So you’ve decided to take up the guitar – great choice! As with any new adventure, there are going to be a lot of questions that arise as you get started, and in your first few months of playing and learning. That’s what we’re here for! Let’s take a look at the questions that are most frequently asked by beginners so you can get down to your real job: learning to play and having fun.
Question #1: What is The Right Age to Get Started/Am I Too Late? The short answer here is that music lessons are for everyone. While we wouldn’t recommend guitar lessons for your toddler, some music teachers will take students as young as five with great results. If a child has the attention span to sit through the lesson and to focus on practicing, they’re great candidates for lessons.
For the adults who feel that they may be too old… that’s just crazy talk. As long as you have the desire and motivation to pick up the guitar, you’re the perfect age to get started.
Question #2: What Kind of Guitar Should I Start With and How Do I Choose One? Okay, we know, that’s two questions, but they can be answered together, so here we go.
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is decide whether you want to start with an acoustic or an electric guitar. Both have their benefits, but the general difference, other than the overall sound they create, can be summed up by the following:
Due to thinner strings, smaller necks, and an amplified sound, electric guitars are generally a bit easier to play while acoustic guitars can be played anywhere and are often more affordable, since they don’t require extra equipment like amps.
Once you choose the type of guitar you want, you need to go shopping. There are a ton of options out there, so be sure to check out our tips for buying the best acoustic and best electric guitars for beginners. Remember that the most important things are to stick to your budget and to do your homework — keep those two things in mind and you’re sure to find the perfect guitar just for you!
Question #3: How Important Are Lessons When I’m Starting Out? We won’t deny it, there are people out there who have successfully taught themselves how to play guitar, but most of us need a little help. Luckily, there are a ton of options out there to get you playing in no time.
There are a lot of great things about private lessons. The one-on-one time with your teacher, coupled with the consistency of scheduled lessons are a great way to stay focused and to get personal guidance and correction. Even a few months of private lessons can jump start your playing and get you on the right track.
For many people, however, private lessons aren’t practical — be it for financial reasons, or simply because they don’t have time. The good news is that online guitar lessons are becoming a great option for guitar students who want convenient, affordable lessons that allow them learn at their own pace. In fact, sites like JamPlay supplement their pre-recorded lessons with daily live group sessions via Skype, which allow students the opportunity to get feedback from instructors just as they would during traditional lessons. An additional benefit of online lessons is the ability to access a variety of teachers and styles until you find what clicks for you.
Question #4: How Long Should I Practice? Perhaps more important than how long you practice is how often you practice. When it comes to improving, consistency is key. We recommend that, whenever possible, you practice once a day for at least 30 minutes.
We find that, even if you choose to take private lessons, online lessons sessions are great practice tools as well. Find exercises that complement what you are trying to accomplish in your lessons. For example, if you’re working on barre chords, find a lesson that helps you improve. Want to try different strumming patterns? There are videos out there that can help with those as well. YouTube is a great resource for these types of videos and the variety of exercises will make you practice time more fun and interesting.
Question #5: Will My Fingers Hurt and What Should I Do About It? Again, two questions, but they belong together. Yes, odds are great that your fingers are going to hurt. As your fingertips get calloused and the muscles in your hands get used to playing, the pain will subside. People rarely find themselves so sore that they can’t play through the pain, but here are a couple of tips to make things a bit more comfortable:
- Keep playing consistently. If you wait until all of the discomfort goes away, you’ll be back at square one, so try to play every day so that your hands can become accustomed to playing.
- Give yourself a break. If you really need to, take a day off, however don’t make a habit of this… again, it will actually impede your progress, so stick with it… we promise, it gets better!
Now that you’re armed with the basics, the next step is to jump on in and enjoy yourself. Remember that even the greatest guitarists were beginners once and odds are they faced the same challenges you will. Stay focused, stay positive and remember that there are endless resources at your fingertips to help you meet your musical goals!