Beginner Guitar Lesson

Before You Begin With Guitar Lessons

By Andrew Gavin Webber

The inspiration for this beginner guitar lesson.

As a favor to a friend, I was asked to help with tuning the guitars at a children's concert, held by beginner guitar students of his. What I discovered shocked me. Some of the guitars that these children where expected to learn on where nothing short of unusable and unplayable.

Sure, technically speaking you could actually play them, but that didn't mean they weren't going to cause pain and teach young guitar students bad habits that could permanently hamper their ability to progress as guitarists.

One particular guitar was a small steel string guitar with strings so high off the neck that I couldn't help but feel sad when I later saw the youngster playing it try to fret the notes. Later, when the show was over, I realized that his parents where quite well off, and could definitely afford to buy him a decent guitar to learn on.

Not that I can seriously blame anyone for not realizing that a beginner guitarist needs to play on a decent quality guitar, or for not knowing what makes up a good beginner guitar. Beginner guitar lessons should actually start with this information as a first guitar lesson.

There are only three things to blame for this situation.

  1. Misinformation about beginner guitars
  2. The guitar teacher trying to keep his paying customers, rather than tell them to go and buy something decent, and
  3. The guitar companies who put out unplayable junk under the guise of beginner guitars.

How a bad guitar will stop you from mastering the guitar.

Before I scare you, notice I said a bad guitar and not a cheap guitar. It's quite possible to get a cheap guitar that's actually a fairly good guitar. Here's how a guitar that's barely playable can train you to become a terrible guitarist. Guitars that are not player friendly have one thing in common. The strings are set way too high off the fretboard making it difficult to play notes and chords.

This causes the following problems:

  • To play the guitar, the guitarist needs to exert extra pressure on the strings.
  • The more pressure you need to apply in order to play the notes, the slower you'll be at changing notes.
  • Your fingers will get very strong, which seems like a good thing but actually isn't - There's a balance that needs to be achieved, and even so, most young beginner guitarists won't achieve enough muscular strength in their hands to cope.

To play guitar effectively, there is a balance that needs to be achieved between strength and speed. Even if you later switch to a more playable guitar, playing for too long on an extremely difficult guitar, especially right from beginner status, will hard wire your brain in such a way that no matter how playable the guitar is, you're going to exert way more pressure than is needed, and you're going to be slow.

That was the positive scenario.

I have a friend who owns and plays lousy guitars with high actions, and when he plays my guitars, he puts so much pressure on the fretboard that he actually pushes the strings out of tune. Now I'll say one thing for this dear fellow, he has persistence.

Some people don't have persistence, and they give up on guitar playing, thinking they have no talent and that it's just too difficult for them. If only they knew just how little effort it is to make a guitar playable, and that there are people who can do this for you at very little cost, provided you have a half decent guitar to start with.

So, in conclusion I'd have to say that the idea of buying a cheap guitar to learn on, and then upgrading to something better is only half right. A better idea is to buy something cheap but good enough to warrant having some work done on it, and just upgrade some of the parts later for a truly cost effective and valuable first guitar.

Now that's a beginner guitar lesson that should be mandatory.

Visit Andrew Webber's play-electric-guitar.net website for some Free electric guitar lessons online or alternately his blog page on Beginner electric guitars for some further insight into beginner electric guitars.

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