A guide on how to play electric or acoustic guitar.
One of the first steps in your journey to learn how to play guitar is to choose between an electric or an acoustic guitar. This could be determined by your budget. For an acoustic guitar all you would need is the guitar itself, some picks, an electric tuner, and a few packs of strings. An electric on the other hand would require all that plus an amplifier ,which some end up costing almost as much as the whole guitar itself. Some would recommend a guitar strap but unless you plan on playing standing up its not necessary in the beginning.
Once you’ve picked out your instrument, its time to familiarize yourself with it. Now its not necessary to learn all the parts that make up the guitar but its a good way to learn how everything works and it will make learning to play alot easier when you know where and what everything is. The next step is to tune your guitar properly. The strings are named from the low E (thickest string), B, G, D, A, and the high E (thinnest string). Use your electronic tuner in the beginning, but it is highly recommended that you learn how to tune your guitar by ear.
The next step is to learn how to hold the guitar pick properly. Right handed players should rest the pick between the top right edge of their thumb and top left side of their first finger. Left handed players should use the same method, just for their left hand. You should hold the pick firmly, but not too much otherwise you will cause unnecessary tension in your forearm, elbow, or shoulder. The less pick you show the easier it will be to control your sound. Always practice alternate picking, or picking the strings up and down. Speed isn’t important here, accuracy is.
While you practice your picking, exercise your fretting hand. Some players only use 3 fingers, but I recommend you use your pinky as well to give you more versatility in your playing. One simple exercise is to play the open low E string, then play each finger down the frets (First finger on first fret, second finger on second fret, etc.) You can use this pattern for each string. Remember to always alternate pick. Your fingers will hurt at first, a little discomfort is to be expected since your fingers are still soft. Your hands will get used to the strings as your fingers build up callouses.
Learning to read guitar tablature is extremely important in learning to play. I wont go into much detail here since there’s alot of free websites that have picture examples that explain to you step by step on how to read them. Learning chords and scales is a must to be a good guitarist. Again there are alot of free websites with chord and scale charts that explain exact finger placement and even have mp3 files so you can hear what it should sound like. My recommendation when learning chords is to learn two at a time. That way you can practice switching between them. As for scales I’d recommend the Minor Pentatonic. Its one of the easier scales to learn since it only has five notes. Learning all 5 positions will also help you when it comes down to improvising and playing your own music.
When it comes to playing guitar, especially electric, there’s alot to learn. Hammer ons, pull offs, string bending, ear training, there is so much to learn that its impossible to fit it all here. There’s lots of free information on the Internet and lots of good books to help you in your journey to becoming a great guitar player. The best advice anyone can give you is to get a qualified guitar instructor. It might cost you a little more but the knowledge and personalized training they can give you is invaluable.