One of the countless gifts the internet has given us is the ability to teach ourselves. I picked up a guitar for the first time about ten years ago, and was able to teach myself through resources on the web.

If you’re interested in learning to play guitar, the internet is waiting to take you by the hand and make you the next Jimmi Hendrix.

Reader Suggestion

Laura, a Genius Types reader, recently contacted me about her favorite online guitar resources. Man, how things have changed. You used to have to scratch together bits and pieces of badly recreated tablature scattered all over the net. Now, there are free training videos abound.

Thanks, Laura, for bringing me back to an exciting period in my life! I absolutely love to play guitar. Some of the most special moments of my life have been with my friends, guitar in hand, singing at the top of my lungs!

Anyone Can Learn

With enough determination, anyone can learn to play the guitar; but from my experience, some people just seem to have that music gene, and get it much faster than others. You’ll quickly know if you’re one of those people. If you’re not, you’ll lose interest before it gets you down.

Lesson One

The first thing to learn when you are new to the guitar is how to play the seven basic chords: A, B, C, D, E, F, & G.

Go to ChordFind.com and look up your finger positions for these chords. Try to keep your fingers as close to the fret as possible to minimize vibrations. Strive to play clean chords, meaning that your fingers don’t stray from the string they’re supposed to be on and mute other strings.

Finger Strength

The first problem you’ll face is that your fingers won’t want to go to the required positions to play chords. This is because your fingers have never been in those positions before and have not built up enough strength. The more you practice, the more strength you will build, and the easier it will come.

Step Two

Once you’ve learned to play the seven basic chords, it’s time to learn how to switch between them. Try switching from G to C to D, a common chord progression.

At first, you’ll feel like your fingers have a mind of their own. You’ll be trying to tell them where to go, but they’ll act as if they are lost. It takes a lot of practice to commit these movements to muscle memory.

Put The Guitar Down

When you start to get really frustrated, it’s time to put the guitar down and think about something else for awhile. Your body needs some time to rebuild muscle fibers in your fingers, build calluses on your finger tips, and to untangle the jumble in your head.

Pick it back up the next day, and you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your playing.

Strum Patterns

The next step is to learn how to move your strumming hand (for right handers, it’s your right). Most guitar teachers will tell you that this should be your first lesson, but I find that it’s too tempting to get into chords first.

The key to strumming is to keep a rhythmic, metronome-like motion with your hand. Your hand should be moving up and down, back and forth like the tail on a cuckoo clock.

After you find this rhythm, learn to hit or miss the strings based on what kind of strum pattern you want. Try to hit the strings on down, down, down, down, up, down… etc.

If you’re only hitting the strings on down strokes, then you haven’t got it yet.

Play a Song!

Once you’ve learned the seven basic chords, how to change chords, and how to strum, you’re ready to learn your first song! Find a very simple song with basic chords and give it a try. Prepare to be very frustrated! It takes a long time to get it down. Just remember to set the guitar down each time you hit a wall.

Tablature

Guitar Tablature, or “Tab” is a the easiest way to learn songs. Tab is easily accessible on the internet and doesn’t require any music theory to read.

In Tablature, you’ll find six lines to represent the six strings of a guitar. The numbers on the strings represent which fret to play.

Here are a few places to find it:

GuitareTAB
Tab Crawler

Unfortunately, most of the good sites for guitar tablature like OLGA.net and GuitarZone.com have been shut down by threats from the Music Publisher’s Association.

Why they would want to go after these guys is beyond me. The tab is all unofficial, meaning written by observers who are taking a guess as to how the song goes. Having guitar players learn musician’s songs only promotes the music. Plus, why would you want to kill the constructive past time of thousands of otherwise misguided youth?

I can understand why musicians would want to get paid for distribution of their music, but for learning their songs on guitar? It seems a little greedy.

Laura’s Video Sites

Laura recommends these sites to learn guitar via video:

Video Tabs Archive
Next Level Guitar
Guitar Vids
Marcos Augusto Farhat
JustinGuitar.com