“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded.” Jimi Hendrix said these words during his long and storied career, and he is considered the greatest master of strings to ever live. So keep this in mind as you pick up the guitar and learn to play. It’s not without difficulty and frustration, that’s for sure.
Learning to be a good guitarist requires patience and coordination that for some comes naturally, but others have to work at it. If you’re like me, the journey from learning a chord, to playing a song, to selling out stadiums is an arduous one that may never be fully realized. You will never know what you’re capable of until you try.
As you start out on your journey, keep these facts and tips in mind:
1. It’s going to hurt. For the uninitiated, guitar strings are very coarse. Becoming proficient at holding the strings firmly against the fret board means your fingertips will be under a lot of pressure. It is not uncommon, before your fingers “toughen up,” for strings to break the skin. Doesn’t sound very pleasant, but not to worry…as your hands callous, this part of learning to be a good guitarist will resolve itself quickly.
2. Learn the basic chords. Guitar chords are three or more notes played at the same time. Here is where the coordination part of learning how to be a good guitarist comes into play. You’ll need three fingers to play these basic chords, and they will have to be in rhythm with one another. It is helpful to start with the 5 most commonly used chord patterns (C, A, G, E, and D). For an easy reference diagram of where these chords are on the fret board, click go to the Guitar Alliance website.
3. Don’t take on too much, too quickly. Before you take off on Metallica, you’ll need to develop an appreciation for simpler songs. By learning basic chords and strumming patterns, you will eventually graduate to playing whole songs. There are in-depth courses online for free that will help you navigate this tricky maze.
4. It gets more complicated. Baby steps are essential for you to ever get good at power chords, minor chords, open chords, and other advanced chords. Don’t run before you learn to walk. Inevitably, as long as you keep your head about you, the day will come when you’ll want to take up greater challenges. Different strumming patterns and finger-picking await the patient learner, and are more easily learned by those who are advanced at the simple. It definitely gets more complicated, but don’t worry. So do your skills.
Learning to be a good guitarist is an adventure well worth the taking. It is by no means an easy endeavor, but it’s something that will increase your appreciation for the complexities of music…and if you’re a guy, it definitely doesn’t hurt with the ladies. But seriously, those who take it up are deserving of the praise and admiration they will inevitably receive by others. It is a skill that represents the never-say-die attitude of those who acquire it. And trust me, it can be acquired.