Guitar 101

Martin-GuitarSo, you want to learn more about how to play the guitar.  This page is here to support a series of group lessons given in the late summer / early fall of 2015.

More than just the mechanical basics of getting familiar with a guitar and the essentials of music theory and technique, it is also meant to help everyone set some personal goals and based on the level of skill they look to achieve, create a plan for continued practice or further study.


Answer Some Questions

Committing yourself to learning an instrument is a big investment.  Like any investment, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.  Answer the following questions for yourself the following questions to help be certain of the “why” behind the “what” in the effort you invest into learning the guitar.

  1. Why do I want to play the guitar?
  2. What kinds of music do I want to play?
  3. What specific songs do I want to learn?
  4. What do I hope to achieve by learning how to play?
  5. Am I willing to put consistent time into practice?

Commit To Learning

I will provide 3 or so “classes” to provide the basics of playing – not just the technical aspects of playing – you can watch YouTube all day long to get that (I use YouTube all the time to learn lead guitar riffs or how to do a certain technique).

If you actually want to play guitar, and sound like like you know what you are doing, you need a minimum of 6 week of practice no less than 15-30 minutes every day.  If you are not willing to commit to that, then learning to play the guitar may not be for you at this time.  It takes a lot of practice and time to develop the finger strength, coordinated muscle memory and mental discipline it takes to play well – and to enjoy the music you make.

Read Up and Watch Some Videos

The Internet is full of great free instructional videos.  Here are a few to help get started.


How NOT to Tune Your Guitar

How to Tune Your Guitar

This guy is pretty good with tutorials for a lot of different things.  This one is pretty informative:

A handy and inexpensive thing to always carry in your guitar case is a Tuning Fork.  Here is an “A” Tuning fork from Amazon for under $3.

Some Basics on Strumming and Counting

Other video suggestions to look up:

  • Chord fingering positions
  • Basic rhythm and counting
  • Strumming
  • Picking
  • Barre (Bar) chords
  • Scales
  • Videos on how to play the songs in particular that you want to learn

Reference Materials and Help

Get familiar with as many of these basic chords as you can:


Here’s a list of some basics I recommend to anyone who plans on playing regularly – some basic tools needed to keep you playing!

Top Stage® Pro Universal Guitar Stand by TopStage
Top Stage® Pro Universal Guitar Stand – $9.95
by TopStage

Fender FT-004 Chromatic Clip-On Tuner Packs by Fender
Fender FT-004 Chromatic Clip-On Tuner Packs – $9.99
by Fender

Planet Waves Pro-Winder String Winder and Cutter by Planet Waves
Planet Waves Pro-Winder String Winder and Cutter  – $8.06
by Planet Waves

ChromaCast DuraPicks 10 Pick Sampler - Includes: Extra Thin, Thin, Thin/Medium, Medium, Medium/Heavy & Heavy Gauge Picks, 351 Shape by ChromaCast
ChromaCast DuraPicks 10 Pick Sampler – Includes: Extra Thin, Thin, Thin/Medium, Medium, Medium/Heavy & Heavy Gauge Picks, 351 Shape  – $2.98
by ChromaCast

Jim Dunlop 83_52553  Guitar Capo by Jim Dunlop
Jim Dunlop 83_52553 Guitar Capo – $8.00
by Jim Dunlop

Affordable Upgrades

Rondo Music is known as the seller of very affordable but good quality guitars.  Many around the $100-$125 range will be a great step-up that will sound good, stay in tune, and be a great guitar to learn on.  Most guitars also come in left-handed versions.


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