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Looking to play guitar so you can have a hobby, write a song for your partner, or show off your skills to the world?
If so, you’re in the right place!
This is a free lesson on how to learn guitar by yourself, so strap yourself in and prepare to become a guitar playing pro.
Is it possible to learn guitar by yourself?
Learning guitar by yourself is definitely possible! As long as you’re using reliable learning resources you’ll be able to learn guitar without a problem.
You may eventually want to purchase premium resources or take guitar lessons if you want to achieve a specific, measurable goal, though.
The Fundamentals of Guitar
Learning guitar by yourself boils down to focussing on the fundamentals of guitar.
The basic fundamentals of guitar include:
- Tuning a guitar
- Holding a guitar pick
- Open-string guitar chords
- Learning basic guitar songs
- Understanding guitar anatomy
- Memorizing the open string names
- Basic right and left hand techniques
- Common strumming patterns
- Reading chord diagrams
- Reading guitar tabs
- Nailing rhythm
The fundamental steps to learn guitar by yourself
Find a way to learn guitar
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to find a way to learn guitar.
Yes, you should do this before you even buy a guitar, because the guitar you buy will depend on how and what you want to learn.
Find the right guitar book
Reading a good guitar book is one of my favorite ways to learn guitar!
If you like to read, and you want a solid learning structure, then guitar books are an ideal way to learn.
Use an online learning platform
There’s a plethora of online learning platforms. You can stick to a broad learning platform or use a guitar-centered learning platform.
My favorite guitar learning platform is Truefire. They have 1000’s of guitar courses for all styles and levels.
If you’re going to use a broad learning platform, especially if you’re a beginner guitar player, I suggest Skillshare.
Read guitar blogs (like this one)
Guitar blogs are amazing, because:
- They’re free
- They’re easy to skim read
- You can develop a relationship with the writer(s)
- They usually offer lots of resources
There’s a guitar blog for practically any guitar style and level, so make yourself a folder in your browser and bookmark this site and a few other guitar blogs.
You can also follow guitar websites and they’ll show up next to your Google Discover tab on your mobile device.
Listen to guitar podcasts
If you like podcasts there are guitar podcasts ranging from gear talk, to guitar theory, to guitar player interviews, to simple guitar tips.
Explore some guitar podcasts and see which ones best suit your guitar playing interests.
Take a course on Udemy
The great thing about Udemy is there’s no subscription associated with it. Plus, the first course you buy on Udemy will be on sale (83% off!), so you may as well spend $20 or $30 on a lengthy guitar course jam-packed with evergreen value.
Inexpensive, high-quality, structured courses are a dream come true.
Get a guitar teacher
Yes, this is an article about how to learn guitar by yourself, but you may want to consider getting a guitar teacher if you are having trouble getting organized with your practice routine, or not having any luck learning with your current resources.
Learn by ear
This is the original way to learn the guitar. Sit down with a guitar, listen to some music, then attempt play the music by sounding it out by ear.
This is how legends such as Guthrie Govan learned guitar.
And even if you don’t learn by ear in the beginning, you can always work on this skill later in your guitar playing journey!
Buy the right guitar
Buying the right guitar is essential.
You have no idea how many guitar students have come to me with a guitar they cannot play, and it’s simply because of the quality of their instrument.
My first guitar was a simple nylon-string classical guitar from Yamaha, and it’s still one of my favorite guitars to play!
Since you probably don’t know much about guitars, seek out someone who does, and ask for their advice on what guitar to buy based on your budget and guitar goals.
Learn guitar anatomy
No matter how you’re learning guitar you need to know the guitar’s anatomy.
This will vary from one guitar to the next, so learn the anatomy based on the type of guitar that you own.
Hold the guitar properly
Holding the guitar properly is a key component in proper left and right hand positioning, and will ultimately help you learn the guitar “properly”.
With this comes posture. Having poor guitar posture can ruin your back, neck, and hands, so make sure you look into posture from a professional.
How to hold the guitar pick
Learning how to hold the guitar pick the right way from the start will help you learn guitar faster and more efficiently.
Here’s my complete guide on how to hold the guitar pick.
Memorize the open guitar string names
Memorizing the open guitar string names is your first step in learning the notes on the fretboard.
Knowing the open string names will help you read guitar chord charts, read tabs, tune your guitar, and communicate with other guitar players.
Click on the picture below to learn about the guitar string names and their order.
Learn to read guitar chord charts
Chord charts depict the string names, frets, and which fingers to place on the frets.
Here’s an example chord chart.
You can learn more about reading guitar chord charts here.
Basic guitar chords
Whether you learn guitar by yourself or with an instructor, you’ll soon find out that there are a lot of guitar chords.
Learning the foundational, basic guitar chords will make learning other chords a much easier task later on.
The first chords you’ll need to learn are often called the CAGED guitar chords. This stands for the chords C, A, G, E, and D. It also refers to A minor, D minor, and E minor, which are the 3 most common open-string minor chords.
Strumming a guitar
Strumming is simply moving your guitar pick through the guitar strings simultaneously.
You can strum downward or upward. You combine these strumming motions together to get consistent patterns called strumming patterns.
Strumming patterns are then used to play guitar chords stemming from a chord progression.
Chord progressions are rhythmic and accompany a melody, and learning them is not only essential, but also a blast!
Seriously, once you learn a few strumming patterns and some chord progressions, you’ll experience the temptation to never set down your guitar ever again.
Learning to read guitar tabs
Guitar tabs, short for the word tablature, are an alternative to standard musical notation.
Guitar tabs show you the strings to play, the frets to play on those strings, and symbols to show the techniques being used.
Learning to read this tabs will be your first step in learning how to play songs and musical phrases.
Easy guitar songs
When you’re getting started with guitar you’ll need to learn some songs!
Once you’ve got the fundamentals of guitar under your belt you can learn some easy guitar songs.
If you don’t know what songs you want to play I suggest getting a guitar method book.
My personal favorite, which I use with my guitar students, is the Hal Leonard Guitar Tab Method.
This book will teach you popular guitar riffs, easy guitar songs, how to read guitar tabs, and some common techniques on guitar.
If you don’t want to use a guitar method book to learn songs, Songsterr will be the best way to learn guitar by yourself.
What about guitar scales?
A lot of teachers and guides recommend learning guitar scales right away.
Now, there definitely comes a time to learn about scales.
As a general rule learning guitar scales depends on where your skill level is and what guitar learning goals you have.
I suggest learning scales after you’ve learned some songs. Starting with scales will just bore you, and will likely lead you to quit guitar.
However, when you are ready to learn guitar scales, here are some guides that can help you.
Develop a guitar practice routine
Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of guitar you’ll need to put them into practice!
Putting them into practice will require you to create a consistent guitar practice routine, and here are the basics for getting started.
Create a consistent guitar practice routine
You’ll want a consistent, daily routine for practicing guitar.
If you don’t practice daily, and if you jump around too much in your learning, you’ll never meet your practice goals.
Due to this you’ll want to practice for short bursts daily, and don’t lose focus on the guitar subject at-hand!
Create guitar learning goals
Know what you want to learn and you’ll reach your guitar playing dreams far sooner than you expect.
Create your guitar playing goals based on technical goals, song playing goals, compositional goals, and overall guitar dreams.
Be realistic with your time
You have time to practice, you just need to be realistic and set aside time that makes sense for you to practice.
Protect this time, and let your family and friends know that this is your time to play and practice your guitar!
Listen to music with guitar
Believe it or not, listening to music with guitar is an extremely valuable contributor towards your guitar practice routine.
Listening to music can inspire you to pick up the guitar, and will give you ideas as to what you want to practice and work towards!
My favorite learning resources
Aside from this website you’re already reading (I’m a little biased), here are my favorite resources to learn guitar by yourself!
Truefire, mentioned earlier in the post, is a guitar video learning platform.
They feature guitar lessons from some amazing guitar instructors, and the courses on the website are affordable and catered towards specific guitar goals.
YouTube Guitar Channels
In my top 10 tips to learn guitar by yourself, listed below, I mention that you should watch YouTube guitar videos, and find some channels that align with your practice goals!
Check them out!
There are a lot of guitar books, but here are my favorites!
Songsterr is a guitar tab platform. Their tabs are extremely well-done, and I absolutely love their website’s design and layout.
You can learn everything on there for free, but paying for the software will give you access to lots of great tools for learning guitar songs more easily!
Top 10 tips for how to learn guitar by yourself
- Practice and learn the fundamentals before you dive into complex songs and techniques.
- Learn to read guitar tablature and chord diagrams right away!
- Master your open guitar chords (the CAGED chords).
- Develop a guitar practice routine and protect a block of time to implement your routine
- Buy a guitar locally. Buying a guitar locally will allow you to talk to a professional about which guitar is best to buy. If you can’t buy locally, join a guitar Facebook group and ask them about the best guitars for beginners. Make sure the guitar you buy is both aesthetically appealing and easy to play!
- Focus on the music and styles that you want to learn! This way you’ll be less likely to give up guitar!
- Learn proper posture from the start!
- Follow popular guitar teachers on YouTube. Here’s my list of best YouTube guitar teachers.
- Push through the initial aches and barriers! You’ll encounter some obstacles when you first start, such as aching fingertips and difficulty playing chords. Just push past this and you’ll be through one of the most difficult steps in starting guitar!
- Learn songs before you learn guitar theory! Guitar theory, and music theory as a whole, will make more sense if you’ve already learned some songs. Besides, guitar wouldn’t be any fun without learning songs!
Tools for learning guitar by yourself
Aside from the resources I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this article, here are some of the best tools for learning guitar by yourself and in general.
A capo makes it easy to use your open guitar chords in different keys.
Here’s an article about why you need a capo.
You’ll find that your guitar needs a place to rest, and an ideal place for this is on a guitar stand!
On top of being a nice place to put your guitar, the stand will display your guitar nicely, which you can show off to the world!
A good guitar case is essential if you plan on taking your guitar anywhere.
They also help keep your guitar safe at home, and help your guitar stay maintained in environments that are humid or harsh.
A guitar strap will allow you to play your guitar standing up, and can also help prevent your guitar from falling over when you’re sitting down.
I recommend buying a guitar strap that you can test in person, because you can test the comfortability of the strap that way.
A friend or mentor that plays guitar
This is the best tool for learning: a friend and/or mentor!
Preferably find someone who already has a fair amount of guitar playing knowledge.
A guitar friend can hold you accountable, and you can have practice or jam sessions with them!
And who knows, it may eventually lead to starting a band or meeting other artists in your community!
Con of teaching yourself guitar
The biggest con of teaching yourself guitar is the lack of structured, informed learning.
Without a teacher, book, or guitar course, you’ll have no real structure, which can hinder growth and cause you to miss some essential concepts.
Questions about learning guitar by yourself
These are some of the most common questions asked about learning guitar by yourself, and about learning guitar in general.
How Long does it take to learn guitar by yourself?
The time it takes to learn guitar by yourself depends on your goals.
Learning guitar basics, such as basic chords and basic songs, can be accomplished in less than a month.
If you’re working towards becoming a professional guitar player, or learning advanced guitar techniques, it will take you years to learn!
Just remember to enjoy the guitar learning journey. That way you’ll never have a problem with the amount of time it takes to learn the instrument!
What is the fastest way to learn guitar by yourself?
The fastest way to learn guitar by yourself is by focussing on guitar fundamentals and practicing every single day.
Losing sight of the fundamentals will lead you towards bad guitar habits.
Practicing for short bursts every single day, 15-30 minutes or so, is better than inconsistent practice because you’ll retain information better when you practice day-to-day.
Long story short, take your time to learn everything properly, and you’ll learn guitar fast!
Which guitar is easiest to learn?
As a general rule the electric guitar is easiest to learn. The determinant in which guitar is easiest to learn is based on how difficult it is for the left hand to “fret the fretboard.
The nylon string is somewhere in the middle, and the acoustic guitar is the most difficult guitar to learn.
However, you need to pick the guitar you learn on based off of your musical/guitar goals.
Learning classical guitar? A nylon is a no-brainer in this case.
Want to play bluegrass? Better learn on an acoustic guitar.
Want to shred metal guitar solos like Synyster Gates or Kirk Hammett? Then you better pick up an electric guitar!
Summary: How To Learn Guitar By Yourself
Now that you have read about how to learn guitar by yourself, let’s recap and summarize the main points.
Start by buying the right guitar for you, based on your guitar goals.
From there, learn the fundamentals of guitar.
Once you have the fundamentals down you’ll want to create a regular practice routine and stick to it!
Lastly, you’ll learn guitar by yourself by finding guitar resources that align with your playing goals, and building a network of musicians and other guitar players.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions!