The great moment has arrived!
You feel deep within you the need, the desire, the urge to devote yourself to the guitar. Do you want to know how to play guitar?
You’ve spent forever staring at guitars in stores, flipping through magazines, and watching videos of your idols – Slash, Clapton, David Gilmour, Carlos Santana and Robert Johnson, to name a few. You tell yourself you will get there one day too.
But the first question is: where do you start learning to play guitar?
Before embarking on this musical adventure and guitar lessons, you must ask yourself a few questions. How you answer will push you towards a certain style of music and this will help you in choosing your guitar.
You are ultra motivated to learn how to play the guitar, which is great, but before you start and risk plunging in and getting lost, why not talk things over with a guitar teacher?
Why do you want to learn guitar?
Do you want to play your favorite songs like your idols? Do you want to know the basics and key techniques so you can eventually write your own music? Do you want to learn strumming patterns or licks to play songs?
And technically, do you want to play classical guitar or rather than the blues, or country, pop or hard rock maybe?
What kind of guitarist are you?
With these answers you will be better able to find the guitar that suits you and to orientate yourself to what corresponds to your wishes.
Once you have put your finger on the kind of music you wish to play, you can choose the right guitar. There are 3 types; the classical guitar (or dry guitar), the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar.
If you want to play Led Zeppelin, stay away from classical guitar, simple right?
This will save you time, money and energy to focus on what you love.
If you want to play guitar but have never touched one in your life, if you do not know the basics of music theory such as solfeggio, rhythm, scales, etc., we recommend you to take guitar lessons.
There are various ways to do this: at an academy (over several years building towards a professional or academic path), private or public music schools (teaching supervised by a certified teacher who follows a set methodology), cultural centers, workshops, associations, music clubs where you can meet other budding musicians as well as professionals (some offer courses, others one-off workshops). Choose the easiest solution for you.
The final solution is to take private lessons at home with an independent teacher who usually travels to your home and teaches once a week (the advantage is that the teacher adapts to your needs and expectations).
You will have to learn several techniques to play guitar, especially to play with your right hand.
As its name indicates, this technique consists of plucking a string with your fingertips or nails. You can use up to four fingers, the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and ring finger. You can pluck several strings at the same time. This is the basic guitar technique used to play arpeggios
You pluck the strings regularly and simultaneously, as if you were playing a chord note by note.
This is a variation of plucking, wherein after plucking the string your finger rests on the next string, increasing the volume of the notes. This technique is widely used in the flamenco style.
Picking, or finger picking, fingering, means tweaking the string with one of the fingers of your right hand.
Strumming is stroking the strings quickly to give the illusion of a chord. There are many kinds of strumming patterns you can learn to easily form a melody.
This is the simplest technique to play and the most used, especially in accompanying guitar because it is easy to play at volume.
This technique is realized with the help of a plectrum which vibrates the strings simultaneously with an upwards or downwards stroke.
This technique is widely used on the electric guitar to play melodies or solos quickly.
There are three distinct ways to play the guitar: with your fingers, with your nails and with a plectrum.
As mentioned above there are different ways to play with your fingers.
How to play the guitar with your fingers?
According to your style, ability and level, you will find a particular technique that suits you best. Each technique will produce a different sound, so it’s a matter of taste which technique you use later on.
You can use your thumb and forefinger together if you do not want to use a plectrum, without using your other fingers.
Your index fingernail will pick the strings in a downwards motion and your thumbnail will strike them as you move your hand up.
It is not an easy movement to master, but remember to keep your wrist flexible and in control of your movements. The movement should only come from your wrist and not your arm. Eventually, you will develop calluses on your fingers after consistent guitar playing.
You can play guitar if you have short or long nails as long as your nails are all the same length. When you move your wrist, rotate your hand so that your index finger is in contact with the strings rather than your thumb.
Do not lift your wrist too much, keep the back of your hand in line with your forearm.
Remember to use your wrist to move.
If you are right handed it does not matter what length the nails on your left hand are as they will not be used on the strings to play notes or chords. Do not scrape the strings. Tune your electric guitar well. To hold down a string properly long nails can get in the way.
The nails on your right hand are another story. You can have clipped nails, short nails or long nails. The right hand is the one you will use to play notes by making them vibrate, and so the length of your nails will have an impact on their sound.
This has no influence on the sound of the guitar, and is therefore perfect for those who want to play with a plectrum or with your finger tips for a softer sound.
Use them to pluck the strings as well as your finger tips for a sharper sound, a practice particularly popular with classical and flamenco guitarists. The benefit lies in being able to pluck precisely for a brilliant, defined sound. The only drawback is their maintenance; they must be cut and filed regularly.
A final guitar playing technique is with a plectrum.
Guitar picking is fun
You should hold it in a way that feels natural: placed on the side of your index finger and steadied by the thumb. The right movement for a plectrum is not simple and you should work hard to perfect it.
The real difficulty is to stay focused on the rhythms and precision while remaining flexible.
Try striking the strings with some force to get a clear sound.
The wrist plays an important role in playing with a plectrum. Try moving up and down without moving your forearm, or your elbow, but just your wrist.
Some tips for playing with a plectrum:
• Do not raise your hand too much.
• Keep the wrist soft, this is essential for playing with a plectrum.
• Pay attention to the symmetry of your movements.
• Tilt your plectrum to avoid playing too hard.
• Start playing slowly, and slowly increase your speed.
• Use a mirror to avoid neck strain and get a good view of your movement, to help you iron out errors.
If you’re really enthusiastic, discover our tips for:
• Playing guitar faster.