The Best Way To Learn Guitar For Adults

best way to learn guitar for adults - man playing acoustic guitar

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There are plenty of activities for people to enjoy as a pastime or hobby in their adult life. As a true beginner, it can be daunting to pick up a new hobby. Music is a unique art. It can be enjoyed and experienced by all people regardless of skill level. Listening to your favorite songs on the radio, going to see a concert, singing along to your favorite songs in the car, or even having jam sessions with your friends in your home are all ways we can enjoy music. Are you a person who wants to become an active participant in music, and not just as a listener? One great way to get involved is to begin learning an instrument. The most popular instrument for adult learners is the guitar. This article will take you through a step by step guide to help you find the best way to learn guitar for adults. 

Choosing your guitar

Your first task is to choose the guitar that will become your new best friend. Think about the genre you are interested in playing, is it rock, punk, acoustic singer/songwriter, or classic? Once you have determined your favorite genre, you will be better able to choose your type of guitar. The types are generally categorized as electric, acoustic, classical or bass. All of these types play very differently, so it is important to know which style you are trying to achieve before you start. So, do some listening to your favorite artists and see what style appeals to you the most. 

Once you have chosen your style of instrument, it is important to find one that fits your size. If the guitar is too big or small, it can be uncomfortable to play, and then your practice will suffer. Generally speaking, most adults will do fine with a standard full-size guitar. If you are someone who is particularly petite, you may want to consider a child’s size or even a ukulele

Next, you will want to consider the price range. Aim for something middle-of-the-road. Buying a used guitar is a great strategy for buying your first guitar. In this way, you can obtain a high-quality guitar for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Also, remember to have fun in selecting your new guitar, make sure the color is one you enjoy as well, you’ll have more fun playing!

Choose a learning course

Here you have some freedom in your choices. There are numerous learning outlets available. Decide whether you are a hands-on in-person learner, or if you would benefit from a self-guided learning style. In-person lessons are a great way to start. Contact your local music shop, they will be able to help you find a teacher. If you are more interested in learning at your own pace, there are tons of online learning courses available. Guitar Tricks is one such online course that comes highly recommended. A combination of online courses and in-person lessons can also be very helpful for beginners. Consider your own schedule and make these decisions based on your own personal needs and goals as a learner. 

Learn simple chords

Now that you have your new guitar, and you’ve decided on a learning course, you’re ready to start with some chords. As a beginner, it would be a good idea to include an electric tuner in your purchase with your new instrument. The electronic tuner will help you learn to tune your guitar, and it will train your ears, so eventually, you will no longer need it. 

Chords are achieved when you play two or more notes simultaneously in harmony. Chording can be a great way for beginners to start learning. Most pop songs are made of a simple pattern of chords. This makes it pretty easy to follow the pattern of chords after only a few lessons. Let’s discuss a few chord types: open chords and barre chords. 

Open Chords - C - D - Am
Open chords: C – D – Am

Open chords are as they sound, one or more strings remain open, or not pressed, while others are pressed down. These chords are very easy to learn because they only require a few fingers to be involved. There are even beginner versions of these chords which only require one or two strings to play.

Barre Chords - C - D - Am
Barre Chords: C – D – Am

Barre chords are a bit more complicated. They require you to block or “barre” the open strings with a finger. A little secret that some guitarists use is called a Capo. This tool becomes the “barre” for the chords, and you can then just use open chords while keeping the capo in place. It is encouraged for you to master open chords before tackling barre chords. But, once you have developed your open chord chops, the barre chords will be significantly easier. 

Finger Drills

In learning any new physical activity, it is important to develop muscle memory. It is not simply enough to know the shape of the chords in your brain, it is also essential for your fingers to know the shape of the chords as well. The faster the knowledge is translated from the brain to the fingers, the better and quicker you will be able to play and read a chord sheet. 

Here is where finger drills come into play. Just as children learn to walk and speak with repetition, so must your fingers have repetition to be able to navigate your guitar quickly. It is important to spend time daily doing finger drills. Unfortunately, we do not develop new skills overnight, so daily practice is essential. You may be surprised that spending 15 minutes a day on finger drills will drastically improve your playing. If you put the time in, you can expect results fairly quickly. There are numerous online resources to find good finger drills. Or combine finger drill with learning a guitar scale. Also, Rock Guitar Mastery has many resources to help their students. 

first scale to learn on guitar - A Minor Pentatonic Scale
Finger drill with a guitar scale – A Minor Pentatonic

Play your favorite songs

Another great way to practice is by playing your favorite songs or start with our 10 easy songs to play on guitar. Now that you can play some chords, most popular songs follow chord patterns. You can easily find chord sheets online that will walk you through the chord progressions of some popular songs. By playing songs that you love, you will enjoy your practice time more and maximize your success. If you’re doing something you enjoy, it will feel less like practice and more like pure fun. Find some chord sheets, keep practicing, and don’t forget to have fun! This is the best way to learn guitar for adults.

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Rick is the founder of All Stringed. He started playing with a classical guitar when he was 10, but changed soon to electric guitar and later also to an acoustic. You can find more about him here.