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Learning Guitar Basics from Scratch
Old 29th November 2009
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
Question Learning Guitar Basics from Scratch

I have never posted before; I usually post in either the hip hop or electronic music fora. I intend to learn to play the guitar, but am starting from scratch. My questions are:

1. To learn the basics, is private instruction more desirable than a DVD or other DIY method? I am thinking of taking lessons, but am not opposed to just learning from a book or video.

2. I have heard that it is easier to learn on an electric guitar because the strings are easier to negotiate than those of an acoustic. Is there a difference? I have serviceable instruments of both.

3. If a DVD is sufficient, can anyone recommend one? If private instruction is more productive, then how often and for how long should one have those lessons? I am thinking along the lines of two lessons a week, each an hour long.

Thank you for your replies.
Old 29th November 2009
Gear Addict
MMski's Avatar
🎧 10 years
I took lessons once a week for an hour for about 3 years. Once a week let me really practice what I was being taught, and apply it before moving on to something else.

A DVD can't really replace someone who's with you in the room.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
Lives for gear
wesarvin's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Disclaimer: I am a bit biased. I teach guitar.

Disclaimers aside, I firmly believe that regular lessons with a qualified instructor is the best method. There are many hacks floating around. Make sure that they teach you both formal stuff (notation, theory, yankee doodle stuff) and informal, like songs, chords, improv, jamming. Make sure that they show you how to bridge those gaps!

Unless you have a good friend that's a great guitarist, take lessons.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
I have been playing for 36 years - here's my take....
1) Take lessons to get familiar with the guitar - the very basics - maybe 5 or 6. Then practice what you were taught for about 2 hours a day with a metronome, paying attention to details of what you are doing. What you want to concentrate on at first is timing and muscle memory. After a few months of learning to play chords ( without buzzing the strings), scales ( in time), you feel comfortable with the guitar, then go back for more lessons, because now, your hands should be able to do what your mind tells them too. Your question about acoustic/electric depends - although they are played using the similar techniques, they are very different. If you have a quality instrument, have a professional shop set up the action and adjust the neck for you, and either will be much easier to manage, that's the problem, most people just buy a cheap instrument and don't bother to have it adjusted, and then struggle with it. The DVD's are great after you can really find your way around, but not really just starting out. Guitarwes has a good point about learning the formal and informal - again, 2 completely different animals. and just because someone can play, doesn't mean they can teach!
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
I have to agree about the electric/acoustic comments. Just because an electric is smaller and the strings are a smaller gauge doesn't necessarily mean that it will be easier. I started teaching my wife to play guitar. She is small, her hands are tiny, and she has a ton of trouble playing my electric. But she has no problem getting her arm around a full size acoustic body and pressing the 13 gauge strings.
Old 3rd December 2009 | Show parent
Gear Addict
🎧 10 years
By all means get a teacher! You will need to establish good technique and you will not get any feedback regarding this from a DVD. There is a LOT to know....wether you are using a plectrum or your fingers. (or both) how to position your hand on the neck, how to hold down strings, how to alternate pick strokes...well, you get the picture.

After you know how to position yourself, have the requisite muscle memory, callouses, and coordination you can look into DVDs and the internet as sources for specific genres.

Best of luck

Old 4th December 2009 | Show parent
Gear Head
🎧 10 years
I think a teacher is the only real way to go. You can get a few lessons and be taught the basics but the truth is you won't understand the importance of them until later and unless you have a photographic memory they can be really easily altered when you go to play them.
I'd also say shop around for a good teacher not a friend of a friend etc or just cause they're cheap cause a bad teacher can be worse than none at all.
Sorry should have said I have a barrow to push being a guitar teacher as well but I get a lot of students come through who've made these mistakes.

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