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Six Tips for Beginner Guitarists

Six Tips for Beginner Guitarists

by Phil Barrow April 16, 2011

Whenever you begin to learn a new instrument, it’s really important to get into good habits as early as possible – bad habits are so hard to break! It’s normal when you start out to feel a flush of excitement, and feel like you just want to pick up that instrument and make it rock.But before you jump in at the deep end, read through Ryan’s list of tips to make your guitar lessons as rewarding as possible.

(6 Tips Below)

TIP #1 – TUNING YOUR GUITAR:

Always tune your guitar before you start. You might not need to adjust the tuning every time you play, but you should get into the habit of checking the tuning of the strings so that you will be able to tell when a tune up is needed. You can use an electronic tuner or pitch pipes – play each string and listen carefully. A string which is in tune will sound pure, an out of tune string will produce beats or pulses in your ears. It’s also a really good idea to learn how to tune your guitar by ear – so that each string is tuned based on the pitch of the previous one. It’s more difficult to do it this way as a beginner, but it’s a great way to develop your ear. Always start tuning your instrument by checking the lowest E string, and then work up to each string in turn.

TIP #2 – WATCH YOUR POSTURE:

Don’t sit tensed up and hunched over – it’s a fast way to aches and pains. Relax your body and sit up straight, and don’t use a chair with arms because they’ll just get in the way.

TIP #3 – USING YOUR FINGERS:

Don’t put your fingers directly on the frets (the metal bits which divide the headboard up into notes)! You should press gently with your fingertips just behind the fret. If you’re getting an ugly buzzing sound, you need to move your finger in a bit closer to the fret. If you press too hard your fingers will hurt and your arm will not be relaxed enough. In the beginning, it’s normal for your fingers to get a bit sore, but in time you’ll develop harder skin over your fingertips and the pain will go away. If you feel as though your fingers are going stiff, stop playing and do some stretching exercises; your fingers have muscles which need to be warmed up and exercises just like an athlete’s!

TIP #4 – HOLDING PICKS:

Use the tip of the pick and hold tight. Try to find a position which is comfortable for you, so you can almost forget it’s there – think of it as an extension of your finger nail. Grip the pick so that only a couple of millimetres are peeking out between your fingertips. Guitar picks can be hard or thin – you might be more comfortable with a thin pick while you’re just starting out.

TIP #5 – LEARN THE LANGUAGE:

Learn the names of all the parts of your guitar. Here are some terms to get you started: nutfretheelbridgesoundboardfretboardbody, and headstock.

TIP #6 – PRACTICING:

How you practice is important. Buy yourself a metronome and practice playing with it – it will make you play in strict time, and is also useful because you can notch up the tempo little by little and learn to play faster. Practice every day. If you can find someone, practice with a friend – it’s more fun and you’ll learn how to respond to another player, a crucial skill if you want to play in a band one day. Play in front of other people – even if you can only play very simple things right now, show off what you can do in front of your grandma! Performing in front of others makes most people nervous, and nerves cause mistakes. Start as early as you can to combat stage-fright and before long you’ll be striding out on a stadium stage somewhere with the spot-light on you and your guitar!

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Phil Barrow

Phil discovered his passion for music in his early teens when he began learning to play the guitar. He attended the VCC School of Music where he studied jazz and contemporary guitar performance. Phil joined Resound as a guitar teacher in 2013 and has been the school’s Director since 2014.