So my step dad wants me to help him to learn the guitar, in exchange for a drum kit that we'll both play, but the thing is I had a bit of a rocky start myself when I set out, and I need to know what some good things that I should to teach to a complete beginner.

Should I go for powerchords and riffs like Smoke on the Water, or should I go for things like Open Chords and Scales first?

Any input appreciated.
Last edited by [Azrael] at Dec 28, 2009,
scales and theory. thats the plain start right there IF you already know music.
if not, teach the octave concept and the half-step fret logic first. then you can engage the real teaching.
Last edited by J.J.G. at Dec 28, 2009,
Teach the theory behind the open chords and scales, show him how the basic ones are played, and give him simple examples found in songs to practice.

Tis how I taught myself
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learn chords in the first position first and then the scale that goes with them over the top of it and then songs or exercises using them. also focus on clean chord changes. this is how my teacher taught me. he is a real genius with his playing. from there you can go to ear training and the like.
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The way I did it was I worked from parts of the guitar to basic technique for pick holding, muting, etc. Then I taught open chords, then bar chords and power chords. From this I delved into theory and chord construction while mixing in songs and pentatonic improv. Then just go from there...
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i'd start with basic chords first (A, C, D, E, G) then after them F and B as they're a bit harder then barre chords and variations of basic chords.
only after them THEN maybe think about scales.

i had a bit of a crap start too, tried to run before i could work as it were. so i now tell everyone new to guitar to do it that way that i've just described, it'll take time but it's worth it in the end.
Belief is a beautiful armour but makes for the heaviest sword.
Cheers guys, I've written this stuff down (and added some cheeky stuff too such as SOTW riff), hope I can convey it well enough for him to pick it up
you need to get him to learn one song to start with......so wild thing.....A D E, next lesson you can teach him G D C knocking on heaven door let him know that this is the I IV V trick, next lesson is where it opens up fo him with the addition of Am an Em, after this you can introduce the the Em or Am pentatonic......that`s how i always start with beginners and is the foundation of the grade 1 exam.
Teach him the open chords (As someone mentioned above), then connect it with House of The Rising Sun.

Don't delve into any theory unless he asks. If you immediately start teaching theory, he will most likely be bored. Just teach him chords, then some scales, teach him some songs and how he should go about learning them. Work on some ear training, and then teach him how to improvise.
I would start with something he would know
He will probably enjoy it a lot better if they can recognize what he is playing
Teach him a song and try and work theory into there
Buy Metal Method and help him out with it every step of the way (you’ll probably learn a lot yourself). I’ve had years of lessons on two instruments and they weren’t half as good as Doug Mark’s $70 DVD course.
Just teach him simple songs and teach him not to strum too hard. You might want to have him playing light gauge strings and use light picks too. Then after he builds up more enthusiasm teach him chords and scales.
Always tin your strings.


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learn the chords and theory first. I'm self taught and have started to learn twice (gave up first time after about 2 months but then missed it ) but i found it was a lot easier the second time. The first time i taught myself some basic power chords and then just learnt songs. I flopped. Second time i sat down and thought i actually love playing, and i want to improve and be able to produce something i could be proud of, rather than copy other peoples music all my life. So i decided to learn basic theory and chords. Things progressed a lot better second time round.

However, don't make the mistake of just teaching theory. No matter how important it is to playing and improvising, theory alone is tedious and boring imho. You need to put it into practise for it to work.