5 things all beginner guitarists need to know

Teenage girl playing her guitar indoors, wearing a stripey shirt
(Image credit: Richard Bailey/Getty)

So, you're learning to play the guitar – we're a little biased, but we think you're making a great decision.

The guitar is one of the most exciting and broad instruments to play. And whether you’re interested in rock, blues, jazz, folk, or any style of music for that matter, every player goes through the same first steps when learning the instrument, whether that's electric guitar or acoustic guitar.

So, before you strum that first chord, here are a few tips that’ll help you through the first few weeks of playing guitar.

1. Practice a little every day

You don’t need to put in long hours early on. 20 to 30 minutes a day is better than saving your practice up for a long session at the weekend.   

2. Your fingertips may ache

Pressing down on the guitar strings can make your fingertips ache at first. Don’t worry! A few weeks of practice will firm up those soft pads! 

TG341 50 Chords You Need To Know

(Image credit: Future)

3. Practice slowly

Whenever you learn new music, practice slowly and make sure you’re getting it right. Go too fast too soon and you’ll make mistakes that are hard to ‘unlearn’ later on.

4. Train your fingers... and your ears!

Don’t focus solely on getting your fingers into the right place (although that’s important, too!). Try also to memorise the sound qualities of the chords and riffs you learn. 

5. Buy a tuner

Best clip-on guitar tuners: TC Electronic Polytune Clip attached to a Martin acoustic guitar's headstock

(Image credit: Future)

Tuning a guitar is tricky for most beginners. A tuner won’t do the job for you, but it will guide you. An out-of-tune guitar is pretty unpleasant to play!

Gear up with our beginner-friendly guides

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Total Guitar editors

Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.