Everyone who starts to learn how to play the guitar is going to share at least one common experience: a certain period of time that is just, well, no fun. Your fingers hurt, you get frustrated that your hands won’t do what your brain is telling them to and you feel like you’re never going to get any better. You find yourself wondering “why is guitar so hard?” Don’t worry! We are sharing our best tips to help you get over the initial hump and on your way to mastering the guitar.
1. Practice Slow
Don’t try to play everything at full speed … yet. Practice it slow, and practice it right. Make sure you can play a riff or a strumming pattern perfectly with the correct rhythm before you try to play it up to speed. Beginners tend to play the easy parts fast and then slow down for the hard parts of a song. Don’t do that; play the whole song slow and correctly then, as you get comfortable with it, speed it up a little bit at a time. Pro-tip: Make sure you practice with a metronome! I know it’s not the most fun thing in the world, but it establishes a solid foundation on one of the most fundamental elements of your guitar playing – your rhythm. Just DO IT.
2. Play Every Day
Seriously, you aren’t going to get any better if you don’t work hard. Think about it – if guitar was easy, everyone would be able to play. One of the biggest rewards of learning how to play the guitar is knowing that when you stick with it, you will be able to do something most other people can’t! It’s a specialized skill and requires daily practice to move forward. The faster you can get through this initial stage, the sooner you will be jamming with your friends and impressing your crush. Give it six weeks of solid, daily practice and you’ll see the results.
3. Learn Your Chords
I mean really learn them. Inside and out. Even if your goal is to play lead guitar, understanding chords and chordal harmony is an essential part of being a well-rounded musician. If you skimp on chords, you will always be missing a piece of the puzzle and you’ll be less equipped as a musician.
4. Buy A Good Guitar To Learn On
You don’t have to go crazy here and spend thousands of $$$ (save that for later). Just make sure you get a guitar that stays in tune, sounds good and is comfortable to play on. We sell Alvarez acoustic guitars because you absolutely cannot beat them when it comes to the price. They have a lifetime warranty and, while they are made overseas (making them very affordable), each one is set up by hand at a workshop in St Louis before being shipped to us. They look, sound and feel like a guitar that would cost twice as much. Come check them out at one of our shops if you’re in the Birmingham area.
5. Find a Great Teacher
We can help with this one too. We strongly believe in the ability of a seasoned professional to guide you through your study of the guitar. Working with a teacher will keep you on the right track and help you achieve your goals faster. There are a lot of great resources online for self-learning, but nothing can replace a real live human being who can create a individually tailored plan for you to reach your goals, give feedback and encouragement in a private lesson setting, and expose you to music you may otherwise never run into. If you’re looking to take the next step and find a teacher, be sure to drop us a line and tell us you’re interested in starting guitar lessons.
6. Don’t Give Up!
Playing guitar is hard. You will get discouraged. You may want to quit. DON’T DO IT. Remember the guitar players you look up to! Whether it’s your dad, your older sister, your guitar teacher or Jimi Hendrix, there was a time that they were fumbling through learning open chords. There was a time they couldn’t play barre chords. There was a time their fingers were hurting and they wanted to quit. The only thing between you and being a great guitar player is commitment, hard work and a lot of fun. Once you get over the hump, you won’t want to put the guitar down.
Will and his wife, Sarah, own Mason Music where he has taught guitar for nine years. Prior to that, he was the lead guitarist of the band Moses Mayfield on Epic Records. Learn more about how the Masons started Mason Music.