Beginners

If you just got a guitar and have never played before there are some things you should know that most teachers won’t tell you. First you need to ask yourself why you are doing this. Learning to play Smoke on the water note for note, is not the same as hanging out and playing 12 bar blues with your friends. If you are already a good singer you have less reason to learn difficult guitar licks. Do you want to learn to play to improve your singing? to accompany a friend? to expand your social life? Your goal determines your pathway to success.

There is more than one way to learn an instrument. You can learn songs from tab and musical notation or you can learn to play what you hear, either in your head or on some device. You can watch other players and read the chords from their left hand. You can take private lessons or you can learn with a group. There are several very good channels on you tube. Do whatever works for you and focus on what you want to achieve.

If you are most interested in jamming with a group learn two keys a forth apart and get a capo. This is the most common approach because it is the least amount of work. The key of A is a good starting point. A, D and E are easy chords. The key of D is next. Learn the G chord and you have two keys that will let you play thousands of songs. The chords of D are D, G and A. This, and a capo, will allow you to accompany anyone in any key and that’s all you need to play along at a jam.

There are at least two ways to make progress, get better, as a guitarist. First you can learn another tune and perhaps some more chords. Second you can focus on musical technique. I think you should only learn a technique or a scale or a chord when you have a song that would benefit from using the new technique. This is where friends and the Pickers Circle can help you decide where you are going.

The focus of this website is to learn to play by ear. Not because it is the only way but because it is the way I learned and is not well documented like other approaches. Playing by ear is also much more common among really good players than you might have heard from your piano teacher.

On to Playing by Ear.