How long will it take until I can play songs?
It varies from person to person and the amount of practice you put in is a huge factor. Also putting in quality practice, actually focusing on your session and not having distractions such as the TV on, will greatly improve how fast you learn.
I find that on average a student practicing a minimum of 15 minutes 5-7 days a week, will be able to play some very basic songs in about 2-3 weeks. It’s not an overnight process. However the more you work at it the more the rewards of your labor will come. It can be very satisfying to get a song down after a few sessions of work.
How often do I need to practice?
I have to answer this with another question. How fast do you want to learn? The truth is you will only progress if you put in the time. Do not believe any of the play overnight books or play like a god today DVDs. You need to put in time, that’s the truth. If you get in the habit you will be playing some fun songs in no time.
Again quality practice is the key here. 15 minutes of focused intense practice is way more effective than an hour of fooling around with the TV on. However there is a time for practicing in front of the TV. (Will explain later)
It’s also important to keep pushing yourself. Once you get a few things down you should keep trying to press forward and learn new material. Otherwise you end up playing the same few songs or riffs you already know every time you pick up the guitar and you won’t get any better.
The great thing about guitar is that even though it can be hard at times, the more you learn, the easier it becomes to learn, if that makes any sense. Also guitar is a great activity because as long as you want to get better you can. You can always improve. I have been playing for 15 years and I still try to improve myself every day. There is so much to learn that you can always find something new. (That’s a good thing)
To sum up, follow the 3 golden rules.
• 10-15 minutes daily is better than 3 hours once a week.
• Quality practice time spent focusing on the material is the key
• Always have something you are practicing that challenges you
My fingers hurt. What should I do?
This is a normal part of learning guitar. I advise you to push through it unless you’re in real pain. You need to toughen up the skin on your fingertips. If you’re in real pain stop and wait a day or two, but remember there is a big difference between pain and discomfort.
It will get better. Just remember unless you get your fingers used to it they will always hurt. If you pick up your guitar once every week or two, it will be hard to develop your fingertips. Practicing everyday or 4-5 times a week and you should start noticing some relief in a few weeks.
I just want to play rock power chords or country finger picking or (insert any style here)
The truth is that most styles of guitar are branches off the basics. Understanding the basics first, allows you to progress in your favorite style much more quickly. You do not want any gaps in your education. Learn the basics first, even if you don’t see why yet, you will. Chances are your favorite guitar player can play a lot more styles then you would think, they just specialize in whatever style they choose. So trust me, learn the basics first.
I want to play lead or rhythm guitar can I just pick one?
This is very similar to my answer above. First off you should have a good understanding of what each type of guitar really does. If you want to be a great lead guitarist you need to have a solid foundation in rhythm, and a great rhythm player should also have a good foundation in lead. You need to take the time to learn the right way, to truly understand your instrument. That’s what separate good players from GREAT players.
Learn the basics first. Things all guitar players should know.
And just a side note, I feel so many players, especially beginners, don’t truly appreciate rhythm guitar. Rhythm does NOT mean easier. A great rhythm player can be just as skilled as a lead player. The lead is usually the melody and stands out more. Lead players get a lot of the glory, and a lot of attention. But a good rhythm player is an equal to a good lead player. Please remember that and be open-minded when jamming with others.
Do I have to use a pick?
Short answer…YES. Even if you want to learn finger-picking at some point, a good foundation in flat-picking (playing with a pick) is essential. You will find going through my lessons that one of my rules is “Left hand before right”. Unless I say otherwise in a lesson then focus on your left hand first. (Assuming you are right handed) Meaning, you should get your left hand doing the exercise correctly before focusing too much on your right hand.
A lot of the first lessons focus heavily on the left hand with very easy things to do on your right with a pick. This keeps your focus on your left hand while you’re just starting. Once you are a decent flat-picker then you can move on to finger picking. (This is different for classically trained guitarists)
Do I need long fingernails?
On your fret hand you should keep your nails short. I can’t emphasize this enough. Long fingernails get in the way of being able to properly fret your notes and finger placements. You may not see it now but if you are a beginner please take my word for it or it will slow you down or stop you completely and you won’t even realize it.
On your picking hand you can grow them longer for finger picking if you want. Or use fake nails. I personally do not use nails for finger-picking. I use my fingertips. There are a lot of great players who don’t use nails and a lot who do. It’s a personal preference. However take in mind I have seen a few friends get their nails torn off. It’s not common but can happen.