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The Ultimate Guide to Self-Teach Guitar



In recent years, the art of learning to play the guitar has undergone a remarkable transformation. Gone are the days when aspiring guitarists had to attend formal lessons or rely solely on a mentor. With the digital revolution, countless people have embarked on their musical journey, harnessing the power of the internet and resources at their fingertips to self teach guitar. In this post, we'll delve into the world of teaching oneself to play this beloved instrument, drawing from personal success stories and highlighting the reasons why this approach is growing in popularity. 


Why Choose to Self-Teach Guitar? 


The Evolution of Self-Teaching Methods: From Books to Online Platforms

Traditionally, guitar enthusiasts relied on books and in-person lessons. These books, often accompanied by diagrams and play-along CDs, laid the foundation for many. However, the rise of the internet introduced a plethora of online guitar lesson platforms, tutorials, and interactive lessons. Websites like these have made it easier than ever to self teach guitar. 


Benefits of Learning at Your Own Pace and On Your Own Schedule

One of the most significant advantages of self-teaching is the flexibility it offers. Without the constraints of scheduled lessons, you can learn at a pace that suits your lifestyle and commitment level. Whether it's practicing late at night, during lunch breaks, or over the weekends, the journey to mastering the guitar becomes a personalized experience. 


Cost-Effectiveness Compared to Hiring a Personal Tutor

Let's face it; personal guitar lessons can be pricey. Over time, these costs add up. In contrast, many online beginner guitar lesson platforms offer free resources, and even the premium courses are considerably less expensive in the long run. Thus, opting to self teach guitar can be a more economical choice. 


Getting Started: Basic Principles 


Embarking on the journey to self teach guitar can be both exhilarating and challenging. Like any new endeavor, understanding the basics can pave the way for a smoother learning curve. So, where do you begin? 


Understanding Guitar Anatomy and Terminology 

Before diving into playing, familiarize yourself with your instrument's anatomy. Recognize parts like the fretboard, the headstock, the tuning pegs, and the sound hole (for acoustic guitars). Understanding terms like 'bridge,' 'nut,' and 'pickguard' will make following tutorials easier. Equipping yourself with basic terminology isn't just jargon; it's the foundation of your musical journey. 


The Importance of Correct Posture and Hand Positioning

One aspect many beginners overlook when they self teach guitar is the significance of posture. Slouching or placing your hands incorrectly might seem inconsequential but can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and even long-term strain. Ensure your back is straight, and your guitar is held close to your body. Your fingers should press down on the frets with just the right amount of pressure – not too hard, not too light. 


Basic Guitar Chords Every Beginner Should Learn 

Chords form the backbone of most songs. As a beginner, start with open guitar chords like G, C, D, E, and A. These are the foundational chords that many songs are built upon. As you get comfortable, expand your repertoire to include minor chords and more complex structures like seventh chords. 


Introduction to Reading Guitar Tabs and Music Notation

While music notation provides a comprehensive representation of a song, guitar tabs are a simplified system tailored for the instrument. Tabs visually represent the frets and strings, offering an easier way for many beginners to start playing songs. However, familiarizing yourself with basic music notation can deepen your musical understanding in the long run. 


Progressing Your Skills: Intermediate Techniques 


As you grow more confident with the basics, it's time to explore intermediate techniques. This phase is about refining your skills, adding flair to your playstyle, and expressing yourself more fully through music. 


The Art of Fingerpicking and Strumming Patterns 

Moving beyond basic strumming, fingerpicking offers a nuanced approach to playing. Techniques like the Travis picking pattern can bring songs to life. Simultaneously, experimenting with different strumming patterns can add texture and rhythm to your playstyle. 


Exploring Guitar Scales for Soloing 

Scales form the basis of solos and improvisation. The pentatonic scale, for instance, is a favorite among rock and blues guitarists. By mastering scales, you unlock the potential to venture into expressive solos and even compose your melodies. 


Techniques like Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Slides 

These techniques introduce fluidity into your playing. A hammer-on involves playing two notes with a single pick, while a pull-off is its opposite. Slides, on the other hand, create a gliding sound, transitioning smoothly between notes. 


Building a Practice Routine for Consistent Improvement 

To self teach guitar effectively, consistency is key. Establish a structured routine, allocate time for warm-ups, practice sessions, and reflection. Record yourself to track progress and areas for improvement. 


Overcoming Common Challenges 

The path to mastering the guitar is filled with hurdles. Overcoming them can be easier with a proactive approach. 

Remember, every guitarist, from legends to hobbyists, faced challenges. Celebrate small victories, set realistic goals, and remind yourself why you began this journey. 

It's common for beginners to experience soreness in their fingers as they build calluses. Take breaks, stretch your hands, and consider using topical pain relief creams. Over time, your fingers will develop strength and dexterity. 

Facing a challenging chord or technique? Break it down step-by-step, practice its components separately, and then combine them. Patience and persistence are key. 

Being self-taught doesn't mean you're alone. Join online communities like the Guitar Tricks forum, share your progress on the Guitar Tricks YouTube channel or book a 1on1 lesson with one of the Guitar Tricks instructors. Constructive feedback can offer fresh perspectives and accelerate your growth. 


Incorporating Advanced Techniques 

Once you've got the basics down and have ventured into intermediate techniques, the realm of advanced guitar playing beckons. Pushing your limits and diving deep into these intricate techniques can be the ultimate testament to your dedication to self teach guitar. 


Introduction to Alternate Tunings 

Standard tuning (E A D G B e) is just the tip of the iceberg. Venturing into alternate tunings like Drop D, Open G, or DADGAD can offer a fresh palette of sounds and inspire creativity. These tunings are often favored in genres like folk, blues, and even rock, allowing for unique chord voicings and resonances. 


Exploring Genres: Blues, Jazz, Rock, and More 

As you progress, delve into different genres to expand your musical vocabulary. The soulful bends of blues, complex chords of jazz, and the electrifying riffs of rock can provide diverse learning experiences. The Guitar Tricks Experienced Lessons provide step-by-step lessons to help you gain nuanced knowledge of specific genres. By exploring different styles, you not only enhance your repertoire but also develop a richer understanding of music history and evolution. 


Tapping, Slapping, and Other Advanced Guitar Techniques

Tapping, popularized by legends like Eddie Van Halen, involves both hands on the fretboard, allowing for rapid note sequences. Slapping, commonly associated with bass playing, brings a percussive element to the guitar. As you self teach guitar, embracing such advanced techniques can bring out a distinct flavor in your playing, setting you apart from others. 


Enhancing Musicality Through Dynamics and Tonal Control

Advanced playing isn't just about flashy techniques. It's about musicality. Understand dynamics, the art of playing softly or loudly depending on the song's mood. Mastering tonal control, utilizing your guitar's volume and tone knobs, or experimenting with pedals can elevate your performance, making it more expressive and captivating. 



The journey to self teach guitar is a testament to passion, dedication, and the human spirit's resilience. From grappling with basic chords to mastering advanced techniques, every hurdle overcome is a melody in itself. And while the path might seem long and winding, remember: it's not just about the destination but the beautiful journey. 

We'd love to hear from you. Whether you're starting out, facing challenges, or playing sold-out gigs, every story is unique and inspiring. Share your self-taught journey, ask questions, or offer advice. Let's celebrate the music, the struggles, and the joy of teaching ourselves the language of the soul. 



Is it possible to learn guitar self taught? Absolutely! Many individuals successfully self teach guitar using online resources, books, and instructional videos. With dedication, practice, and the right materials, one can master the instrument without formal instruction. 

Can you teach yourself to play guitar at 30? Certainly. Age isn't a barrier when you decide to self teach guitar. Many people begin their guitar journey in their 30s or even later and achieve proficiency with consistent practice and determination. 

How can I learn guitar at home without a teacher? To self teach guitar at home, you can leverage online tutorials, instructional DVDs, guitar apps, and books. Many platforms offer structured courses, and there are plenty of free resources available for beginners to intermediate players. 

What percent of guitar players are self-taught? While exact statistics can vary, it's estimated that a significant portion of guitarists, possibly over 50%, have taken the initiative to self teach guitar at least partially, relying on personal exploration and external resources rather than formal education. 

Are 30-minute guitar lessons worth it? Yes, 30-minute guitar lessons can be valuable, especially for beginners. Short, focused sessions can help retain interest and prevent overwhelm. However, as one progresses, longer sessions might be more beneficial for diving into advanced topics. 

Is 4 hours a day of guitar practice enough? Practicing 4 hours a day is substantial and can lead to rapid progression, especially for those aiming to self teach guitar. However, the quality of practice is more crucial than quantity. Structured, focused sessions yield better results than aimless strumming. 

How long does it realistically take to learn guitar? The time it takes to learn guitar varies based on individual goals. Someone looking to self teach guitar and play basic songs might achieve proficiency in a few months. However, mastering the instrument and playing complex pieces can take years of dedicated practice. 

What is harder, piano or guitar? The difficulty between piano and guitar is subjective. For some, the linear layout of a piano is more intuitive, while others might find the tactile nature of self teach guitar techniques easier to grasp. Both instruments have their challenges, and the best choice depends on personal preferences and musical inclinations. 

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