Want to learn guitar? Four thoughts to get you started properly
Article by Zander Boon
Reckon about why you want to learn to play guitar
You’ll only become a excellent guitar player if you know why you want to learn to play. So question yourself, do you really want to do this? It force be that what you want to do is learn to play a musical instrument, and you reckon that the guitar is the simplest one to choose because there are so many books and websites showing you how. You force have chosen the guitar because guitars are cheaper and smaller than, say, a piano. These aren’t really the right reasons – if in reality you want to play piano, but you chose the guitar because it seems more practical, your heart will by no means really be in your guitar playing, and even with a teaching system as excellent as Jamorama you’ll by no means get very excellent at it.
Know your guitar playing goals
Once you’re sure you really do want to play guitar, reckon about the sort of guitar player you want to be. Do you want to be the next Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen? If so, you’re going to get real sick, real quick of strumming by the side of to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”. On the other hand, you force just want to be able to accompany yourself singing a few well loved tunes, in which case you’re going to lose interest quick if your teacher is tiresome to get you excited about Pentatonic Scales and Mixolydian Modes.
When I started playing years ago, all I wanted to do was play punk, but I got bogged down in scales and keys, and nearly gave up. If someone had just shown me a few power chords, I’d have been close to doing what I really wanted to do. I’d have started having fun, my confidence would have grown, and the rest would have followed.
Make sure you know what you want to learn to play, whether it’s rock, classical, Spanish, or whatever. Then make sure your guitar teacher is pleased to guide you down the right path, or that you buy the right book.
Try before you buy
Cupboards, wardrobes, closets and attics all over the planet are full of unused guitars, bought by people, or for people, who didn’t get very far before they gave up. (There are also plenty of music stores out there who will happily sell you just such a guitar, with no money-back guarantee if you simply get bored!) So don’t rush out and buy a guitar, especially a new one.
If you can, find a friend who already plays. Question your work colleagues, your school friends, your kids’ friends. Chances are there’ll be someone who will be willing to lend, or even give you their ancient “beginner” guitar. If you get by the side of with the guitar, they force sell it to you, which will be much cheaper than buying new, and less hassle than buying from eBay – I know from personal experience that not everyone knows how to pack a guitar for posting.
Take a Friend for a Test Drive
Would you buy a car before you learned to drive? Very nearly certainly not. It’s sweet hard to take it out for a test drive if you don’t know how. But it’s incredible how many people buy a guitar before they can play. You don’t want to be one of those people. Before you make the plunge and buy your first guitar, talk to someone who already plays, and if possible, get him or her to go with you to the guitar pile. That way, you can get the guitar “test-driven” for you.
Most musicians can still remember what it was like when they started out, and should stop you making the same mistakes. I remember the first electric guitar I ever had – the action was set so high, it was very nearly impracticable to fret the string properly. I didn’t know any better – I thought it was just because I was a beginner. Again, this nearly made me give up. Luckily, someone showed me what was incorrect, and once I got it sorted out, my progress was much nearer.