Introduction: How to Play Guitar

Picture of How to Play Guitar

This instructible is based at complete beginners if you have played the guitar before then some of this may seem very obvious but if you haven't its not!

Step 1: Getting a Guitar

Picture of Getting a Guitar

Guitars can cost anything from about £5 (~$10) for a second hand acoustic in a charity shop to thousands of pounds. When you are a beginner just about anything you can get will do as long as it is not too damaged and has 6 strings, you can always upgrade it later.

If you have an electric guitar you will need an amp and lead (see pictures) but whatever you have you have I would recommend buying a plectrum (A.K.A pick) choose a medium or light type as they are most suited to beginners.

You could also get a tuner but they are not totally necessary (see next step)

Step 2: How to Tune Your Guitar

Picture of How to Tune Your Guitar

The easiest way to tune your guitar is to go here and twist the pegs at the top so the tones match up to whats coming out of the speakers for each string. You can also buy a tuner from a music shop but that would be an extra expense and the online on would do nearly as well.

You will need to know which string is which in order to tune the guitar so the strings from thinest to thickest are:
1st string (E)
2nd string (B)
3rd string (G)
4th string (D)
5th string (A)
6th string (E)

Sometimes you may have to drop tune your guitar this is quite easy to do you simply tune the 6th string to whatever note the drop is, e.g. for drop D you would tune the 6th string to D.

Step 3: Your First Tune

Picture of Your First Tune

The easiest way to play the guitar is to learn guitar tab the six lines represent the six guitar strings the top one is the 6th string and the bottom one is the 1st string. The numbers represent which fret to put your finger on 0 is open string and the others go up in order.

The second picture shows how to put your hand on the back of the guitar albeit roughly as it is very hard to photograph your own hand on the back of the fingerboard holding the guitar right.

The third picture shows where I normally have my right hand. I was taught to use my thumb to pluck the first 3 strings and my next two fingers for the other 3 but if you use a plectrum this is irrelevant.

On your left hand try to use your first finger for the first fret, your second finger for the second fret, your third finger for you third fret and for numbers higher than that slide your hand up so your first finger is over the fourth fret etc.

For your first tune try the futurama theme (thanks to Nicolas Denis from, if you don't know how its meant to go listen to this.


Step 4: Chords

Picture of Chords
Playing chords is easy you just put your fingers on the right frets and strum down the strings (you don't strum down all the strings on all chords, the Os above the frets show to strum that as an open string but if there is no O then you don't strum that string and the numbers show which finger to put on which fret). Once you get used to the chords try practice changing between them and then when you get used to that try changing quickly as it is necessary in songs.

E (1st pic) 6 5 4 3 2 1  o_______o_o |_|_|_1_|_| |_2_3_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|

A (2nd Pic)6 5 4 3 2 1  __o_______o |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_1_2_3_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|

D (3rd Pic) 6 5 4 3 2 1  ____o______ |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_1_|_2 |_|_|_|_3_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|

 C(4th Pic) 6 5 4 3 2 1  ______o___o |_|_|_|_1_| |_|_2_|_|_| |_3_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|

G 6 5 4 3 2 1  ____o_o_o__ |_|_|_|_|_| |_1_|_|_|_| 2_|_|_|_|_3 |_|_|_|_|_| |_|_|_|_|_|
There are obviously many more chords than this, these are just a few. If you search google for chord diagrams then you will be able to get many more. This is the website I used for these.

Step 5: 3 Chord Songs

Picture of 3 Chord Songs
All credit goes to gmoon for this step he provided all these songs and this is literally copied and pasted from his comment. Thanks :-)

There must be thousands of 3 chord songs....Lots of classic american country (hank williams, woody guthrie, etc.)

Basic 12 bar blues in A (basis of lots of rock n roll/rock/pop songs):

A A A A / D D A A / E D A E

Normally it's bit more complicated for the right 'flavor' (and there are unlimited variations...):

A D7 A A7 / D7 D7 A A7 / E7 D7 A7 E7
(you can look these up here (they are dominant 7th).

But the major chords alone are a good place to start.

'La Bamba'--(normally in C : C/F/G) but in key of A is:

A D E (repeat..repeat...)
In C it is C F G F (but for that you will have to learn F)

Or "Blowin' In The Wind" by Bob Dylan. In the key of A the chords are A, D, and E...(I, IV, V.)

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

(you can figure out the rest...)

'Sweet Jane' (Lou Reed) is:

Standin' on a corner..


(chorus, repeat 4 times)

Sweet Jane

(I used underscores because using spaces wouldn't work.)

Step 6: What to Do Now

Picture of What to Do Now

You've learned the basics but now what you could do?

If you want to learn more chords there are chord diagrams here

For guitar tabs try here or here a quick google search renders lots of results. Most will be too hard for you as a beginner so try going to a music shop and seeing what they would recommend.

As for reading notation that would be for a different instructible!

But if you have anything to add feel free as i have enabled collaboration on this instructible.

Good Luck :-)


Cali1213 (author)2013-06-22

Yea this info is kinda basic... I got some good info about basic chords and some easy guitar songs that you can learn right online (through instructional videos) on it was pretty helpful !!

good luck keep strumming!

Gamerboy4life (author)2011-10-25

Overall, it is not bad. But it is not the best guide I have ever seen.



But that out of the way, It was informative, relatively accurate, although you need to stop referring to the strings as 1-2-3 etc etc. Refer to them as EADGBE and so on.

Remember this:


Also, I feel you butchered the chord and song parts of your guide. You need to provide tab PICTURES. I have been playing guitar for a long, LONG while, and even for me it is hard to read "internet tabs"

Take a picture, or show them to Ultimate Guitar or something.

Score IMHO: 3/5. Decent. But not terrible. It had several butchered qualities, but also some redeeming ones.

Jamez Britton (author)2011-09-23

I tune my acoustic guitar to itself.

Merugop (author)2011-08-13

Hey dude long time since i was on Instructables. (stupid school <.<) i've bought my first guitar a green fender squier strat hss affinity (stratocoaster) 125 euro (got an guitar bag, amplifier and cables for free) andi learned a few songs Hey there Delilah Stairway to heaven except the solo. Fireflies (ith had barrés 0.o) and WIth Me (Sum 41) and i tried some tabs but they confuse me when they say like ----P5-S3 etc. Can you make an advnced tab guide?

yaly (author)2011-07-05

Isn't there C and F like in piano?

Derpancakes (author)2011-01-20

Hey.... what Pacifica is that?? I have a 112J

dannyo013 (author)2011-01-04

If youve played long enough, you can tune a guitar almost perfectly with just an amp, a pick, and your bare hands. Just pick a single string and pick it, then tune as needed.

nfk11 (author)2010-12-18

me know 3 song.iron man,eye of the tiger andsilent night.

jugglingninja33 (author)2010-11-13

If you have an acoustic guitar, you will need a tuner with an external mic. If your acoustic can plug in though, it's not necessary.

pindalanderz (author)2008-05-03

always remember:" The Easter Bunny Gets Drunk At Easter"--thats the tuning from bottom to top, or at least how i remember it.

bowmaster (author)pindalanderz2008-07-11

Heres is top to bottom:Ed Ate Dung Good Bye Ed

pindalanderz (author)bowmaster2008-07-12

haha. thats a good one. my friend uses that except instead of dung he uses dynamite

bowmaster (author)pindalanderz2008-07-12

I was in a hurry and did not know how to spell dynamite.

MegaMaker (author)bowmaster2009-06-22

Elephants and dogs grow big ears. Kinda depends on the dog.

cloggy01 (author)MegaMaker2010-11-10

aha thats funny i use "Elephants and Donkeys grow big ears" :D

bowmaster (author)MegaMaker2009-06-22

Even ants do giant butt earrings.

pyro man (author)pindalanderz2009-01-17

i do "every average dude gets busted eventually"

Merugop (author)pyro man2010-09-05

Lol epic.

thats smart but how do u remember if its drop d,f,e,a,or b???

usually you don't remember for those tunings but if you know how to tune your guitar to that tuning then you should be able to remember fairly well.

Metal4God (author)2007-06-12

when you tabbed the E chord you put the EM chord i posting an instructable like this but its going to be more detailed. its going to show wich guitar to get fre acoustic and an elctric. now your elctric guitar is it a REAL fender strat or one of thoes $20 wannabes

gmoon (author)Metal4God2007-06-12

Let's keep name-brand snobbery out of it--I'd personally prefer a Fender, but if you want to 'rip,' the Yamaha is probably a better guitar for metal, etc. Yamaha's are extremely well-made guitars, very high manuf standards. And the Epiphone ain't shabby either....

There is no one best guitar for everyone, beginner or otherwise. It depends on your hand size, style of music you enjoy, techniques you'd like to learn, etc.

IMO, you're better off trying several guitars at more than one music store, that can help cut through the sales BS.

Merugop (author)gmoon2010-09-05

D oyou know what guitar is good for like Avenged sevenfold Music i like the lead guitar and the rytm guitar

gmoon (author)Merugop2010-09-06

I'd go to your local GuitarCenter or other music store, and try out the guitars and amps. One will feel right.

Metal4God (author)gmoon2007-06-12

Sorry I didn't mean to be mean I just wanted to know if it was a fender thats all because i have a fender wannabe. It looks like a red fender strat only its a hammer by slammer. and the best guitars for metal are either any of the BC rich guitars or the Gibson SG. Your acoustic is cool because my dad has an electric/acoustic Epiphone. Its the black to orange fade and its 14-16 years old. it also the first guitar i ever played I have a Squire SA100 and it has great sound to it. I think the Les Paul guitars are the best electric guitars and Taylor guitars are the best for acoustic. I have also been playing guitar for about 3 years. and Im only 12

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-11

OOH! Can i unveil my Dad's party piece of guitars? He has a 1967 Rickenbacker 330, in jet black. Look at the prices of those and cry ;-)

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-11

that that is a beutiful guitar

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-11

It's gorgeous to play, really low action and a neck that i can touch my little finger and thumb together around.

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-11

wow but thiner necks are kinda bad. they dammage easy and i think its easeier to play with a thick neck (like strats and prs se's )

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-11

Eww.. no. Thin necks are much easier to play, they take less effort when changing chords. When you're beginning, however, I would recommend a thicker neck however because the chances of hitting a wrong string are lower.

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-11

i have play many guitars ibenaz jackson bcrich gibson and fender and i have to say i have to say i like the thincker neck better

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-11

Oooh, I hate BC Rich guitars, they're too poser-ish. As are V's, what with being impractically big and having a stupid looking tremolo.

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-11

ok i haven't tried bc rich but you have to admit they are cool

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-11

OH NO I DON'T I absolutely despise them, especially the Warlock. They're the kind of things that 11 years olds play to act cool even though thy learnt a week ago. (No offense, people)

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-11
i dont think this gus 11

whatsisface (author)Metal4God2007-09-18

It reiterates my point about poser-ish though. Those guitars are not at all good if you play any sort of variety in your music, they can play metal, scream it in fact but they're no practical and far to expensive for a one trick pony.

Metal4God (author)whatsisface2007-09-18

i play metal and thats about it

peach_fart (author)Metal4God2008-10-03

you can tell that because of your name

Metal4God (author)peach_fart2008-10-04

_ hehe i like metal

peach_fart (author)Metal4God2008-10-04

music or like steel, aluminum, tin copper, etc.(is that a metal?)?

Metal4God (author)peach_fart2008-10-05

nooo metal music

peach_fart (author)Metal4God2008-10-10

yeah dragonforce is awesome.

peach_fart (author)peach_fart2008-10-25

ttfaf mp3!

uberchoob (author)whatsisface2007-12-15

Second. Get a nice fernandes revolver if you want a bag full of tricks. The sustainer module on those things is INSANE!!! By the way, I thought gus kinda sucked... I try not to say that about people who are still better than me... sooooo, I've got no problem saying it here because he ain't.

clark (author)whatsisface2007-12-06

any guitar looks poserish unless you can actually play it. quite honestly, the only reason why i want a b.c. warlock is because they sound amazing.

uberchoob (author)Metal4God2007-12-12

Ouch... Gibson SG for metal?! Alright, metal style is defined by speed rifs and extreme dives/shrills with a tremelo bar. Ibanez, Jackson, and ESP are excellent for such a style because they have super thin necks for speed rifs, and have exceptional tremelo systems (mainly thinking ibanez here, but the other two mentioned usually have a floyd rose type bridge, still very nice.)

Metal4God (author)uberchoob2007-12-13

i some times don't put my thumb on the necuk for saster riffs, i keep it up but not on. also Ibenez have flat necks

uberchoob (author)Metal4God2007-12-15

Nice, does it take long to get used to playing like that??

Metal4God (author)uberchoob2007-12-16

not very. like a week, it's super easy, and i can play ALOT faster!

uberchoob (author)Metal4God2007-12-18

Sweet, I'll have to try that on my friend's lespaul. He's really hung up on the HUGE 50's style necks... bah.

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