(1) Start learning chords on the E and A strings.
It’ll be easier to move your hand and play other chords as everything can be moved up and down. From this starting point, you can get used to placing your fingers on the fret.
(2) Practice consistently.
Most people don’t have time to practice for hours each day. It can be hard enough to find 10 minutes! The good news is that even a short practice session can be very effective if you’re focused on what you’re doing, and if you do it regularly. Consistent practice helps with learning songs, remembering chords and building skills like picking, fretting, and strumming.
(3) Press the frets with the very tip of your fingers.
When holding basic chords, try to play right up on your fingertips rather than placing the fingers flat down or on its sides. This way, you can fret the string you’re aiming for without accidentally touching the neighboring strings and muting open strings. The buzzy muted sound happens when you’re not cleanly pressing the frets down. If in doubt on why that is, pluck the strings one at a time to identify what you need to fix. Also try to get your fingers behind each fret for the cleanest sound.
(4) You don’t need an in-person class or teacher to start learning.
Once you understand the basics of playing the guitar, you can create your own path. Many world-famous guitarists are self taught. Imagine if someone told Jimi Hendrix not to use the fretting hand thumb because it’s “not correct” or forced him to play right-handed. Would he ever have become such a pioneer with his electric guitar? Yousician will make sure that you master the basics and that you have everything you need to know to start playing guitar.
(5) Moveable chords rock!
After a little experimenting, you’ll notice that the same chord shapes can be moved around the fretboard to get other chords. This works for power chords (the bread and butter of riffs), but also altering the major chord just a little bit can create a variety of new chords: minors, dominant sevenths, augmented, and so on (you can learn these chords on Yousician). If you have really small hands, and some chord shapes are impossible, look for alternate chord shapes. You can always play a chord in more than one way.
If you’re worried about the notorious barre chords, it’s ok. In Yousician, we’ll help you build the skills step by step and show you alternative shapes if your fingers aren’t ready.
(6) Don’t let music theory stop you.
Some people just want to play their favorite songs and not have to learn music theory. Others love to learn how music works so they understand why and what they’re doing on the guitar. Theory can help with tuning the guitar by ear and even help with learning certain chords. At Yousician, we believe that if you are gradually introduced to elements of music theory as they become relevant, you can have the best of both worlds: great practical playing skills and enough theory to give you a sense of mastery and understanding that’s appropriate for your playing level.
(7) Find what’s comfortable for you when you play.
When playing guitar, it’s worth taking some time to work on your posture. Nobody wants to put their back out when they’re rockin’! Try to avoid straining your neck, twisting your back, or tensing up. Focus on finding the most relaxed and natural playing position for you. A comfortable stool or chair can help and it makes it much easier than sitting on the floor or on your bed.
Just make sure you’re not slouching and try to play tabs at eye level. You can gradually work towards not looking down at the frets as you play. In the end, the most important thing about learning to play guitar is to find your way of playing and not let anyone force you into a mold. Have fun!
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