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How to Play the Guitar for the Absolute Total Beginner

Updated on December 18, 2018
Guitar Wizard profile image

Music School Owner, Recording Artist, Guitarist, Composer, Performer & Educator. My goal is to make good music, make and keep good friends.

Nine Essential Beginner Guitar Chords

Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: A
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: A | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Ami
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Ami | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: C
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: C | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: D
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: D | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Dmi
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Dmi | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: E
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: E | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Emi
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: Emi | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: F
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: F | Source
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: G
Beginner Guitar Chord Lesson: G | Source

Yet Another How To Play Guitar From The Beginning Article

Do we really need another one of these how to play guitar articles? Well don't ask this writer his unbiased opinion. Seriously, there is so much out there on this subject, really good stuff for all levels of student and pro alike so why bother would be a fair question to ask. I'm glad you asked!

The problem is that so much of it is from total amateur non-teachers who haven't a clue about presenting information in a simple, articulate, informed way. The internet is crowded with thousands of so called lessons presented by anyone who can bang out a couple of chords and has access to a video camera and the internet. Trying to find the few gems through a ton of gravel can be a daunting task to say the least.

I'm confident you will my material useful but you should certainly look at other people's approaches as none of us are there for you in person. You might find one of us has an approach that resonates better with you.

I will be presenting the basics of learning to play the guitar from the absolute very beginning based on my 30+ years of performing teaching, running three music schools and publishing instuctional material.

YouTube Lesson:

The Nine Basic Must Learn Chords For Beginners to Learn First

The Most Important Chords for a Beginner to Learn First

There are many aspects to learning how to play the guitar, the first and foremost being chords.

Most of what guitar does in most music is play accompaniments using chords.

You'll find that these chords are used in country, rock, folk and pop styles of music.

The following video demonstrates finger by finger, fret by fret and string by string how to play theses nine must-know chords for every beginning guitarist.

These nine basic chords A, C, D, E, F and G major, and A, D and E minor are the basis for so much of the music that most of us are familiar with and when you start practicising them more than likely many of the combinations will sound very familiar.

Learn just these basic chords and you will be able to play literally thousands of songs.

Why G First?

Good question. This the way I've found most effective for most students. G tends to be a fairly easy chord to master. The logic is to play a chord you know well followed by one you are learning.

This is by no means the only way to approach learning these chords. Any combination works and should ultimately be tried.

A as the reference chord:

  • A-C
  • A-D
  • A-Dmi
  • A-E
  • A-Emi
  • A-G

D as the reference chord:

  • D-A
  • D-Ami
  • D-C
  • D-E
  • D-Emi
  • D-G

You get the idea. As you learn other chords such as the 7ths, incorporate them as well.

How to Efficiently Switch Between Chords

The following video lesson demonstrates a simple efficient way to quickly how to switch from chord to chord using the guide or target finger concept. The idea is that you you pick a finger to lead you to the next chord. This "guide" or "target" finger goes to the string and fret of the chord you are changing to first and the others follow.

There's more. To make this work you pick 2 chords and play each chord with a down and up strum four times. So that's down/up down/up down/up down/up. Without stopping, change to the next chord using the guide finger of your choice (this is where everybody stops but you won't) and add the other fingers as quickly as possible. Keep track of how many strokes it takes to add the other fingers and complete the chord. Then, without stopping change back to the first chord in the same fashion. By keeping track of how long it takes to complete each chord will give something to compare your progress from day to day. Try to play each pair of chords you choose at least 10 times.

Examples: G-C, G-D, G-Emi, G-Ami, C-F, E-A, A-D

YouTube Switching From G to D

YouTube Switching From G to C

More Switching Using G as Starting Chord

Free Video Guitar Lessons

Subscribe to GuitarSchool1 on YouTube for more free lessons

Switching Simplified

CAGED System Simplified

Notes On The Neck

Beginning Jazz Chords


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This is great. I really liked it

    • Guitar Wizard profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Edward Fitchett 

      4 years ago from Long Beach

      Happy New Year and thanks.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      4 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      You present a lot of useful information in your Hubs. Happy New Year.

    • Guitar Wizard profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Edward Fitchett 

      5 years ago from Long Beach

      That's great, let me know how you do.

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      5 years ago from Tampa Bay

      You've got a great group of instructional hubs that I hope others find and share. Your experience and knowledge make a difference when instructing others as to the how, when, and why. I can play piano, but am all fingers on the guitar. Maybe I'll borrow one of my son's guitars and see what I can do! Both of my sons are self-taught musicians. I'm sure they would enjoy reading through your portfolio here at HP.

    • Guitar Wizard profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Edward Fitchett 

      5 years ago from Long Beach

      That looks like a great site with lots of useful resources.

    • profile image


      5 years ago


      Got this over at guitar for beginners and beyond.


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