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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sabrage's Avatar
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    Absolute Beginner Guitar Resources?

    Recently I inherited a rather nice guitar and a starter amp with intent to play, but after fiddling around with it a bit I discovered that I have the musical prowess of a wet sock. Not having the means to seek professional help, I turned to Google, but I don't really know where to begin. What I really need is for someone to explain the fundamentals to me as if I were the victim of massive head trauma (which may or may not be the case.)

    Can any of you fine fellows point me in the right direction?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Do you have any previous experience with playing music? What sort of music would you like to learn?

    I don't have a single place to point to, but here are some things:

    First of all, if you don't know, learn how to tune your guitar properly. Nothing will sound good if your instrument isn't properly tuned. If you have trouble tuning by ear, buy a tuner (but keep trying and learning to tune by ear), they're cheap and will do the job for you.

    Decent online tuner for tuning by ear here.

    There's like a gazillion guitar videos on Youtube. I can't point you to anything specific but search and ye shall finde (ye shall probably finde a lot of crap as well, but some of it is bound to be good).

    Print out a chord chart and learn some chords. Don't worry about fancy stuff, just common major and minor chords to start with. Even if all you want to do is play widdly-wee-wee solos all day you'll need to know some chords.

    You can probably find some OK beginner's books at your local library. They're usually (at least here) pretty good at getting in sheet music and other more specific stuff as well if you ask (which you can then copy for cheaps!) but of course it depends on what you want to play.

    Books are bad at teaching technique. Videos are better. A teacher is better still, because they can tell you what you're doing wrong. Consider finding a teacher to show you some basic techniques (simple stuff like how to hold a pick properly, fret chords, etc.), or a friend if you know someone who's a descent guitarist and willing to give you some pointers.

    Learn to read tablature - it'll be a great help for figuring out songs and is much more intuitive than standard music notation. There are huge archives of tabs on the internet, Ultimate Guitar is pretty good. Just beware that tablatures on the internet are often messily written and sometimes by people who aren't very good at figuring out songs.
    Last edited by Skalpadda; 12-05-2013 at 05:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    I'm self-taught, and I have much more basic advice than Skalpadda. I learned before things like YouTube existed, and picked up everything from books.

    I'd suggest buying a book of tablature for an album you know and like (I started with Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam -- not the easiest, but it was still satisfying to be able to play along with the easy bits while I learned). Professional books are much more reliable than online tab made by randoms, and you'll find learning much more satisfying & fun if you're playing songs you enjoy (lots of beginner guitar books are full of well-known traditional songs and older pop music like Beatles etc, which doesn't really do it for me).

    The other advice I would offer is this: There are two major hurdles to overcome when learning to play guitar.
    1) convincing your fingers that they can all move at the same time in order to change chords
    2) learning to play barre chords (which is where you have to have one finger across all of the strings)

    Don't be discouraged if either of those seems impossible at first. Once you get over those two hurdles it's plain sailing.
    Last edited by Jams O'Donnell; 12-05-2013 at 02:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    Oh, and if you want to try a class there's this free online class at Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

    I know nothing about the class, but other Coursera classes I've done have been well-made.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jams O'Donnell View Post
    -- not the easiest, but it was still satisfying to be able to play along with the easy bits while I learned).
    Yes, this is important, especially if you're learning by yourself. Learning to play 'Twinkle Little Cat' might make sense from a "getting the basics" point of view but it's not going to feel very satisfying, whereas learning to play along with a song you actually like (whether it's a basic riff or following the chords of a song) is going to be a lot more fun. As with anything difficult, learning something cool that you enjoy will encourage you to keep going even if it's not the most efficient route.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jams O'Donnell View Post
    Oh, and if you want to try a class there's this free online class at Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

    I know nothing about the class, but other Coursera classes I've done have been well-made.
    Judging from the introduction video that looks rather good. :)
    Last edited by Skalpadda; 12-05-2013 at 03:57 PM.

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