The Basics of Guitar Lessons

With its versatility and portability, the guitar is one of the most popular instruments to learn and play. It is used in most forms of music, from classical to R&B, from country to rock. Learning the guitar can lead to eventual collaboration with other musicians, whether jamming on stage or forming your own band. It is also very rewarding to play by yourself, perhaps even composing and performing your own music. Learning the guitar does require patience and persistence, especially at first, but the results can be immensely rewarding.

Choosing Your Guitar and Accessories

Although you can learn on any guitar, it’s wisest to choose a guitar that fits the kind of music you want to play. Acoustics with nylon strings are typically used for classical and some jazz, Acoustic steel strings are great for country, rock, folk, blues and jazz, and are therefore the most versatile and commonly used. Electrics are used mostly for rock, jazz and blues. Once that decision has been made, it’s time to visit the guitar store.

This purchase could literally change your life, so don’t rush out and buy just any old guitar! Take your time and do your research. Try every guitar of your chosen type at the store. Once you’ve made your choice, you will need to get accessories.  Always have an extra set of strings and a few extra picks. Other recommended items include a string winder, a tuner, a capo and a guitar case.  Many beginners’ kits will have some or all of these items included with the guitar.

The Progression of Guitar Education

At the beginning, guitar lessons will involve the mechanics of the guitar itself; that is, how it actually works, how to tune it, how to properly hold it (both while standing and sitting), and how to use a pick. Once those basics are mastered, it’s time to start learning basic chords. Take the time to make sure you are holding down the strings properly so that they sound clear and bright. It will be slow going at first. Be patient! It’s better to take a week to learn one chord properly than it is to learn multiple chords that sound dull or fuzzy. It will make it easier later when you learn and practice chord progressions.

Once you have learned the basic chords, you can begin to study how they relate to each other. Strumming must be mastered at this point. Once again, take your time with this and be patient. Be as slow as you need to be while maintaining a steady rhythm and changing hand positions for new chords at the same time. You will speed up soon, not to worry. Before long, you will be able to play basic songs with ease. The teacher may then show you other great elements such as music theory, tablature reading, note reading, and other methods to improve playing. Be a sponge and soak it in.

Once you are easily playing songs with basic chords, you can choose to learn finger picking, barre chords, hammer-ons and pull-offs, string bending, and all of the techniques you desire to excel at playing. At this point, your choices will be more self-directed as you choose methods that will enhance your musicianship based on your chosen style.

At first you will most likely be learning songs in your chosen genre, but it’s a great idea to have a working knowledge of, and some practice in, other genres. This is important for several reasons. Many innovative guitarists are known for incorporating other styles into their work. This helps set them apart from the pack. Secondly, if you plan to spend time on stage or in the studio as a session musician (this is a potentially lucrative path), understand this maxim: more versatility means more gigs. As a side benefit, you may also fall in love with a genre that you had previously had little or no exposure to. It’s always a good thing to expand your horizons.

Looking at Different Styles

If you are learning rock music, you may start by learning some of its roots, primarily the blues. Basic blues progressions are a great way to go for the beginner. They are easy to learn and can be easily expanded upon. Even the mastery of a simple 12-bar blues pattern can be sufficient to play and improvise with other musicians.

Jazz is another genre that can be expanded on from the blues. It has a set of modes derived from both blues and classical music, and contains a great deal of licks (improvised bits played over the basic song pattern) and riffs (short melodic patterns or phrases that can be repeated throughout a piece). With continued practice, you can learn to incorporate riffs and licks, and begin improvising.

Classical guitar is by far the most exacting. It does not necessarily follow a regular chord progression, and incorporates more finger-picking than most other genres. Proper notation and picking are critical, but a good classical guitarist is a wonder for the ears.

Don’t let the apparent simplicity of rock or country music fool you. A good guitarist can elevate a song from bland to glorious, no matter what the genre.

Congratulations and good luck on choosing the guitar as your instrument.


Glenn Sutton
Ozzie’s Music
12222 Poway Road,
Suite #27
California 92064

Phone 619-306-3664


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