Dansm's Advice for Beginning Guitarists
Welcome to Dansm's Advice for Beginning Guitarists! My name is Dan Smith, I'm a first-year
grad student at Harvard, and I've been playing guitar for 5 years now. Since I've been
through all the stuff that you guys are going through now, I thought I would offer some
advice regarding guitar to beginners. This is basic advice which applies to most guitarists
in all genres of music, whether folk or alternative. I'm not trying to give an in-depth
schedule of what you should be doing, just some ideas to focus your practicing as you
improve as a player. Follow the links in order. It should actually take you between six months
and three years to follow all these links and learn all the techniques.
Do not rush; rushing will hurt you more than it will help you. I encourage you to take lessons
from a local guitar teacher, because they can help you in ways web pages can't.
Good luck, e-mail me
with questions, and remember--we are all in this to have fun!
- When you first get your guitar, you should follow these links to learn the basics.
An understanding of the basics is essential for learning the more complex playing you
will need to do later. If you can't read music, you should definitely take guitar lessons from
a local guitar teacher, because this will improve your understanding of your guitar
Names of guitar parts.
You must know the names of the strings and frets before continuing.
Types of acoustic guitars.
You may want to know the differences between the two major types of acoustic guitars.
Notes on the guitar. If you
can read music, this should be clear. If it is not, check out my page on
reading music for guitarists.
Tuning your guitar. This is a must before you start playing.
Tuning is rather complex but is extremely important to your sound.
You can also download a freeware tuner from
here. It is very useful and
well-designed for use by beginners. However, I recommend learning to tune by yourself
before using the software or an electronic tuner.
Changing your strings. This will
tell you everything you need to know to restring your guitar without damage. Once you reach
this page, click on the "FRETS.COM" link, then scroll down to the "Restringing Clinic"
and select your type of guitar.
- First, you might want to be familiar with some
basic playing techniques.
These will be important later and will be a good introduction
to fretting and moving your hands around the guitar.
The slide is the easiest and is a good place to start.
The hammer-on is easy and is very useful and common.
The pull-off is also easy; it is the opposite of a hammer-on.
Bending is the most functional technique available to guitarists, but also
one of the more difficult for beginners.
- The best way to start learning guitar is by playing chords.
Chords are the basis of all music, and are the foundation of guitar.
First you must learn how to form chords on your guitar. The best chords
to start with are the open chords shown below. Take your time and learn how each is formed
before moving on.
- Once you know how to form basic open chords, the only way to play them better
is to keep playing them over and over. This is best done by playing songs you know.
I have a page of easy songs
which are basic and use only the chords shown above. If you see other
chords, either try to play them or ignore them.
You may wish to play some songs which mention the use of a capo.
To learn how to use this very useful piece of equipment, check out my page on
For help with strumming patterns, I have a page on
suggested strumming patterns.
Check it out if you run into trouble playing these songs, or if you just want to
learn more about strumming.
Other songs can be found at Dansm's Acoustic Song Page,
Dansm's Eagles Tab Page, and the
Online Guitar Archive (OLGA).
However, many of these songs have chords which you may not be able to play yet.
Move on to the next page after
you have learned open chords.
You are visitor number
© 1998 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 5-17-98.