The Best Way To Learn How to Play Guitar

What’s the Best Way to Learn How to Play Guitar?

There are many excellent ways to learn and improve your guitar playing. The key is to find the methods that work best for you. This is a great time to be a guitar student. The following learning resources are available for beginners to virtuosos. Pick and choose the ones that work best for you.

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Learn to Play Guitar with Private Guitar Lessons

The best (and fastest) way to learn guitar is with private lessons with a good teacher. The key is a “good” teacher. One who address your specific needs and goals. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a good teacher. Plus, weekly lessons (although well worth the price) are expensive.

The good news is, there are loads of good instructional materials for guitar players — books, videos, and online resources. And, there are loads of excellent guitarists who never took guitar lessons. These include: Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Learn to Play Guitar at Group Classes

Group classes may be a good, economical compromise to private lessons. A teacher can provide a bit of one-on-one guidance, but probably not a lot. Some music stores, community colleges, and continuing education programs offer generic guitar classes like: Guitar 1, Guitar 2, Guitar 3, Beginning Blues Guitar, etc.

Learn to Play Guitar with Method Books

guitar method book
Guitar method book

Method books are a good way to learn the skills you will need to make music — like reading music and strumming basic chords. However, the exercises in method books are not particularly “musical.” Some students are anxious to get down to playing music, and don’t want to spend time learning to read music. While it can be helpful to know how to read music, a lot of great guitar players can’t read music.

Like most modern guitar-playing books, method books often include an audio CD with samples of the songs and exercises you’ll be playing.

Learn to Play Guitar with Tablature Books

Tablature book
Tablature book

One way to skip note reading and jump right into making guitar music, is with tablature (or tab) songbooks. Tablature notation maps out the fingers, strings and fret positions. Many music books feature both standard musical notation and tablature. The main criticism with tab is that there is no way to indicate the duration of the notes or chords.

This means, you have to know how the tune is supposed to sound. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Most tab books include CDs with audio tracks to demonstrate how the songs are supposed to sound.

Click here to get Complete Guitar Player Tablature Book (Complete Guitar Player Series)

Learn to Play Guitar with Video/DVD Guitar Lessons

Video music lesson videos are a great way to learn and improve your guitar playing. There are loads of video lessons and programs available for all types of musicians at all levels. I think videos are the next best thing to having private lessons. In the old days you had to get VHS tapes of lessons, now not only are there DVD videos, but many Web sites offer streaming video lessons. Aside from the video instruction, most lessons include printed material to support the video.

Here’s an excerpt from the DVD Electric Guitar for Beginners: DVD from Homespun Tapes.

Learn to Play Guitar Software

eMedia Guitar Method
eMedia Guitar Method

Interactive software is another great way to learn to play guitar. Most software includes features such as:

  • Step-by-step video-enhanced lessons.
  • Songs with recorded audio and variable-speed MIDI tracks.
  • High-quality videos with full-screen or split screen options.
  • Animated fretboard that displays fingering positions as the music plays.

Other features often found on educational guitar software include:

  • Automatic tuner
  • Chord dictionary
  • Metronome–set your own speed and keep a steady beat.
  • Recorder–save recordings and play them back to assess your progress.

Learn Guitar with Interactive Web Lessons

Some teachers have started to experiment with online, interactive lessons. I’ve seen several approaches that constitute a hybrid of video lessons, and one on one lessons. The teacher may offer canned video lessons, then have the student take a live or recorded video of herself performing the lesson. The teacher can then offer feedback as in a face-to-face private lesson. It remains to be seen how these develop.

You can learn with guitar lessons in 21 days from

Learn to Play Guitar by Copying Licks

In the old days of vinyl records, lots of guitar players would learn to play by copying the licks note by note. Depending on how good your ear was, this could be a lengthy process. This process is much easier today given digital music and “slow down software.” Slow down applications let you play back a recording at a slow speed, but without altering the pitch. There are a variety of slow down applications available for sale, commecially, and as shareware.

Do an online search for “slow down software” to find current applications.

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