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Playing The Guitar For The First Time

Apr 3, 2008
Looking for a new guitar can be confusing if you are only just learning to play the instrument. Strolling down to your nearest guitar shop will help you determine the different designs, but it will not help you to decide on which guitar to pick. The first time I had received my first acoustic guitar was when I was seventeen. I had no idea how to play it, nor did I know that the strings needed changing or that the frets were a little worn down.

To me it was all about having a guitar and finally being able to learn to play - the trouble is how would I learn how to play? What would I need to do to maintain my guitar and what strings do I need to buy to replace my existing ones? The truth is, I had asked all my friends and decided to visit the nearest guitar shop and gain some helpful tips from them. I soon learnt that I needed to but very specific strings and found they came with varying thickness.

The point is there is no 'beginner' guitar, apart from sticking to a six-string guitar, which can be acoustic or electric. Acoustic guitars tend to need harder strumming, I find, but if you do buy an electric guitar, you will need to buy a good Amp to go with it.

Getting a guitar is about playing and making music with it, so for those who are learning to play for the first time should endeavour to learn more about the guitar itself as well as learning how to play it. So now, you have the guitar you find yourself strumming away to painstaking noises, scratches and distorted tunes. You think to yourself, that maybe you should take another trip to the guitar shop and perhaps buy a guitar playing guide for beginners. Alternatively, you could buy a DVD tutorial, audio CD with an accompanying book or look up for music teachers.

In the nine years, that I have had my guitar I have to this day not learnt how to read or play music, because I learnt how to read guitar tabs. This is a much simpler and easier version of reading music notes. Instead of learning your notes and their tones, you are learning which fret to place your fingers and what string to play that note. They are easy to read and with a short practise, you will be picking it up in no time.

The more you play and practise the notes the better you will be at playing it. I found for the first month my fingers were painstakingly red and I started to develop calluses, which were not attractive. However, they seemed to cushion my fingers when I went to strum on my guitar. This is completely normal for beginners, you will find it painful at first but again the more you play the easier it will get. Your fingers will get used to it they will not fall apart - on the contrary, they will become stronger.

It is well worth purchasing guitar tabs and beginners guide from your local music or guitar shop, but be aware that these will only help you if you stick with it and practise at your own pace. The down side is that you will not have a tutor to tell you whether you are holding the guitar wrong, or if you have your fingers in the wrong position. Believe me when I say that there is a wrong way of holding a pick and a right way. Ultimately, you have to feel comfortable with your guitar and play it without tension in your fingers.

First time players will normally tense their fingers in order to try to play the guitar perfectly. This also applies to people looking to play the electric bass, and possibly applies to anyone learning to play an instrument. The trick is learning how to relax the hand and to play as naturally as you possibly can without causing too many cramps! There are warm up techniques you can learn that will help you get adjusted to playing.

All of the above information is a short guidance of what is to come with your progress. It would be ridiculous to think that you will be a great player without any previous practise or knowledge. The techniques and finger works will be helpful to your playing. As you continue to practise, you will feel more confident in trying to play your favourite tunes. You will find that you will become more creative in playing, so have fun with your guitar and try not to be disheartened by how little you know at first. It can take some people a few months to a year to pick it up; it is just dependant on how often you practise.
About the Author
Anna Stenning is an expert on buying guitars and playing the guitar, having bought her recent bass guitar from her local guitar shop, she is now learning to play the bass.
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