How to Play Guitar: Quick and Easy Steps for Beginners

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Learning to play the guitar can be an incredibly rewarding experience, whether you’re a complete beginner or someone looking to pick up a new skill. As with any musical instrument, mastering the guitar takes dedication, patience, and practice.

How to Play Guitar: Quick and Easy Steps for Beginners

The journey of becoming a guitarist begins with choosing the right instrument for you. There are a variety of options, including acoustic, electric, and classical guitars, each offering a unique sound and feel. Once you’ve selected your guitar, you’ll need to learn about tuning fundamentals, basic techniques, and common chords.

As you continue to practice, you’ll develop your strumming patterns and rhythm, allowing you to start playing your favorite songs. Along the way, you’ll also be introduced to reading guitar tabs and notation and become more advanced in your skills. Remember that learning to play the guitar is a journey, so enjoy the process and don’t be too hard on yourself if progress seems slow at times.

Want to see the latest guitar accessories that are popular right now? Just click here!

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right guitar for your style and preferences.
  • Master tuning, basic techniques, and common chords with practice.
  • Develop strumming patterns and learn to read guitar tabs to play songs.

Choosing Your Guitar

Acoustic vs Electric

When starting to learn the guitar, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether to choose an acoustic or electric guitar. Both types have their own unique sound and characteristics. Acoustic guitars are often preferred by those interested in playing folk, country, or fingerstyle music, while electric guitars are more popular for rock, metal, and blues genres. Remember that your personal preferences are important in making this decision, so consider the type of music you want to play and what suits your style best.

Understanding Guitar Anatomy

Before purchasing your first guitar, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with its basic anatomy. This will help you make an informed decision and become more comfortable with your instrument.

  • Body: The main part of the guitar. Acoustic guitars have a hollow body which creates a natural amplification for the sound, while electrics usually have a solid body and require an amplifier for louder sound.
  • Neck: The long and slender part of the guitar where you press the strings against the fretboard to play different notes.
  • Fretboard: Attached to the neck, the fretboard has metal strips called frets, which help you play different notes. The easier it is for you to reach the far end of the fretboard, the better.
  • Headstock: Located at the top of the guitar, the headstock contains the tuning machines, which are used for adjusting the tension of the strings and tuning the guitar.
  • Bridge: The bridge is found on the guitar’s body and anchors the strings to it. The distance between the nut and the bridge is called the scale length, which affects the ease of playing higher notes on the fretboard.

Guitar anatomy may seem complex at first, but don’t worry; you’ll become more familiar with each component as you start learning and playing. Good luck on your guitar journey, and remember to enjoy the process!

Guitar Tuning Fundamentals

Standard Tuning

One of the key starting points in learning to play the guitar is tuning it correctly. The most popular and widely used tuning is the standard tuning, which has the following pattern for string notes, from the thickest to the thinnest:

  1. E (lowest sounding string)
  2. A
  3. D
  4. G
  5. B
  6. E (highest sounding string)

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the standard tuning to make your guitar-playing journey enjoyable and productive.

Using a Tuner

To ensure the accuracy of your tuning, it’s recommended to use a guitar tuner. There are different types of tuners available, such as:

  • Clip-on tuners – attached to your guitar’s headstock
  • Pedal tuners – mostly used by electric guitar players
  • Smartphone apps – available on Android and iOS devices

Before using a tuner, make sure your guitar’s tuning pegs are in good condition, as they’re responsible for adjusting the tension of each string. To increase (sharpen) the pitch, turn the pegs counterclockwise; to decrease (flatten) the pitch, turn them clockwise.

As you start tuning, pluck the open string and observe the display on your tuner. It should indicate whether the note is sharp (too high) or flat (too low). Adjust the tuning pegs accordingly to reach the correct pitch for each string.

Now, equipped with the knowledge of how to tune a guitar, you’re ready to dive into the world of guitar playing. Practice these guitar tuning fundamentals regularly, and soon you’ll enjoy a smooth and harmonic sound while playing your favorite tunes.

Basic Guitar Techniques

Holding the Guitar

When you first start playing guitar, it’s essential to know how to hold the instrument correctly. To achieve this, place the waist of the guitar on your right leg (or left, if you’re left-handed). Make sure the guitar is close to your body and the neck of the guitar points slightly upwards. This position should allow for easy access to the fretboard.

Correct Posture

It’s important to be mindful of your posture while playing the guitar to avoid discomfort and bad habits. Sit up straight and maintain a relaxed posture. Your shoulders should be level, and your neck should be aligned with your spine. Practicing with improper posture can lead to pain or discomfort, so it’s crucial to develop good habits early on.

Hand Positioning

Fretting hand: Your thumb should rest on the back of the guitar neck, opposite your index finger. Your fingertips should press the strings, as this will provide better control and clarity when playing notes or chords. Ensure your hand is close to the frets for efficient fretting technique.

Basic hand positioning tips:

  • Keep your fingers close to the frets
  • Relax your hand to avoid tension

Strumming hand: Hold the pick softly between your thumb and index finger, slightly slanting the tip downwards. This angle allows the pick to glide smoothly over the strings. When strumming, use your wrist rather than your entire arm for better control and precision.

Basic strumming techniques:

  1. Upward strum
  2. Downward strum
  3. Muted strum

It’s also important to practice basic guitar scales, such as the minor pentatonic scale, as a way to strengthen your fingers and improve your hand positioning while playing. By following these friendly tips and practicing regularly, you’ll be on your way to mastering the fundamentals of playing the guitar!

Learning Your First Chords

As a beginner on the guitar, you’ll want to start by learning some basic chords. These chords are the building blocks of countless songs, and mastering them will give you a solid foundation for further progress. In this section, we’ll focus on major and minor chords – two types of chords that feature prominently in many popular songs.

Major Chords

Major chords have a bright, uplifting sound. Some easy major chords for beginners include A Major, C Major, D Major, and G Major. To form a major chord, place your fingers on the correct frets and strum the appropriate strings:

  • A Major: Place your fingers on the second fret of the D, G, and B strings.
  • C Major: Put your index finger on the first fret of the B string, your middle finger on the second fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the third fret of the A string.
  • D Major: Place your index finger on the second fret of the G string, your ring finger on the third fret of the B string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the high E string.
  • G Major: Put your middle finger on the third fret of the low E string, your index finger on the second fret of the A string, and your ring finger on the third fret of the B string.

Practice transitioning between these chords to build up your muscle memory and speed.

Minor Chords

Minor chords have a darker, more emotional sound than major chords. Some easy minor chords to learn at the beginning are A minor, D minor, and E minor. Like major chords, minor chords involve placing your fingers on certain frets and strumming the right strings:

  • A minor: Place your index finger on the first fret of the B string, your ring finger on the second fret of the G string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the D string.
  • D minor: Put your index finger on the first fret of the high E string, your ring finger on the third fret of the B string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the G string.
  • E minor: Place your middle finger on the second fret of the A string, and your ring finger on the second fret of the D string.

As with major chords, practice transitioning between minor chords to improve your dexterity and confidence on the guitar.

As you become more comfortable with these basic guitar chords, you can start experimenting with chord progressions. Combining major and minor chords will help you create engaging and dynamic music, and enable you to play countless songs. Happy strumming!

Strumming Patterns and Rhythm

Downstrokes and Upstrokes

In order to get the hang of playing guitar, it’s essential to grasp the basics of strumming patterns. A common foundation for strumming involves alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes. Downstrokes are when you strum downwards towards the floor, while upstrokes are when you strum upwards towards your chest.

To master downstrokes and upstrokes, you can:

  1. Position your pick comfortably between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Strum from your wrist, creating smooth downstrokes and upstrokes.
  3. Gradually increase your speed as you practice.

Remember, the key is to maintain a consistent motion when you’re playing chords to create a harmonious sound.

Timing and Tempo

Another important aspect of guitar playing is understanding the rhythm, which involves both the timing and tempo of your strumming.

  • Timing refers to how long or short you hold each note while strumming.
  • Tempo is the speed at which you play, measured in beats per minute (BPM).

To improve your timing and tempo, try the following steps:

  1. Practice with a metronome, gradually increasing the BPM as you get more comfortable.
  2. Experiment with different strumming patterns to vary the rhythm in your playing.
  3. Listen closely to songs you enjoy and try to replicate their rhythm and tempo.

As you progress, you’ll begin to develop a natural sense of rhythm and will be able to adapt to a wide variety of songs and styles. By focusing on your strumming patterns, pick technique, and rhythm, you’ll soon find your guitar playing skills improving.

Playing Your First Song

Song Structure

As a beginner guitarist, it’s essential to understand the basic song structure to get your footing in playing your first song. Most songs consist of sections like verse, chorus, and bridge. Understanding the different sections and their arrangements will make learning new songs easier.

A common song structure is as follows:

  1. Intro
  2. Verse
  3. Chorus
  4. Verse
  5. Chorus
  6. Bridge
  7. Chorus
  8. Outro

Make a mental note of this structure, as it helps you in learning beginner songs more efficiently.

Simple Song Examples

To start with, let’s try mastering open chord positions for some simple songs. Here’s a list of beginner-friendly songs to consider:

Horse With No Name (America)Eminor, Dmaj9
Love Me Do (The Beatles)G, C
What’s Up (4 Non Blondes)G, Am, C

These songs require just two or three chords, making them perfect for beginners. With practice and familiarity, you’ll soon be able to play a variety of songs with more chords and complexity. Good luck on your journey to becoming a proficient guitarist!

Reading Guitar Tabs and Notation

Playing guitar involves learning to read various notations and symbols. Let’s dive into the world of guitar tabs and notation to help you on your musical journey.

Tabs vs Traditional Notation

When starting to learn guitar, you’ll come across two primary methods of reading music: tabs and traditional notation. Guitar tabs are more intuitive for beginners, as they show the fingering, or where to place your fingers on the fretboard, rather than just the notes to be played [1]. Traditional notation, on the other hand, provides only note pitches and rhythms but it is a universal language for all musicians [2].

Guitar tabs will generally look like this:


It shows six horizontal lines representing the six strings on your guitar, with the lowest line being the lowest-string (E). Numbers correspond to frets, and each line tells you which fret to press on which string. In the example above, you should press the second fret on the third string (G).

Symbols and Signs in Tabs

There are various symbols that you may encounter when reading guitar tabs [3]:

  1. h (hammer-on): Indicates that you should play the first note and then quickly press your finger onto the next fret without plucking the string again, to sound the second note. Example: 3h5
  2. p (pull-off): The opposite of a hammer-on. You play the first note and then quickly remove your finger from the fretboard, to sound the second note. Example: 7p5
  3. b (bend): Press your finger down on the fret, then bend the string up or down to raise the pitch. Example: 4b6 means bending the string until the pitch is equal to that of the note on the sixth fret.
  4. **/ **(slide): Glide your finger from one fret to the next without lifting it off the fretboard. Example: 2/4 or 5\3
  5. x (muted or percussive note): Strike the string with your picking hand while preventing it from ringing by lightly touching it with your fretting hand. Example: x
  6. vibrato: Repeatedly bend and release the string slightly to create a “vibrating” effect. This is often represented by v or ~~~ next to the note. Example: 7~~~

By familiarizing yourself with these symbols and signs, you’ll find it easier to understand and play guitar tabs. Keep practicing and soon you’ll be able to read both guitar tabs and traditional notation with ease.

Advancing Your Skills

Barre Chords

Barre chords are an essential skill for any advancing guitarist. They allow you to play chord shapes with just one finger, freeing up your other fingers for more complex chord variations. To start, try practicing some basic barre chords like the major and minor shapes. You can play major and minor chords by placing your index finger flat across all six strings and using your other fingers to form the chord shapes. For practice, try playing an F major barre chord by placing your index finger on the first fret, your ring finger on the third fret of the A string, and your pinky finger on the third fret of the D string. Start slow, and work on getting a clear sound from each string.

Guitar Scales

To advance your skills further, learning guitar scales is a must. Scales are the building blocks of melodies and solos, so mastering them is essential for any guitarist. Start with the C major scale, which is one of the most fundamental scales in Western music. The C major scale consists of the following notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. To play it on the guitar, follow these steps:

  • Start on the 3rd fret of the A string (C)
  • Move up to the 5th fret of the A string (D)
  • Move to the 2nd fret of the D string (E)
  • Continue to the 3rd fret of the D string (F)
  • Next, go to the 5th fret of the D string (G)
  • Switch to the 2nd fret of the G string (A)
  • End on the 4th fret of the G string (B)

Make sure to practice this scale both ascending and descending, starting with a slow tempo and gradually increasing your speed. As you continue to master the C major scale, explore other guitar scales to expand your repertoire and improve your improvisation skills.

Guitar Gear and Maintenance

Choosing Accessories

To get the best playing experience and maintain your guitar properly, you’ll need some essential accessories. First, guitar picks or plectrums come in various styles and materials, so be sure to try out a few to find the one that suits your playing style. Thicker picks generally produce a heavier, more aggressive sound, while thinner picks are more suitable for delicate playing.

A capo is another accessory to consider, as it allows you to easily change the pitch of your guitar without retuning. Additionally, selecting an amplifier that best suits your needs helps in achieving the desired sound, whether you play acoustic or electric guitar. Remember to equip yourself with spare guitar strings, as they wear out and may unexpectedly break.

Here’s a list of essential guitar accessories:

  • Guitar picks (plectrums)
  • Capo
  • Amplifier
  • Spare guitar strings

Cleaning and Care

Proper care and maintenance of your guitar ensure its longevity and optimal sound quality. Keep your guitar clean by regularly wiping off dust and fingerprint marks. Focus on the sound hole, as it is a common location of dust buildup.

When changing guitar strings, it’s an excellent opportunity to give the fretboard a thorough cleaning. Some guitarists use commercial fingerboard oil/conditioner to gently remove grime and refresh the wood (source). If you have an electric guitar, don’t forget to keep the amplifier and gear clean too.

Here’s a quick checklist for guitar cleaning and care:

  • Wipe off dust and fingerprints
  • Clean the sound hole
  • Use fingerboard oil/conditioner (source)
  • Maintain the amplifier and equipment

By taking care of your guitar gear and maintaining your instrument, you not only improve its appearance but also ensure optimal performance. With proper care, your guitar will reward you with a great sound and enjoyable playing experience.

Online Resources and Lessons

Learning to play guitar can be an enriching and enjoyable experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources that can help you on your journey to become a competent guitarist. In this section, we will discuss two main types of online guitar lessons: video tutorials and interactive learning platforms. Let’s dive in!

Video Tutorials

Video tutorials are a great way to learn how to play guitar at your own pace. You can find a wealth of informative guitar lessons on platforms like YouTube and dedicated sites. One popular example is, which offers over 1,200 free guitar lessons for beginners to advanced players.

Some benefits of using video tutorials to learn guitar are:

  • Flexibility to learn at your own pace.
  • Wide range of topics and skill levels.
  • Visual demonstrations to help you understand techniques.
  • Convenient access to lessons anytime, anywhere.

Interactive Learning Platforms

Interactive learning platforms like Fender Play and Guitar Tricks elevates the learning experience for guitar players. These platforms often combine the best of video tutorials with interactive tools and features, such as…

  • In-depth lessons for every skill level, from beginner to advanced.
  • Personalized courses tailored to your interests and goals.
  • Progress tracking to help you monitor your improvements.
  • Supplemental resources like sheet music, tabs, and backing tracks.

These platforms typically have paid subscription models, providing higher quality, professional course materials.

So, there you have it! Whether you prefer to teach yourself to play guitar with video tutorials or engage in interactive learning platforms, the internet has a wealth of resources for aspiring guitarists. Don’t be afraid to try different lessons and platforms to see which works best for your learning style. Good luck and happy strumming!

Similar Posts

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments