Beginner Guitar Junction

A helpful place to stop on the road to learning guitar.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Learning Guitar Online Or Through Private Instruction.

So you're ready to learn how to play the guitar but you’re not sure if you should seek private instruction, or if learning online might be  a better fit for you.  Having been a student and a teacher on both platforms, I will try to help you to make an informed decision.

Private guitar Instruction

You can find a private guitar instructor through a local music store or through someone that teaches from their home or comes to your location. These days you can even get a private  tutor online using skype or another similar platform.  I don't particularly like the skype approach     though.  Even though it can be quite  convenient,  it just doesn't seem  as good as being in person.  Add to that any Internet access problems.  Sometimes it's good to just take a break from the computer screen. Furthermore, having to actually leave your home and get to a private lesson may be a good way to ensure  that you  put forth more of  an effort to learn.

With private instruction, your teacher is right there with you in real time, ready  to answer your questions and show you what you need to know.  He or she can give you a guided plan that will help you to  stay focused on your goals each week.   It's also a lot of fun to play along with another guitarist.  If you really want to be a serious guitarist, this could be a really good  way for you  to start out.   

Finding  private instruction can sometimes be challenging though because of the limited availability of local teachers,  especially if an  instructor is highly sought after.  Many times there will be  a waiting list to book lessons with him or her. You may end up having to take lessons from a less qualified teacher.  But hey, If you  just want  to play as a hobby and  are not necessarily looking to become the next guitar legend,  then having a top notch teacher may not be that important to you.

Private lessons typically  last for only one half  hour.  Pricing  can range from fifteen to thirty dollars per half hour, depending on the teacher.   The lessons can go  by real quick.  But If you  take lesson from a music store,  you can still hang out at the store with other guitar enthusiasts after your lesson.  If you  enjoy socializing, and don't mind carving out  some time to get  to the lesson, then you may like taking private lessons from a music store.

Online guitar lessons

Thanks to the Internet, you can  get instruction on any specific playing styles that you like and you can choose from many different instructors with a click of a mouse.  You can access the lessons at any time that is convenient for you.

But as you probably already know,  the Internet  can give you a major case of  information overload.  You can easily  waste hours on end  watching   youtube videos of guitarists showing off how great they can play.  Videos of   twelve year olds breezing through   complicated classical etudes or shredding neo-classical metal with ease. All the while you don’t necessarily make any progress with your own playing.   This  can either inspire you or make you want to give up.  I know, I’ve been there.

This is where you have to decide if you should consider paying  for a lesson site  or continue clicking through the free video lessons.
Paying for site access can be a good idea if the site is well organized.  It can help to keep you stay focused and interested.   Having said that, I really haven't found a site that isn’t overwhelming  to me.  I mean they have so many videos that it can be hard to figure out where to start.  You pick one video to start out with,  but the other titles are beckoning for you to click on them as well. Before you know it, you're right back to info overload. I guess they do that so you will  have enough videos to learn from for years to come.  But,  maybe that’s something that won't or doesn't bother you.     If you want to check  out a few popular online learning sites for guitar, you can try Jamplay, Guitar tricks, or Lick library.    

Another type of media,  are instructional  DVD's.  These can  help you to stay focused on a particular playing goal, without being tempted to click away to  different websites or videos.   You can find   instructors that can teach you how to play solos or full songs from one of your favorite artists, or zero  in on a particular playing style. I have purchased some really good home courses through Lick Library.   

Some other issues to consider when taking guitar lessons.

Finding  an  instructor that is a good teacher and not  just a good player can be challenging.  You see, just because someone can play really well, does not necessarily mean that they will be a good teacher.  There is a big difference between the two.   I had a hard time transitioning from player to teacher.

Many students have complained that their teachers do a lot of showing off,  playing fast licks and riffs,  and they go  through the lessons too fast for them to comprehend.  It can  be very intimidating to a beginning student to watch someone play so well when they can not.  They are sometimes   left  feeling like all thumbs and embarrassed to play anything for fear of being laughed at. On the other hand, some students will be inspired,  and want to emulate the  fantastic playing of their instructor.  It all depends on the type of personality of the person taking the lesson.

Another thing to consider  is that  all guitarists and teachers  have a preferred style of music that they like to listen to and play.  This can  put  limitations on how well they can teach a certain genre of music.

For example, although I enjoy all types of music,  my preferred style to play on the guitar is rock, metal and blues.  I like jazz, I like classical, but  there's no way I could teach you how to play jazz or classical guitar.  I mean,  I would not be very effective at  teaching you that style of music because it’s really not my thing. Country music is another style that a teacher needs to know really well in order to teach it well.   Make sure that the  style of music that you are  most interested in learning,  is also shared by your prospective teacher.

Only you know how much time you have to devote to learning and playing the guitar.  If you have plenty of spare time but not so much extra cash, then the free video lessons on youtube may work out good for you. Teaching yourself through books can be great as well.  But if your time is limited and you would rather learn faster with more organization and  structure, then either  a pay for access site,  private instruction or a DVD course might be a better choice for you.

Well ,  I hope this has helped you out a little. Be sure to check out my site Beginner Guitar Online .  

I put together 6  FREE    lessons that  teach you the basics of how to play the guitar fast and easy, and without all the clutter.  You can also find other resources there  for when you're ready to advance  your skills.

keepin  it Simple!
 Simple Steve  

Monday, September 18, 2017

How Long does it take to Become a Good Guitarist?

When you're just  starting out  learning how to play the guitar it  can often be a little frustrating.
You know what I mean, you watch other guitarists playing flawlessly on a  youtube video or at a guitar store and you think to yourself, man, I wish I could play like that.  I wonder how long it took them to get that good.  Can I ever be that good?

Not everyone will be able to become  a master guitar player but anyone can learn to play the guitar. Even with just a few chords you can play a ton of  easy songs.

You only need to have a desire or passion to play, and a commitment to learning. Some will have a more natural ability and some may have to work at it a little harder.

It all depends on how committed one is to practicing. If you stick  to a daily or at least a three day per week guitar practice routine of half an hour or more, you could expect to see super results within 3 to 6 months.

Realistically  speaking though in my experience, the point where you start to really impress people and they start to turn their heads to check out what your playing, is usually around two years of regular routine practicing. A guitarists who has only been playing for  two years can play as well as  a guitarists who has been playing for 10 years if he or she practices enough.

Something that you shouldn't do  is  compare yourself with other guitarists. Someone will always seem better than you and you will lose your motivation to play if you keep comparing yourself to other guitar players.

Instead, concentrate on being the best you can be. Focus on the type of music that you really want to be good at.

Rarely will a guitarist be able to master all styles of playing. Most of the great guitarists only try to be great at their preferred style. Yes, you can learn and play many styles. A rock guitar player can mix blues into their playing. Blues guitarists can blend some jazz into their style. But usually there is one particular music genre that will be dominant for each player.

If you're  just beginning the guitar, this is a great time for you to develop your preferred style. Jazz, Blues, Country, Rock-Metal, Acoustic-folk.   Discover what your favorite style is and learn and even master it if that is your goal.

What to know before Learning Guitar. Quick tips Guide.

People who are interested in learning the guitar for the first time, usually ask a few of the same general questions about the whole process. In this guide I will attempt to answer some of these questions.

Because we are living in the massive information age, it can get quite overwhelming when it comes to making choices about anything anymore.

The guitar industry is no exception.  However, for the beginning guitarist, this can be simplified.  Later you can dig deeper into  guitar theory and education. You can learn more about the parts of the guitar that make it sound just right, and be better equipped when purchasing your second, third, 4th, or 5th guitars!  

I will give you my humble opinion on how I would go about buying and  learning to  play the guitar if I had to do it all over from the beginning.

Whether you dream of playing an electric guitar on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, or mellowing out by the campfire with your acoustic and some friends. Playing  guitar is satisfying to the soul and can become a  lifelong hobby that takes you away from the everyday stresses of life.
And besides that, nothings says, "you're cool" -  more than knowing how to play the guitar.

Choosing The Right Guitar

Why do so many people try to learn how to play guitar but give up before they have any success? One main reason could be that they started out on the wrong guitar.  They may have tried playing with the only guitar that was available at the time.  That guitar may have gone out of tune a lot, had strings that were too difficult to press down, or  a number of other reasons that made it difficult or even painful to play it.  

The first step is to match yourself  with a guitar that will meet your needs and budget.

If you do not have a  relatively playable guitar to start out with, then of course you will have to plan a visit to a local shop or an online guitar store. Local shops are great for being able to touch before you buy, but they won't always have the deals that you can get online,  so check out both if you're able to before you make a purchase.
Younger children do not necessarily have to begin with a smaller scale model just because they are small.  That being said,  there are some guitars that are bigger than others and you should choose one that is appropriately sized.  In my experience,  the smaller scaled guitars made for children are not made very well  and do not stay in tune and can cause one to give up sooner.

Electric or Acoustic?

An electric guitar typically has strings that are easier to press than an acoustic guitar. A nylon stringed acoustic guitar is an exception.  It  is   a   good choice if classical  music is something you enjoy and is easy on the fingers. Steel stringed acoustic guitars are more for strumming pop songs and the strings can be a bit more difficult to press for beginners.  But  if you plan to progress as a guitarist you will have to go through a period of finger soreness anyway no matter what style of guitar you choose.  Once your fingertips stiffen up a bit  you will be able to play any type of guitar.

So a better question might  be, what style of music do you want to play most? Knowing this will help you choose the best  type of guitar to begin with.
If you like to rock, than you may want your first guitar to be an electric.
If you're into folk or unplugged styles of music, you may choose an acoustic as your first guitar. There is no reason to start with an acoustic just because you are a beginner. Eventually, most guitarist will have both anyway  and    many of each in time if they stick with it.

 Guitar Models For Particular Styles.
The two most popular models in my opinion, (kind of like Chevy or Ford) are the Gibson Les Paul (think Slash or Jimmy Page) and Fender Stratocaster (think Stevie Ray Vaughn or  Jimi Hendrix). These brands seem to be what most guitarists  compare or judge all other electric guitars by.

These two brands can get quite expensive. Several thousands of dollars expensive. But don't worry, there are some less expensive models and good generic copies of each model that won't cost as much as the best model.  

                                                                                   Gibson Les Paul

The differences in these two models vary greatly from the spacing of the frets to the width of the neck. But the main sound quality difference comes from the types of pickups used for each model.

Pickups are what pick up the signal from the guitar strings when you strike them, creating a distinct tone through the amplifier.  The Fender is the choice for bluesy type   music while the Gibson Les Paul is prefered for more harder rock style, though both are very versatile. This is a broad subject that we won't get into here though.

Here is a short example list of guitar models that are preferred by guitarist for playing certain styles of music. But really, any guitar can be used to play any style of music.

Style                                                   Model

Blues Acoustic:  Gibson j-200, Alvarez
    Electric: Gibson Es-355      
                 Gibson Les Paul
                       Fender Telecaster       
                  Fender Stratocaster

Classical Acoustic: Alvarez, steel or nylon.string.
Country Fender Telecaster
    Fender Stratocaster

Heavy Metal            Gibson Explorer, flying V, SG, Les Paul                                                          Dean, Ibanez iceman,
                                                        Fender Stratocaster,
                                                        Jackson  soloist        

Jazz Gibson Es-175, Ibanez

Rock Fender Stratocaster
Gibson Les Paul
Gibson SG

Some other really good general acoustic guitar models for all types of guitar styles are,  Takamine and Taylor.

Buying Your Guitar

How much should you spend on a guitar?
Before you spend any money, think about how much time you have to practice and how dedicated you think you will be.

Even if you are committed and have plenty of time to practice, you may find  that  after you start learning how to play, your just not enjoying it too much. I know it sounds crazy! But for whatever reason, some people just can't seem to get it.  Anybody can play guitar but some will struggle with it. Some people have a natural ability to play while others have to work at it a little more. Some may decide they don't want to work at it anymore and that’s okay.

For this reason it is probably safe to spend somewhere around $150 - $200 for your first electric or acoustic guitar that is not going to be a piece of junk.  There are  all in one type packages that come with a guitar, amp, strings, chords etc.. ranging in the $300 range.  

Buying a guitar at a local Store or  Online

People buy products all the time without seeing them first.  Computers, jewelry, even cars. Others have to see it and fall in love with it before they buy.

If you know exactly what you want, chances are that you can  get it for less money by buying it online, and sometimes even avoid paying sales tax.

On the other hand, some local stores know they have competition and you may be able to negotiate price or get customised service   if you buy through them.

New or used?

Buying new has its obvious advantages.  You can always return it if there is a problem and It's always nice to have a shiny new guitar.

But buying used can be a good idea as well. Many times you can find a motivated seller with a valuable guitar for substantially less than a new one. And guitars do not typically lose much of their value.  You will not get a warranty, but sometimes you can find a used guitar at a music store that may still come with  a warranty.

A few things to look for if you buy used.  Familiarize yourself with the parts of the guitar.  Look over it to see if there are any broken parts or bent tuning keys etc.  A few scratches or dents are not a big deal.  
But one major thing to look for is a neck that bows  too much in either direction.  If the strings are raised very high off the fretboard,  don't buy it.bow-guitar-neck.jpg

The action, or playability of a guitar can always be adjusted by  a qualified technician or even by yourself.  But a seriously warped guitar neck just can't be fixed.   If possible, bring someone along who can play.

Most new guitars will come ready to play. But even a new guitar may need to be adjusted, or “set up” in order for it to have good string action over the fretboard. A guitar with good action means less stress on your finger tips and more enjoyable playing. Other settings and adjustments are sometimes necessary to get the guitar to have top quality sound as well.    

If you buy online, make sure you shop at a reputable store. Don't just choose any site that sells guitars.  Of course you know that already.  Even ebay makes me a little nervous.
Amazon, Sam Ash,  American Musical Supply, are a few trusted sites  that have reviews as well.
Here is a link to my site where  you can find some of my suggested music gear that I either own and use or think is a good choice. I do make a small commission if you click on any of the links from my site and make a  purchase, so thanks in advance if you decide to do so.  

If you have an electric guitar, you will need an amp. You don't need an expensive amp to start out with.  A practice amp will  work just fine.  With today's technology, even small inexpensive amps can crank out some loudness and have some really cool built in effects that can  make your guitar sound like Eddie Van Halen. Of course it can’t help you to play like him but hey, it’s a start right?

If you're going to play along with a drummer  who beats like an animal,  you may  need more wattage than a practice amp will put out.  But not necessarily.  My 15 watt Peavey will crank over any drummer that I’ve jammed  with.  If money is not an object than you can spring for a larger higher wattage amp if you want to. It’s just not necessary until you think you may want to start playing out with a band.

Also keep in mind that some cities actually have music  studio rental  practice rooms that you can rent out by the hour.  They have amps, drums, PA speakers for singing and all the equipment your band  needs to practice with.  All you bring is your axe.


A guitar case is almost a necessity if you care about protecting your instrument while transporting it.

Hard Cases
Most expensive. Preferred.
Best protection from shock, dropping, or stacking with other luggage.           

Soft cases and Gig bags
Although they are made of soft material, they still provide pretty good protection.

Less expensive. Straps over your shoulder  making it easy to transport and travel with.
Doesn't  take up much space.

Doesn't provide protection against crushing.  
Minimal bump protection.                   

Effects pedals

Effect pedals are little boxes that take the sound signal from your guitar and change it into all sorts of cool sounds when you activate them by stepping on the foot switch.
You can get individual pedals for each specific sound, or an all in one type of multi processor that has several effects built in.   

The choices are hard to make.  They can get pretty expensive as well.

Some of the most popular and preferred sounds that most guitarist like to get from these devices are:

Delay  - Repeats the notes you play after you play them. Echoes.

Chorus – Gives a fat soothing sound as if many guitars are playing at once. Tremolo effect.

Distortion – The overdriven power sound preferred for metal and rock guitar.  Also can be reduced to give a crunchy sound that is not so overdriven.  This is ideal for playing blues or when you want to be able to hear chords or strings more clearly but still have some bite to it.
Wah – Wah  A device used in old disco songs but also made popular by  Jimi Hendrix.
Creates a wah sound by altering the high and low signals when you press up and down on the pedal with your foot.

Reverb -  Reproduces the natural echo sound you would get from a particular type of room.  A big hall, to a small room. Most amps have this feature built in.  

Flanger -  Creates a swishy swirly effect. Jet plane sound. Popular with Eddie Van Halen.

Other Guitar playing essentials

Pick – also called the plectrum, is what you use to strike the strings.
Picks come in a range of thickness from very thin to very thick.  Most beginners should use a medium thickness pick. I prefer .60  -  .75 thickness. They are a little more flexible than a  stiff  pick that some may prefer.

Strings – strings come in extra light to heavy gauges.  The thickness of the strings determines the tone you will get from them.
Beginners should start with a extra light or light gauge until the fingers have become stronger from playing often.  More about guitar string types.

String winder/clipper – an inexpensive but valuable device that helps wind the strings around the tuning pegs when installing new strings on the guitar. Some models have additional features for clipping excess string and removing the pins that hold the strings in the saddle of an acoustic guitar.

Straps –   worn around your shoulder to hold the guitar when standing.
Choose a strap that is comfortable, but also one that matches your guitar and personality.

Capo capo.jpg– is like a clamp that acts like a strong finger that you can place over the fingerboard at any particular fret. The capo enables you to raise the pitch of the open strings to any fret, while you finger the chords in the usual way.  This is helpful when you want to transpose a song to a different key without having to change all the chords to the new key. It also gives an interesting new voicing to the chord sound. It also helps out a little with playing barre chords.

Tuners and practicing beat keepers, metronomeselectric-tuner.jpgTuners –Electronic devices that help you tune your guitar to perfect pitch.  Some more advanced models can perform   rhythm patterns to practice with and have recording and playback ability with built in speakers.

The lessons at my site can help you with  Tuning the guitar.

Caring For Your Guitar

Cleaning – As you play the guitar, moisture from your fingers, hands and arms will start to create grime on your guitar and especially on the strings.

Every now and then it's a good idea to take a cotton rag and dust your guitar.  You don't need to use any chemicals unless it is really caked on.  Then you could use some guitar polish.

Changing strings -  You will want  to change the strings when you notice a grimey build up under the strings or if they’re rusty or when they start to sound dull and  won't stay in tune.  This can be monthly, bi- monthly or even longer if you're lazy like me.   It really depends on how much you play and how grimey they  become.  Some guitarist choose to let them stay on as long as possible.  They prefer the sound or playability that older strings have.  Others would rather change them as often as possible to have that crisp new string feel and sound.  I prefer the Elixer nanoweb coated strings that   last a really long time.  They won’t rust out if your guitar has not been played in a while like most uncoated strings tend to do. Wiping down the strings after each time you play will help prolong the string corrosion process.

Learning To Play The Guitar

Finally! You got a guitar.  Now you just need to learn how to play it.
If you are totally new to learning guitar, it is  a good idea to get basic guitar instruction until you are able to start figuring things out for yourself.

Your options include:
Teaching yourself from a book.
Taking lessons at your local music store or by private tutor.
Taking lessons online.

Any one of these options will work.  It all depends on the type of person you are and your budget.  

Of course you probably know by now that you can learn the basics for free at my site Beginner Guitar

But after you’ve  learned  a few chords and the basics, you  will hopefully want to advance and learn some of your favorite songs and some new techniques. I can try and point you in the right direction and will refer you to some of the online instruction that I have used. And as I discover new and interesting lessons I will send them your way if you allow me.    

How long should you take lessons?
There is no set time rule for taking lessons.  However, there is a point where you will gain enough skills to be able  to teach yourself by watching and listening to other guitarist. Whenever you reach this plateau is when you will no longer need structured lessons.  

This does not mean that you stop learning of course. It just means that you don't need to go to that Wednesday afternoon lesson anymore if you don't want to. Now you can learn by watching other guitarists and you should be developing your ear skills.  This can be accomplished by jamming with other guitarists, searching online for songs or techniques that interest you and  purchasing  study guides for techniques or styles that you want to improve on.  

On the other hand, you may decide to further your education at an accredited university. You may venture to  become a top qualified instructor, an accomplished classical guitarist or a superior rock guitarist.

Final thoughts
Don't worry so much about using the proper technique, or starting out with, “no bad habits”.  Many online teachers will use this as a sales pitch to get you to take lessons with them. In my opinion, there really isn't only one right way to play guitar. If there were, every guitarist would probably sound about the same with nothing to set them apart. Maybe you shouldn't start out playing the guitar behind your back like Jimi Hendrix, but I think you know what I mean.

Learn the basics and then concentrate on creating your own style.
And don't forget to have fun!

Ps.  In case  you haven't been to my site yet, here is the link.  Beginner Guitar Online  

You can learn all the guitar playing basics for free and then venture out from there.  
On the resources page, you will find some of the basic guitar playing essentials that you might need. Guitars, Amps, Effect pedals, strings,  etc.. Gear that I use, or would personally buy if I had the money.

P.P. S.  I hope this guide helped you out a bit. Please share it with anyone you think   can benefit from it.
I wish you the greatest guitar playing success!
Keep it Simple!
Simple Steve’s  Beginner Guitar Online Lessons.