The Best Way to Learn Guitar at Home (9 Steps)
Learning guitar at home is very possible, you just need the right guidance. Before even starting, there are a few things to consider and steps to take thereafter to ensure you build a strong foundation and avoid mistakes while learning.
The best way to learn to play guitar at home is to follow these nine steps. These will make sure that you focus on the right things, avoid bad habits from forming, and provide structure when learning.
1. Choose the Right Guitar
Before even starting your learning journey, it is very important to choose the right beginner guitar. Naturally, it comes down between an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar but which is the right choice?
Acoustic guitars are way better for beginners because you can play them right out of the box. You don’t have the complexity of an electric guitar with an acoustic one, which will only slow you down while learning the basics.
When buying your first acoustic guitar, it’s best to start with nylon strings because they are going to be easier on your fingers. Naturally, you’d want to move to metal strings to better form your calluses but we’ll get to that a bit later.
There’s also a third option which is an acoustic-electric guitar. It may seem like an interesting thought but a conventional acoustic guitar is usually a better fit for beginner guitarists.
Note: always consider your budget and how much the acoustic guitar costs before purchasing because for beginners, you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount.
2. Always Start with the Foundations
First of all, get to know the instrument and how it’s built and used. Guitars have six strings, which go gradually from the thickest at the top to the leanest at the bottom. There are different types of strings, depending on what kind of guitar you have.
Acoustic and electric guitars use metal strings – these are a bit harder to press with your fingers but give a somewhat stronger sound. Classic guitars use nylon strings, which are softer and more elastic, but are also more gentle and give out a somewhat softer sound.
After that, you should learn how to play a single note. Notes are played by pressing the selected wire by the fret on the neck of the guitar. Frets are those lines that you can see on the neck of every guitar.
Playing the guitar can be done in two ways, by using a pick or playing with your fingers.
It’s really just a personal affinity and there is no big difference between the two, except the pick allows you to play solos somewhat more precisely. But using your fingers to play is also a technique you should know – Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straits never used a pick and still got to become a world-known rock star!
Also, you are going to need to develop calluses on your left hand (or right, depending on which you’re holding the neck of the guitar).
As you are going to quickly find out, pressing tiny wires with your fingertips for long amounts of time tends to make your fingertips sore. Calluses develop as the skin on your fingertips is thickening, allowing you to not feel pain when playing.
This process however does take several weeks to happen, so you’ll just have to work through it! At the start, this is another great reason to space out your practice throughout the week.
3. Pick Some Great Online Guitar Lessons
There are tons of helpful YouTube tutorials that you can watch for free. But it’s often a better use of our time to go for a more structured platform rather than just rely on YouTube videos.
There are plenty of resources online that offer online lessons (video lessons) like Guitareo, Justin Guitar and Guitar Tricks, which have developed courses for all levels of playing skills. You can choose from different tutors (guitar teachers/instructors) and different music styles, all according to your playing skills, and get just the lessons you need.
If you’re interested further, you can check out the best online guitar lessons and online guitar courses that are available today.
4. Dedicate at least 20 minutes per day
Practicing for at least 20 minutes per day is one of the best ways to get great at an instrument, FAST!
Within the space of a few weeks or months, you’ll be surprised at how much you know and can do with your instrument. Even though it can seem that playing once a week for a couple of hours will get you there, it will not.
You need that everyday routine of having an instrument in your hands, and if you take it once a week, you’ll get it much slower than if you’re playing every day for a much shorter amount of time.
Of course, it’s important to give yourself a break. You might start feeling burnt out if you play every single day for months on end. Though, just make sure that your guitar doesn’t sit there collecting dust for months on end, and stick to your practice schedule!
5. Learn Some Basic Chords
There’s a long way for you to go to get to be the new Eddie Van Halen. But folk, pop, and many other styles of music are often quite simple to play.
Knowing a few basic guitar chords will enable you to play literally thousands of famous songs, and that’s going to keep you interested in playing and developing your skills further. Naturally, guitar chord books are also great resources for learning.
If you need proof, then check out this great video below by Axis of Awesome!
6. Work on Finger Drills
Finger drills are some of the most boring things you can do with your guitar, but they greatly help your development.
Playing the same patterns over and over again until you can play them in your sleep. But at the same time, this is something really important. You have to work on them regularly and develop your fingering skills every day.
Note: It’s also a good option to consider getting a finger strengthener. This is a great piece of gear for training your finger strength, even when you’re off your practice time.
7. Learn to Play Song Songs You Love
Everybody started playing so that they could play their favorite song. You should strive to learn those songs and play them well.
But don’t stop there once you do it. Learning to play new songs keeps your mind open and improves your skills as a guitar player.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing the songs you already know for practice – you won’t forget them that way and you’ll have fun. But try to learn something new and not get caught in the loop of playing the same songs over and over again.
That said, don’t spend all of your time playing songs. Focus on techniques, finger drills, and technical aspects of playing guitar so that you also develop your skills.
8. Always Challenge Yourself
Musicians never stop learning! This is a lesson you have to learn in the beginning, as there is no definite goal you can reach.
You can always perfect something in your playing. To get to improving your playing, of course, you have to go over some challenges.
The point of it is to always find new challenges. Whether that is some new playing patterns, or new scales or chords, there’s always something you can improve, and the only way to get better at playing is to always learn new things and improve at them.
After you’ve reached a certain level of comfort with the instrument, it is ALWAYS a good idea to try and learn music theory. This will help you become a better musician overall. Luckily, there are a lot of amazing Guitar Music Theory books out there that can help with the process.
9. Stay Consistent and Be Patient
The first few months of playing guitar are an exhilarating ride. It seems like every time you pick up the instrument you learn something new and massively improve your skills. Once you start improving your skills, you will find that your abilities will start to plateau.
In this case, you might not notice your improvements quite as much, and you might think that you’re already good enough that you end up reverting back to old songs and old techniques that you’ve already mastered.
This is the most important time that you need to stay consistent with your development. At this stage, you should either try to follow some more advanced courses or check in with a local teacher who can start to assess your abilities and develop a plan directly for you.
You could also consider playing with other musicians, trying out other genres, or doing anything that can help you maintain focus and enthusiasm toward your development as a guitar player.
This is an even more important time to stick with your 20 minutes of practice. After a while, there’s no harm in giving yourself a break, but make sure to get back to practicing when you’re ready.
I hope that this article has helped you learn all you need to know about how to get better at playing guitar while you’re at home. Even though some of these things sound like default advice for any situation, they do really work.
It’s important to be consistent, to keep practicing and pushing every day (even for a small amount of time) and you’ll see yourself become better and better every passing day. You can become a good guitarist rather easily and it’s not something too hard to do. Don’t be afraid to rely on online lessons as opposed to in-person guitar lessons or even try method books. A good guitar method book can go a long way, trust me!