How do you get started when learning Guitar?
If you are really stuck then feel free to pick up the phone for a no obligation chat. That said, this page has some info that will hopefully assist you on your path to learning guitar.
Guitars come in all shapes and size, that said there are three main types of guitar – Classical, Acoustic and Electric. I've heard it said that you should start on a nylon string guitar (Classical) before moving on to electric or acoustic. Personally, I believe it is a myth that you should start on one type before another type. Often it can come down to budget, but if you sound like the songs you want to learn or inspired you, then you are more likely to practice.
Start on the one that you want to play. I personally started on electric and later learnt acoustic and classical. If you're not sure what to go for then you don't need a guitar to get started. At NAGM, I have a collection of various guitars and you are welcome to try different ones out and explore the different techniques before committing yourself.
Do you need lessons?
There are many ways to approach learning guitar and most people you talk to will undoubtedly have their own opinions on which way is the best. I've given some examples below of different approaches to learning along with my opinions (based on experience) on the pros and considerations of each method. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list and I've tried to be as objective as possible. Obviously, I'm here to earn a living out of teaching but I want to share other options as I appreciate it's not within everyone's budget to have private lessons. In all honesty, the best way is to use a number of different approaches. In the end it will come down to self-motivation and perseverance. If you practice – you will get better.
One to One Guitar Lessons with a Qualified Teacher
This is where you will spend time with a Tutor that can focus entirely on helping you out. (Note - this is not the same as asking a mate who plays guitar)
- Individually focused - this is your lesson to learn what you want / need
- Avoids bad habits - the tutor can spot problems with technique and also provide solutions to areas you are having difficulty with
- Often quicker results - It can save a lot of time to be shown the correct way of doing something rather than try to work it out
- Plenty of feedback and tips - you don't know what you don't know so the Tutor can quickly point out mistakes, provide encouragement and give other examples you may not have considered
- If this seems too expensive to use regularly, then perhaps having lessons occasionally to sort out problem areas may be worthwhile
Group Guitar Lessons
Face to face lessons with a Tutor but with more than one student at a time. Each session often focused on a specific technique or song. This is often a cheaper option than one to one lessons but still with many of the advantages of one to one. This is a typical approach used in classes / college courses.
- Usually,cheaper than 1:1 lessons
- Feedback available (although may be limited to cover the session objectives over individual needs)
- Social Experience
- Great if the sessions cover what you want to learn
- Less individually focused
- Can be distracted by other students
- May not be the ideal level for you - Can be frustrating if at a different level to other players in group either better or less experienced
Learning Guitar from a Book
This is where you buy a book on how to play guitar and off you go. Quite often they come with a CD or online link you can play along to. (This is how I started, though it was a cassette tape back then).
- Easy to get hold of
- Once purchased, no ongoing costs
- Reference available always as you have the book
- Which book do I use? – There are loads to choose from so which is the best?
- Costs can soon add up
- No feedback on how well you are learning?
- Can introduce bad habits as no tutor to correct any mistakes, especially if you don't realise you are making mistakes
- Where do you go if you get stuck?
Free Online Guitar Lessons
There are loads of video lessons to choose from especially on You Tube. Just watch the video and do what you’re shown. A quick and easy way to learn songs or get tips on techniques. Beware - I have seen a lot of misinformation and incorrect methods when watching online videos although not intentional.
- Loads of topics and FREE!
- A very quick way to sort out a problem area in your playing or learn a song
- No way of knowing whether you are being shown correctly except through experience - the number of likes or watches does not necessarily represent the accuracy of the information in the video
- No feedback on your playing - especially if it doesn't sound right or you are having difficulty
- Can allow bad habits to quickly slip in
Online Subscription Courses - Paid
This is where you pay a subscription to watch and participate in a series of online lessons / videos. I have never used these so I cannot comment much about them. The main difference though with these courses, you’d should be able to expect the correct methods being taught by professional tutors and some have a contact you can use for feedback.
Play by Ear
Just listen to a tune and then try and work out what you have heard by playing it on guitar. You should all have a go at this - It will make you a better musician as music is a listening art.
- Excellent for building up your skills as a musician and using your ears
- Can be tricky at first, just because you haven’t the best ears in the world doesn’t mean you can’t learn guitar. You can improve your ears overtime
- You may still need to learn a few chords, scales. It is good to be able to play by ear but knowing various techniques can help you work out what is going on - i.e how do you get certain sounds?
- Although you can play a tune – you may not know what you are playing (lack of theory) and not be able to easily communicate this to others.