Seven Step Process When Picking Up Guitar for the First Time

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When you decide that you want to play guitar there are some natural steps that you need to walk through to assure that you will be successful. They aren’t very complicated but they are necessary for the encounter to be pleasant and the more pleasant it is, the more likely you are to pick up the guitar for the second time, third time and so on.

Step 1 Pick an Electric or Acoustic Guitar Step 2 Make sure you know what music you want to play Step 3 Select books and CD’s that will support learning that music type Step 4 Make sure you get books that talk to you at your level of education on guitar Step 5 Pick up the guitar Step 6 Start at page one, not page 45 Step 7 Practice Practice Practice These steps are assuming you are going to be self taught. One word of caution, being self taught is very difficult and often frustrating, make sure you give yourself time to learn what you are studing. These steps will be discussed Step by Step in detail. Follow the steps and you might be off to a good start.

Step 1- Picking the Electric or Acoustic Guitar

Before you can start to play guitar you have to have one to play. This means you need to have a pretty good feeling about what type of music you are going to want to play. Do you want to play rock or do you want to play acoustic so that you can accompany yourself when you sing? You need to know this before you borrow or buy your first guitar. After you have decided these things you are then ready to look for a guitar. Make sure you guitar feels comfortable in your arms. Make sure you can wrap around it without it feeling too bulky or small in your arms Make sure the guitar is structurally sound. Check for cracks, open seams, rattling or anything else that might not seem right such as warped wood. If you see any of this stuff don’t buy the guitar. Make sure the string action is low. This is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard. The lower to the fingerboard the easier it is to play. After you have determined that the guitar is sound you are then ready to buy it and get prepared to play it.

Step Two-What Type of Music Do You Want to Play?

Okay so you have a very general understanding of the music you want to play since this was one of the deciding points of the type of guitar that you picked out. In essence you will now start to narrow down music within that overall style so that you can then get a better clue what type of music and music books that you will need to support your overall desires. Think about the music you have selected. Say it is rock and you really want to be involved in a rock band. When you listen to the music what part do you see yourself playing? What part do you close your eyes and visualize yourself performing? Is it the lead guitarist who plays all the awesome riffs and notes up and down the neck of the guitar, screaming with bend strings and fingers flailing all over the fingerboard? Or is it the steady rhythm guitarist whose job it is with the drummer to keep the song together? Once you understand which part of the music you want to play you then can better target the books that you will need to get to study this particular type of music and this type of guitar. It is not difficult to narrow it down but making the decision in your mind makes it that much more final and starts you on the road to a specific journey which you should try not to deviate from. Although all guitarist eventually can play at least a bit of the other styles, you should start your learning with a very specific goal in mind.

Step Three- Picking the Instructional Tools to Use

Once you have determined the very specific type of music that you want to learn how to play you are then ready to pick the tools you will use to learn. This can entail many different things and only you know how you learn best. You can choose from books to CD’s to DVD’s and any one of them will be a good learning method if that is how you prefer to learn. The books that you can pick from are anything from strictly just mapping out chords for you with very little instructions or so specific that it’s hundreds of pages long. You can decide what you want when you go to the music store and check out all the instructional books. You will see all types of music books so take your time and decide which one will work best for you. CD’s are very effective if you like to learn through listening. The CD’s will have some voice instruction and then the sound that they are telling you to play so that you can see how close you are to sounding the way you should. DVD’s are probably the most effective, they not only show you but you can hear the sound as well, it is the best of both worlds. However, you get to choose what you want to use as your learning tool and as long as it works with your learning style you should be fine.

Step Four-Pick Instruction Books Right For Your Apptitude Level

You might have decided that you want to use books, CD’s or DVD’s but there are some other things you need to consider when you pick out your learning tools. It is very easy to think that you can pick one up and it will be what you want. You see a book with some instructions, maybe you see some songs you like so you decide to buy it. But wait. Make sure you pick the lesson plans that work for the level of apptitude you currently have. It is very easy to think that you can handle something advanced or anything that has familiar music in it, but that doesn’t mean that you can play it. You need to start off with begginner tools if you are a beginner and so on and so forth. You will eventually get to the higher levels but you have to start at the bottom. There are many lessons and instruction books/DVD’s which say very clearly that they are for beginners. That is what you are looking for. When you open the book and read the first few pages it should not be so over your head that you can’t figure it out. Good beginner books will walk you through every step of what you need to learn and that includes instructions which are easy to understand and then to put into action. If your book does not do that, if you have to think too hard before you MIGHT get it, look for another book.

Step Five-Pick Up the Guitar

So you have your music, you have your guitar, you have a place to get started and you decide that you want to pick up that guitar and get started. There are ways to do that right and ways to not do it right. It is in your best interest to get acquainted with the guitar before you start learning how to play it. So pick up that guitar and take a good look at it. Notice the strings and how they are strung from the bridge to the nut., Notice which tuning knob they are assigned to and how they are turned for higher or lower tuning. Go ahead and trace the string all the way up the guitar so you know its rightful place. Notice the frets, the spacing differs the further up the fingerboard that you go. The spacing gets thinner whereas a fret is substantially larger closer to the tuning knobs. Since chords are played within frets notice the stretching you will have to do to play a chord that covers many frets. It will take some stretching to get your fingers use to this spacing. Let the guitar sit in your lap. How are you most comfortable holding it? Make sure you can see the strings and frets when you look over and around the guitar, if you can’t you need to change your position. It is important for you to be able to see what you are doing. You comfortable? Good, now your ready to start learning.

Step Six-Start at The Beginning

Once you are prepared to start playing your guitar. Open your book up to get started; you will probably see a whole bunch of boring stuff in the first ten to twenty pages. This stuff probably includes things like tuning, names of the strings, names of parts of the guitar and their functionality (how they work). You might be tempted to skip it but don’t. Everyone wants to be an instant pro but most of these books and CD’s are put into a specific order for specific reasons. If you follow the path you will find that your learn in a logical manner. Each of the tasks grows on the one before and if you tend to skip around you will find that you miss a lot of information. So the rule of thumb is start at page one and learn what you can from each page before you move on to the next. Building blocks and fundamentals are some of the most important data you can learn–so learn it. How are you going to play guitar if you skipped the part that teaches you how to tune it? Everything has its own logical order so make sure that you follow it and follow it carefully.

Step Seven-Practice, Practice, Practice

Your guitar instruction book is get worn down from the crease marks you have made on the pages as you slowly go through it bit by bit. You pick up your guitar once a day, spend a little time on one page and then move on to the next trying to learn what comes next. Everyday you start a new chapter and try to move on to the next lesson. For many students who are self taught this is the biggest mistake they make. When you go through a teacher they give you a lesson plan for the week and you are expected to stay on that lesson plan and perfect it throughout that week. Most teachers will tell you if that lesson gets boring, go BACKWARDS through previous lesson plans and practice them over. The repetitive nature of good practice is imperative to not only sound good but to memorize. Not only does your brain memorize, but more importantly your fingers memorize. You start to get the feel for positioning, you remember the progressions and start to anticipate where your fingers need to go before you go there. Practice may not be the most fun you’ve ever had in your day but it is the only way that you will get good at your instrument, and this goes for any instrument not just guitar. At the end of the day learning guitar needs to include hours and hours of practice. If you are unwilling to practice, you are probably not going to be very successful at learning the instrument.

About the Author

The author is a former guitar teacher and lifelong musician who believes in the connection between music-body-soul-spirit-mind. For more on music and its interactions go to

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