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Written by Michele Wheat Last edited: 4/18/2019
Learning a musical instrument knows no boundaries, so people of any age can choose to pick up a guitar and learn a few chords. It's common for people to want to learn how to play the guitar. However, many abandon the goal quickly, perhaps because of the cost or because they don't catch on quickly enough. With a little time and effort, you can learn how to play the guitar in only a couple of months. You might even be able to play your favorite songs on the guitar after just a few weeks of practice.
Many people share misconceptions about playing the guitar that might prevent them from even trying to attain this goal. No one is too old to learn how to play the guitar, and most physical limitations shouldn't hinder your progress as you're trying to learn. You might think you don't have enough time to learn, but even if you only have a few minutes a day to practice, you can work toward your goals. Left-handed people can also be accomplished guitar players.
Playing the guitar involves building muscle memory as you read music. Even those with arthritis can often play without experiencing joint pain. One of the benefits of learning on your own with online lessons or apps is that you can fit the instruction time into your schedule. These independent learning methods are suitable for all types of learners, and you can often modify them to fit your style.
Choosing your guitar is a personal choice that depends on your budget, your age and size, and your desired style. Depending on where you opt to buy your guitar, you might find both used and new guitars from which to choose. If you're a complete novice about guitars, avoid buying your first guitar at a pawn shop or flea market. You probably won't know how to examine a guitar before buying it, so you might buy one that's damaged or of inferior quality without knowing better. A reputable local music shop is one of the best places to shop for your first guitar, but be sure to choose a retailer that offers a good return policy.
An acoustic guitar is an ideal choice for a beginner because acoustic guitars are simple and don't require extra equipment, such as amplifiers, to play. Guitar prices range between $300 and $500, but you might be able to find a quality guitar for a beginner for around $100 or $200. Look for packages that also include a gig bag and tuner.
Examine a guitar carefully to ensure its quality. Move your hand up and down the neck to make sure it's smooth to the touch. Examine the heel of the guitar, on the underside where the neck attaches to the body. You shouldn't see any cracks or gaps. Check the guitar's bridge on the front, and slide a pick between the bridge and the guitar body to see if there are gaps. Press down on the strings at the first, second, and third frets. Pressing should be relatively easy. Press down at the 12th fret and note the distance between the top of the fret and the bottom point of the string. The distance should be no more than three times. If it's more, the neck may be warped or the bridge too high.
Playing guitar chords will involve placing your fingers on the strings at specific places while strumming the strings. Follow chord diagrams for finger placement, and then strum the designated strings. Some of the first chords you'll learn will be the D, C, G, and E-minor chords. After learning a few chords, you'll be ready to practice them until you feel comfortable playing them. Then, you can put the chords together to play songs. From there, you'll be ready to add more chords to your repertoire so you can play more songs. Practice is the key to gaining skills and proficiency with the guitar.
Guitar theory involves understanding musical keys, learning chord construction, and developing skills to play scales and intervals. Although beginning chords will help you begin making guitar music, learning guitar theory will be the key to taking your skills to an advanced level. Guitar scales can be major or minor, and intervals are the gaps between every note of a scale. If you play a major or minor scale on the guitar, you'll need to find the root note and then hit every interval. Guitar chords are constructed harmonically from the notes of the scales. So if you want to play a chord from the C-major scale, you might start with C and skip over to E and then G to build a triad.