Learning the Guitar.

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Sep 27, 2005
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Cheshire, England
I've bought a guitar with the intent of having a dabble.
I'm not musically talented and can not read music.

Are there any short cuts or easy learning resources you can recommend?
Or is it a long hard slog?
If you dont read music, play using tab. It basically shows you where to put your fingers.
I was self taught, but wish I had taken lessons, if you are just dabbling, then get some song books that have tabbed music, and teach yourself, great fun while drinking.
Well, a lot depends on what kind of music you want to play - for example, for the classic rock stuff, you can get by with a simple bar chord for a ton of it, but for jazz, get ready for a lot of work. A good chord reference book will go a long way - learn the basic chords and you'll be able to play a lot of stuff pretty quickly.
And good luck! You'll love it! I bought my first guitar when a leg injury killed an entire season of skiing and I was looking for something else to do, and I am so glad I learned to play!
A good starting point for those less musically talented would be to learn the basic open chords for guitar, and practice strumming to a metronome.

If youre looking to dabble I think that would probably be your best starting point, once you learn those chords maybe look up some of your favorite songs tabs and give them a whirl.

Good luck!

What kind of axe did you get?
Check out 911tabs.com. They have guitar tablatures that help you figure out where to postion your fingers on the fret board. You can pick most songs to try and play.

When I started I playing, I played alot of ACDC songs. There fairly easy to learn..
I started taking lessons last August after procrastinating for years; I will never turn back, it is so much fun. I am also in the same boat as you. I cannot read music very well whatsoever and am not very musically inclined, but i'm getting there!

That being said, if you are a determined, focused and strict individual you shouldn't have any issues. This website is a great start; however, there are tons of other tab / lessons sites out there.

I would start off learning scales as it has helped me tremendously. Pentatonic / Diatonic scales and go on from there and start trying to learn some of your favorite songs.

Just realize that it isn't going to be a tremendously easy task, but it is fun and rewarding. ;)
+1 on the open chords. I've played guitar for 17 years now and taught myself. A chord chart like the one stimey posted is great. The only sloggy part about it is getting through the frustration of knowing the chords in your mind and getting your fingers to do what your mind is telling them to do. That was the hardest part to get through early on for me. Once you get through that, it really becomes a lot of fun. Some of the more commonly used chords are A, Am, B, Bm, C, D, E, Em, F, G.

One way to do it, would be to pick a relatively easy song you like and learn those chords. My first one was "Free Falling" and when I could play that song, I thought I was the greatest.:rockin:

Playing simple rock songs by ear can be easy... just listen to the bass line. The bass notes usually reflect what the chords are or can at least guide you in the right direction. Also, to figure out what key a song is in... it's usually the first chord. E.g., if the first chord is a D, then the song is most likely in the key of D. Knowing that can help you with the lead solo stuff.
menschmaschine said:
Some of the more commonly used chords are A, Am, B, Bm, C, D, E, Em, F, G.

One way to do it, would be to pick a relatively easy song you like and learn those chords. My first one was "Free Falling" and when I could play that song, I thought I was the greatest.
I've been playing various musical instruments since grade school. I never REALLY mastered any of them, but I've got a solid enough musical background to grab nearly any instrument and at least become an average hack at it within a few weeks. For the last few years I've been focusing on the guitar. It's been very rewarding, but I haven't committed enough time to really get good at it.

Regarding the open chords, mensch is exactly right...except that I would try to learn them in the following order:
G, C, D, Am, Em, E, A, F (not barred), F (barred), Bm, B

When learning Free Falling, learn to play it in the key of D using the simple chords:
D, Dsus4, Dsus2

It will sound TERRIBLE if you play along with the CD since you're learning it in a slightly higher key, but it's quite simple, and it's a great strumming exercise. Since playing it this way is pretty easy, it makes for a good first song to learn to play and sing at the same time.

When you're ready to step up the difficulty, learn to play it in the key of E (tab is available on the Internet). IIRC, the CD version is in Eb, played on a guitar that's detuned a half step.
I knew how to read music going in, but found tabs were much easier. I got a book with tabs about classic theme songs or something and ecah time I'd perfect a song another would be there for me to learn. After I got the hang of those I got an easy classic rock book, and now I'm downloading and playing clapton and mayer a little less than a year into it :rockin:
Hey Orfy, its a long and hard slog - truth

I've been playing for close to 30 years now

it doesn't take that long to learn to play something you like though

depending on what you want to learn to play, you can learn to play it in 2-3 weeks most likely

What kind of music are you wanting to play ?

I've got a collection of just about every style of guitar lesson, video tapes, DVDs, music books - I read music too - If you've got any questions about which lessons are good and which ones to avoid, I can give you some hints.
Just remember... "Its a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll" (I just watched School of Rock)

The easiest way to learn guitar is to pick up an acoustic and learn your open chords. You master 3 of them (G C D) and you can learn a surprising number of songs. Guitar is pretty cool, you get what you put in...good luck!!
Cool thanks guys.

I was hoping for that response. So I go look at Tabs and open cords.
At least I'll have a picture of what I'm getting into.

A give you a shout when I actually pick the thing up.
well, this might be late, but if you don't know how to read music (most people don't) then guitar tabs are what you want... they are without a doubt the greatest thing to come along for all guitarists...

anyway, www.ultimate-guitar.com has a great database, as well as the results from this google search: [ame]http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=guitar+tabs&btnG=Google+Search[/ame]

i've been playing for 15 years (wow that makes me feel old) and I consider myself to be "OK" it's something that def requires a lot of practice and patience...
there are no shortcuts, practice is the only way. If you take lessons, take classical or jazz, that way there is nothing you can't play. I've been playing on and off for 28 years, but i suck cuz i only put about 1 hour a week in, if that.
I don't play myself, but watched my brother learn and get pretty darn good at it while we were growing up. I would play around with his guitar every now and then myself, so I know a little bit about what you're up against. I don't know why I never really wanted to learn. I got pretty good at brass instruments myself, but that's pretty useless now for me as an adult. I wish I had learned guitar or piano back then.

The advice others have given you about tabs and chords is sound.

Now some practical advice. The first thing you are going to need to do is develop callouses on the tips of your fingers on your chord hand (normally your left hand). This means practicing enough every day, but no so much that your fingers bleed. It's frustrating because you want to play for hours, but you probably should limit it to a half hour once or twice a day until your fingers get toughened up.

Then you need to just work at it. At first it is very frustrating because you know what you want to do, but it's hard to get your fingers to go there.
If you keep at it, though, it's one of those things where you'll have an epiphany one day where you'll say, holy crap I'm really playing this thing! Try to play for an hour if you can, at least 5 days a week. You should find that you make steady progress that way until you get good enough that you will really enjoy playing.
I've been playing for about 15 years now and I'm in my jazz phase. I started off learning to read music and tablature at the same time. It wasn't quickly paced enough for me, so I just start figure stuff out by ear. If you're not interested in learning how to read music, then don't. I agree with learning tab and your chords. If you want to play lead/solos, learn some basic scales (e.g. pentatonic). You can pretty much take your scales and just play them in whatever key the song is in. You also might want to learn the difference between Majors and Minors. Just have fun with it, thats what hobbies are for!
A decent well setup guitar for starters. As many chord books as you can get your hands on. I think I wore the covers off of everthing Mel Bay had to offer back in the 60's. A good guitar teacher. I studied under Rex Gallien in the late 60's. Old time players will recognize the name. I took that coarse for technique. Something the old time jazz players had plenty of.
Some guitar players are naturals, my little 18 yo nephew has never had a lesson in his life but can play note for note every Van Halen lead riff with all the divebombs, hammerons, pulloffs, bends, pich harmonics and every guitar trick known. He only knows a few bar chords tho and does not know what they are.
Myself, I am older now and concentrate on perfecting my Tbone Walker.
I got interested abiut 1 year ago, using my wife's classical guitar, and I would pick out the bass line playing alog with bluegrass music ...

Agreat hobby, and you will always be able to join in w/other players ...

Lots of fun. My daughter is taking lessons at school, and she and I practice the songs together ... our latest accomplishments include Yellow submarine and Octopus' Garden.

I agree that motor memory is amazing after you get used to the chords .. it just gets better with time (like good beer) but time with the guitar is needed, obviously ..

BTW - I would up getting my folk guitar on EBAY (NEW Fok guitar - $18) .. so I bid $18 to start, ready to gi much higher ... won the auction at 18 bucks... and yes, the unit is not made out of cardboard , and it was strung !

Wife's classical sounds much better..
FWIW, I have been playing for a good long time and I never once regretted the time or expense spent taking lessons when I first started.
The guitar is such a versatile instrument. Beautiful warm, clean sounds can be gotten from an acoustic... both steel string and nylon. For me, the electric guitar opened up a whole world of sounds. Combinations of quality effects, amps, even down to the pick used can create wonderful and fascinating sounds. For my ears, it just doesn't get any better than a Korg SDD-3000 through a Vox AC30.
I started playing guitar 12 years ago. As many have suggested here, pick some songs you like and learn to play them. This keeps you motivated. If you just learn chords and have no way to put them together you will get bored fast.

Here are a few songs that could get you started:

Pearl Jam - Last Kiss (Originally recorded by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers):

Same four chords for the entire song.

Bob Dylan - Knockin on Heavens Door:

If you're a Dylan fan his early albums are a good place to start. Most of the songs are very simple.

Then of course, you must learn as many Beatles songs as possible. :D

I have to warn you though. When you first start playing it's awkward as hell. It can get very frustrating at times. But once you get a few of the basic chords down you will progress fast. As they say, the guitar is easy to learn but hard to master.