ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Prepare for Your First Guitar Lesson: The 4 Steps You Need to Succeed.

Updated on January 23, 2013


So, you've decided to learn an instrument? Well, pat yourself on the back for making a decision that has the potential to bring you many years of enjoyment. Learning to play a musical instrument is a big undertaking, but the reward for the challenges you can, and will, overcome is great! Over the course of this article I will show you the steps to take before walking into your first guitar lesson.

Step 1. Equipment

Your Instrument

Before you start lessons you need to obtain an instrument in suitable condition. You can either purchase one (new or used), or rent one from a local music store. Although you may feel inclined to spend $1000 on your first instrument, I would advise getting something more economical and upgrading in the future. The reason for this is simple; there are many guitars out there that excel in different styles of music. Purchasing a professional quality instrument should be thoroughly researched, making sure that your investment will fit your stylistic needs. A reasonably priced starter guitar will suffice until you feel that you are ready for an upgrade. This will also be less of a financial burden should you choose to quit playing (something that hopefully never happens).

When purchasing an instrument, the first question you should ask yourself should be; What kind of music do I want to play? The answer to this will help you on your purchase. If you prefer country, bluegrass, or folk you may want to invest in an acoustic guitar. Conversely, if you prefer rock'n'roll, jazz, blues, or metal you would be better off purchasing an electric guitar. If you end up with an electric instrument, you will also need an amplifier. I personally recommend Line 6 Spider amps as an economical beginning amplifier. They have loads of effects, distortions, and versatile tone possibilities.

While shopping for your guitar you should invest in several other accessories that you are going to need. Among these are guitar picks, a tuner, 1/4 inch cable(s) (in case you purchase an electric guitar), and a metronome.


Guitar picks come in many shapes, sizes, thickness, and texture. I recommend buying several different types to see which you prefer. I always suggest that my students purchase .73mm Dunlop Tortex picks. In my 10+ years of playing I've found that these work well for most styles of music.


A quality guitar tuner is a great investment. Your teacher will most likely suggest that you tune your guitar before playing every time. In the past few years I've seen a surge in the popularity of clip on tuners, most notably Snark brand tuners. They are accurate, well lit for tuning in low light environments, and inexpensive.


1/4in cables are necessary for connecting electric guitars to amplifiers. Purchasing quality instrument cables is beneficial. Several brands, such as Monster or Planet Waves, offer lifetime replacement warranties on their cables in the event that the product shorts out. In my opinion, spend the extra ten bucks and get something that's going to last you for a while. If you plan on using multiple guitar pedals for distortion or other effects you will need to buy short length patch cables.


Metronomes are a must if you wish to expedite your learning process. The purpose of a metronome is to provide the musician with a steady pulse to practice with. The benefit of this is that the metronome doesn't change; it is ALWAYS right and will let you know when you are WRONG! They allow you to effectively slow something difficult down to a manageable tempo (the speed of the music) and work your way up to the actual tempo. There are many metronomes out there, but I wouldn't go crazy choosing one. Don't spend more than $20. Personally, I downloaded a metronome onto my smartphone that handles all of my practicing needs.

Where to shop?

All of this gear is readily available in music stores and online retailers such as,, and

Method Books

Avoid purchasing method books before you consult your teacher. Many teachers have certain books that they love, and books that they despise. Before investing, see what they approve of.

Step 2. Ask Yourself These Questions

On the first lesson I ALWAYS ask my students a few questions. These questions are primarily for me to get to know my student and what kind of music they enjoy. Oddly enough, many of them have a difficult time answering even the easiest questions. Below is a list of questions that I ask every new student. Ask yourself these questions and write your responses down. Take this to your first lesson and wow your instructor with your knowledge and your expectations.

  • Have you ever played an instrument before? How long?
  • Can you read music?
  • What are a few of your favorite bands? Why do you enjoy their music?
  • Who are several of your favorite guitar players? What is it that you like about their playing?
  • How long do you think you should practice each day to make good progress on the instrument?
  • Why do you want to learn to play?

I know these seem like easy things to answer, but when put on the spot you may find yourself struggling to divulge enough information to your instructor. Being prepared to answer such questions will give your teacher a head start on getting you on the right path to playing guitar in the styles that you enjoy.

Step 3. Choose an Instructor

Choosing a guitar teacher that fits your needs is paramount if you are concerned with your potential for success. Think of it as choosing a college. A sane person wouldn't seek a nursing degree at a school that doesn't offer one. There is certain to be multiple teachers in your area, so do a little research before committing to the first one you come by. If you are planning to take lessons at a music store, call or email them and ask about their different teachers. Ask them what their qualifications are, what kind of music they play, or which teacher they recommend to fit your personal goals as a musician. If, for instance, you want to learn how to play jazz guitar, it would be daft to take lessons from a teacher with no music education and who's primary focus is shred metal. In contrast, it would be acceptable to learn folk music from a teacher who was taught in a less academic manner. In my experience, it is the students that share a similar interest in music to my own that succeed.

Step 4. Get your mind right

As I previously stated, learning an instrument is a big undertaking. It is not something that you are going to get right away. What's important is that you have a willingness to learn, and the motivation to do what it takes to succeed. There will be frustrations at times, but it is nothing that you can not overcome with the right mindset. Understand that YOU WILL HAVE TO PRACTICE to get better. As a teacher, there are few things more frustrating than having a student with loads of potential, but no work ethic. If you are monetarily investing to learn the skill, be prepared to invest your time into perfecting it!

Hopefully this article will help get you started on your musical journey. I'd like to leave you with some of Beethoven's most famous words, "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." In choosing to acquire this skill, you are stepping into a world of expression that many people can not even dream of.

Happy picking friends,



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I have dreamed of playing the guitar for years. I stumbled on a guitar in a yard sale. When I mentioned my dream the offered it to me for 20.00. My first lesson is Thursday. Wish me luck!

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I have been putting this off for so many years, maybe your Hub will inspire me to finally take the step. Nice job, voting (very) useful!

    • manthy profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Interesting hub, Thanks

    • Halvsies profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach Eldridge 

      6 years ago from Columbia, MO

      Thank you all for your feedback! @weavesandbraids- What's keeping you from starting?

    • weavesandbraids profile image


      6 years ago from Africa

      I keep dreaming of learning an instrument.

      With this hub as a guide, the guitar may be the instrument for me.

    • k12rswow profile image


      6 years ago from New England

      Brilliant, you can even do a part 2, where you can talk about people meeting up at the local music shop to look for bands and to do some networking.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Nice job, very informative, well-organized hub. Voted up and useful. Welcome to hubpages, halvsies. You will do well here. You'll really love the community and the support. Have a great time.

    • Halvsies profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach Eldridge 

      6 years ago from Columbia, MO

      I'm a huge Jimi Hendrix fan myself. As a graduate student I wrote a huge paper on him and why he was IMO the most influential guitar god of the 1960s. I would recommend "Scuse' Me While I Kiss the Sky" by David Henderson if you're interested in learning more about his incredible life.

    • tjhooper profile image

      TJ Hooper 

      6 years ago from dublin Ga

      Anything: jazz, rock, blues, etc. If it sounds good, I'll listen to it/play it. To be a little more specific, my favorite musicians are John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, Jamie Cullum, All Time Low, 3 Doors Down, Jason Mraz, and many more lol.

    • Halvsies profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach Eldridge 

      6 years ago from Columbia, MO

      Thank you for you feedback, Tj. So many students go into that first lesson with no idea what to expect.

      What kind of music do you play?

    • tjhooper profile image

      TJ Hooper 

      6 years ago from dublin Ga

      Very well thought hub. I've been playing guitar for 12 years, and I can't stress enough how important your first few guitar lessons are. They shape your perspective of the guitar for the rest of your life.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)