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A Guide To Guitar Chords

How To Play Guitar

The Magic Guitar Newsletter

 Be Careful: Depending on lessons from the internet could lead to bad habits that are difficult to reverse. Learn how to play guitar the easy, fast and reliable way: Learn and Master Guitar

How to play guitar? That's a question that's easier to ask than to answer. You see, there are lots of different ways you can go about learning how to play the guitar.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What kind of music do you want to play?
  • Do you want to use the guitar as accompaniment for your voice?
  • Do you want to play acoustic or electric guitar?

I'll give you an overview of things you need to do to learn how to play guitar:

 5 Things Every Guitarist Needs To Learn / I Just Want To Play Some Songs

Here are the 5 things every guitar player needs to learn, no matter what style he/she wants to play. Once you have learned these basics, you should be able to play campfire guitar.

  • How to Tune a Guitar: it's essential that you learn how to tune your guitar. For most beginners this is not very easy, because your ears are not trained yet. Luckily you can buy a guitar tuner (an electronic device to tune your guitar) very cheap these days. You really need one in the beginning because you can't play a guitar that's out of key!
  • How to Read Guitar Tabs: guitar tabs are a kind of musical notation that is much easier to read than traditional notation. Learning how to read guitar tabs is very easy and once you know it, a wealth of information opens up to you. The internet is full of guitar tabs for you to learn from...
  • How to Read Guitar Chords: you need to learn how to read guitar chord charts and diagrams. Chord diagrams are a way to notate guitar chords and just as reading guitar tabs, it's very easy to learn.
  • The Basic Guitar Chords: regardless of what style you play, we all need to learn the same basic chords.
  • How to Play Guitar Chords: when you know how to finger the basic chords, you also need to know what to do with your right hand to produce some sound. Strumming is usually the first technique learned.

 I Want To Play Rock Guitar And Metal

If you want to learn how to play rock guitar, there's certain guitar gear you need:

  • Electric Guitar: you need an electric guitar + cable + pick
  • Guitar Amp: you need a guitar amp with distortion. Most guitar amps have a distortion, but alternatively you could buy a distortion in the form of a guitar pedal.
  • Rock Guitar Tabs: look up the guitar tabs of your favorite rock songs (on the internet) and try to play them. Good beginner's rock songs are Smoke On The Water, AC/DC riffs, Satisfaction and Wild Thing.

Besides the basic guitar skills (listed above), there's some more stuff you need to learn:

  • Power Chords: power chords are the bread and butter of rock music. They are a slimmed-down version of barre chords and luckily much easier to play than barre chords. Power chords are usually played with a distorted sound.
  • Barre Chords: barre chords are essential to rock music. Most beginners struggle with barre chords. Sometimes it seems that you'll never master them, just keep practicing them regularly and you'll soon get the hang of it.
  • Lead Guitar: usually rock music involves some kind of lead guitar (see further for the skills required to play lead guitar).
  • Plectrum Technique: you need to know how to use a pick to play rock guitar. Strumming power chords and playing lead sound more powerful with a pick compared to your bare fingers.

 I Want To Play Folk Guitar

Learn how to play acoustic guitar easy and fast: Acoustic Guitar Secrets

To play folk guitar, you need:

  • Acoustic Guitar: most folk music is played on acoustic guitars.
  • Folk Guitar Tabs: look for the guitar tabs of your favorite folk songs on the internet. Some good beginner's folk songs are House Of The Rising Sun and Greensleeves.

Besides the basic guitar skills and chords, you also need to learn:

  • Fingerpicking: finger picking is an essential skill to play folk guitar. In the beginning it can be a bit difficult, but most guitar players soon get the hang of it.
  • Hammer ons and pull offs: these techniques are frequently used in folk music.
  • Playing and Singing: playing and singing at the same time can be difficult and requires practice.

 I Want To Play Classical Guitar

To play classical guitar, you need:

  • Classic Guitar: classical music sounds best on a guitar with nylon strings.
  • Long Nails: the picking used in classical music involves the nails. They need to have a certain length.
  • Sheet Music: look up the sheet music of some easy classical pieces. The easiest way is to buy a book. Here's a well known and easy classical piece for guitar (I included the tabs, something which is usually not done in classical music): Fur Elise

You'll also need this guitar skills:

  • How to Read Music: you need to learn how to read traditional music notation because most classical sheet music is without guitar tabs.
  • Classical Finger Picking: classical guitarists pick the notes with their finger nails of their right hand.
  • How To Hold The Guitar: classical guitar players hold their guitar differently than other players.

 I Want To Play Lead Guitar

Learn how to play lead guitar fast and painless: Jamorama Lead Guitar

To play lead guitar you need the same guitar gear as listed in the "I Want To Play Rock Guitar" section.

These are the required skills to play lead guitar:

  • Alternate Picking: this is a plectrum technique that enables you to play faster. It basically works by alternating up and down strokes.
  • Guitar Scales: you need to learn all kinds of guitar scales to play guitar solos. The best scale to begin with is the minor pentatonic scale because most rock and pop solos use this scale.
  • How to Improvise: good lead guitarists improvise their solos. Don't memorize someone else's solos, but learn how to improvise guitar solos.
  • Guitar Techniques: playing lead guitar requires guitar techniques like hammer ons, pull offs, slides, thrills, tapping and more.

 I Want To Play Blues Guitar

Learn how to play blues guitar fast and easy: Blues Guitar Secrets

If you want to learn how to play blues guitar, you don't need any special gear. Blues is played on acoustic as well as electric guitars. If you go electric, there are some brands and types of guitars and amps that produce a better blues sound than others.

Besides the basic skills you need to know:

  • The Blues Scale: the blues scale is a pentatonic scale with 1 note added, the b5 (called the blue note).
  • The Mixolydian Scale: this scale is also used frequently in blues.
  • Dominant 7 chords: these type of chords are used very often in blues music.
  • The 12-bar Blues: this type of blues is used very frequently.

 I Want To Play Jazz Guitar

Jazz guitar is one of the most difficult guitar styles and it's usually not the first style a beginner starts with. However, if jazz music is your thing, don't let that stop you from learning how to play jazz guitar.

Here's the gear you need:

  • Archtop Guitar: most people playing jazz guitar use an archtop guitar, like a Gibson ES175, Gibson L5, Ibanez George Benson or Epiphone Joe Pass. This doesn't mean you can't play jazz on an acoustic guitar or a normal electric guitar. Fender Telecasters for example are also quiet popular among jazz guitarists.
  • Guitar Amp: some guitar amps are more suitable for jazz than others. Examples of good jazz guitar amps are the Roland Cube 60, Roland JC120, Polytone amps, Fender Jazz King and Fender Blues Jr.

Besides all the skills listed above, you need:

  • Improvisation: improvisation is essential in jazz.
  • Music Theory: you need good knowledge of music theory: chord progressions, modes, chord construction, etc.
  • Ear Training: your musical ear should be well developed in order to improvise and musically communicate with the other musicians on stage.
  • Arpeggios: besides guitar scales, arpeggios play an important role in jazz solos.
  • Swing Feel: jazz is played with a swing feel instead of the straight feel of pop, rock and classical music.

 More Guitar Tips

  • Most people learn how to play guitar on a classical guitar with nylon strings, probably because those guitars are the cheapest. They are not the easiest to play though, an electric guitar is much easier to play.
  • You will learn faster if you have a good guitar teacher. This doesn't mean you can't teach yourself how to play the guitar.
  • Start simple and slow: play easy songs in the beginning else you'll get frustrated.
  • Play songs that you like and are familiar with.
  • You'll fingers will hurt in the beginning, but that will go away eventually.

You see, learning how to play guitar involves a lot of things, but the most important thing is to have fun doing it!


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