It's always seemed a shame to me that the majority of people who decide to learn a musical instrument give up after just a few months. It can be difficult at first for beginners, but with the right help there is no reason for it to be so hard that you feel like quitting. Here I want to address some of the more common difficulties beginners often face when taking up the guitar.
The first thing you'll need to learn is how to hold a guitar correctly. When standing, you'll need to support the guitar with a strap. You should set the strap so that the guitar is at a height which feels comfortable to hold. You should hold the neck with your fretting arm, which should be bent at about 90 degrees. The neck of the guitar should point upwards slightly. If you are sitting, you can either rest the guitar on your right knee and keep the neck parallel to the floor, or rest it on your left knee and point the neck slightly upwards. As long as you find a position that is comfortable, you should be fine.
You can play the guitar using either a pick or your fingers. If you're using a pick you should rest the palm of your picking hand just in front of the guitars bridge to keep it steady. If you're using your fingers then let your hand float just above the strings. You should place your fretting hand fingers over the strings on the neck, with one finger covering one fret. Keep your thumb about half way down the back of the neck, opposite your second finger.
One of the first things you'll need to do is to learn the names of the strings. From lowest to highest (thickest to thinnest) they are EDGBE. The next thing you'll want to start learning is some chords. Strumming chords forms the basis of a lot of guitar music, so it's a good idea to learn as many chords as you possibly can. You will usually learn chords by referring to chord diagrams. These are simply a grid with horizontal lines representing the strings of the guitar, and vertical lines representing the frets. There are dots on the grid which show you where to put your fingers. They are a very easy way to learn new chords.
I'd like to point out the importance of making sure you're guitar is in tune. If you're guitar is out of tune, it is going to sound horrible, no matter how well you play it. There are various ways of tuning a guitar, but the easiest, and quickest, is by using an electronic guitar tuner. You just plug your guitar into it, and it will tell you whether each string is in tune or not, so you can adjust it accordingly.
Lastly I'd like to mention a few common problems beginners often have when learning the guitar. First of all, when you are just starting to learn, your fingers wont be used to all the stretches and strange new positions you're asking them to make, so some chords or scales might be painful to play at first. If this is the case then you should take a break from practicing until your hands feel more comfortable again. This should pass with time, as the muscles in your hands develop. Also, the skin on a beginners finger tips is likely to be soft, which can be another cause of pain, Again this will pass with time as the skin gets tougher.
That concludes this guitar for beginners article. Hopefully it has explained a few things, and maybe inspired you to start learning the guitar
Chris Lake is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher. He writes for several guitar websites including his own. To check out more of his writing please visit Guitar For Beginners.