is for electric but I don’t want to get one to soon. How long do you reckon it will take for me to gain an average understanding, enough to play electric? Fyi, I dont attend guitar lessons but my friend who does is lending a few tips? 95% of most of my knowledge is off youtube lessons and watching my idols perform though so I’m not sure how far I could go by doing that. But with my age I really feel as if I’ve waited to long to learn? My aim is to eventually be in a band and perform live. I love the energy and buzz of the idea of doing that. How long do you reckon it would take me to reach that point like I said before? Thank you so much for this article and I’m looking forward to a reply maybe! 🙂


Hey Emily – Good question. I’ll try to write a post soon about singing AND playing at the same time… it can be kind of tricky. The good news for you is that having a background in music/singing will be super helpful. An hour of practice every day is A LOT OF PRACTICE. As long as you’re practicing the RIGHT stuff, I bet you could be strumming and playing within a few weeks if not sooner. Again – make sure you push yourself during every practice session (if you only practice the same stuff over and over, you won’t make progress). If you haven’t already checked it out, drop me your e-mail here and I’ll send a copy of some of the guitar hacks that I’ve used (and that I teach my students). Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks! -Jake
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Buy the necessary accessories. If you want to play while standing, you’ll need a guitar strap to hang the guitar from your neck and shoulders. You probably also want to buy some guitar picks, which are very inexpensive. Both of these items can be found in any music store, or online. If an employee at a music store tries to sell you additional accessories (like capos, tuners, etc.), politely decline; you can purchase those later when you know your way around a guitar better, but for now, this is all you need.
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.
Wow! This post really seems to have helped a lot of folks get started with the guitar. It has been read by – I kid you not – millions of aspiring guitarists. Thank you! As many of you have noted in the comments below, no, I’m not selling anything here related to playing the guitar. My motivation to write this post was that musicians, and especially guitar teachers, can often make learning the guitar sound way too hard. It’s actually easy.
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