Reading tablature, tuning the guitar, following the metronome, reading a diagram of the basic chords, improvising are all actions that a guitarist learns in years of study.
Learning to play the guitar is a complex activity that involves several aspects.
To make the task easier, you can choose to rely on a guitar teacher at home, follow group courses at a music school or get the best out of learning to play the guitar yourself!
If the latter option is the one that most attracts you, you have to be precise, patient and persevering. Discover our tips for starting your own self-taught guitar career!
Guitar Course: Why learn to play guitar by yourself?
The guitar is a musical instrument that is difficult to master. Yet it’s the second most popular instrument after the piano.
To play the six-stringed instrument, it is essential to position your fingers to produce the correct sound. With the piano (if tuned, of course) you can be sure that the sound is right.
Before choosing your guitar, get advice from a music store or get information on the internet. You should never buy a guitar without trying it out first.
Once you have chosen your instrument, you can think about tuning, the type of guitar strings or the performance of the chords.
Starting to play the guitar by yourself, instead of taking a guitar course, has several advantages:
- Savings: A one-time private course a week has an average annual cost of almost 1,000 euros. Tutorials on YouTube are free. Online courses cost about €10 per month.
- Freedom of choice: finding a guitar teacher who is right for you takes time and is not always feasible. If you learn by yourself, instead, you are free to choose the method to follow, books, videos, the tablatures to use.
- Progression according to your own learning rhythms: it is not always easy to find a fixed time to devote to the study of the guitar. Sometimes we only have a 15-minute break for lunch or after dinner. Working alone allows you to choose when to play the guitar for just a few minutes, but constantly.
- Music ear development: without a teacher to correct you, it’s up to you to develop your listening skills to identify and improve your stunts.
Learning for yourself is undoubtedly more difficult than following a well-structured course, but in both cases the key to learning is your motivation. If you work hard, you’ll be able to play the guitar on your own.
Guitar courses on manuals
Not everyone is able to learn how to play the guitar with a book. For some, the hardest part is choosing the manual. Just select the wrong one and you’re lost.
For others, a guitar method is the best way to approach this instrument.
You can find different methods for guitar. Most of them are quite practical and give priority to exercises that you can do yourself or with the help of a video. A book works well for those who need a structured method, because otherwise they would feel lost.
There are several methods for guitar that you can find in specialized libraries or simply online, brand new or second-hand. Here are some examples of guitar books you can find on the internet:
- Guitar for the Negated: 400 pages dedicated to absolute beginners. The foundations are solid and are taught with a playful method. You enter the world of the guitar step by step discovering how it works, the position of the fingers, the solfeggio …
- Guitarists from scratch: the guitar explained with photos, lyrics, videos and many exercises suitable for beginners.
- My first guitar: a manual dedicated to children from 6 years old. It teaches the basics of the guitar with suitable and catchy songs.
- Modern guitar method: for beginners and intermediate guitarists, explaining everything you need to know about the guitar.
If you read the reviews online, you will find out the opinion of users who have already used these manuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Remember that there are other ways to learn to play the guitar on your own: videos, diagrams, advice from more experienced guitarists…
Looking for a guitar class?
What exercises do you do in a guitar lesson for self-taught people?
The worst mistake that a self-taught guitarist can make is to burn the stages.
It is normal that you want to learn as quickly as possible, not only to show your progress but also and above all, to play without difficulty your favorite songs maybe at an evening with friends.
If the goal is acceptable, a hasty method is less so. With basic chords it’s easy to go fast, but as soon as you’re confronted with more technical songs all the gaps come to light.
If you get into the habit of learning a song in an approximate way and leave small mistakes, it is impossible that the quality of your performance will improve.
Before you start learning a song with your head held low, make sure that you have to practice your guitar in a specific way. Here’s how to organize a self-taught guitar course:
- Find a time slot to practice: Every day you should spend 15 minutes of your day on your guitar.
- Write down the exercises you’re working on and you’ll gain a lot of time if you already know what to do during your training sessions.
- Prepare everything you need: take what you need from the metronome to the tuner, from the pick to the water bottle, not forgetting the guitar, of course.
- Eliminate all sources of distraction: don’t use the phone while you’re training!
A guitar training session should take about 30 minutes. At first it will be very difficult to stay focused longer, but little by little the time with your six-string will start to fly.
Your self-managed guitar lesson should be divided in this way:
- 5 minutes warm-up: to loosen your fingers, avoid fractures and get them used to the position to adopt while playing.
- 15 minutes of technical exercises: it’s up to you to assign the priority you want to work on (dexterity, speed, improvisation, solo).
- 10-15 minutes to play: play a song and practice what you have learned.
- 2-3 minutes of pleasure: play freely without thinking, just to make the notes vibrate with your guitar.
If you do shorter sessions, choose only one technical aspect to work on. Also remember that the exercises don’t always go as planned. You can break a string, someone can interrupt you or you can get angry because you can’t do an exercise.
Whatever happens, it’s solvable. The right thing to do is to take a break and resume the exercise after a few hours or days.
Tips for starting to play the guitar by yourself
Motivation is the key to starting playing the guitar alone. You’ll have to prove yourself so you don’t throw in the towel at the first obstacle. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your self-taught guitar:
- Playing every day, even if you only have 10 minutes of time, is always better than nothing.
- Play slowly, very slowly: to develop speed and reproduce sounds to perfection you must learn to break down all the movements to do calmly.
- Play live: after having learned several tracks, make yourself as if you were at a concert and reproduce them without stopping to improve your endurance.
- Recording and filming is not narcissism, but a great way to evaluate your mistakes and see the progress you’ve made watching and listening to your recordings.
- Use the metronome: the rhythm and the musical ear should not be underestimated.
- Play while watching your favourite series: sometimes it’s for relaxing completely without thinking about the position of your fingers, playing instinctively and being inspired.
- Be careful with your posture to avoid back pain.
- Learn the theory: having some notions of solfeggio can help you understand rhythm and play in a group.
- Avoid spending too much time on the internet: to improve you have to play, don’t watch videos of others playing. The risk with tutorial videos is to spend time looking for the right exercises, instead of practicing directly.
- Learning from a more experienced guitarist is the norm in jazz. Future jazzmen use the advice of the more experienced ones to make progress.
- Finding a band: Contamination is beneficial for learning and will allow you to learn new things and regain motivation when you feel lost.