The acoustic guitar is one of the most versatile and popular instruments. Whether you want to strum chords, fingerpick melodies, or write your songs, the acoustic guitar is a perfect place to start.
The basics are pretty straightforward, even if you’ve never played before. All you need is one of the best acoustic guitars, a pick, and the motivation to practice.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to learn to play guitar, from how to hold the guitar properly to simple chords and strumming patterns.
You’ll be playing your first song in no time. The key is not to get overwhelmed – focus on one skill at a time, practice consistently, and be patient with yourself.
Playing guitar is a lifelong journey, so take your time and enjoy it! Following the tips in this guide will help you establish a solid foundation before you get a guitar teacher!
Types Of Acoustic Guitars
You’ve probably seen a couple of acoustic guitars around– sometimes with top Canadian musicians like Ian Ian Thornley, a music show, or a store.
Perhaps you got curious about the history of acoustic guitars and why they often look different. It begs the question: what types will you encounter while learning how to play acoustic guitar?
Meet the heavyweight champion of acoustic guitars. It’s ideal for strumming; it stands tall as a versatile companion for various musical genres.
Transporting us to the realms of timeless elegance, classical guitars offer a mellower and softer sound. These instruments feature nylon string guitar, creating a warm, intimate tone that beautifully complements classical compositions, flamenco rhythms, and fingerstyle playing.
Don’t let its modest size fool you; the parlor guitar packs a surprising punch. Whether on a cozy porch or a bustling street corner, it easily delivers delightful melodies.
Prepare for a robust and commanding presence with the jumbo guitar. Emphasizing deep bass and enhanced volume, this larger-bodied instrument is a favorite among guitarists seeking a bold, resonant sound that cuts through the mix.
Seeking the perfect balance between the dreadnought and parlor guitar? Enter the auditorium guitar, the embodiment of versatility.
How to Hold an Acoustic Guitar Properly
If you are familiar with electric guitars, you shouldn’t have trouble strumming some acoustic guitar songs.
But since this is your first acoustic guitar lesson, let’s do Justice to it! Note that before anything at all, you may need to check out music theory for more understanding if you are entirely new to professional guitar lessons.
To play acoustic guitar properly, you need to hold it right. Here are some tips:
- Stand or sit with good posture. Sit up straight and keep your shoulders back. This will make reaching around the guitar’s neck to play chords easier.
- Support the neck with your non-dominant hand. For most people, this is your left hand. Place your thumb on the back of the neck and wrap your fingers around the fingerboard. Keep your wrist straight.
- Rest the body on your leg or use a strap. If sitting, balance the guitar body on your right leg. Use a guitar strap to take the weight off your hands if standing. The belt should be snug but still comfortable.
- Keep your dominant hand free. Your right-hand needs to be free to strum and pick the strings. Curve your fingers and place them over the sound hole.
- Find a comfortable angle. Tilt the neck slightly so you can see the frets and strings clearly. The exact angle will depend on your hand size and sitting position.
- Relax your shoulders, arms, and hands. Don’t clench your muscles while you want to support the guitar securely. Stay loose and natural. Tension will make playing difficult and can cause injury.
Practicing the proper way to hold an acoustic guitar will become second nature. Focus on good posture, supporting the neck, balancing the body, and staying relaxed.
Learn the Parts of an Acoustic Guitar
It’s time to learn some simple guitar tricks. To start playing acoustic guitar, you need to get familiar with the different parts of the instrument.
The body is the hollow chamber that amplifies the sound. It comes in different shapes and sizes, so find a comfortable one.
The neck extends from the body and includes the fretboard. The fretboard has frets, or metal strips, that determine the pitch of each note. The neck also has markings to show you where to place your fingers.
Also, the headstock at the top of the neck holds the tuning pegs, which change the tension of the strings. Tightening the strings produces higher pitches while loosening them creates lower ones.
Another essential part is the bridge that anchors the strings to the body. It houses the saddle, a strip on which the strings rest. Adjusting its height and position impacts the action or how easy the strings are to press down.
To learn how to play an acoustic guitar, your need to know the basic chords and then move on to the major chords.
You’ll have six strings with the top three tuned to E, A, and D and the bottom three tuned to G, B, and E, from lowest to highest pitch. Strum all six strings together to play an E chord.
Press the guitar strings firmly on the fretboard while strumming to make different chords. Chords are essential for playing songs. The frets closest to the headstock produce higher notes, while those closer to the body produce lower ones.
How to Tune Your Acoustic Guitar
To get the best sound from your acoustic guitar, keeping it in tune is vital. An out-of-tune guitar will never produce notes that ring true. Tuning your guitar is simple, though getting it right may take some practice.
Here are the steps:
Get a Guitar Tuner
An electronic guitar tuner makes the tuning process much easier, especially for beginners. Clip-on tuners attached to the headstock are accurate and easy to use. Many guitar tuners are inexpensive, so invest in one and tune confidently.
Understand the Tuning Pegs
The tuning pegs on the neck of your guitar control the tension of each string. Tightening a string raises its pitch while loosening a string lowers its pitch. The thicker strings correspond to lower notes, while the thinner strings produce higher ones.
Tune from Lowest to Highest
Start with the thickest string, the low E string. Pluck the string and turn the corresponding tuning peg to tighten or loosen it until the tuner indicates it’s in tune. Then move on to the A string, and so on, until all strings are in tune.
Double Check with Natural Harmonics
Even with an electronic tuner, it’s a good idea to double-check your tuning using the natural harmonics at the 5th and 7th frets. Lightly press your finger over the fret wire and pluck – you should hear a clear, bell-like tone. The 5th fret harmonic on each string should match the next open string. The 7th fret harmonic should match one octave higher.
Tune as Needed
Re-tune your guitar before each practice session or performance. Temperature changes can affect string tension, causing your guitar to go out of tune.
Get in the habit of tuning regularly to develop an ear for recognizing when your guitar sounds out of tune. With regular practice, tuning your acoustic guitar will become second nature. Keep at it; you’ll be strumming one of the best songs about vaping or a special love song you wrote in no time!
Crucial Acoustic Guitar Chords for Beginners
To start playing songs on the acoustic guitar, you need to learn some essential chords. Chords are groups of notes played together to create harmony. As a beginner, focus on major and basic chords to build a solid foundation.
Place your first finger on the first fret of the B string, second finger on the second fret of the D string, and third finger on the third fret of the A string. Strum all six strings. The C major chord, or C, is one of the most common chords in music.
Put your first finger on the second fret of the C string, second finger on the second fret of the E string, and third finger on the third fret of the E string. Strum all strings except the low E. The G major chord, or G, is another chord you’ll use a lot.
Press your first finger down on the second fret of the G string, the second finger on the second fret of the E string, and the third finger on the third fret of the B string. Strum only the four thinnest strings. The D major chord, or D, is a staple of many songs.
Place your first finger on the first fret of the E string, second finger on the second fret of the D string, and third finger on the third fret of the B string. Strum only the four thinnest strings. The D minor chord, or Dm, adds a melancholy tone.
Put your first, second, and third fingers on the second frets of the A, D, and G strings, respectively. Strum all strings except the low E. The E minor chord, or Em, is another commonly used chord, especially in folk music.
Practice changing between these chords smoothly. Once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be ready to play many simple songs! Don’t get discouraged if it takes time. Building up finger strength and muscle memory is challenging, but with regular practice, you’ll get better at it. Keep at it, and you’ll be strumming your favorite tunes soon!
Strumming Patterns for Acoustic Guitar
Once you’ve learned the basics of acoustic guitars, it’s time to learn some simple strumming patterns. This is essential for playing chords and songs on guitar. The way you strum—the speed, rhythm, and motion—gives life to your guitar playing.
Here are a few basic strumming patterns to get you started:
The 4/4 Strum
The most common strumming pattern is 4 downstrokes over 4 beats (1, 2, 3, 4). This works for many beginner songs in 4/4 time. Practice strumming down on each beat using your index finger or a pick. Keep your wrist loose and strum through all six strings.
The D D U U Strum
Try mixing up and downstrokes once you’re comfortable with the 4/4 strum. The D D U U pattern is:
Down, down, up, up
1 2, 3 4
Strum down on beats 1 and 2, then up on beats 3 and 4. This adds more rhythm and texture to your playing. Practice changing between the 4/4 and D D U U strum.
The D U D D U Strum
For a little more challenge, the D U D D U strumming pattern is:
Down, up, down, down, up
1 2, 3 4, 5
Strum down on beats 1, 3, and 4 and up on beats 2 and 5. This versatile pattern works for many songs. Keep your wrist loose and let the strumming flow.
Your acoustic guitar will come alive as you gain confidence and make the strumming patterns your own. Knowing the basics and how the patterns work helps reduce performance anxiety, as you will be more confident in your ability.
Now it’s time to practice and perfect your craft. Once you learn this, playing other guitars, like an electric guitar, may be easy.
Don’t get discouraged if you make mistakes or your fingers hurt at first. Stay patient and stick with it. Playing guitar is a skill that takes dedication to develop, but it will be worth it.
Once you get comfortable changing between chords smoothly and confidently strumming, you’ll be ready to play some simple songs.