As a beginner guitar player, sometimes the more you actually don’t know when you are trying to figure out where to begin can actually be better. That way you don’t waste any time and you just dive right in. However, for the most part that usually isn’t the case, and there are many things that even seasoned guitarists wish they had learned right off of the bat.
Some of the habits that will make you a better guitar player include:
Playing with as many other guitar players as possible: The same holds true whether you are a software developer, professional basketball player, or aspiring guitarist: In order to be the “best” you have to work with the “best.” Learning another guitarist’s tricks of the trade can open up new doors for you that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.
Take practice seriously: You should learn to practice in a disciplined matter. And you should try to play along with a metronome as much as possible. Prioritizing structure will pay off in the long run.
Listen to different sounds and types of music: The easiest way to immediately start diversifying your music is to do a search within Spotify (or some Spotify alternatives). Spotify has a section to browse music in the upper hand left section of the app. Check out a category you wouldn’t otherwise listen to. Listen to top performing artists of all time as well as currently in all genres including classical, jazz, metal, bluegrass, classic rock and even top 40. More importantly, listen to top artists in other countries.
Learn to appreciate, and even play other types of instruments: Learning how other instruments work can help you understand the strengths of your guitar, and can help you with writing melodies, chord progressions, and other aspects of a song.
Learn some type of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): The state of music production software in 2020 will be more advanced and more mobile than ever. It is important to get acquainted with some of the top DAWs on the market. Many of them offer a suite of plugins that allow you to get different sound out of your guitar, which is always fun.
What Should I Absolutely Learn First?
There are a few options when deciding what to learn first on guitar. One option would be to learn your scales. Another option would be to learn some of your basic chords before anything else.
When first starting out, it is entirely possible to learn both types of playing guitar first. However, in order to start singing and playing guitar at the same time, you are eventually going to have to learn how to strum some basic guitar chords.
In other words, if your goal is to learn how to play a well-known song on acoustic guitar and sing at the same time, then you should probably focus a majority of your time on the chords first.
There are a few chords that you can learn right away. Basically, if you can learn how to change between the chords C, G, Am, and F, then you can learn how to play a large majority of pop songs. For those wanting to learn these chords as well as the rest of the chords, you check out our master list of the best chord books for beginners.
Learning a little bit about basic music theory can be highly beneficial. For example, if you learn the chords C, G, Am, and F that I previously mentioned above, you’ll learn that it is very similar to playing D, A, Bm, and G (in terms of a chord progression pattern).
As you learn music theory you will also find that simplicity is often times the best route. Many of the best songs are derived from songs that have very simple chord progressions and few variations of notes within the melody. Features that can make simple songs sound good are different concepts of timing and rhythms when changing from one note or from one chord to another.
Bar Chords, Power Chords, and Regular Chords
One of the things you will learn right away is the difference between these three chord structures.
Bar chords involve barring the fret with your index finger.Power chords are a lot more like bass notes and only involve playing the three lowest strings of that particular chord. Think the majority of popular Green Day songs. Regular chords (sometimes called major) are chords played without barring any frets. You can also play them higher up the fret board if you use a capo.
Experimenting with different chords will help you get more styles, sounds, and notes in tool box.
Learn How to Read Tabs
Sites like Ultimate-Guitar.com are great (and free) resources for learning how to play different songs on guitar. In order to learn how to play them however you will need to know how to read guitar tabs. Keep in mind that reading guitar tabs is much easier than learning to read sheet music.
Learn How to Play Different Styles
A great option for learning to do this is to learn how to play songs in different genres as well as songs that use different styles of playing guitar. For example, if you want to learn advanced finger picking then a good song to learn would be “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac. If you want to get good at soloing then you should focus on your scales and learn solos in songs like “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. If you are a beginner check out lists of easy songs to learn on the internet.
The End Goal: Practice Until You Can Sing & Play at the Same Time
This is a major mile stone. At the end of the day, this is going to take a lot of practice, and after you learn enough chords, you should practice doing this for at least a few hours a day. After about a week, you should start feeling comfortable with your first song.
The first song I did this with was “Flake” by Jack Johnson. What was the first song that you were able to sing while playing guitar at the same time? Or what was the first guitar solo you mastered?