The Beginners Guide to Playing the Acoustic Guitar

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Learning acoustic guitar is an extremely broad topic. One that would fill many books no doubt. The following guide focuses on some of the most important aspects of playing guitar providing you with an excellent starting point. This guide was written for the right handed, absolute beginner using a steel string guitar. My apologies to all of you left handed guitarists in advance.

ABOUT THE STEEL STRING GUITAR

The steel string guitar is a masterpiece of musical instrument engineering. Before the steel string, the acoustic guitar was very limited. The guitars of old were very quiet when played, so much so, that a guitarist was not able to play along with other musicians as the sound produced was simply too quiet. In order to overcome this shortcoming, the steel string guitar was born. The steel string produced a louder sound, but also caused too much stress on the instrument because of the added weight. The body construction therefore needed to be altered to accommodate the heavier strings. These changes not only made the guitar stronger, but they also increased the life of the guitar.

GUITAR STYLES – WHAT STYLE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Guitars are available in a variety of different styles and sizes and it really depends on what is most comfortable and enjoyable for you. Popular guitar styles include the Dreadnought, Nex, Artist, Classic and Jumbo. Each guitar has its own unique look, feel and sound. The larger styles like the Jumbo and Dreadnought produce more bass and are more difficult to hold and play. The smaller models like the Nex and Artist favor the midranges and treble and are much easier to hold and play. The Classical guitar is a whole different animal. It can only be played using nylon strings and produces a sound that is noticeably different than steel string guitars. So if you aren’t sure what guitar style is right for you, then head over to your nearest music center and give them all a test drive.

HOW TO HOLD THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR

Holding your acoustic guitar is not an exact science. Everyone has different body types, finger lengths and there are a variety of different sizes and shapes of guitars, but here are some general instructions. Sit down in a comfortable chair and prop your right foot up on a stool or box. Rest the guitar on your right knee and you are ready to play.

HAND POSITIONS

The Left Hand

Try and keep your thumb behind the neck. This isn’t always possible, especially if you have large hands, but try your best. Wrap your hand around the neck of the guitar and arch your fingers so that they are at a 90 degree angle to the strings.

The Right Hand

Keep your forearm close to the body of the guitar and try only moving your wrist to strum. Many beginners like to strum using there whole arm but if you look at professional guitarists, you really do not see much movement in the arm. It is all in the hand and wrist.

LEARN HOW TO TUNE YOUR GUITAR

You can find free step by step guides and tools online to help you learn how to tune your guitar, or you could purchase a guitar tuner at any local music store. Make certain that you spend time learning how to do this. Head over to YouTube and search for videos on how to tune your guitar. It is much easier to learn by watching others.

LEARN HOW TO CHANGE YOUR STRINGS

Learn how to change your strings and change them often. I know the idea of changing your strings on your own is intimidating, but it really isn’t that difficult and eventually it will become second nature. There are a ton of lessons online that teach you how to change your strings. Again, head over to YouTube and perform a search there and you will find some very good lesson on this topic.

GUITAR MUSIC THEORY

Guitar music theory is where all of your scales, chords, progressions, notes and more come into play. It is such a huge topic and would fill many books all on its own. Music theory is extremely important to your growth as a musician and should not be overlooked. Many beginners frown upon guitar theory and completely ignore it. They would much rather take the short route and learn tablature and start playing their favorite songs. There is nothing wrong with learning tablature and playing your favorite songs, but don’t make that your main form of study.

One of the best websites I have found on this topic is: TheoryLessons.Com. I highly recommend you start there. The owner of that site starts at the very beginning and covers all the major bases. Your guitar is like a challenging puzzle and music theory is a key that will open up many new doors for you.

SHOULD YOU HIRE A GUITAR TEACHER OR LEARN ON YOUR OWN?

This is a very common question amongst beginners and is open for debate.

Learning on your own

With the right home study course, teaching yourself how to play is quite possible, assuming you are dedicated to working hard and practicing. Teaching yourself how to play will save you a ton of money in the long run and allow you to learn at your own pace. You also have the option to access the same information whenever you want and for as many times as you want. There are several excellent home study courses available that can be just as effective as hiring a a good teacher. Courses can cost anywhere from $30 to as much as a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality and content of the home study course.

Hiring an Instructor

Over time this option is expensive. Private guitar lessons, on average, can cost about $15 – $30 for a half hour lesson, and $20 to as much as $75 for an hour lesson, depending on the teachers experience and reputation.

Finding a good teacher can be a difficult task and you should choose one carefully if you decide to go that route. Even the most talented guitarists, that have been playing for decades, can make terrible instructors, so your criteria for choosing a teacher should not be based on experience alone.

A good guitar instructor can be an excellent investment. One of the most common problems a beginner faces is developing bad habits. A good instructor will help you recognize your bad playing habits and help you correct them.

The choice is yours. Only you can determine which options is best for you. Some of us simply cannot afford to hire a teacher, so the choice is rather simple. Others are simply unable to learn on their own and need the guidance and encouragement that a teacher can provide.

PRACTICE

Whoever coined the phrase: “Practice Makes Perfect”, knew what they were talking about. Practice as many days out of the week as you can for at least twenty to thirty minutes, more if possible. The more often you play, the faster you will learn. Be careful not to overdo it though and take breaks of course. Your brain can only absorb so much information before it needs a break and your hands and the rest of your body need time to recuperate as well. When you practice do not rush through any of your exercises. Twenty minutes of quality focused practice is much more effective than an hour of sloppy practice

About the Author

Ralph Serpe is Webmaster and found of : http://www.learn-acoustic-guitar.com. Visit today for more free acoustic guitar lessons.

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