Beginner Guitar Lessons


Welcome to the beginner guitar lessons section of Guitar Tricks ®. Here is where you will find lessons for absolute beginners that are brand new to guitar, as well as some material for brushing up on the fundamentals, if you have some familiarity but are still at the beginner level.

Our Core Learning System is a great place to start for everyone. In this extensive course, you will begin out learning basics like how to hold a guitar, how to hold a guitar pick, how to play simple guitar chords, and how to strum the guitar. To keep things fun, you'll learn by playing simple songs!

If you have a little bit of experience but don't know where to start, try Guitar Fundamentals 2. In this course, you will learn minor chords, get introduced to scales, and learn how to read music notation

Learning guitar is a lot of fun, and with the right lessons anyone can become a great guitar player. However, to be successful it's important to pick the right learning method and stay focused. We designed our Core Learning System to be a step-by-step system that keeps beginners on-track and having fun. Give it a try today by becoming a Full Access member.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How often should I practice?

When it comes to practice, consistency should be your goal. It would be far better to practice for 10 minutes every day, than for one full day every week. Try to get into the habit of picking up your guitar every day or every other day, even if it is just for a few minutes.

What's the best guitar for me to get? And should I get an electric or an acoustic guitar first?

Regardless of electric or acoustic, it’s important to find a guitar that feels good in your hands. Try a bunch at your local guitar/music shop! Ninety percent of the sound comes from the player and how they play, so it’s important to feel really comfortable with your instrument. It’s totally okay to take your time in the store trying different models.

Now to address the age-old question: electric or acoustic? An acoustic guitar is probably the best way to learn since you won’t need a cable, an amplifier, and a power source to practice. You can learn on both an acoustic and an electric though. The most important thing is that your instrument feels comfortable to you in your hands.

Should I get my guitar 'set-up'?

A setup can improve a variety of issues. A brand new guitar has likely made a long journey from factory to store, to store to online warehouse, to another store, and then to you. Granted, this doesn’t happen for every guitar in the shop but the point is that the instrument you see in the store has been around a little while. And who knows how many people have played it. With a setup, a professional technician can:

  • Set the intonation, which ensures it will play in-tune in each position on the neck
  • Adjust the string action to the lowest possible height with no fret buzz (therefore, making it the easier to play)
  • Slot the nut for whatever string gauge you’re using
  • Make sure the whammy bar doesn't completely throw or de-tune the guitar when used
  • Give the guitar a good once over to make sure you have made a solid investment (is the bridge lifting on an acoustic? is the bridge in the wrong place on an electric?

What chords should I learn first?

Open chords! Learn all the open chords. They’re the easiest to learn and you can play a TON of songs with them. You will learn open chords in Guitar Fundamentals level 1.

What is a barre chord?

A barre chord is like an open chord, but you use your index finger and make a literal bar across the fretboard. Learn it here: Intro To Barre Chords

Why do I need to learn scales? What are they for?

Scales are great for lead guitar playing. They’re especially important because they give you the practical benefit of training your fingers, ear, and mind to get used to isolating single notes in order to play the basic material used in melodies and lines for great lead guitar solos. Learn the major scale here: Get To Know The Major Scale

How do I read guitar tabs?

Reading tabs, or tablature, is easy! It visualizes the fretboard like a map so you can see exactly where to place your fingers. Watch this quick video to get the rundown on how to read tabs: How To Read Guitar Tabs

Am I too old?

NO! It’s never too late to learn how to play guitar. You might have trouble changing chords, or a tough time understanding certain aspects of playing, but that’s okay. These are common roadblocks that have nothing to do with age. Rather, it’s just part of the learning process when picking up an instrument. There’s already a great conversation about this right here:

My hand/wrist/fingers hurt, what do I do?

This is a very common problem among new guitar players. It’s totally normal to feel pain in your fingertips. The more you play and practice, the tougher the skin on your fingers will become making it more tolerable for you. Just give yourself breaks in the beginning.

If your hand or wrist hurts while playing, you’re probably holding the guitar incorrectly. It’s important to have good technique and build the right habits early on to prevent future injury. Click this link to learn how to hold the guitar correctly: How To Hold A Guitar

How do I change my guitar strings?

Learning how to change strings is an essential part of guitar playing. New strings on a guitar can dramatically improve the sound while old strings can make the instrument sound dead or muted, so it’s important to change your strings regularly. There’s a great tutorial right here on how to change your strings: How To Change Guitar Strings

How do I tune my guitar?

There are a number of ways to tune a guitar. Most people use an electronic tuner. Guitar Tricks has a tuner available here: Online Guitar Tuner

You can purchase a dedicated electronic guitar tuner or you can even download an app for your phone that does the same thing. If you’re familiar with the notes, you can also tune by ear. Both methods are showcased in this great tutorial here: Basic Concepts of Tuning A Guitar

What if I have big fingers?

This is another common concern with beginners. Your fingers are too big and you keep hitting all the wrong strings! But that’s okay! Some of the greatest guitar players have HUGE fingers and hands. The more you practice, the easier it will get. Try not to focus on the mistakes you’re making, and focus on doing things the right way. Most of the time this issue will go away as you get more comfortable holding the guitar and fretting notes.

If you find this problem persisting, you may also want to try another guitar with a wider fretboard. Go to the music store, explain the situation and try lots of different guitars for the perfect fit.

My hands are too small

There are a lot of musicians out there with small hands. Women generally have smaller hands than men but a lot of guitarists are female and they’re great! The standard guitar size is suitable for just about anyone. Again, since you’re just starting out, it’s going to feel uncomfortable to stretch your fingers. You might want to blame the difficulty on the size of your hands but eventually your fingers will stretch and do things you didn’t know was even possible.

If you find this problem persisting, you may also want to try another guitar with a smaller fretboard. Go to the music store, explain the situation, and try lots of different guitars for the perfect fit.