Why I wrote this guide
Can you play guitar?
What do I need to start?
Electric or acoustic?
Buying your guitar
Tuning your guitar
Where to now?
The Busy Professional’s Introduction to Learning Guitar
Written by: Chris Brown
For our Free 3 part beginner training video series
Why I Wrote This Guide
Do you want more from life? More enjoyment, more achievement, more knowledge, more friends, more experiences, more attention, and less stress?
Have you tried learning to play guitar online by using Youtube videos and other sites and thought it was all too hard? Did you think that the reason you couldn’t do it was because you had no musical talent?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then this guide is for you. If you’re like I was the thought of being able to play the guitar has been a little idea poking around inside the back of your brain for many years. Want to know how to silence the doubts and achieve the goal? Let me show you what I’ve learnt from over 30 years of learning the guitar – it can be done, and if I can do it you can too. I’m now able to play any song I want and am part of a successful cover band that gets paid to perform. At our last gig we were paid $600 and invited to come back again 2 months later!
I’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars discovering and refining the best strategies for learning how to play the guitar — and I’m going to walk you through the start of them in this guide.
Who am I?
I’m a primary school principal from Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. I obtained my Bachelor of Education (Hons) in 2003 from Ballarat University. I obtained my Masters in Education (School Leadership) from Monash University in 2010. In December, 2009 I began playing in live bands around my town, and since then I’ve played lots of live gigs and had my band featured on the local television news. I’ve spent seventeen years teaching and have been working with guitar students over the last five. In 2015, I decided to take what I’ve learnt and package it up for the benefit of others. I currently still live in that small town I grew up in.
Who is this Guide for?
In my own way, I have spent my whole life preparing this program. I made every mistake that can be made, and I’m breaking things down to their simplest and easiest form to get you improving and loving the guitar in a fraction of the time.
It won’t happen overnight, and it will take work (never trust someone who promises instant results without work), but you’ll have the exact road map so you can quickly join students who’ve used my assistance.
It all starts with changing your psychology so it’s easier for you to succeed. Myself for example: I’ve never felt more invigorated and alive than I feel right now. And it’s not because I’m doing well financially (although that helps). It’s because I’ve been able to achieve the personal goal of being able to play the guitar. It all started when I freed myself from the shackles of self-doubt and denial. Once I realised that music was a learnable skill, not a special talent or a gift, I began to fly – and you can too.
Can you learn guitar?
The answer is yes. You have the ability inside you. No, the ability to play music is not some sort of spiritual, magical, or ethereal gift or talent that is given out randomly to people at birth. Did somebody tell you that you’re no good at music? They were wrong, and I will help you prove them wrong.
The truth is that like all things, the ability to play guitar is a learned skill. All you need is the proper dedication and application, and I’ll guide you through the rest. Imagine it – you’ll be playing in front of your family and friends, the song will end and they’ll all clap and cheer for you. How good will that feel? Picture it now, because it’s going to happen. Dedication and commitment is all you need. We’ll get into the specifics over the coming emails, but right now what I need you to do is reframe your current perspective; understand that the ability to play guitar is learnable and that if you put in the work, you will learn it.
Are you too old to start? Definitely not. In fact, as an adult there are many advantages that you have over younger people:
You already know a lot about music from a lifetime of listening to it.
You know what you like, the genres and songs you love and want to learn. You know about song forms like verse, chorus, etc. You may not know the terms for everything, but you will have heard melodies and harmonies before. Moreover, you’ll be able to identify these components of music and many more once they’re explained to you.
You have developed the skill of self-discipline.
As an adult you’ve learnt how to do things that require effort and work. As a professional you’ve mastered studying and learning skills to achieve your qualification. These personal skills are essential in learning the guitar and, unlike with children, they don’t need to be developed within you from scratch. You already know that hard work gets results and that skills and knowledge are developed through regular practice and application. Seriously, you got this.
No one is forcing you to do this. You’re an adult; you’re doing this because you want to. Unlike many younger people coerced into taking music classes for a variety of reasons, you’’re doing this as a result of a conscious decision or choice.
Playing music reduces stress.
Children don’t face the same work/life pressures as adults. As an adult, playing music has been proven to relax and relieve stress. Not only are you doing something fun, but it will improve/preserve your personal well-being.
Why choose me? For one, I’ve made all the mistakes on my 30 year guitar journey – that’s right, 30 years I’ve been playing guitar – and I can save you years and years of wasted time by showing you the right way to do things, so you won’t have to fumble around in the dark like I did. An active performer as well, I’m in a cover band that plays regularly in my town.
I’ve developed the skill to be able to play any song I want and create my own music. On top of that, I’m a qualified instructor and have worked as a teacher for the last seventeen years. I know how to teach, and I know music. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Education. There’’s a big difference between being a great guitar player and being a great guitar teacher, and you will benefit from my unique blend of teaching and guitar playing experience via my expertly designed materials and courses. But enough about me, I’m here to help you.
What are your guitar goals? What are your reasons for wanting to achieve these? Email back and tell me your goals and your reasons. My personal email is [email protected] I will respond to every email. Is your goal to be able to play your favourite songs? Is it to be able to perform something in public? Is it to be able to create your own spine-tingling solos and shred notes like a guitar beast? Do you want to make mellow acoustic grooves and write your own songs? In an ideal world, what would you like to be able to do with music? Let me know right now. I can’t wait to help you get started.
What do I need to get started?
The most common response I get from busy adults is that they are looking for a creative outlet in their lives, a new skill they can practice at home. Something that can help them relax and a hobby that they can share with their friends and family. Let me assure you, in learning the guitar, you can achieve all of these things.
These are fantastic goals to have in mind, and while they might seem a long way off right now, they are very much achievable. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; before we learn to walk we must learn to crawl, etc. We’ll take it slow and make sure we enjoy the learning process. Music is a never-ending journey, and people have spent their whole lives developing their skills and knowledge. One of the benefits of learning guitar is that it is a hobby that can sustain you over the course of many years. To begin, you’re going to need one item: a guitar.
What type of guitar should I buy?
There are many types of guitars out in the market and they abound in large numbers. One of the most confusing choices for a beginning guitarist is what type to buy. It’s also one of the most important choices; guitars aren’t cheap, and if you buy the wrong one for you, it will limit your guitar journey. When I was ten and first starting to learn guitar, my parents bought me a cheap, nylon classical guitar. As grateful as I was, it hurt my hands to play, and though it got me started, it wasn’t the electric guitar that I always wanted. I gave up guitar between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one simply because I didn’t like the guitar I had. At twenty-one, I finally had enough money to buy my own electric guitar (which I still play to this day). Don’t make the mistake I did. Get the right guitar for you the first time.
New or used?
You can purchase a great guitar secondhand through sites such as eBay and Craig’s List or at traditional brick-and-mortar stores in your town, potentially saving yourself a lot of money. However, in order to achieve a good outcome buying used, you’ll need to put in some research and find out exactly what represents good value. As a beginner, it’s possible that you may overpay or purchase a faulty item without noticing it. If you have a knowledgeable family member or friend or you really like doing the research, then I recommend buying used. Otherwise you should purchase a new guitar from a reputable dealer. A good dealer will be able to provide you with a great guitar in playing condition and will fix any problems quickly and easily allowing you to concentrate on the fun stuff of playing and learning.
How much should I pay for my first guitar?
To begin, I recommend buying a moderately priced guitar, not the cheapest or the most expensive. In my opinion, the biggest problem with a cheap guitar (0-$250 USD) is that they are hard to play and don’t stay in tune very well. First and foremost, your guitar needs to hold its tune; you don’’t want to sound like a screeching cat!
When I talk about a guitar holding its tune, I’m talking about two things. Firstly, all guitars need to be tuned regularly, every time you play them. Each string on the guitar is wound to produce a certain musical note. Over time, each string will naturally tighten or slacken depending on various factors such as the temperature of the room and how they have been played. This is a normal part of playing the guitar. Cheaper guitars, however, will need to be re-tuned more often as the build materials are of a lesser (cheaper) quality.
Secondly, there are twelve musical notes and they appear at six locations between the start of the guitar and the twelfth fret (don’t worry if you don’t know what the frets are at this stage – I’’ll teach you later). You need each note to be in tune at each location. For example, you need the note ‘A’ to be perfectly in tune with all those other A’’s on the guitar so that they sound the same pitch. What can happen with cheaper guitars (again because of the lesser materials and less time spent on the build quality) is that some of those A’s will be perfectly tuned A’s, and some will be halfway between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’. You don’t want this situation as it will make you sound bad, as some of your notes will always be out of tune. Having all of your notes sounding the same across the guitar is called intonation. In general, cheap guitars don’t have good intonation.
In my opinion, the other aspect that makes cheaper guitars undesirable to purchase is that they are harder to play. When you make a cheaper guitar you use lower quality resources (time and materials). This affects how a guitar ‘feels’ in your hands. A guitar should feel comfortable and be pleasant to hold.
Generally, on a cheaper guitar, the distance between the strings and the wood below them (the fretboard) is greater. This also makes them less comfortable to play as it requires more strength to hold down the strings. You don’t want this. As a beginner, you want to feel as comfortable as possible when playing your guitar; having strings that are lower and closer to the fretboard will make it easier (and thus, more enjoyable) for you to play and learn the guitar.
If money is no object, go ahead and buy an expensive guitar ($700+ USD). They are things of beauty, are extremely comfortable, and hold their tuning and intonation the best. They are also made of the best quality materials and will last the longest. They are a good investment, and you won’t lose a lot of money on them if you ever need to resell it. At some point you start paying for the aesthetics with expensive guitars, as they are no ways to improve the functional aspects. For example, the artwork on them gets more elaborate as they get more expensive, but this doesn’t affect how they sound.
To conclude, I recommend you buy a brand new, moderately priced guitar (between $250-700 USD). This will give you a great blend of performance and value. Already have a guitar? One that was given to you or a family guitar that you’re happy with? Great! By all means, use that. I’d still go to the guitar store and check a few out anyway to make sure you’ve got the guitar for you, but we’ll talk about what to look for later.
Next, I’ll talk about the two main types of guitars (acoustic and electric) and their sub variants in a bid to help you understand their different purposes. I’ll help you choose the instrument that is right for you.
Should I get an electric or an acoustic guitar?
I’m going to give you a breakdown of the two main types of guitar and their common variations. This will help you choose the right guitar for you, maximising your enjoyment of the instrument and motivating you to play more often.
What’s the difference?
Acoustic guitars produce their sounds via the vibration of the strings through the air, as opposed to electric guitars, which generate their volumes through having their strings’ vibrations picked up and amplified electronically. They have different sound, tonal qualities, and different playing characteristics. Overall, the electric guitar is smaller and is therefore easier to play physically. However, acoustic guitars do not require amplification which means there is less initial equipment to buy.
Acoustic guitars have been around in some form or another for hundreds of years. The most common type today is the flat-top acoustic guitar – pictured below:
As the name suggests, these guitars have a ‘flat-top’ that separates them from other styles such as the ‘arched’’ or ‘classical’ acoustic guitar. Standard models have six steel strings which produce a ‘rich’ sound. If you’re going to start with an acoustic guitar, then a flat-top is the way to go. The acoustic guitar’s sound is prevalent in all types of modern music, particularly folk, country, rock and roll, pop, bluegrass, and the blues. Its rich sound lends itself to duos and singer-songwriters as it is able to compensate for a lack of supporting instrumentation.
There are two main sub variants of flat-top acoustic guitars: the dreadnought (pictured above) and the ‘cutaway’ (pictured below).
The dreadnought style of flat-top refers to the shape of the guitar’s body. Dreadnought literally means ‘fearless person’ or ‘fears nothing’. The dreadnought guitar was originally created by the Martin company and has since been copied by all the major manufacturers, becoming a common type today.
The dreadnought guitar body was larger than most other flat-top guitars that existed at the time and, as such, produced a louder and bolder tone.
The cutaway guitar has a small section of the guitar’s shape ‘cut away’ to allow your hand to reach higher up the guitar and allow you to play closer to the hole in the middle of the guitar (the sound hole). This is a major functional difference from the dreadnought style and you should consider this if deciding to purchase a steel-string acoustic guitar.
In short, the cutaway is the more functional. Purists may argue that the drawback of the cutaway is an inferior tone or sound, however with today’s advanced design and manufacturing process it is very hard to tell the difference between either. Therefore, it comes down to personal choice: do you prefer the look, feel, and louder sound of the dreadnought or the functional capacity to play higher up the neck (important for soloing)?
There’s no right or wrong decision here. Now that you’ve been informed, I recommend going with your gut and choosing the style that feels right for you. If you can get to a guitar shop (even just to try a few out), you’’ll be better placed to make that decision. You can purchase a twelve-string acoustic guitar, but I recommend starting with a six-string as the twelves can be harder to tune and maintain for the average beginner. They do sound amazing though, so be aware that they are out there. If you love the acoustic, you will definitely consider adding a twelve-string string flat top to your collection at some stage.
Another option is to purchase an electric/acoustic guitar. These guitars are equipped to be able to be plugged into an electric amplifier, which is excellent if you’re going to be playing in public. Notable musicians to play the acoustic-electric guitar include Tommy Emmanuel, Django Reinhardt, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Chet Atkins, and Robert Johnson.
There’s one other type of acoustic guitar you might run into on your travels, and that’s the classical guitar. It has nylon strings and a yellow/brown complexion. This guitar is best suited for those who wish to learn classical music. It’s not suited for contemporary modern music.
An electric guitar produces its sounds via the electronic amplification of its strings’ vibrations. They are suited to most genres of music including rock, blues, pop, jazz, and the blues. Electric guitars require two accessories: an amplifier and a lead (to connect the guitar to the amp). The sounds from the string vibrations are carried through ‘‘pick-ups’ (they literally pick up the sound) to the amplifier (amp). The pick-ups affect the tone and look of the guitar, so guitar makers have experimented with many different types, and not all pick-ups look the same.
Here’s an example:
There are two common types of guitar pick-ups: single coils (above) and humbuckers (below):
Humbuckers look like two single coils stuck together in the above example; other times they look like a rectangle (see below):
In terms of the sounds they produce, the humbucker pickup is characterised as having a fatter, warmer sound compared to a single coil. A single coil is traditionally considered to have a brighter and cleaner tone.
Features of an electric guitar
One of the beauties of an electric guitar is that you can modify the sounds they make and therefore get many different sounds (or tones) out of the one guitar.
One way you can modify the sound is via the pick-up selector (see below)
By toggling the pick-up selector switch up and down, you get slightly different sounds from the guitar. The switch selects which pick-up or combination of pick-ups to draw the sounds from. The pick-ups are named by their location on the guitar. The one closest to the start of the guitar is called the Bridger pick-up. If there is a pick-up in the middle, this is called (surprise, surprise) the middle pick-up. The pick-up closest to the end of the guitar (or the bottom) is called the bridge pick-up. By changing the selector you can select the neck, middle, or bridge pick-up or a combination of these.
Another way to change the sound and the tone of an electric guitar is by turning the volume and tone knobs. Each knob has a slightly different impact on the tone. The volume knob impacts both the tone and the volume of the guitar.
You’ll notice that some guitars have one tone or volume knob, but others have two or more. There are many variations and this is due to market demands. Generally, one knob controls the volume or tone of all the pick-ups, while two or more knobs would mean one to control the volume or tone coming out of each pick-up or two pick-ups.
The last way to vary the sound on an electric guitar is through the whammy (also known as the vibrato or tremolo) bar. The whammy bar bends the string, changing the nature of the string’s vibrations and thus alters the sound. You can get lots of different sounds out of a whammy bar.
Finally, there are many different types and brands of electric guitar. Below are some of the most popular. I have also included a few moderately priced guitars to help you with your selection. I’m not affiliated with any particular brand or model, so feel free to consider my advice – it’s not biased; I’m not getting paid to promote one over the other. I recommend having a look at all of these and then YouTubing or Googling the ones that interest you. You’ll notice that the moderately priced guitars tend to mimic the look of the more expensive guitars – this is intentional. The most popular designs make millions of dollars each year, and guitar makers are keen to get a share of the market at every price point, and by copying what sells the most they are maximising their chances of making their own money.
Popular electric guitars
Below are four of the most iconic electric guitars in history. These guitars have stood the test of time and are still popular today. Underneath these four are some moderately priced guitars that ‘copy’ the look and sound of the expensive icons at a reasonable price.
The Fender Stratocaster (or strat for short) is arguably the most iconic electric guitar of all time. Invented by Leo Fender and a few others in 1954, it is still one of the most popular guitars sold today. Its distinctive shape and its unique (at the time) three pick-up system revolutionised the modern electric guitar. The Stratocaster is an extremely versatile guitar, usable for most styles of music and has been used in many genres, including rock, pop, country, folk, r&b, blues, reggae, jazz, punk, and heavy metal.
Notable musicians to play the strat include: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Edge, John Fascinate, David Glamour, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Mark Knofler, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few.
A 2016 American Standard (base model) Fender Stratocaster retails for around $1300 USD.
The Telecaster (often referred to as the ‘Telly’) is the world’s first commercially successful electric guitar. It first appeared in its first incarnation in 1950 and has been in production ever since. Many other guitar makers (including Fender) had experimented with solid body electric guitars, but none were commercially successful. The Telecaster put the solid body guitar on the commercial map and opened up the whole electric guitar market. It’s known for its unique bright, rich sound and has been favoured by country, rock, pop, blues, and jazz guitarists.
Musicians who favoured this guitar include: Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Waylon Jennings, Brad Paisley, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, and Keith Urban.
A 2016 American Standard (base model) Fender Telecaster retails for around $1300 USD.
Gibson Les Paul
This guitar has arguably the most recognisable shape of modern guitars. It was first made by the Gibson factory in 1952 and has become one of the iconic instruments of the 20th century. It was named after popular guitarist/inventor of the day Les Paul, who was a consultant and played a part in creating the product. They are known for their look, feel, playability, and tone. Similar to the strat, the Les Paul is an extremely versatile guitar and has been used in many genres, including rock, pop, country, folk, r&b, blues, reggae, jazz, punk, and heavy metal.
Artists who have favoured the Les Paul include: Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Perry, Gary Moore, Peter Brampton, Pete Townshend, Ace Freely, Billy Gibbons, and Eric Clapton.
A Gibson Les Paul Standard 2016, Traditional – Ebony retails for $2700 USD.
Introduced in 1961, the SG has become Gibson’s best-selling guitar of all time. In 1960, with sales of the Les Paul lower than in previous years, the company created the SG. Because of its ease of play, holding comfort, popularity, and heritage, the body style of the SG is often copied by other manufacturers. The guitar is primarily used by rock and roll, metal, and blues players, and is described as having a sound that has more ‘bite’ than a Les Paul.
Notable exponents of the Gibson SG include: Frank Zappa, Derek Trucks, George Harrison, Robby Krieger, Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Tony Iommi, and perhaps most famously of all, Angus Young.
A Gibson SG Standard 2016, Traditional – Ebony, retails for around $1200 USD.
In addition to Gibson and Fender, there are many other wonderful electric guitar brands out there that have fine products. If you are interested, check out brands such as Paul Reed Smith, Schecter, Ibanez, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker, to name a few.
Great value electric guitars (Up to $700 USD)
To start out with, I recommend buying a moderately priced guitar. By all means, if you have the financial resources to do so, go ahead and purchase a top-end guitar. There’s nothing like the feeling of owning that one guitar you’ve coveted and salivated over for years.
For the rest of us, the good news is that there are some amazing guitars within our budget. They will sound great and be of a high enough standard for us to be able to play them at home or ‘live’ out in public (yes, you will be able to play live in front of people).
Many of the guitars in this range ‘copy’ or ‘imitate’ the look and sound of the premium products I’ve outlined above. This is a good thing as it allows us to get the same look and tone for a fraction of the cost. Guitar brands I’d recommend you check out in this range are:
Which one is for me?
If you want to play rock and roll, then buying an electric is the way to go. The electric is also the easiest guitar to play out of the two, so if you’re unsure, then go for the electric. If singer-songwriting is your passion, or if your dream is to play around the campfire, then go for the acoustic. Buying a guitar is a lot like buying a car: it’s an emotional, not just a practical decision. Trust your gut and choose the one that looks right, feels right, and sounds right.
As always, shop around for the best price, especially if you live in a small town. I’ve found that prices of guitars in small towns can be extortionate. Please compare your local stores’ prices with that of reputable online suppliers like Sweetwater or Musician’s Friend.
There are many sorts of accessories that you can buy for the guitar, and all of them aid your playing in some way. When starting out there are some basic accessories that you will need in order to keep you going.
They come in different types of hardness – usually soft, medium, or hard. Each type of pick makes a slightly different sound. I use mostly medium thickness and sometimes hard. I bought some soft picks once and they sound ‘flappy,’ which is kind of cool, but I don’t use it at all. You can also play the guitar with just your fingers and hands. Several famous players do it this way, most notably Mark Knofler from Dire Straits. I prefer to use a pick, and I recommend you try a pick when starting out.
You’ll need a guitar lead if you purchase an electric guitar. A lead will connect your guitar to your amplifier. You can also use a lead to connect to other guitar accessories down the track. You’ll only need a short lead to begin with, a six-foot lead being ample for starting out. The extra length is only necessary if you need to stand a long way away from your amp, which is usually only necessary when you’re on stage.
The guitar is a stringed instrument, and all of the strings are tuned to certain musical notes. Guitars always need to be tuned as their strings naturally go flat or sharp depending on many varying factors. This is not a problem; it’s a normal part of owning a guitar. As a general rule, you need to tune your guitar every time you play, and, quite often, you’ll need to tune your guitar during breaks while you’re playing it.
If you own a smartphone or a tablet you can get a range of excellent guitar tuners for free. Simply visit the app store and search for guitar tuner, download away, and off you go. While these are great, standalone tuners offer a more reliable and accurate service, so I’d recommend purchasing one of these if you can. Snark makes a really cheap and reliable tuner (approx. $15 USD) that clips onto your guitar and tunes by recording the string vibrations through the wood of your guitar. I recommend this product or the free apps as a starting point. You’ll be able to purchase the tuner online or at a good music store. Later on in this free book, I’’ll teach you how to use your tuner and tune your guitar.
If you’re going down the electric guitar route, you’ll need an electric amplifier. Start with a small one (known as a bedroom amp). I recommend getting an amp with a headphone jack, as this will allow you to practice silently at home late at night or early in the morning – an essential feature, your family will thank me later. Though not essential, an output for your mp3 or CD player is handy, as this will allow you to play along to your favourite songs. Otherwise, I’d say grab the best amp you can afford within the starter range. Allow up to $200 for your purchase.
You could get started without having an amp, but it’s not as enjoyable. An electric guitar and amp go together like strawberries and cream, a natural combination.
If you’re borrowing an old guitar or have received one from a friend, chances are the strings will be very brittle from not having been played in such a long time. Having a packet of new strings on hand will ensure that if one of the strings breaks when you’re playing or tuning your guitar, you’ll have replacements on standby.
Even if you buy a brand new guitar, having an extra set of strings will come in very handy. You will break strings at some stage, no matter what you do. Having spare strings ready to replace broken ones will minimise downtime and maximise playing time. Guitar strings are not expensive; just ask for the ‘regular’’ type of steel string or electric guitar strings for now. As you gain experience you’ll naturally begin to experiment with different string gauges. Strings are pretty inexpensive and can be bought online or at a store for around $10 USD for a set of six.
Pointy nosed pliers/Wire cutters
You’ll need these to trim your guitar strings when you change them. With any luck you’ll have these on hand anyway, and won’t need to purchase them.
A guitar case and a guitar strap are two nonessential items that I’d consider when starting out. If you’re lucky, the store might throw in a free case for you when you purchase your guitar. A hard case is more expensive, but I recommend getting one of these as it will protect your guitar from objects falling on it or from hard impacts. Ask for a hard case.
A guitar strap is another nonessential item for a beginner. A strap allows you to play standing up, which you might like to do at some point (usually, when you’re performing).
Buying your guitar and your accessories
There are two options for purchasing your items: buying online or purchasing at a guitar store. I’ve done it both ways, and there are pros and cons to each. Let me spell them out for you so that you get to make an informed decision and get to benefit from my experience.
Buying online is the best option for those who cannot get to a guitar store. Maybe you live in a small town or your work schedule prevents you from getting to a store during the day. Buying online is also the best way to get the best price. You’ll have access to more suppliers and will therefore be able to compare the price of one item across several different vendors. Purchasing this way also allows you access to a greater variety of products and accessories. Guitar stores only carry a limited range and cannot carry every item.
The downside to buying online is that you don’t get to touch or feel what you’re buying beforehand. This is a really important aspect of purchasing a guitar. Let me reiterate an earlier point – that buying a guitar is partly an emotional decision. The right guitar for you is the one that looks right, feels right, and sounds right to you.
The internet is a great research tool, and I highly recommend that you research the guitar you’re looking for. Goggle the name of the guitar and review. If you can’t get to a guitar store, or if your local store doesn’’t carry the one you’re after, then you can also go to YouTube and find reviews on specific guitar makes and models as well. While not the same as hearing the guitar for yourself, a YouTube clip will give you a good approximation of the guitar’s sound.
The best online suppliers also have excellent return policies and support networks to draw upon. The best two sites that I’ve dealt with are sweetwater.com and musiciansfriend.com. Both offer great prices and service.
If you can’t get to a guitar store, then the best way to buy is online. I’ll often buy online if it’s an item that I can’’t get elsewhere or don’t need to see beforehand (i.e. a new packet of strings). Do your research via Google and YouTube, scan the stores for the best prices, and fire away.
Buying via brick and mortar
This is the best place to buy your guitar and your amp, as you’ll get to see, hear, and touch what you’re purchasing. The downside is that, if you’’re not careful, you can pay an inflated price for goods, as they may be the only music shop in town. To avoid getting ripped off, I recommend doing your research before going to the store; have an idea of what online retailers are selling the same product for. Alternatively, if you see something you like at the store, you can also go home and compare the price (or on your smartphone at the store) prior to purchasing. There’s nothing wrong with paying 10-15% more at a brick-and-mortar store, but 30-50% extra is just ridiculous. I don’t want you to get disillusioned or ripped off.
A good music store will help you and be a great friend along your musical journey. They’ll make you feel good. A bad store will pressure you into doing things you don’t want and make you feel bad. Establishing a good relationship with a good store can really help you out. They’ll give you discounts on items as you purchase more and more from them. A good store will be able to service and repair your guitar when needed and help you learn about your guitar and others. You might even make a new friend, someone who shares your music interests. Visiting a great music store, whether it’’s a multi-national chain or a local mom & pop, is more than just a retail experience. It’s a gathering place for like-minded individuals who all share the same passion and enthusiasm for music and guitars. Entering a great music store is like stepping into a community of friends and family. I recommend that you check out music stores whenever you can to find the best ones in your town or to be inspired when you visit other towns.
What do I say to the salesperson at the store?
Buying a guitar and an amp from a store can be an intimidating experience. Let me take the stress out of it for you by explaining the best way to go about it, so that you can have an enjoyable, fun experience. Once you know what you have in mind as a general idea, you have two options: go with someone else, or go alone.
Some people might like to ask a friend or a relative to go along with them to the store. If someone you know plays guitar, they’ll be thrilled that you’re deciding to take up the instrument and would love to go along with you. They’’ll be able to play the guitar and the amp you’re interested in and give you an idea of what they’re meant to sound like. They’ll also be able to help you out to spot a bargain or a rip-off and should be a great ally in warding off any high-pressure salespeople or tactics. Just be careful that your mate doesn’t ‘over’’ influence you; you don’t want them to convince you that something they love is the right thing for you. Remember, if it looks good, feels good, and sounds good to you, then it’s the right choice.
Going alone is fine, too. All you have to remember is the magic words: ‘I have to think about this, I’ll come back tomorrow,’ or ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got to go right now’ if you’re feeling pressured. I’ll provide everything you need to say and do to ensure that you have a good experience.
What to expect at the store
When you walk in, you’ll probably notice someone sitting over by the guitars playing their heart out. They might sound amazing, or they might sound terrible. This is normal. They might even be the staff. Most guitar stores have people visit them throughout the day who have no intention of purchasing anything. They’re just there because they enjoy being around guitars, and they’re proud of what they can do on the guitar. Don’t be put off by these people; they all started at exactly the same point you are now. They will all welcome a beginner, and a word of praise is all you’ll need to win them over – ‘you’re sounding great,’ etc.
Once inside, you should approach a salesperson and say to them, ‘I am interested in learning the guitar, and I want to purchase an electric or acoustic guitar. I’m interested in this model (insert your preference) or something similar if you have it.’ This should give a good salesperson all the information they’ll need to help you with your purchase.
At this point, they’ll show you their products. Make sure you ask to hear how it sounds, and ask them to demonstrate for you if they don’t play the guitar for you. If they can’t, ask if they can get someone who can. If they can’t do that either, tell them you’ll come back when there’s someone who can. Ask to hold the guitar, taking note of how it feels in your hands. You won’t be able to play anything yet, but by all means run your thumb down each string. Don’t get discouraged if what you play sounds terrible. This is normal, we have all been there. Compare the guitars that interest you, and make sure you settle on something within your price range.
If you’re buying an electric guitar, get them to demonstrate amplifiers for you too. If possible, get them to play the guitar you’re going to purchase through the amplifier that interests you. Ask them to demonstrate the sound through the clean and dirty channels of the amp. The clean sound of the guitar will sound neat. Each note will ring out cleanly and be able to be easily distinguished. The dirty channel (or distorted) will sound ‘blurry’. All of the notes will ‘‘blur’ into each other and be hard to distinguish. The distorted guitar sound is the key to rock and roll and heavy metal music. Listen to each amp, take in mind the guidelines I set out earlier, and purchase the one that is best for you.
Wrapping up the sale
A good salesperson will finish the sale by offering to sell you a range of different accessories. The only ones you need to get started are a tuner and a spare set of strings. If you’re purchasing an electric guitar, you’ll need an amp and a guitar lead (six foot). I also recommend getting a packet of medium guitar picks. They might try and sell you guitar straps or a guitar case. That’s all up to you – it’s not essential.
Congratulations, you just bought your first guitar! I’m so proud of you for taking action and completing the first steps on your musical journey. You have a lot of courage. Not a lot of people can change their lives or start new endeavours as an adult – change is very hard. Well done! You are growing as a person, and you are actively shaping your own destiny.
Tuning your guitar
Your guitar is a stringed instrument and constantly needs tuning. Before we can make music, our instrument must be in tune. Please watch the video below to see how to tune your guitar to the standard tuning notes of E,A,D,G,B & E.
At the end of this video you’ll be able to:
You’ll be successful if:
Click here to watch your tuning video
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Click the video link here to access the material and refer to the guitar tab explained within the video below.
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Where to now?
You could go and learn how to do this all by yourself. There are tons of great websites out there, lots of great videos on YouTube. You could devote twenty minutes each night to sitting down and learning the guitar. But have you?
What Virtual Guitar Study can do is take everything I’ve learnt about how to play the guitar, provide you with the support and materials you need, and show you how to do it.
I’ve spent 30 years learning how to play the guitar, and I can show you how to do it in significantly less time for a fraction of the cost. My friend has spent twenty years playing the guitar, and he still can’t play what he wants to.
Let me tell you my story. I was tired of wanting to play the guitar and being unable to make the music that I wanted to make. I was ready to take the next step. Learn how the Virtual Guitar Study program can save you years and teach you to play all the songs and create the music you’ve been dreaming about from the comfort of your own home.
Like you I had been dreaming about being able to play the guitar for years and years, but every day I would wake up, and something got in the way: my job, my family, my friends – everything combined together to completely overwhelm me and my dream.
I knew that the dream was there. My friends would ask me, ‘How’s the guitar going?’ I’d say, ’Yeah, it’s going good, I’m still playing.’ Then I’d make some sort of excuse, ’I don’t get the time to play it as often as I’d like.’ The half smile didn’t fool anybody, and deep down I knew I was kidding myself.
So for years I had been dreaming of playing the guitar, so do you know what I did? I went and made it happen. I’ve spent years and thousands of dollars chasing this dream around in circles. When I finally played that dream gig and came off stage with everyone chanting my band’s name, I knew I could have gotten that same experience years earlier and for a fraction of the cost, had I known what I know today and if I had taken a different approach.
I want to offer you a shortcut, and that shortcut can help you realise your dream of learning to play the guitar. I want to help you get the support you need, so you’re not doing it alone, and help you focus so you’re not distracted every day and letting the dream of playing guitar flutter away.
I’ve spent over thirty years developing the virtual guitar study program. I’ve taken everything I’ve learnt, and I’ve simplified it down, amplifying the most important parts.
What I’ve done today is put together a program that will move you closer to your goals. Will it guarantee that you learn to play the guitar? Of course not. If you want to guarantee you’ll be able to have someone in your world playing guitar, hire a band.
But for me, I not only want you to know how to play the guitar, but I want you to become a musician and be able to express yourself and develop your own unique style on the guitar. I want you to feel the absolute pleasure that comes with knowing how to make your own musical choices and express your own musical ideas – you know, the ones that you hear in your head sometimes? I used to hear them too; now, I can play them. I want you to be able to do this as well.
So I’d like to invite you to join this free video training program. Do you have to? No, you could spend thirty years chasing your tail around in circles spending thousands on gear and books and DVDs you don’t even know how to use, like I did.
You could also dive into the great free stuff on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet, but ask yourself this – and be very honest – have you been thinking about playing the guitar for years? Have you had a go and given it up because you weren’t improving and couldn’t play the things you wanted to play?
You don’t need to invest thirty years groping around in the dark trying to piece bits of knowledge together, and you don’t need to spend hundreds on gear and resources you’ll never use in the process. I already did it for you, and I can show you what happens up on the stage and how you can get there.
Let me take the best of what I know, help you learn to play the instrument you’ve always wanted to play, help you bring out the music that is inside of you, give you the support you need, and help you stop putting that dream off till tomorrow, and start working on it today.
The virtual guitar study free training series program is a 3 part series showing you how to get started learning the guitar. You can do it at your own pace from the comfort of your own home. Most importantly, get the support of someone who spent a lifetime learning how to do it. Start living the life you want to lead, and take action today.
See you in the program – click here now.
Attention Busy Professionals! HOW TO START LEARNING GUITAR ON THE SIDE Get the insider secrets that I used to learn to play guitar while working over 50 hours a week as an education professional. This simple, step-by-step eBook will show you how to choose the right guitar for you (acoustic or electric), tune it up (so that it sounds good) and play your very first melody (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).