The other day I was hanging out with a buddy of mine. He’s known that I’ve been playing guitar for well over a decade. (My Number one recommendation for learning guitar online)
He proceeded to tell me how much he admired what I could do and that he wishes he could learn how to play himself. I replied, “Well then what’s stopping you from learning?”
He proceeded with every excuse I’ve heard in the book, not enough time, doesn’t know where to start, lessons are too expensive, etc…
This was my reply.
Guitar obviously takes time and dedication, as does any new skill or craft. The thing that makes guitar so easy is that we now have unlimited online resources that guitarists had never had prior to this time. YouTube alone could teach you everything you need to go from knowing nothing about guitar to playing chords, learning songs and even soloing.
Having been an avid guitarist for quite some time now. If I were starting over from scratch here is what I would do, with the resources we have available today.
Decide what type of guitarist you want to be
The first step to learning guitar by yourself is taking a minute to define what type of guitarist you would like to be.
What I mean by this is do you wish to just learn to strum some chords on an acoustic guitar?
Are you looking to learn how to play Texas blues like Stevie Ray Vaughn?
Do you just want to learn a few songs to impress your wife or girlfriend?
It’s okay, whatever your reasoning is and whatever level you aspire to play at, you can! Others have done it and done it on their own, so you can too. Take a few minutes and think about what type of music inspires you.
What do you listen to that gives you chills and gets you excited? That’s probably the style of guitarist I would first aim to be. (Obviously, in the beginning, there are basics that you need to learn regardless of what type of guitarist you are trying to become.)
BUT, with that said, having a clear description of where you want to go will allow you to stay focused on finding the resources that will keep you going in the right direction.
What I mean by this, is if you are using a platform like YouTube. It’s easy to end up going down the rabbit hole of different videos for hours on end without anything really being accomplished.
I’ll show you how to avoid this in a minute, but for step 1, decide what type of guitarist you most aspire to be right now.
What type of guitar do you need?
This is usually another question I get asked frequently when someone is getting ready to start learning guitar.
This is why I asked you to first define what type of guitarist you would like to be. This is quite simple. If you find yourself listening to rock, and blues, or even metal for that matter, clearly you are going to want to have an electric guitar.
Now if you are looking to be a songwriter, and possibly a folk guitarist, or maybe you just love the sound of an acoustic guitar and the necessity of not needing to purchase an amp, and effects and all the bells and whistles, acoustic might be a better route for you.
Now, something you need to know up front… Repeat after me, really expensive gear will NOT make you sound any better than inexpensive gear.
This is a fun trap that many guitarists fall into. It’s easy to do too. Once you get going and start learning about all the possibilities guitar can offer gear becomes like a kid in a candy shop.
But, and this is a big BUT you don’t need a super expensive guitar to get started, and it won’t magically allow you to learn faster, or sound better.
Great guitarists can make a toy guitar sound good, and vice versa a new guitarist playing a 2 thousand dollar guitar won’t make it sound good, they just simply don’t have the experience and practice yet.
Don’t let guitar purchasing get you held up. My best recommendation is something that costs just a few hundred bucks.
There are very cheap options available(100 dollars or less) but the issue in my opinion with a very cheap instrument is the tuning.
It can be very hard to keep a cheap guitar tuned, and as a beginner guitarist, there is nothing more frustrating than playing a chord correctly and having it still sound terrible. So save up at least around 300 bucks to invest in a guitar.
Also, if you are going to be purchasing an electric guitar, you will need an amplifier as well to play through.
So you will need a little more to invest upfront, but I would say spend more on the guitar itself and very little on the amp for now.
They have very inexpensive practice amps available and in the beginning that is more than enough.
So, where do you start once you have a guitar?
In all honesty, no matter what type of guitarist you are inspired to become, all guitarists need to learn some basics to get them off on the right foot. Here is where I would start.
First I would figure out a way to devote 20 minutes a day to learning, that is a minimum.
I know people are busy and have lots of obligations and responsibilities. But, just like any new skill, you have to come up with a dedicated time.
I’ve known people who have even woken up an hour early before work to sip some coffee and play guitar! Not a bad way to start your day, in my opinion!
So schedule out a time to dedicate to guitar, it is better to practice a few minutes each day than 5 hours on a Sunday.
This is because of muscle memory and consistency. In the beginning, when you learn something new, repetition is key.
If you wait a full week, in between practice sessions you will spend more time relearning what you previously had. So think bite size practice sessions over eating an entire pizza at once.
Once you have chosen an allocated time to dedicate to learning guitar you need to decide what to learn.
For the first month, I would focus on learning very basic guitar stuff, like how to properly hold a guitar, the names of all 6 guitar strings, how to hold a pick correctly, where to place your thumb on the back of the neck of the guitar etc… these may seem like very elementary lessons but they are truly the building blocks of it all.
Don’t rush this. The guitar is a game of patience and consistency.
Now, where do you go to learn this stuff?
Start with YouTube! Simply go to YouTube and search “How to hold a guitar properly”, you’ll be flooded with videos on this, watch 2 of them and move on to learning the names of the strings. This is how it all begins. It’s 100% free lessons at your fingertips, all that is required from you is a little dedication and patience.
Once you have learned the basics, I would start learning how to play what is called “Open chords”.
These chords are foundational and once learned you could play enough songs to last you a lifetime. Really… So back to YouTube… search ” How to play open chords on guitar”, this will get you going in the right direction on this.
Now, you will get tons of lessons on this everything from where to place your fingers, to learning how to properly transition from one chord to the next.
This phase alone may take you 6 months. Don’t get discouraged, as with learning 3 of these chords you can already start playing some of your favorite songs 90% of the time.
Once you have learned the basic open chords and can strum and play them fluidly you have some decisions to make.
This is the point in self-teaching that people can find themselves going down YouTube rabbit holes, and plateauing.
Not only are there millions of different guitar lessons on YouTube, but there are also millions of every type of video imaginable.
It can become daunting of knowing what to work next, so this is the point in time where you should consider an online platform for guitar.
Now it’s not free, but you can get unlimited lesson courses that will keep you on track and progressing as a guitarist for the price of a large pizza.
Most platforms are like 19 bucks a month. Back in the day, you would have to go to a music store and take a lesson that could cost around 25 bucks for a half hour every week!
What can an online platform do for you?
Here is why I asked you, in the beginning, to decide what type of guitarist you wanted to become. Once you have the basics down, you can move on to specific styles of guitar you want to learn.
This is where all the hard work, in the beginning, pays off, you now can dive into learning to play in the styles that you love most.
Want to learn blues guitar, shred like a metal head, strum crazy patterns like Dave Mathews on an acoustic?
You can learn to do all of that in one spot, with guided courses that keep you on track and never guessing what to learn next.
I’m not going to get into the exact specifics of what is inside these online platforms as that would be another post entirely, I just want you to know that they are available and they can help you skyrocket your skill level from the comfort of your own home.
I highly recommend them for people who have done the work on their own for the first few months of learning and have stuck with it.
Learning to play guitar by yourself has always been possible.
A short few years ago you would have had to do hours of book study and ordering DVD instructional videos, listen to cd’s etc to learn on your own.
It was tough, as guitar learning is extremely visual. So if you really want to learn guitar by yourself now is the time.
Decide what type of guitarist you would like to become. Get a guitar, and start on YouTube. It really is that simple. Best of luck and most importantly have fun!
Comment below on what type of guitar you are going to be learning on first?