Technique Tips for Beginner Guitarists

Struggling to start guitar playing? These tips will put you on the path to success.

Ultimate Guitar
In my experience there are a few common problems people starting to learn the guitar experience that can be easily addressed. Often students book into guitar lessons with me have attempted some self-learning through YouTube or tab sites and struck difficulty.

Here are a few beginner guitar technique tips to address some of the common faults I see.

1. Wrist Position

Playing the guitar has nothing to do with the size of your hands. It does rely on the correct positioning of the wrist. The idea of someone thinking their hands are too small/too big to play guitar is often down to poor wrist technique. Placing your wrist at a bad position or angle will limit movement and access to the notes.

2. Finger Angle

After improving your wrist position you should check that your fingers are fairly straight. Often students have their fingers placed across the guitar. The hand in the correct position should comfortably be able to have a finger assigned to a fret.

3. Material to Learn

Often students are trying to play songs with skills, in particular chords, that are beyond their skill level. Learning to play an instrument is much like training for an athletic event. Building up strength and skill over time is required. The help of a teacher that understands how to design a curriculum of songs and exercises will get you playing the songs you want in faster time. The pictures below show the progression I take students through from easiest to hardest.

4. The Instrument

Sometimes you can blame the tools of trade. Students that have guitars that are in disrepair or simply an inappropriate guitar for the size and age of student. Faults such as the strings being too far away from the neck or badly made cheap instruments contribute to the difficulty you will experience. It is important that you purchase an guitar that feels comfortable. Don't be afraid to sit in a shop and try 10+ guitars out. Read our article on buying electric guitars for some great tips. Even if you have no playing experience the guitar should sit easily in your lap and your hand easily accessing the neck. Go with your instincts with this.

5. Attitude

Guitar is not an instantly satisfying instrument. To play it requires strength development, coordination of left and right hand and music skills such as rhythm. BE PATIENT! It will happen.

I hope these tips get you playing guitar with more ease.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thanks for your guide. Could you demonstrate the wrist position more detail? Thank you again
    Saying that wrist position is problematic without actually showing and/or describing the CORRECT wrist position seems to be missing the point of what a HINT is.
    I always have a problem with the 5th and 6th string. My finger tip will mute one of the strings when trying to play, prey much its like I have fat finger tips. Any ideas?
    Is it ok to bend the wrist at a 90 degree angle when fretting the lower strings (primarily the 6th string).
    At least you're contributing to the guitar world. Thanks for sharing the tips based on your experience. You Rock!
    Rhys Lett ESSM
    thanks for the comments everyone. The text was taken from an article I wrote for my music school website which contains the photos for this article.
    What i've learned with limited experience,is medium jumbo frets help. I started with a cheap strat then bought a better guitar with bigger frets which made a big difference. If that helps anybody ???