Learning to play the guitar at home has become the go-to way for many of us thanks to all the resources available to us online.
Sat in the comfort of our own home, we can now forget having to travel somewhere far for a lesson, and instead can search the World Wide Web for information.
There are so many options out there that finding a perfect learning style for yourself should not be a problem. In fact, there is something for everyone.
So, how easy is it? Not easy. Whether you choose the face-to-face lesson route or want to stay strumming on the couch, there are no shortcuts when it comes to learning the guitar well.
Overtime, you will enjoy playing the guitar more and find yourself progressing steadily. So, want to know how to learn to play the guitar at home?
Follow this handy guide and in just 11 steps, you could be well on your way to becoming the next Jimi Hendrix. Okay, maybe not just yet…
Firstly Though, Can You Learn The Guitar At Home?
Of course! A lot of well-known guitarists have developed the skills they are known for all by themselves with no teacher to help at all. Being self-taught is actually not a hindrance, especially in today’s world where we have so much information at our fingertips.
That is not to say lessons are not helpful. Some people find that having a tutor gives them structure and helps them to progress, but it is not needed if that is not the route you desire to take.
You may find, however, that when learning to play the guitar at home there may come a time when you reach a limit to how much progress you can make. Even so, this might be the perfect time to utilize learning online.
Whether you are learning with a teacher or at home, there will be a huge amount of dedication needed.
No matter what, it is not easy therefore you will need to dedicate time, effort and maybe even money (if you are buying a guitar, any apps, books, etc.).
Here are some of the things we are going to look at in this article:
- Getting to know the guitar – It might be tempting to pick up the guitar and get going, but it is worth getting to know what a guitar really is and how it feels to play. Feel the fretboard, pluck at the strings and take a look at how it is designed. Find resources on what makes a guitar so darn good!
- Look at free resources like Youtube – There are so many free resources out there, one being Youtube. You might find that some people turn their nose up at it, but actually there are many people out there on platforms like Youtube that can help you learn to play.
- Check out apps on your phone – Apps are also a great resource for learning to play and are a portable lesson with you all the time.
- Read some books – Remember them? It is not all about what is online. Check out your local library or a store and search for helpful books that will teach you how to play or have guitar knowledge to invest your time into. Sometimes it can be easier, or just extra helpful, to have a book available to refer back to, than having to rewind a video.
- Listen to music – You must train your ear to pick up music, and you can do this by listening to the song you intend to learn over and over. This will also be handy in the future because you may even recognise notes just by hearing them.
- Create a lesson plan for playing guitar – Having a fun lesson plan means you will enjoy learning even more. It will also help you stick to a schedule which is handy if you think there is a chance you may fall behind.
- Remember to let others hear you play – You cannot play the guitar to yourself forever. Playing to friends or even family will help you to build up the confidence you need. Okay, so you will not exactly be rock star standard yet, but you will become comfortable jamming in front of others.
- Engage with other guitarists – When you engage with others who play the guitar, you will not only receive feedback from those who know their stuff, but it will give you a sense of community.
- Listen to other genres of music – You might have a particular genre of music you want to play, but it is worth widening your search when it comes to listening to music generally. Opening up to other genres and even other instruments can help with the learning process.
- Picking the right guitar – Looking through different guitars and finding the best one for you right now is paramount to learning. Okay, so you might really want a guitar that shows off your rock star status, but it might not be necessary right now.
- Using the correct techniques – Playing the guitar at home might produce some nasty habits when it comes to playing the guitar, so it is best to learn the correct techniques early on. It will also help with the learning process – nobody wants to strum the guitar wrong!
Learning the Guitar is a Personal Experience
You will find that your way of learning might not be the same as somebody you know. It should be a fun and enjoyable journey. There are so many options out there to help you get started, from books and apps to online lessons like Youtube.
Now that you have decided on a good way to learn (or a few), start practicing every week. If you can, pick up the guitar every day.
Because you are learning at home, there should not be any obstacles in your way, so it should be easy enough to at least run through some stuff each day, whether you can spare a few hours or half an hour.
The thing you do need to know is it will take a lot of practicing time, and finding structure will help you to not get so overwhelmed by how much there is to do.
Patience is key also, as you will not be expected to be able to jam to a full song by the end of month one.
Overtime you should be riffing along to songs confidently just generally, but we are talking about a fair number of months ahead. The process does not need to be rushed, so do not feel like you need to be hitting impossible milestones. Instead, just enjoy the process.
So, if you want to know how to learn to play the guitar at home, well, you have come to the right place. Follow this handy guide and in 11 steps you will find out exactly how to do just that.
Getting to Know the Guitar
Right now, your main focus should be learning all the stuff you need to know about the guitar. It is tempting to want to jump straight in and learn some music right away, but getting to know the ins and outs of a guitar is vital at this stage.
If you do not learn all there is to know about the guitar now, then it might limit your playing ability as time goes on. So use this time wisely to really get to know all the nooks and crannies.
Plus, if you have a passion for the guitar, this will be an exciting prospect for you!
Once you have bought a guitar (which we will talk about later on), then it is time to really look at it and give it a feel. Take a look at these areas:
- The fretboard – this is an area you will be moving your hands and fingers up and down, so get a good feel for the length
- Strings – along with the fretboard, strings are what help you to play chords. Pay attention to how they feel under the fingers.
- Where to place those fingers – it is a good idea to place your fingers on the strings and note how it feels. At first it can feel a little awkward, but over time it will become second nature.
You may find that when you start playing the guitar, the fingers on the fretboard may hurt and become harder on the tips causing calluses – perhaps the true mark of any guitarist! This is normal and is a natural part of playing the guitar.
One thing a lot of guitar beginners may not be aware of is building strength in the fingers. If you are playing acoustic, then you may find the strength in your fingers build up faster, compared to an electric guitar.
Building up that hand strength will help with more difficult chords and ultimately you will become a better musician because of it. So, keep that in mind!
Even though improving your fingers may not help with the overall sound, it will help with becoming familiar with using a guitar and how to navigate it. That will then improve how you play your own guitar.
Look At Free Resources Like Youtube
Youtube will likely be your first port of call when it comes to learning the guitar. One search will lead you to thousands of videos from people wanting to teach guitar, especially to beginners.
The video-sharing platform is really good for those who are past the basic level of learning, and may be wanting to learn a song.
Listening to a slowed down version and having somebody run through the chords can be great, but as a beginner, it is best not to attempt skipping a head. This may take you back a few steps, and you will not be learning about the basic chords first.
There will be videos for the beginner too, so narrow down your search by using keywords, otherwise you may find that most of the videos will be above your level of expertise.
Because of the sheer volume of videos, however, it is also easy to feel overwhelmed – there is just so much! Also, who are you watching?
Not every guitarist will be as good as they claim, so do not always assume that you are watching a professional.
Take a look at how many subscribers they have and what the video view amount is. This can usually tell you how invested people are with the person’s guitar skills.
Another thing why Youtube may not be suitable for you is because watching videos will not give you a lesson structure. Not having any structure will dampen your progress.
You may need to seek a Youtuber who does specific lessons and stick to that one person. This way, it can feel like you are having helpful one-to-one lessons at home that will help you to progress with your guitar playing.
The best way to use a video platform to help with learning is to use it in between your own lessons. A good way is to do a lesson within an app and then use Youtube once or twice a week, or in between lessons.
Finding a good lesson plan that you can stick to is an ideal step to help you progress on the guitar.
Check Out Apps On Your Phone
It is good to know that due to modern technology we can have a guitar lesson on-the-go straight from our back pocket. Handy, ey?
Unlike Youtube or books, having an app can be a quicker way to learn due to having that access no matter where you are. It means that even if you are away or at work, you can spend time learning. You just need to remember your guitar!
Some apps will have lessons available, and this means whenever you want, wherever you want. Do be prepared to pay if you want something good.
Even though there are free apps out there, it is best to download something that you may need to pay to use because it will have a larger selection of lessons and help, meaning this will further your progress a lot quicker.
However, at this stage, you do not want to think too much about trying to move too fast. Wanting to play a full song could potentially set you back, so try and avoid habits like this. Cutting corners instead of following teaching at a steady pace will not make you a good guitarist, so take your time. What is the rush?
A great app will give you key ways to learn, and because it is on your phone, it may even motivate you to learn every day compared to other resources like video content. So, find a good app and start practicing on the guitar.
Read Some Books
It might seem old school, but reading books is just as important when it comes to learning to play the guitar.
Studying all aspects of playing, the history and the guitar itself is vital when it comes to your progression. It will make each practice you have a lot more meaningful, whilst giving you a deeper understanding of the guitar.
It is easy just learning to play, but having an all-rounded knowledge of the guitar will make sure you completely understand (and even respect) the instrument you are playing.
There are a number of things to learn about from a textbook, from the history of guitars to all-time guitar greats, and using the guitar as an instrument within different genres of music.
Understanding different areas will feed on your passion for guitars, and because you hold guitars in such high regard, you probably will not have a problem with wanting to know more about them.
Reading is also a great way of breaking up practicing. If you practice for two hours each day, then reading in between each hour will break it up and add something different. Look for books that will add to what you want to know about.
Overtime, the books you choose to read will also change. You may go from theory to wanting to understand more about specific musicians and how they came to be the greatest guitarists of all time.
As with everything else in life, you will never stop learning. Take full advantage of the information around you and soak up knowledge from books. It will help you to improve your guitar skills.
Listen to Music
It is a good idea to listen to your favorite music, in fact, it is important to listen to it over and over. Listen to how the guitar is played, and even how every instrument is played.
This is because it is really important to hear how music is constructed together, rather than how it sounds to the general listener.
Having a good ear when it comes to music is just as important as the playing itself, and can also help some guitarists tune their strings by just listening, but that is really advanced.
Playing the guitar is more than just about playing riffs, it is about putting a song together and becoming a musician, not just a person who can play the guitar.
One thing that you may find is that you will be playing tunes over and over and over. It may seem quite tiresome but it is an important part of learning to play a song.
By training your ear, you will be able to pick up songs much quicker.
As a novice, you may find the process of trying to train your ear difficult, but it will become second nature the more active listening you continue to do. To begin this, try by learning a simple lick and then playing it over and over again. You learn to train your ear via repetition.
Over time, you will start to get a feel for a number of things; rhythm, key, pitch and dynamics.
Training your ear is a key thing to learn as a beginner, but not everybody takes the time to do it. It means that you will be quite the exciting guitar player who will be able to pick up songs quickly.
It also helps to improve your guitar skills, so it is vital if you want to learn how to play just that little bit quicker.
Create a Lesson Plan For Playing Guitar
The best way to learn the guitar is to put a system in place. Fact.
When you have a routine, you can stick to it to create a lesson plan for learning the guitar. It means that you know what sort of stuff you want to focus on, for how long and which day it will be.
Doing so will also push you to progress with your skills. If we do not implement a schedule, then we can easily become stuck in our ways.
Sometimes once we have learned something like a few chords, perhaps we can patch a riff together, and then find there is nothing pushing us to go further. Creating that lesson plan will help to show exactly where you have gotten to and what is next.
Doing a lesson plan will also help you reach mini goals you set out for yourself. Having a goal will mean you are not trying to overachieve at such an early stage, so keep them realistic. They are also a great way to help you stay motivated. There is a sense of achievement as you tick the goals off, one by one.
There should also be a final goal, such as learning a particular song – just make sure it is a favorite song to keep you motivated.
Your goals will keep expanding, so perhaps think about mini goals, a main goal, and then more mini goals and a main goal, just whilst you begin playing.
However, even though this is a good way to learn, it can be challenging in the first place to put one together. Have a look online to find ideas on putting a lesson plan together. There is a lot of guidance and resources out there to help you.
The lesson plan itself does not need to be detailed either. Here is an example:
- Monday – App guitar lesson, practice chords for an hour
- Tuesday – Find a Youtube videos that relates to Monday’s lesson and follow it yourself
- Wednesday – App guitar lesson
- Thursday – Break
- Friday – Find a Youtube video related to Wednesday’s lesson and follow yourself, practice chords for an hour
- Saturday – Read from a book and study, watch favorite guitarists on Youtube
- Sunday – Break
Make a schedule that works around your day-to-day life, and add more breaks or practice sessions in. Basically, whatever works for you!
Remember to Let Others Hear You Play
Playing music around other people is not just about showing off (which we are all guilty of), it is also about letting others enjoy it too. Letting your friends and family hear you will also help to improve skills, just do not feel down-hearted if early on in your guitar playing days they cannot quite tell what song you are playing yet.
Playing a guitar around others will also help you to become comfortable with your own guitar. At this early stage, you will want to see how playing the guitar can affect other people, as well as yourself.
When you practice playing the guitar on your own, not only can you become frustrated, especially if you are not quite sure how far you have progressed, but also you may not be able to tell whether what you are doing sounds good or not.
It is easy to think you have mastered a technique, so getting some advice from others may knock you back a step or two, but you will find it vital in moving forward properly.
It also does not necessarily matter if those who give you feedback are musicians or not. The majority of people listen to music and they know what music sounds like. You will find that taking feedback on board is best, no matter where it came from, so long as it is constructive – so do not take things personally.
Performing for others will always be a good step in your learning process, so whether you are just jamming in front of some friends or asking people to listen, make the most of it.
Engage With Other Guitarists
Even though it is handy to seek feedback from friends and family, one of the best ways is from the guitar community itself. Not only will you be engaging with other guitarists, but it will be a great way to see others on their own journey, as well as talk about your own.
It is easy to find guitar communities, you just need to look at online forums and across social media. Talking to others will mainly be about keeping the enthusiasm alive and asking for advice. It will not make you a better guitarist in any shape or form.
Take this step once you feel confident enough to, otherwise you may find yourself comparing your abilities to other guitarists out there, and there are millions of them.
So, once you have already been practicing via apps and Youtube, take the plunge and start talking to like-minded guitar enthusiasts. It may also be worth finding people with a similar level of guitar experience, rather than those who have years of playing the guitar behind them.
Listen to Other Genres of Music
It is important to widen the music you are currently listening to. Listening to a wider range of genres will broaden your vocabulary of music, and actually help to improve your guitar skills.
It is not just about training your ear, either, finding new genres that you would not normally listen to may provide extra inspiration. You never know what you might find! Listening to one genre, the same one you have been listening to for years, also can constrict the type and style of music you play. Knowing about more music will only add extra creativity to your lessons, and improve your guitar skills for the better.
If you are struggling to think about what genres to look at, try jazz guitarists or heavy metal. These are two very different genres which means the playing styles for each completely contrast to one another. This is why engaging with different styles of playing the guitar will give you a better understanding of playing the guitar, leading to you having better skills.
You will find that learning the guitar takes time and is a process that is continuous. There will be times when you struggle to know what to do, so asking for recommendations of songs from friends can be really helpful. Just make sure they are guitar playing friends!
Picking the Right Guitar
Picking the right guitar is all about choosing the one that is suited to you. It is a personal choice, and it might not be the one you are after yet, but the ideal guitar for you now.
Learning to play the guitar is not an easy task, but finding out how unique every guitar is can put extra stress on your shoulders before you have even started. Some guitars are more helpful for the beginner, whilst others are harder to master, so keep that in mind when you are at the guitar store. You need one that will help you to progress, rather than hinder you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does it suit your skill level as a beginner?
- Will it help my learning ability rather than hinder it?
- Can it help me advance my technique?
If the answer is yes to all three, then it is the one for you. Also, make sure that it is one you will love for a long time, too. It is going to be the guitar that hopefully will take you from beginner to a higher level, so you are going to want to see it every day and not hate the color, for example.
Ultimately, if you are still unsure, ask for advice at a guitar store. They should be able to help you pick up a guitar that is suitable for a beginner, plus, you will be able to have a try and get a feel for it in your hands which is the best option you can do.
Choosing Extra Guitar Gear
Not only will you be buying a guitar, but also the gear that goes with it. There are a number of different picks, for example. It has to feel right in your hands, otherwise you will not play the best you can. Just like choosing a guitar, it is best to hold different picks and feel what it is like in your hand.
One of the things to look for is the weight of the pick. As you will just be starting out, a lighter weight is best suited. As you progress with guitar playing and become more advanced, go for a heavier pick.
You also want to know what thickness of pick is best. Do some research, whether via websites or Youtube, and make sure to find a pick that will help you move forward, not ruin your guitar playing before it has even started.
Using the Correct Techniques
By now you will have learned a number of ways to master the guitar as a beginner, but as an at home learner, it is important to learn proper techniques. Whereas in a face-to-face lesson you will have a tutor who will help to guide you, learning to play the guitar at home has its own challenges.
It actually is not as hard as you think. It just means making sure that you take advantage of all the learning resources around you and making sure you do not cut corners. It is a bit like being self-taught at photography but not picking up any techniques about how to use the shutter speed properly or aperture. Whereas maybe learning a technique will not ruin your overall ability, it is an important step to learn if you want to progress better and play a guitar very well.
Playing the guitar is exciting and can be very rewarding. Learning at home does not mean that you cannot develop a good, in fact, great standard of guitar playing.
It is an achievable skill to learn if you have time, put the effort in and can be patient – there is no room for rushing when it comes to practicing the guitar.
Here are a few things to take away:
- Repetition is key – when practicing a song or training the ear, repetition will become your best friend. Yes, it is tiresome, but also rewarding.
- Avoid playing too fast – make sure your fingers are in the correct place on the fretboard, and remember to steady your pace. Music usually follows a beat, so think about this as you are strumming.
- Play chords correctly – sometimes we may find an easier and simpler way of playing a chord, but avoid this. Instead, stick to the correct way of playing a chord and make a habit out of this.
- Make use of resources – as an at home guitar player, this will be your way of developing your skills, so make the most of apps, books and the internet.
- Pick the right guitar – avoid picking something just because it looks cool. You are not there yet, and should pick a guitar that suits your ability. That does not mean you cannot love the way the guitar looks.
Now that you have read the 11 steps to mastering the guitar at home, hopefully you have realized that learning the guitar in your own backyard is not as difficult as you first thought.