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Beginners Guide on How to Play the Guitar

When it comes to learning how to play the guitar, it’s important to understand that, there isn’t a one size fits all. Meaning, some people can just pick it up and play like Eric Clapton after a year, while others will never get the two hands to coordinate with one another and ultimately give up after a short-time.


There is no perfect way to learn, but there are some basics. Here is a beginner guide to help you learn how to play the guitar.


Why Should You Learn?

Whether you are planning on purchasing guitar lessons from a pro, or you will learn from an online video, the best part about learning the guitar is the incredible euphoric feeling you get.


It helps people focus, it helps people relax, and best of all, it’s just really fun and cool.


Finding A Guitar

This part should be a memorable experience for you. It’s like finding your first car. You can find guitars anywhere online including Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist and a plethora of musical instrument sites.


Or, you can go into a pawn shop, big box store or a musical instrument store and actually try out what you are about to invest in.


A beginner should start out with something affordable. You can find a good guitar for $100. But don’t be surprised to see others listed far above that price. Those guitars are for when you take your playing more serious.


Parts On The Guitar

So you checked out the guitar, held it, and it feels comfortable. You bought it, now you need to know the anatomy.


  • Neck
  • The neck is at the top and it houses parts like the tuning keys, the nut, and string pegs.
  • Tuning Keys
  • These are usually black, brown or white knobs that turn and tune the strings.
  • String Pegs
  • These are the metal pieces that hold the strings.
  • Nut
  • The plastic narrow strip, which the strings rest on.
  • Frets
  • The metal strips along the neck, that go up and down the whole fretboard of the guitar.
  • Fretboard
  • That’s the piece of woods which runs the course of the guitar with the frets.
  • Body
  • Bottom end of the guitar, which is what rests on your strumming leg.
  • Soundhole
  • The opening on the body, which will produce sounds.
  • Bridge
  • The black part of the guitar, where the end of the strings are held by. Typically glued.
  • Saddle
  • Thin white strip on the bridge, where strings rest on.
  • Bridge Pins
  • These hold the strings inside the holes.


Tuning Guitar

It’s highly recommended, that you get an electric tuner, which should calibrated at 440 MHZ so your guitar is in tune. A tuners cost anywhere from $15-20 and is a huge lifesaver.


There is one ear tuning method you could use, which is called “Open A Tuning.” You’ll still need to find a tuner and make sure the low (top string) E is in tune.


  • You go to the 5th fret, push your index finger on it, and hit both until they are in tune with each other.
  • Repeat the process for the next string, which is D. Finger on the A string, 5th fret.
  • Again, for the tuning of G, you repeat the step above.
  • Changing it up, because the B note is located on the fourth fret, you put your finger on the G string.
  • Return to the same pattern that you did to find A, to find high E. This is called: EADGBE


Holding Guitar

Find a comfortable and sturdy stool, and sit. Place the body of the guitar, if you’re right handed, on your right leg. Reverse if you are left-handed. Hug your arm around the body of guitar so it’s secure and close.


Strumming The Guitar

Pick placement is big but everyone has their preference. So whether you use your thumb and index finger or thumb and middle, just make you are comfortable holding the pick.


Note: The pick will slide, so develop a technique to keep it in place.


Downward strumming is typically what you learn first. The strumming motion is like a flick as you lightly snap the wrist using very little arch in your elbow. Think of the motion a card dealer uses to deal the players their card.


Upward strumming is after you are comfortable with the downward. Same flick of the wrist but going towards the ceiling.


And after you’ve mastered those strumming method, you’ll combine them together to get a different strumming pattern.


First Chords

Typically, you’ll learn the D, C, G, and E minor chords. There are songs with two chords, that are quite simple to learn. “About A Girl” by Nirvana uses E minor to G.


  1. E Minor Chord: A and D string on the second fret. Place middle finger on A string, and ring finger on D string. Strum lightly. Press down firmly.


  1. G Minor Chord: Middle finger on the low E string on the third Fret. Index finger on the A string on the second fret. The hardest is getting your ring finger down the high E string on the third fret. Press firmly, get used to chord and strum.


Playing guitar is all about practice, taking the time, and most importantly, patience. Anybody can play, regardless of age, sex, religion, etc.


Once you follow these steps, start looking up different chords and strumming patterns to elevate and challenge yourself. Playing guitar is a great activity, that has a tremendous amount of benefits that come from it. Keep practicing and you’ll be on your way to sounding like Jimi Hendrix.

About Stephen Vicino

Stephen Vicino is the founder of MusicExistence.com. He created this site to give talented musicians a voice and a way to be discovered.

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