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Learning to Play the Guitar

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“Someone told me the smile on my face gets bigger when I play the guitar.” – Niall Horan

We’re here to put the smile on your face! So, you have first guitar. Now what? Your next step is to learn to play your acoustic guitar. Play those first chords. Break your first string (just kidding). In this article we will walk you through every step of learning how to play your first guitar.

How do You Learn Best?


Everyone has a different learning style. Some like to hear things for the first time, some like to watch a demonstration.  Whichever style works best for you, there are options available for learning to play the guitar for the first time.

  • Watch How-To DVDs or Videos – YouTube isn’t necessarily a nexus of factual information, but there are some amazing step-by-step videos on not only how to play a guitar, but how to string, tune and properly hold your specific guitar.

You can do what I did, and buy a how-to DVD, but I found mine very dry and not easy to navigate if I wanted to back up to watch something again. There are better ones out there, and even DVD series that progressively work you up from starting to playing complex songs.

  • Read a guitar book and look at step-by-step manuals – For those of you who learn by reading, this is the way to go. At some point everyone will need to learn tablature and we suggest learning a little bit of guitar theory, too. Not sure if you will like reading about it as a learning tool? Go to your local library and pick up a few books to borrow for free.
  • Get an instructor – Community colleges often offer classes or you can see a private instructor.
  • No matter what, your most important step is to start practicing!

What are the Basics Steps of Playing for the First Time?

Play until your fingers hurt.

  1. It’s going to take practice. A lot of practice.  You will be a rockstar – just not the first day. Your finger joints will get tired from the new positions, your fingertips will get sore and maybe develop calluses.  Keep a pick at hand if your fingers are too sore after a while. Get used to pressing your strings firmly down to reduce buzzing and vibration in the strings. Also, your wrist and hand will need to get used to half open position.
  2. Set a Schedule. Sounds boring, right? Jamming out should be fun!  It is fun, but you need to make sure you fit it into your schedule so you don’t lose the new information you just picked up! (Get it, pick?) Try training your hand in chord positions while watching a movie so you learn by touch instead of sight.
  3. Learn your frets and strings. Your strings may be numbered 1-6, or lettered E-e. Practice learning string placement and frets on your guitar.  The frets are the raised bars on the neck of your guitar and they are numbered. The first fret numbered 1 located at the highest part of the neck, and goes down in numerical order to the body of your guitar. There are symbols or dots normally on every other fret to help you visually identify which fret you are using.
  4. Learn to read tablature and play scales also you will need to learn to read a tablature chart which shows you the string placement and which frets you should press down on to create a certain sound. WikiHow offers some good information on “tabs” and playing scales at http://www.wikihow.com/Teach-Yourself-to-Play-Guitar.
  5. Learn the basic positions for chords and practice, practice, practice. Look at a diagram or videos of the finger positions and place your hands in position several times to create muscle memory before you try to play them.
  6. Don’t be a punk rocker. That means learn more than 3 chords! Take the time to learn note patterns, major scales, minor scales, power chords, and even delve into some guitar theory. When you have the techniques down, learning songs or writing them will be a breeze.
  7. Guitar Maintenance. It may seem silly to state this, but keep your strings in tune! You can get awesome tuning apps on smartphones, standalone tuners and pitch tools to carry with you in your guitar case.

Are You Ready to Play Your Guitar for the First Time?

Finally Just do it! 

Don’t be nervous! If it sounds bad, keep trying until it doesn’t! Learning to play the guitar for the first time is like learning any new skill; tying your shoes or making your first batch of pancakes. It doesn’t always happen perfectly the first time. So once you have those first few hours under your fingertips you are opening yourself up to a whole new world of music to explore, create and enjoy.

What Are Acoustic Guitar Strings?

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The strings of an acoustic guitar are the filaments that run from the bridge to the tuning pegs across the body, over the sound hole and are plucked or strummed to create sound. Most guitars have 6 strings consisting of 3 lighter strings called treble strings, and 3 heavier strings called bass strings. Aside from the body of your acoustic guitar, strings are the second most important factor in determining the sound quality of your music and should be carefully considered.

What Different Types of Guitar Strings Are Out There?

  • Steel and Silk-Wrapped Strings

Steel strings are typically used in larger acoustic guitars with heavier necks and top bracings.  Made from metals, these strings produce a substantial tension when tightened and played. We recommend using a pick to play steel stringed acoustic guitars.

Types of steel string are:

~ Brass – jangling, metallic character.

~ Polymer-coated – their warm tones last less than uncoated steel string notes but the strings are corrosion-resistant and have can be colored.

~ Bronze – has a clear, ringing tone. Ages quickly due to bronze’s tendency to oxidize.

~ Phosphor Bronze – warmer tone than bronze and crisp with a longer playing life.

~ Aluminum Bronze has distinct clarity in the string tones.

~ Silk and Steel – silk copper or nylon wrapped on the outside, steel in the middle. More pleasurable for finger-picking than a plain metal string, these strings produce more delicate notes.

  • Nylon or Gut Strings

Gut strings are made from catgut, no, not a cat’s guts but yes, intestines of animals.  Normally the lining of the intestines of sheep or goats, but also cattle, pigs, horses and donkeys are used. The highest three strings are made from plain catgut while the three low strings have a silk thread wound with a catgut threading.

~ Used to play flamenco, classical, and folk music primarily

~ Mellower tone and responsive to light touch

~ Easier on fingertips

~ Come out of tune quicker than steel strings due to their ability to stretch

~ Sensitive to humidity

Nylon comes in a wide variety:

~  The most popular is clear nylon which is a mono (single) filament type of string known for its clarity.

~ Rectified Nylon is clear nylon that is precision-ground to a specific diameter and have a more mellow tone than regular clear nylon.

~ Black Nylon is a folk acoustic guitarist’s go-to. It is a different type of nylon composition that creates warmer, clean sound with more treble overtones.

~ Titanium is a much brighter composite than traditional nylon with a smooth feel.

~ Regular Composite is a multi-filament mix that has strong projection. Used primarily for G strings because they offer a smooth transition between bass and treble strings.

Plain clear nylon, fluorocarbon, or other synthetic monofilaments are used on the three highest strings while multi-filament nylon cores wrapped with metal or nylon windings are used on the three lower strings.

What Different Thicknesses of Acoustic Guitar Strings Are Out There?

And How Do They Play?

In addition to the type of string you need to consider the thickness of an acoustic guitar string. The thickness of a guitar string is called its gauge. The gauge of a string is measured in thousandths of an inch.

The heaviest (deepest sound) is a .059 and the lightest strings (highest sounding) are normally .010. Next to the body and make of the guitar, the string type and gauge has the biggest impact on overall sound.

Something to keep in mind is most string makers label their acoustic string sets as heavy, light, medium, etc. Light gauge strings bend easier but also break easier. Light strings create less sound volume and can cause buzzing. They are good for softer ballads and recommended for antique and classical guitars because they create less tension on the guitar neck. They are also the best if you play by finger-picking. Think: Light body equals light strings.

Heavy gauge strings require more pressure to bend but produce a lot more volume. They do create extra tension on the guitar neck and are not always a safe choice for vintage guitars. Heavy sets are great for large bodied acoustic guitars to make full use of their sound chambers and are good for strumming hard with a pick.

When Should You Change the Strings on an Acoustic Guitar?

~ You break a string

~ Staying in tune seems to be shorter time spans

~ You see a different color or rust on the strings

~ Wraps unwind on the string

~ Sound tone seems flat or dull

How Do You String An Acoustic Guitar?

Nothing can seem more nerve wracking to a new acoustic player than changing a popped string. Will you tighten it too much and have it pop? Did you put the wrong string on?  We are here to walk you through what is actually a fairly easy process of putting new strings on an acoustic guitar.

  1. Do You Have Everything You Need?

~ While you can change strings without a lot of equipment, we highly recommend having a pair of wire cutters (metal snips, dykes), a peg winder and a small pair of pliers and the appropriate strings meant for your acoustic guitar.

~ The first thing in selecting your strings is to remember not all strings are equal.  If you use steel strings on a guitar built for nylon strings you can harm it badly. You can damage the bridge and saddle, and the neck and top bracing of some classical guitars are not able to handle the tension of by steel strings.

  1. Broken String or Strings Still in Guitar? Read This! If Not, Skip to #3

~ Put your guitar on a flat, firm surface with the strings facing upwards.

~ Use the pliers to unwind the broken string at the neck end of the guitar on the tuning peg.

~ Discard of the string, be especially careful if it is metal because it is sharp.

~ Use the pliers to carefully pull out the peg on the bridge end of the guitar that has the other half of the string remaining and pull the string out from the bottom. You can only pull this string out one direction because it has a stopper, ball or ring on the end to keep it from pulling through.

  1. Put in Your New Acoustic Guitar Strings

Where Does Each String Go?

~ Strings are different diameters, or thicknesses. The strings go on in order from biggest to smallest in size order on a guitar. If you are unsure about which size you should use to replace a single string, there should be a guide on the back of your string package to help out.  Packages typically come with six different sizes of strings.

  1. Put The Stopper End of String In

~ Place the ring or ball end of the string 1 – 1.5 inches into the hole where the peg on the bridge side of the guitar was.

~ Line up the peg so that the string notch fits over the string and put the peg back into the hole.

  1. Put The Free End of String Into The Tuning Peg

~ Take the loose end of the string and pull it to the tuning peg that lines up with the bridge peg.

~ Check which way your peg winds and thread your string through the tuning peg opening.

~Keep the string as straight as possible.

~ Give yourself 6 inches of wiggle room in the string and then bend the tip of the string in a 90 degree angle.

  1. Tighten It Up!

~Holding the bridge end of the string with your hand for tension, use the tuning key (or your hand) to turn the tuning peg so that the string loops once over the tip of the string protruding from the turning peg, and all of the other loops fall under the string tip.

~Tip: Make sure your string is one note lower than the thicker string after it as a check to keep from over-tightening!

~ Use your wire cutters and cut off the extra string sticking out from the tuning peg as close to the peg as you can.

~ Use your pliers to bend the tip of the wire down so no sharp edges stick out.

~ Using a pitch pipe or other tuner you can tune the strings and begin to play your acoustic guitar.

~ Note: New strings stretch as they get played! We recommend re-tuning one or two more times after playing.

Where Can You Buy Acoustic Guitar Strings?

We recommend visiting your local music store, guitar in hand if you are unsure of the best type and gauge for your acoustic guitar so you can get face to face help with a professional. In addition to the advice you will be able to hear how different types of strings sound on demo guitars in the shop.

If you are undecided about what type to purchase, check out popular guitar forums on the web for the opinion of other experienced acoustic guitar players for their insight before making a final purchase.

If you know what type of strings you prefer and your gauge preference, we suggest shopping around for the best price both locally and online. Local shops may offer seasonal sales and online stores often sell in bulk to save you money.

10 Effective Tips for Learning the Guitar

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Playing the guitar is a fun and creative outlet, but some feel it’s too challenging to learn. While you will need to put in a lot of practice time to actually sound good, learning the guitar can be a great experience . It may even become your new favorite hobby. Here are ten effective tips to use as you start learning to play the acoustic guitar.

learning the guitar

 

 

1. Keep your thumb on the back of the neck of the guitar

 

Doing so will increase your accuracy and precision because it forces you to use your fingertips to play the guitar notes. It also prevents the accidental muting of nearby strings that often happens when players use the flat pads of their fingers to play rather than the tips.

 

2. Practice both sitting down and standing up

 

This will get you used to playing both ways. Those who only practice sitting will find it awkward when they eventually play while standing and it may affect their technique in that position.

 

3. Try to focus intently during practice

 

This means silencing your phone. turning off the TV, and putting your focus into what you’re doing. This is one of the easiest ways to get better at playing the guitar. A surprising number of people keep all types of distractions going on in the background when they’re learning the guitar, and it can really slow down your progress.

 

4. Remember to use correct fingering when learning the guitar

 

It can be easy to simply use any finger that you want to play notes, but this won’t help you develop proper technique. Grab a chord chart if you’re not sure that you’re using the right fingering. People have been using certain fingers for specific notes on the fretboard for centuries, and for good reason: it works well.

 

5. Don’t worry about playing fast in the beginning

 

The goal of learning to play the guitar should be to nail down good technique. It’s not necessary to go fast during practice when you’re just starting out. Pay attention to your technique and you’ll be better able to play fast later on down the line.

 

6. A metronome will help improve your timing

 

A metronome or click track is a key way to improve your rhythm and timing, both of which are important to becoming a decent guitar player. Think of the metronome as a drummer in the background keeping the beat. Use a physical traditional metronome or download your favorite app to use during practice.

 

7. Ensure you’re using quality equipment

 

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your guitar, but you should buy the best acoustic guitar or other type of guitar that you can afford. Don’t look at price alone, also consider how well made the instrument is.

 

8. Remember that both hands need technique work

 

Many guitar players, especially those who are just starting out, will focus so much on what their left hand is doing that they neglect to train their right hand just as much. Both are essential for playing the guitar well, so don’t forget to specifically work on improving your right hand’s technique as you practice. Once you get more comfortable with what your left hand is supposed to do, work on exercises that will strengthen the skills in your other hand.

 

9. Practice consistently

 

If you practice guitar playing for two hours one day, then don’t practice against for two weeks — and you keep up a random practice schedule — your progress will come much more slowly. The best thing to do is practice consistently for a shorter amount of time. For instance, you can choose to work on your guitar skills every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for an hour during each session.

 

10. Practice is a good time to try difficult chords

 

As you improve your guitar playing and continue to practice, you’ll come across chords that are difficult for you to play. Don’t avoid working on these chords just for the sake of doing what comes easier. Challenging yourself a bit will help you become a more well rounded player. If you keep at it you’ll eventually be able to play the chords that initially give you trouble.

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Why Everyone Is Learning How To Play The Acoustic Guitar

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Why Should You Learn How To Play The Acoustic Guitar?

 

  • The question isn’t why should you learn to play the acoustic guitar? It is why not? Everyone is learning to play guitar today, because it is a great pass time and a skill that can lead your life in new directions. It is cool, sexy and smart to see someone wielding an ax, but even more hot when the know how to play it well. All the best players can play acoustic and electric guitar. Which is why, the real artist in you should give playing an acoustic guitar a try first.
  • Another reason why everyone should learn how to play the acoustic guitar is fun. No other instrument is more enjoyable to play for recreational purposes, because you can take it anywhere, tune up and be ready to put on a show. Even the most novice players can be ready to dazzle an audience on the road, in a bar, at an open mic or on the beach. Acoustic is the only way to go, since going unplugged allows a guitar player backstage entrance at any event with or without power. Rock and roll was meant to be player loud, but not without a hit song that uses the acoustic to bring out the heart and soul.
  • Once you see what fun it is to play guitar, your mind will be running with new songs and music. You will want to learn more and it gets easier, the more time you spend learning to play. Guitar is an instrument that is easy to learn, but can take a lifetime to master.

 

What It Takes To Learn To Play The Acoustic Guitar Successfully.

how to play an acoustic guitars

  • In order to learn to play guitar, the first step is to own a guitar. Do this right away, because in order to practice and learn music, you must have your instrument. This is the difference between someone who likes the idea of playing the acoustic guitar and someone who actually plays guitar successfully. This is a simple problem to resolve, and it doesn’t matter if you spend a little money or a lot. All guitars play music, if the person with the guitar learns their craft and practices regularly.
  • You will also want to acquire some guitar picks, steel string sets, a guitar strap and possibly a capo (a clamp that can be used to transpose the key signature position of the strings for playing different songs and music styles). These are things that you will use as you learn how to play the acoustic guitar. You will need picks right away and some people break strings, actually everyone does. So these basics can benefit your learning process and make things less stressful, until you have more experience playing the acoustic guitar.
  • If you will be carrying your guitar around with you, then a wise investment is a guitar case of some kind. There are both hard shell and soft guitar cases. This helps keep the elements, rain and heat from damaging your instrument.
  • Other than the above mentioned basic supplies, the successful guitarist must have the desire to persevere and do everything they can to learn. This will carry your ability to play the acoustic guitar through many years of enjoyment, but it takes you to make the effort. Nobody else can do that but you, and that is the a very simple truth.
  • Using your creative ideas and communicating them through music, so acoustic guitar is a great way to pass the time and improve yourself and your life skills. This is one of the most eye opening hobbies, as it life changing. Music relieves stress, learning and instrument broadens your mind and playing guitar is fun to do. There are many songs that are simple to learn, let alone you can learn to write your own compositions without a lot prior musical education.
  • Also playing the acoustic guitar will build your motor skills quicker, so you will be able to learn other instruments more easily, after playing acoustic guitar for a while.
  • If you have never played acoustic guitar before, it is simple to learn. There are online lessons, video courses or you can learn from someone. It is most fun to learn to play with someone one on one, that way you get the experience of interacting and playing music with others. Because performance and playing music together are skills that will teach you to be more musical, even if you never intend to play live in front of an audience.
  • Making the commitment to learn how to play the acoustic guitar is both easy and also a discipline. If you take these simple steps seriously, then you will be able to successfully learn to play.

 

 

In Conclusion, Why Not?

 

  • Life is made more fulfilling by learning how to play the acoustic guitar. Playing guitar is something that you can share with others and will be a source of enjoyment, all your life. So why not learn how to play acoustic guitar. Everyone should try learning how to play a musical instrument. It is a fun hobby and makes your life more interesting, plus you can have music anywhere that you go.
  • Creativity is inspired by the tools used to make music. Having a guitar and learning to play it, will be a life long part of your creativity, memories and education. Everyone can learn to play an acoustic guitar, learn a few songs and maybe learn to write your own. Nothing is more rewarding, exciting and fun to do, so give it a try. Soon your life will be filled with music, enjoy the ride.

Acoustic Guitars for Beginners-Tips on How to Select the Best Acoustic Guitar for You

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Nothing satisfies the soul like music and one of the most popular instruments for beginning wannabe rock stars and ballad writers is the ol’ six string – the acoustic guitar. Because there are hundreds of styles of acoustic guitars, choosing the right fit for you can seem to be overwhelming when you are new to playing!  This article will guide you step-by-step to pick out the very best acoustic guitar for your needs.

 

1 – What is an Acoustic Guitar?

 

  • An acoustic guitar is an instrument that produces sound through the vibration of its strings in the air when you pluck them with your fingers or a pick – namely a ‘plectrum’ in music circles. The tones of the vibrations are amplified through the guitars body, which is always hollow for the sound to echo through.

 

2 – What are the Main Parts of an Acoustic Guitar?

Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

  • Body – Sound echoes out of the body, which is the largest part of the guitar
  • Neck – The strings are stretched across this portion, and are pressed onto the fretboard
  • Fretboard – The strings are held against frets in this area to change the tone of the music
  • Strings – The quality of the sound changes with differences in length, mass, and tension of the strings, which are made from steel, nylon, or gut

 

For a more in-depth explanation of the history and sound mechanics of an acoustic guitar, check out Wikipedia’s informative lesson at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_guitar.

 

3 – What is an Acoustic Electric Guitar?

I can’t hear my guitar!

To help amply the sound, some acoustic guitars have a piezoelectric or magnetic pickup, or a microphone.

 

4 – What Acoustic Guitar is Best for Beginners?

 

There is no set “best” guitar – you need to try one on like a pair of pants! Some of the major choices to select from are:

 

  • Mini, ¾ and Full-Size Guitars – for Youth, Young Adults and Adults
  • Left or Right-Handed Guitars
  • 6 or 12 String Guitars
  • Neck Length
  • Body Size

 

5 – What Acoustic Guitar should I buy?

I’m a Soccer fan who Loves Folk Music, He’s a Banker who Loves Country Blues

 

  • Classical Guitar – The classical acoustic guitars use strings made from Nylon or Gut and tend to have small bodies. Used for Folk music, Spanish style ballads and flamenco music, romantic ballads and medieval or Baroque music.

 

  • Steel-String Acoustic Guitar – These guitars use steel strings and are typically used for Western, Rockabilly and Americana Music. You can rock’n’roll, sing a twangin’ tune or strum a simple upbeat melody with these versatile, louder acoustic guitars. In contrast to a classical guitar they tend to have a large hollow body.

 

  • Also, another steel-stringed acoustic guitar known as the Hawaiian Guitar or Lap Steel Guitar – The musician presses a metal or glass bar against the strings instead of pressing the strings against the fretboard using fingers.

 

6 – Where Do I Buy My Acoustic Guitar?

 

Research: Now that you’re armed with the basic how-to’s of what acoustic guitar you should buy, research the market for the best maker, or brand, of guitar that you would like to purchase. For example, some guitar websites such as Acousticguitar.com/ offer customer and professional musician reviews.

 

Shop local, get lessons: Once you have narrowed down the style and the brand, research your local music shops to promote local business and save big on discounts during shopping seasons.

 

  • One of the biggest benefits of buying a guitar locally is being able to try it on for size. Nearly all music stores and pawn shops that sell quality acoustic guitars will allow you to play them on the storeroom floor to see if you like the way they feel. Try the one you like, than try two more just to be sure!  Each guitar has its own feel, sound and style! Take them out for a test play!
  • The veteran musicians that run small music stores will give you a complete walk-through of your newly selected guitar, the types of strings you should purchase, and what type of pick you should use if you do not want to strum the strings using only your fingers.

 

  • Local stores also typically offer music lessons or can give you the number of local acoustic guitar music instructor.

 

Now You’re Ready

Get out there and start that garage band!

Knowing the difference between acoustic guitar styles will save you hours of frustration and hard earned money you can use for extra strings! Enjoy your newfound musical prowess with your friends and help them pick out a guitar, too!