If learning guitar is one of your dreams, don’t despair. The guitar is an instrument that can be learned quickly. Several weeks of practice can give you skills that will let you strum along with many common songs. On the other hand, it is also an instrument you can spend your life mastering. It all depends on your goal.
For most styles of music, the first step in learning guitar is to learn a few chords. These are simply arrangements of your fingers on the strings that you make while strumming. All you need to know are three or four of these chords for many songs. In fact, two chords will get you through “Polly Wolly Doodle” or “Oh How I Love Jesus.”
Get a simple chord chart from an online source or in the back of a beginners’ book for learning guitar. Make it your goal to learn to play the chords G, D or D7, and C. There are other keys you can learn to play in, but these three chords make up the basis for playing in the key of G, which is a good beginner key for most people. Learn to finger the chords, and then start practicing.
One of the first things you will find is that the fingers on your chording hand will get sore. They will get really sore, in fact. Hang in there, and you will develop wonderful little calluses on your fingertips that will make them tough as iron. Calluses might not form, however, if you don’t play every day. Try to be consistent in practicing.
The other thing you’ll notice when learning guitar is that it is challenging to switch from one chord to another. Here again, practice will make the difference. Honestly, if you keep practicing, you’ll be amazed how quickly you gain the ability to make quick chord changes. Just don’t give up.
So you’re wondering what your right hand should be doing while your left hand is growing calluses and learning to change chords. Your right hand should be getting familiar with the feel of a pick. Try a medium weight pick when first learning guitar. A soft pick might be a little hard to control. Some picks have texture that makes them easier to grip, while others are smooth. Try both to see which you prefer.
You can simply strum back and forth across the strings in a rhythm you like, but it won’t be long before you’ll want some techniques to practice with your strumming hand, too. Each chord has a bass note among the deeper three strings. With G, it’s the sixth string. With C, it’s the fifth, and with D, it’s the fourth. Try plucking the bass string with the pick and then strumming the chord. This takes a little coordination, but you can do it.
Learning guitar is within your grasp if you’ll commit to practicing and being persistent. Before long, you’ll be entertaining yourself and others with your musical skills!