Learning to Play the Guitar – A Practical Guide From a Novice

So you have decided you want to learn to play guitar. Hell Yeah! There is so much to think about of course.

  • What kind of guitar you want to play?
  • Which tutor to use?
  • Holding the Guitar
  • Learning the Chords
  • To pluck or not to pluck…that is the question… 😉

You honestly will get out what you put in to this. Plan your outcomes carefully and you will reap the rewards. I am a novice but I followed the guide detailed below and I believe it has helped me to grow as a guitar player a lot more quickly than if I approached learning to play like a ‘bull in a china shop’.

Choosing your preferred type of guitar

bt2There are so many different types of guitar. The type you play will depend on what your overall goal is and the sound you want to make, I know that sounds daft but it is true, they don’t all sound the same.

Acoustic Guitars are made for a more intimate setting. Electric Guitars are louder and can be used in bigger venues. Do you want to play at home or to a crowd, all considerations. Bass and Acoustic Bass in my experience are more specialised but if you are in a band or just like the deeper, pluckier sound then maybe this is the instrument for you.

If you are buying, there are so many different makes and prices, you really need to research. The internet is great for this, lots of advice and even portals where you can buy but I would advise to practice on an actual guitar and maybe go into a shop and ask them to let you try some guitars out.

Picking your Tutor

electric_guitarObviously, we are all different. I need someone patient with a sense of humour. I like to think I know everything but of course I don’t, this means I am not the easiest of students, hence I need a tutor with patience and lots of it, lol. Getting to know your most suited learning style means you will learn more quickly and it will be more fun, not to mention cheaper (lessons can start from £45 per hour, dependant on your area and teacher). So the quicker you learn the cheaper it will be for you.

What do I mean by learning styles? Well, some of us are Kinaesthetic learners, this is learning by doing. This is my preferred style. I was chucked in at the deep end to see what I could do. Great for me as I learn quickest by touch, feel and hearing.

Some people prefer to learn on paper.  Some are methodical and work through everything step by step and some are all 3 combined.

If you work this out you will be able to choose a tutor accordingly. Trust me this helps.

Holding the Guitar

Guitar-3There is no definite way to hold a guitar. When I learned I was never told how I should hold it. My tutor told me just hold the guitar how it feels most natural to you.  I always feel very relaxed now when I hold my guitar and I think this makes me a better player as I am not all tensed up. My arms feel like they flow freely and it may sound corny but when I play I feel like my guitar and me are at one with each other.

Don’t get me wrong, position is important but important to you. How you hold the guitar can depend on your body shape, height, length of your arms and your comfort level. Relax and do what comes naturally as it won’t restrict your guitar playing. It may feel weird at first, let’s face it a guitar is basically a big block of wood but bear with it you will get there.

Learning the ropes, I mean, Chords

Your guitar has 6 strings. Each string has a designated note. Highest pitch to lowest pitch they are e,B,G,D,A,E.

Every metal bar on the fretboard represents a fret. Each fret on one string has a different note. However, some frets on other strings may have the same note.

To Pluck?

Again this is a really personal choice. Until you have built callouses on your fingers, they can hurt or sometimes bleed if you don’t use a plectrum. It doesn’t really affect the sound so this is totally your choice.


Learning to play the guitar can be real fun and my main advice to you would be to pick your tutor carefully. It takes a while to learn so you really need to have a good rapport with them and lastly, enjoy!