#1 Edited by SexyToad (2760 posts) -

I had a guitar in my closet that I have tried to play before, but quickly gave up. So I thought with a new year, other than looking for a job, I'm thinking of getting to learn how to play guitar too. It'll be great if you guys can point me to some guides and other tools you may have used when you got started (or still do use).

#2 Edited by csl316 (8439 posts) -

I'd say look at some tutorials on how to actually position your hands and the instrument. Like, extreme close up Youtube videos that demonstrate holding a pick, how to pick, how to fret. If you get that sort of stuff down it'll help your technique earlier.

Then try to figure out some songs. Just mess around and learn simple melodies by ear. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's just good to teach yourself to listen.

Then maybe find some tabs for some basic songs.

Practice playing to a rhythm. It could be a metronome, but I did it by just hitting random notes to an album while trying to follow the beat. Like I just chugged through all of Master of Puppets (more fun than a metronome, let me tell ya).

This is how I did stuff before the internet. I sort of half-assed step one and paid for it later when I started lessons.

#3 Posted by TyCobb (1966 posts) -

Rocksmith works pretty good. I wish it was around when I was actually learning to play bass 13 years ago (holy crap....).

I use http://www.songsterr.com/ for tabs. It's what the old mx-tabs site turned into.

#4 Edited by csl316 (8439 posts) -

@tycobb: Oh wow, I went over to Sputnikmusic but I thought the tab part was dead forever.

#5 Posted by TyCobb (1966 posts) -

@csl316: Yea, it was dead for a long time.

#6 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Perform actions that will promote learning?

#7 Posted by MentalDisruption (1622 posts) -

Rocksmith is really good if you're willing to drop the cash on it. Make sure you focus on properly holding the guitar as well as building up proper muscle memory in your fingers. The name of the game when you're starting out is technique. Then move onto learning your favorite songs if you wish.

#8 Edited by SexyToad (2760 posts) -

@mentaldisruption: @tycobb: Looking at Rocksmith, it seems I need an actual electric guitar. I probably should have mention I have an acoustic.

@csl316 said:

I'd say look at some tutorials on how to actually position your hands and the instrument. Like, extreme close up Youtube videos that demonstrate holding a pick, how to pick, how to hold it, how to fret. If you get that sort of stuff down it'll help your technique earlier.

Then try to figure out some songs. Just mess around and learn simple melodies by ear. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's just good to teach yourself to listen.

Then maybe find some tabs for some basic songs.

Practice playing to a rhythm. It could be a metronome, but I did it by just hitting random notes to an album while trying to follow the beat. Like I just chugged through all of Master of Puppets (more fun than a metronome, let me tell ya).

This is how I did stuff before the internet. I sort of half-assed step one and paid for it later when I started lessons.

Thanks will do. I think I mainly just have to get the form right first.

#9 Posted by MentalDisruption (1622 posts) -

@sexytoad: Hah same here. Welcome to the acoustic club!

#10 Edited by csl316 (8439 posts) -

@mentaldisruption: Some people mentioned Rocksmith, and while I dislike its note highway setup, it has a whole lot of introductory stuff that's laid out in a logical manner.

But really, for songs just learn tab. No use having to learn Rocksmith's note highway when there are thousands and thousands of tabs available out there. (If you don't know what tabs are, it's just 6 lines representing your strings. And the number tells you what fret to hit)

#11 Edited by RonGalaxy (3116 posts) -

Start with a classical guitar. That's what I did and once you learn proper hand placement, fretting, the basics really, then move to a steel string. Starting off with harsher strings makes it much harder to learn (and it hurts a lot more).

Most importantly, listen to a lot of music, learn how to play songs, develop your ear. A good musical ear is a very valuable tool for a musician. It's especially good if you are bored to death by 'proper' music theory (like me) and are unwilling to learn that stuff (like me).

#12 Edited by Sinusoidal (1420 posts) -

I'm entirely self-taught. I learned mostly by playing along with R.E.M. and Bad Religion tunes. I don't advise it. At least the entirely self-taught thing. Especially if you don't want to take 15 years to get any good at it. Do try and play along with songs you like, that's some great motivation.

#13 Posted by Buneroid (428 posts) -
#14 Posted by Damodar (1343 posts) -

Firstly, I'd second the idea that developing your ear is pretty crucial. It leads to all sorts of skills that basically just result in playing that is more musical in nature. A good way to do this is just to try and work things out by ear. Start out small, just figuring out a melody line or some such here and there, build up an understanding of the different sounds created by different intervals between notes and what that sound evokes. When learning a new song, try and work out a riff or a chord progression for yourself. That sort of stuff. The internet has made it so, so much easier to learn guitar than ever before, but the pitfall is that because it's so easy to just go and get a tab of a song, it makes it easy to be lazy and neglect developing your listening skills. Maybe every once in a while, eschew the tab and try and figure it out yourself, even if it's just part of the song. Or the flipside of that, don't just blindly follow a tab, because they could easily be wrong. If it sounds wrong, try to figure out why and how to make it sound right.

The second thing I would say is that more than anything, you presumably want to learn to play guitar because you think it will be enjoyable. Or maybe you're doing it to get women, I don't know. Let's assume you're doing it for fun. So keep that in mind. It's good to be diligent with practice if you're actually interesting in developing decent chops etc, but don't put yourself in a position that's going to make you resentful of the time you spend with the instrument. Frustration in certain quantities can be a good thing that can drive you to get better, but if it's too much, you need to remember why you're doing what you're doing and take a break to just play along with a song you love or something like that.

#15 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2689 posts) -

#16 Edited by NoCookiesForYou (759 posts) -

@damodar: Excellent point. You need to keep in mind that you can't just pick up a guitar and expect to master it after a week. It's a process and in that process there will be times where you'll get frustrated. If you're in it for the long haul, it gets easier after you accept that.

Checkout Jamplay. They offers video-based, online guitar lessons. It's a subscription based service. Even if you're not interested in paying for their service, they offer 7 day free trial. That should at least get you started and give you some direction.

#17 Posted by CitizenCoffeeCake (500 posts) -

Decide what you want to do primarily. Write your own songs? Learn to shred? Play some sing along classics around a campfire? Maybe all of the above but identifying what direction you want to go in will help you decide what lessons to pursue so you don't end up honing a skill that wont help you get where you want to go.

#18 Posted by Butano (1731 posts) -

Well, I had a guitar teacher when I first started playing about....10 years ago now I think? It helped tremendously as he was able to pick up on some bad habits I was doing and pointed them out to me. I actually just picked up Rocksmith 2014 and it's pretty good for the most part, though I'm not sure why they reversed the string placement instead of just doing it like tabs do.

A site I used to frequent was www.ultimate-guitar.com, though it's gotten pretty ad-heavy in recent years.

#19 Posted by armaan8014 (5380 posts) -
#20 Posted by mordukai (7150 posts) -

@tycobb said:

Rocksmith works pretty good. I wish it was around when I was actually learning to play bass 13 years ago (holy crap....).

I use http://www.songsterr.com/ for tabs. It's what the old mx-tabs site turned into.

Well I disagree with you Rocksmith view. Putting aside the fact that it's got a horrendous menu system and quite a bit of lag; rocksmith is only really good at teaching you how to play the song. That's all good and all but it doesn't take the time to teach why certain notes are played the way they are and good finger positioning as to lead you from one chord to another with minimal finger movement. In short, it's kinda shit at teaching you guitar theory which is kind of a bummer because Rocksmith could have been a great tool for that.

I will agree with you on songsterr. Great and helpful site. I don't know where they get their tabbing but it the most accurate of all the sites.

As @naru_joe93 advised. Start with a classical guitar. Your fingers will thank you. Once you get to a point where you think you are ready to move to acoustic then do that.

Play to your strength. If you see that "shredding" path is not working out too much then practice your rhythm. Not many good rhythm players out there these days. Everyone wants to be the next Yngwie Malmsteen.

Also, don't be against getting a teacher if you can afford it. Even a few sessions will teach you great information to get you jump started.

I recommend you buying this tool. Super cheap and it helps in training your fingers.

Remember, Just have fun. Don't let frustration get to you. It'll be tough at first but once you fingers get callused and you'll your muscle memory it'll become much much easier.

#21 Edited by dudeglove (7758 posts) -

Wait, aren't you the guy who's meant to be getting a job?

#22 Posted by UitDeToekomst (709 posts) -

I would have to say it depends on your goal. If you want to learn other peoples' music, then just take some lessons or follow some of the other advice given above, and follow that up with working with tablature and such. If your goal is to write your own music and be creative, then just start fooling around with the guitar and where you place your fingers and how you strum, and the sound that emanates from the instrument in different situations, until you figure things out on your own. the world needs more creative people, and nothing promotes creativity more than the combination of sound and experimentation.

#23 Edited by csl316 (8439 posts) -

@mordukai: From what I read, apparently MXtabs stuff showed up on Songsterr somehow. I'm pretty curious, too, since it's a huge database and the ones I looked at seemed fairly solid.

#24 Edited by TyCobb (1966 posts) -

@mordukai said:

@tycobb said:

Rocksmith works pretty good. I wish it was around when I was actually learning to play bass 13 years ago (holy crap....).

I use http://www.songsterr.com/ for tabs. It's what the old mx-tabs site turned into.

Well I disagree with you Rocksmith view. Putting aside the fact that it's got a horrendous menu system and quite a bit of lag; rocksmith is only really good at teaching you how to play the song. That's all good and all but it doesn't take the time to teach why certain notes are played the way they are and good finger positioning as to lead you from one chord to another with minimal finger movement. In short, it's kinda shit at teaching you guitar theory which is kind of a bummer because Rocksmith could have been a great tool for that.

I will agree with you on songsterr. Great and helpful site. I don't know where they get their tabbing but it the most accurate of all the sites.

As @naru_joe93 advised. Start with a classical guitar. Your fingers will thank you. Once you get to a point where you think you are ready to move to acoustic then do that.

Play to your strength. If you see that "shredding" path is not working out too much then practice your rhythm. Not many good rhythm players out there these days. Everyone wants to be the next Yngwie Malmsteen.

Also, don't be against getting a teacher if you can afford it. Even a few sessions will teach you great information to get you jump started.

I recommend you buying this tool. Super cheap and it helps in training your fingers.

Remember, Just have fun. Don't let frustration get to you. It'll be tough at first but once you fingers get callused and you'll your muscle memory it'll become much much easier.

Learning guitar theory is not learning how to play for a complete novice and unless an instructor is involved, one will never learn it at the beginning stages. If anyone has any actual determination to learn how to play, I am sure they will look at the thousands upon thousands of resources online to help them out in conjunction to whatever they may be using (Rocksmith, Tab book, Learn to Play X, etc.)

Songsterr is user submitted. Just need it in a GuitarPro format and submit it. It's also how you can submit corrections to songs.

#25 Edited by ShaggE (6420 posts) -

Another vote for Justin Guitar. That site is amazing.

#26 Posted by 9cupsoftea (654 posts) -

Learn A E and D chords (finger placements) practice changing between them. Then learn a couple more chords. Then get some tabs of songs you like and practice it. That's pretty much how anyone learns.

#27 Posted by Samael2138 (232 posts) -

Take lessons.

Unless you're just wanting to dick around, learn a couple chords, etc.....then just go to any of the above mentioned sites.

But if you really want to learn, just start taking lessons. Its far easier to learn good habits from the beginning, than to break the habits after years of doing them.

I know from experience. I was self taught, then went into a degree program for guitar performance. Re-learning a lot of basics, on top of learning music theory(which is also incredibly important), was rather difficult.

#28 Posted by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

If you have no musical background playing any other instrument, yes take lessons. There are some things you can do to make sure you get the most out of lessons beforehand though:

watch youtube video on how to hold a pick. take your guitar and play a note for each finger of your left hand: eg, 1st finger on 1st fret (any string) pluck the string, 2nd finger on second fret, and so on. Do this for a week or two. Ideally you want to be semi-comfortable holding a pick and using it to pluck individual strings before lessons start, otherwise you'll be wasting some of your lesson time of very basics like this. Your fingers will hurt for the first month or two. Do not give up. Calluses will form, it will stop hurting.

#29 Posted by zombiepenguin9 (533 posts) -

Take lessons.

Unless you're just wanting to dick around, learn a couple chords, etc.....then just go to any of the above mentioned sites.

But if you really want to learn, just start taking lessons. Its far easier to learn good habits from the beginning, than to break the habits after years of doing them.

I know from experience. I was self taught, then went into a degree program for guitar performance. Re-learning a lot of basics, on top of learning music theory(which is also incredibly important), was rather difficult.

Seconded. I've been playing guitar for 12 years, and was almost entirely self-taught for the majority of that time (I also studied guitar as a music major in college).

I know a lot of musicians who eschew ever learning any music theory or proper techniques in favor of "keepin' it pure" and learning everything by ear, and likewise, a lot of musicians who eschew anything except the concrete rules and methods of music (mostly music majors).

I think both approaches should happen concurrently. Study some music theory, do a couple of exercises to improve your dexterity, and learn a few things about the economy of movement when switching chords so you don't have to struggle when learning new songs. And then throw on some of your favorite music and jam along with it until you either learn it or come up with something cool to complement it. You'll be a better well-rounded musician than those who subscribe to only one method.

#30 Posted by NoctisLucisCaelum (94 posts) -

Pick up a guitar and practice practice practice, go get lessons if your inclined to.