Teaching Yourself Guitar

A few tips to your own personal School of Rock (or any other kind of music).

Ultimate Guitar
Guitar lessons can be expensive (especially for true rockers, after all if you sing the blues you're most likely too poor to afford proper lessons), and so many people choose to teach themselves. I am one of these people, but though I most likely could get lessons I don't want to because by teaching myself I have much more satisfaction when I overcome a hard solo or something, and also I can play whatever the hell I want (which is pretty much AC/DC 24/7). So anyway jumping right to my little mini lesson thing. The key to teaching yourself how to play guitar The absolute most important thing in teaching yourself guitar is to never, ever get discouraged and never let musical frustration get in the way, and to have confidence in your own skills. Keep telling yourself that you will learn it eventually. How do you do this? This question will bring us to the next section, which is the two general starting approaches. Start high and work down Some may think this crazy, but if you have at least a little bit of musical talent and a lot of patience, this is the road for you. What this method means is you learn as one of your first major songs a very complicated song (not too complicated), and then after you've mastered that move down slightly and work back up to even more complicated songs. The theory behind this: If you start with an easy song at first it's easier to have low confidence and therefore want to quit when you get to a challenging song, since you're used to having it easy. It's like this: Take a pampered rich boy who has had everything given to him and has everything in the world and rip him out of this world one day and put him in the army. What happens? He doesn't know what to do, he breaks down, maybe kills himself. Now take a tough, from-the-slums guy who fights for everything, then put him in a suburban, Brady Bunch atmosphere and how does he handle it? He can take anything that coems his way ebcause he's used to it. And so my point is this: If you learn a complicated song (mine was Mason Williams's Classical Gas) you will, when you get to an easier song, say 'Oh this is nothing compared to...' and when you get to a little more complicated song than that you can say 'Oh well I learned that really hard song so I know I can do this.' Start simple and work your way up This is the more obvious method; start with easy, two or three string songs, like Beethoven's Ode to Joy, then move your way up to harder songs gradually. The basic ideas of the former and latter Okay summing the last two paragraphs, basically the first method gives you the will and confidence to get through challenges, and the second lets you build from the ground up. Whichever one you find more appealing is the one you should try. Some tips on getting started 1. For method 1 I suggest you learn Mason Williams's 'Classical Gas' or for a lighter load 'Blackbird' by The Beatles, or if you only want to play electric guitar, no fingerpicking, try something rock 'n' roll, like Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' or AC/DC's 'You Shook Me All Night Long'. 2. For method 2 I suggest you try to learn Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' or something by George Thorogood (or is it Thurgood??), or for something slighty (not by much) more challenging, AC/DC's 'Hard as a Rock'. (I apologise for the multiple references to AC/DC songs; but I have chosen to study the band and I have found that for rock guitar they are one of the best bands to learn from). How to teach yourself guitar If you think teaching yourself guitar will be easy, it's not. If you think teaching yourself guitar is difficult, it's not. It is simply something that you'll have to work at, and fgure out along the way. Here are the basic guidlines that I am using to teach myself guitar: 1. Internet tab sites are your best friend. But be careful, alot of tabs are inaccurate. If you don't want to use tab sites, I highly recommend buying a tab book (they're around $20-25, or more depending on content) and a CD (or CDs) to go along with the songs in the book. Tablature is what makes teaching yourself guitar easier than other instruments, but it does require that you listen to the song. 2. Here's a secret: Windows Media Player (on Windows XP, I don't know about other versions) has 'Play Speed Settings' that allow you to speed up or slow down a song. By slowing down songs I have been able to teach myself guitar solos (if you want proof of how much slowing down the speed helps, listen to a really fast song and think about how else you would be able to learn it). 3. Talk to and/or listen in on conversations of other guitarists. This has let me learn several things such as theory, chords, what people like to hear, and such things as that. 4. If you have AOL or AIM feel free to IM me; I love to talk about guitars and music in general. My e-mail address is AcDc1087@aol.com. 5. Never give up, always know that you will get better, and always remember (I hope UG lets me say this): 'Don't ever worry about anyone being better than you, just do your own shit.'

103 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Good call. Here's to teaching yourself! I'd like to re-emphasize what you wrote about not letting yourself get down or frustrated (which is easy when you're by yourself). Also in regards to tab. Guitar magazines (G.World, G.One, etc.)are a pretty cheap way to get fairly accurate tab, and used book stores are a good way to get tab books without shelling out $20.
    I think the first song someone learns should be one of their favourites, whatever their tastes. You feel much better hearing yourself sound like your favourite guitarist! It's good to learn some about reading music and different keys and scales. Music theory helps you come up with your own stuff and makes it more original than otherwise (because then your stuff is usually based on other bands stuff).
    and for all the people who think that starting big then going small is BAD!?!?!? they can go to hel and have OBVIOUSLY never tried to teach them selves! cuz i tried going small then big, and no such luck! if you start small and expect to go big, you never do! you stay the same because you try harder things and realize that there too hard so you never progress! but if you start big then after you get it down nothing can faze you! if people who start small can't go big, how do you start big? how does that make sense? how can you go to big without any knowledge of small yet not go big with the extra knowledge of small? ..with me?
    dont learn 2 and 2 is 4, learn long multiplication! no offence but thats not a ideal place to start to learn, in my opinion ,the guitar is no different
    dude this must b awared the best inspirational article in UG
    well this goes for shadows666 dont ever doubt yourself you just have to have the willingness to do it try to start with 6 chords which are Dmajor.Amajor.Cmajor.Emajor.Gmajor.Eminor slowly work on the fingers positions when you feel ready to change to a diffrent chord it takes time to catch speed but dont give up
    Well, anyone, I need help! I wish I could follow this great advice, but I can't learn any song if I don't know chords. How can I get a good understanding of chords, and how do I memorize so many? Eek! I feel so dumb on this site, because I know nothing. I hope to teach myself guitar and keep working at it...but I don't know how or where to start. Basically I'm just a girl with a guitar...starting right from the beginning.
    Like I said earlier, get a chord book. I always have mine handy and it's a life-saver!! Trust me on this on this one. This is the best thing a new guitarist that's just starting out can do. I know because I did it as well and it helps you a lot when you're practicing chords and scales. Later.
    I have been teaching myself how to play the guitar for about two months. I practice every day. However, i really struggle with chords. Any tips? Here's a tip for you: get a chord book of some sort that has a bunch of different exercises in it like arpeggios and scales and go thru it at least once a day as a warm up and try to incorporate the chords you learned into a song of your own. This way you will have these chords down in case you ever run into them again. Then you won't have any problems going from one chord to the next. That's all I have for now. If you have other questions, email or pm me.
    Finally!!! A breath of fresh air! Thank you for this great article and I hope you continue to do other installments along the way. Thanks once again. If anyone wants to talk metal, e-mail me at slipknotfan527@yahoo.com or just find me on here and pm me. Later.
    dam! i didnt know media player could do that!! thanks man! right now im trying to learn dave murrays solo in blood brothers
    I kind of took both routs. I learned hells bells for the hard(no that hard but still) and smoke on the water for the easy. it gave me something fun to play and kept me going. And it still does.
    Well, anyone, I need help! I wish I could follow this great advice, but I can't learn any song if I don't know chords. How can I get a good understanding of chords, and how do I memorize so many? Eek! I feel so dumb on this site, because I know nothing. I hope to teach myself guitar and keep working at it...but I don't know how or where to start. Basically I'm just a girl with a guitar...starting right from the beginning.
    I've had like 10 hours of guitar lessons but now I'm learning the rest on my own. I feel less motivated when some teacher tells me what to practice at home. I just wanna pick up the guitar whenever I feel like it and play whatever comes to my mind. But I'm really bad at one thing... I play a song with chords only untill I can hear what I'm playing. Then I move on to the next one.
    GO FIND A TEACHER. New players do themselves a real disservice by not getting hands-on instruction from another guitarist, at least for a month or two. Learning the right habits early on will save you a lot of time and frustration, and make your playing a lot more fun and satisfying.
    nice article! i jus started learnin by myself... and i think im gona take the 1st method... thx
    its quite hard learning by yourself, a friend who knows well to play, can introduce you, i mean, teach you the basics, then you can start to learn by yourself...
    I have been teaching myself how to play the guitar for about two months. I practice every day. However, i really struggle with chords. Any tips? --when first start,it take my more than two month to play a chord...it really frusttrating at first.....but keep practising!!!!! i guarante it will pay off if you never give up and keep PRACTICE!!!!!
    This is like, the best article ever. I take guitar lessons for theory only, 90% of the songs I play are ones I taught myself using tab websites.
    showbiz-legen d wrote: dont learn 2 and 2 is 4, learn long multiplication! no offence but thats not a ideal place to start to learn, in my opinion ,the guitar is no different
    Starting out on a gradient is better for the majority of things, but the guitar is different. So are all other musical instruments, and it's been that way since my grandmother taught herself the piano.
    That Media Player trick is fantastic. Well discovered. 9 just for that Good lesson.
    and what was the 1st thing your grandma learnt as a matter of interest, i'm just curious to see how this works.
    Thanks for this article, it's really handy! I'm trying to teach myself a relatively easy song: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. It's my jumping point. Once I play that I"ll move on to something a little more difficult. Suggestions?
    I take back the question about acoustics... Classical Gas!
    But what about learning chords and scales and such? After learning some songs? What about us acoustic players?
    i too actualy went to slow the ''in too deep'' solo... (that is when i liked it like 4-5 years ago...) now im in MettalicaA. AND that freakin solo is God dam easy now the guitarist of sum 41 should slow up my version of that solo!
    i think that everyone who wants to teach themselves should some kind of chord book, and a basic book about the style you want to play they help enormously, because you have at ur finger tips how to play all the techniques that you will find in songs
    It feels like your helping us and yourself by talking courage into us, you get me? Learning yourself should be what you've learned from a teacher or friend.
    GuItAr ChIk
    wow and to think i was poor ive got a techer teachin me rock and it ain expensive
    hey, this is a great article. im completely new to rock guitar though and playing stair way to heaven or you shook me all night long seems impossible. i even tried it and i cant get anywhere. how long did it take u guys to learn these songs.
    Great article, it hit home and has given me the drive to keep going - over the last few weeks I have been really tempted to pack it in. I found playing with friends that have played for a while has helped as they have tought me most of the chords as well as bar chords which can be a big help
    Very nice. This should help a lot . I also do a lot of looking up music theory and stuff. It's weird you mentioned to learn she shook me all night long. I just started it a few weeks ago. it's one of my favorites. lol sorry, great article,
    Good article, one correction as someone above caught, is that there is a hell of a lot of fingerpicking in "Stairway to Heaven" But otherwise A+ starting a little harder really works. My first song was stairway btw. (not the solo yet, lol)
    I found it helped that i got a few lessons to teach me the major chords because we were in a group and i could see that everyone was just as shit as me so i didnt give up. Just a thought.
    The Uproar
    cheerz for the advise on the wmp play speed settings it has really helped the hole artical in general has helped me loads. cheerz!!
    This is one great article and is is very true to the word. I started years ago with some harder songs, and I now I am finding that I am going back to the basics to pick up things that I missed along the way. Great advise.... thanks, :
    this is a great article and i believe in the start with something hard method with every inch of me. this is awesome advice for any player, i remember the first band i ever fell in love with was ac/dc.. ahh the good ol days...
    Great! I'm selftaugh, and it's true you never have to give up, it can be hard at the beggining but you need to continue learnin' all the days. I began with easy songs, now I can play a lot that I thought I will never be able to play.