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How can you teach yourself guitar?

Updated on March 4, 2014
What type of music do you want to play?
What type of music do you want to play?

Learning guitar is a really awesome skill to have, the guitar is undoubtedly a cool instrument with it being a key part of lots of modern music right from jazz to death metal. Most guitarists will have had tuition to learn how to play, however it is totally possible to teach yourself. I know for fact it's possible because I have done it myself!

Before you start strumming

Do you have the right equipment? By teaching yourself guitar you are relying on your own motivation and to keep that motivation going you will want to be learning music that you enjoy listening to and thus playing. The guitar you have should suit that style. If you like metal or punk rock then an acoustic will not be much good, or if you enjoy the Beatles for example then there is little point getting a flying V or ESP. Go to a music shop and pick your first guitar very carefully which matches the style of music you want. Also make sure you have the right accessories like reasonable picks,or a guitar cable that is more than a metre long. It is small things like that which can irritate you whilst learning hamper your performance and mean you don't want to pick up your guitar and play. Which brings me nicely to the next section.

Practice is key

Before you throw yourself into the world of guitar you need to realise that you are not going to become Jimi Hendrix in a month, learning guitar is a continuous process which takes years and years. You may feel like you are no longer a beginner after a year of practice, however it is a long process you need to put effort into.

This effort needs to be every/most days of an hour a day practice, this doesn't need to be all in one go, hence why it is important to have a guitar you want to pick up and play. If you have 10 minutes before you need to leave the house or whilst waiting for dinner to cook these are the kind of times that you want to just practice. A lot of learning guitar is muscle memory, a professional musician isn't thinking about each individual note they are hitting they have it almost as a second nature. The only way to do this is practice. In that respect learning guitar is very similar to learning to ride a bike, you can think about it as much as you want but the only way to learn is practice/

What should I learn?

There are various schools of thought in relation to teaching yourself guitar. Some people say that you should spend most of your time learning technical knowledge such as lots of chords and scales, these are very useful and allow you to understand a lot more about what music is comprised of, however they can be just a little bit boring and leave you feeling that you are not actually getting anywhere.

The other main idea is that you should just learn songs and riffs that you enjoy, this approach is much more fun however it can leave you feeling later on that you don't really know much about actual music.

So the best thing to do a mixture. Learn songs from bands you enjoy but also learn the basic chord shapes (E,A,E,C,G) and a couple of pentatonic scales (These are what comprise pretty much all rock solo's).

Maybe one day you can be like this
Maybe one day you can be like this | Source

How on earth do I learn this?

When learning guitar it is a good idea to learn how to read a system called Tab, this is how a lot of guitar music is written and it allows anything from really simple too insanely complex music to be written in a format that is easy to understand. Here is an example (Most tab you see on the internet will be typed out as well).







Each of the lines represents a string. The top line is the thinnest string (The High E string), the bottom line is the fattest string (The Low E string). The strings are labeled bottom to top as EADGBE, these are the notes the strings will sound when you play them open (just plucking the string without touching the neck), a good way to remember this is the silly rhyme; from thickest to thinest: Eddie Ate Dynamite Goodbye Eddie.

Then you simply read the tab left to right, each number represents the fret on the neck that you should play on that string, Like the small little solo I have written first on the tab you would play 12321 on the relevant string. When the numbers are in line with each other then it is a chord, like the 577 which is a power chord.

If you search on Google you can find almost any song in tab format which allows you to learn most songs with a little perseverance.

An easier way to learn a song is a video tutorial, there are lots of tutorials on youtube for most songs. A brilliant tutor on youtube is Marty, he explains songs very well and in detail and has a large library of videos so will definitely find something for your style.

By learning guitar yourself you have much more freedom over what you learn, and with so many resources available on the internet you can find almost any information or advice you need very quickly and easily.

Good Luck and most importantly have fun

Thanks for reading this hub and I hope that you have lots of success teaching yourself guitar, it's a really cool skill to have. Playing a guitar is a skill that you have for life, its like riding a bike at first its difficult and laborious however once you are going then you have opened up a whole new world of possibilities. However don't forget that playing guitar is mean to be fun and that is the most important thing, enjoy yourself.


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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, I get students that have tried to learn the guitar, and it always amazes me the stuff they do. I believe anyone should be able to learn the guitar but what do I know.