An offset guitar.
For Beginners,  Guitar Guides

11 Things to know before you learn guitar!

Good job, you have decided to learn the guitar! But where do you begin? What do you need to know before you begin your journey? Well, luckily enough we are going to go through 11 things that you should keep in mind before you begin your alt-rock adventure.

Here’s what you need to know about learning the guitar:

1. You need to set time to practice

I know, I know, finding the time to practice can be difficult. In this day and age, we are all busy with either school or work, but when you decide to learn the guitar you need to be able to set time aside to focus on your playing. Trust me, natural talent will get you nowhere if you cannot set aside a couple of minutes every day to jam through your favourite tracks.

2. Begin learning with the guitar basics

Everyone hates starting out but ensuring you are well versed in the fundamentals is crucial to learning the guitar. While the rigmarole of learning your scales and chord positions may seem boring initially, always keep in mind that they will help you tenfold in the future! Even Kurt Cobain knew the basics, so if you get these down, you will be laughing.

A bunch of guitars laid set-up in a guitar shop.
A set of Fender Stratocasters.

3. Choose the right guitar for you

This is the difficult bit, choosing the right guitar. The thing you have to decide is what genre you are going to focus on, for example, with jazz, you may want to begin playing the guitar on a semi-hollow as this will give you a warmer and richer tone. Since you are on this website, I’ll assume that you want to begin learning alt-rock/indie-rock guitar. When it comes to this genre, the world is your oyster, although you may want to look into offset guitars to fit the genre convention. Some notable brands to look at here would be, Squier, Gear4music, Harley Benton, and other cost-effective manufacturers. You can go all out and buy the guitar of your dreams, but to do that we recommend you at least test the guitar first.

4. Get your finger positions down

This one may seem silly at first, but ensuring that you have your fingers in the correct positions is key to your success. Trust me, your chords and riffs will be a whole lot easier if you know what your fingers need to do. The benefits of this may not be instantaneous, but further down the line you will be blazing from note to note, and from chord to chord.

5. Build your hand strength

When you first learn to play the guitar one thing that can be an issue is the strain it places on your hands. This is because of a multitude of factors. One is the fact that a lot of beginner guitars are not set up properly, with incredibly high action, and cheaper strings. The second reason is that your hands aren’t used to the positions. So what can you do to build strength in your hands? This is going to sound silly, but squeezing a tennis ball during your spare time will get you your guitar-ready hands in no time. Yeah, you might look stupid, but just think you’ll be blasting ‘Brianstorm’ in within weeks.

 6. Keep your focus

Losing your drive is one of the main reasons people stop learning the guitar. It’s easy to get frustrated with the track you are learning, especially some of the tougher motifs, but you have to stick through it. If you think you are alone, you are not. One of the riffs that left me scratching my head was ‘Thank you for the Venom” by My Chemical Romance. I tried again and again to get up to the pace of the track, and for ages I couldn’t, but through perseverance, I can now hit it perfectly, and the same will be the case for you.


An acoustic guitar next to a bag full of sheet music.
Acoustic guitar on a bench.

7. Start learning with the simple songs

As much as you may want to, don’t start learning with a Biffy Clyro banger, they are not easy. Pick something a whole lot easier, trust me you will progress quicker because of it. Learn something like ‘Seven Nation Army‘ or, heaven forbid, ‘Wonderwall‘. I can guarantee every guitarist has been there. The essentials to learn here are you timing and your basic movements, not learning a piece to show off with.

8. Find a tutor for your style

This may be one of the most important parts of starting the guitar, find a tutor who can help you grow. Yes, there are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that will give you lessons from picking up the guitar, all the way to sweep picking. However, they do not work at your pace, and they certainly cannot notice your mistakes. Look either online, in your local newspaper, or even head to your local guitar shop, you are guaranteed to find someone.

9. Learn your theory

Some guitarists are going to claim they don’t know their theory, they’re lying. A little bit of theory can get you very far! If you can grasp the basics such as; the circle of fifths, your major and minor scales, and your chord positions, things will come a lot easier to you. Again it may be tedious at the start, but when you are writing songs in the future, you will thank yourself.

10. Try different playing styles

Yeah, you might want to learn guitar because your favourite alt-rocker plays, but you shouldn’t tie yourself to one genre. Alt-rock is positioned well because of the amount of diversity the genre has, from shoegaze to pop-punk there’s an abundance, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t venture to the blues, or dip a toe into jazz. As they say, variety is the spice of life.

11. Have fun learning

The most important part of learning guitar is to ensure you are having fun. At the end of the day, playing guitar is a hobby and should be treated as such. Don’t stress yourself out worrying about how good you are, just make sure you are making yourself happy!


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