Teach Yourself While Having Fun in the Process

Have you ever watched the guitarist of your favorite band shred their instrument to pieces or listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s soul-wrenching solos and thought “Wow! I wanna do that!”? If you have, then the painful realization might have come that you don’t even know how to properly hold a guitar, much less play one.

Then there are others of you, who have tried lessons from an instructor, and, after a few short months, gave up on the instrument that you once dreamed to play. Well, I’ve been there, and for certain people like you and I, that isn’t the way to learn.

Let me start off by saying I am no expert. I am not some master guitarist that sells records and plays 24/7. I’m a normal guy that can jam with some friends, learn my favorite songs, and casually write some riffs here and there. But I am getting better and better and soon I will be that guy, just like you can be.

I learn online. And while it may not seem possible, it is very easy if you use all of your online resources.

First, you’ll need a guitar. For your first guitar, when you are still learning the basics, you want something cheap so that it isn’t too big of an investment. The best way to do this is to look online at used guitars or look in pawn shops. When looking for used equipment, be sure to look for any damages to the guitar. Cracked bodies or necks, broken tuning pegs (the things you turn at the top of the guitar), or anything else. When looking for a guitar, if you can, bring someone who can play already along with you. They will be able to guide you and test out each guitar. If you can’t do this, just strum a few times, make sure there are six strings, and check for any part that is obviously broken.

It is also well worth your time to invest in a guitar tuner. They are around twelve dollars on Amazon and allow you to tune your guitar to perfect tuning in no time at all. If you don’t want to go this route, you can listen to each individual note (E, A, D, G, B, e) on YouTube and try and tune by ear. This is a little more difficult for the beginner but if you put some time into it you can make it work. There are also some very good tutorials on tuning a guitar.

From here, it gets fun. Now don’t get me wrong, learning to play guitar can be challenging, but it isn’t hard because it is FUN. Unlike taking guitar lessons from someone, now you are your own teacher. You can choose what songs to learn, and trust me, when you are learning a song you want to learn there is no stopping you.

Now, there are thousands of videos online about starting to play guitar, and most are very good. I, personally, can vouch for martyzsongs on YouTube and his teaching style. He explains things very well and on his account you can find nearly any song you can think of. He also starts each video warning you if it is a more advanced song. But, if his teaching style isn’t for you, you can go to any search engine and look up a tutorial for the song you are looking for and it will come up.

Next, we have tablatures. These are written or drawn sheets that have lines with numbers on them. Songsterr is a nice site because it allows you to click play and then you can hear what the tab sounds like. Most tablature sites don’t allow you to do this, which is the main issue I have with them. This means you can’t always hear the timing and that can be a problem.

Aside from that, though, they are very simple to learn from. Each line represents a string on the guitar. It is as if you were looking down at the neck from the left side of your guitar (or right side, if you are on a left-handed guitar). Each number represents a fret, which is the spacing between the little ridges on the neck of the guitar. There are also tutorials online on how to read tabs. Tablatures are how I first learned, until I started watching videos such as Marty’s. I learn better with the visual of someone playing it, but I know people who swear by tabs and that’s the only way they do it. I think using both would be best.

And that’s it! Your technique may need to be corrected every once and a while but a simple search online and you’ll find thousands of people explaining how to fret best or strum the fastest, each of them usually slightly different. From here, you are on your own. Look up your favorite songs or look up beginner tunes and just choose the ones you like, because learning songs you don’t want to learn can really suck the fun and excitement out of things.

Learning online is the best way, in my opinion, because you can play what you want, when you want, without having to pay a dime for a lesson.

Just remember, if you are having a problem, there is somebody else out there on the internet that has had the same problem and most likely found a solution. An internet search can solve just about anything you might encounter.

Snark SN-2 All Instrument Clip-On Chromatic Tuner
Amazon Price: $39.00 $6.19 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 8, 2014)
I use this tuner, and have for a long time. Works great.