Things you Should Know if you Want to Start Playing the Guitar

By Swindon Link - 8 November 2021

Arts and Culture

Many people choose the guitar over all the other available instruments. This may be through a desire to emulate their favorite musicians, or because a parent has encouraged them.

Perhaps they saw Steve Harley in Swindon recently and admired his guitar playing skills.


Some people simply choose the guitar because to them it looks the coolest of all musical instruments. Others because they feel it may be easier to learn than perhaps the violin or the drums.


For any fan of the Beatles, John Lennon’s famous outburst of having blisters on his fingers will be well known. And if you are thinking of starting to play the guitar, you may want to be aware that you will indeed feel pain in your fingers just like Lennon at some point.


Aside from developing calluses, there are many other things you might want to know before you pick up your first guitar. 

Acoustic guitars and electric ones are not the same

When it comes to choosing a first guitar, there are numerous articles on the net about whether you should start with an acoustic or electric guitar.


There are of course obvious differences in how they sound, and how that sound is projected. If you were able to witness Saints of Sin rocking Swindon in September this year, you would know very well the sound that an electric guitar makes.


However, without an amp, they cannot project any sound at all. Electric guitars do allow guitarists to practice without disturbing others though, either without an amp or with headphones plugged in.


There are other less obvious differences though. The strings on an acoustic guitar are much heavier. It takes more effort to pluck acoustic strings than it does on an electric version and this means they are not suitable for all beginners. Children or those with smaller hands will especially find acoustic guitars harder to play. 

You will need to practice

You are no doubt aware that learning the guitar will require a certain amount of practice, and perhaps some lessons. But, you might not be aware of how much.


Learning some guitar chords from a music education website or from a teacher isn’t too difficult. However, becoming proficient at the guitar will take a lot of dedicated practice.


Sure, there are some guitarists whom the instrument seemed to just come naturally. Jimi Hendrix could do things with a guitar that most players cannot comprehend. Practice doesn’t mean playing until your fingers are bleeding, but it does mean allocating regular time to the instrument.


Learning the guitar is like going down a very long road that never really ends. You will be practising the instrument for the rest of your life if it gets its hooks into you. 

There is lots of help out there

You may find that you spend a lot of time alone noodling on your guitar, or deep in focused practice sessions.


However, playing the guitar doesn’t mean you are completely alone. There are a bunch of mobile apps and tools available to help guitar players improve. These apps range from aiding songwriters to teaching students to read music.


When it comes to learning chords for guitar beginners there are websites that can convert songs straight into readable chords. Music resources have never been so available to students as they are now.


If you prefer the more traditional route, then there are still plenty of private music teachers around who will be more than happy to help your development. 

You will be more sociable from playing the guitar

On the same theme as not being alone, your guitar can help you to improve your social life, and increase your circle of contacts.


Some apps allow musicians to share music online and reach out for guidance and collaboration. YouTube and other sites will let you upload your music where you can then share it with the world.


And of course, you can mix with other musicians in real life. If you get to a level where you are comfortable playing to other people then there will be opportunities available. Busking, playing open mic nights, joining local bands. These are all ways to get your music into the open and then to meet other people.

You might want to quit

There is a belief that many people are unable to play the guitar due to a lack of musical prowess. Most people fail at the guitar because they quit.


Some players plateau out after a while and subsequently lose interest in the guitar. Others struggle at the beginning and never reach anywhere near their potential.


Remember when you read above how you will need to practice and the learning is continuous? You may need to remind yourself of this from time to time.


If you feel that your progress is slowing and you are doubting yourself, just remind yourself that hard work always counts in the end. A music teacher may be able to get you over the hump and motivate you to continue, but don’t give up.

Learning the guitar is rewarding in surprising ways

Something you may not grasp is just how rewarding playing the guitar can be. You know now that there is a great support network available, and you may start meeting more musicians in the future.


What you might not know, is that you will receive a number of health benefits from playing the guitar. Learning any instrument in fact can aid mental wellness and physical health.


Onlymyhealth lists just 8 of the benefits your health receives from you playing the guitar. These include a stronger heart, fingers, and hands. Less stress, lower chance of certain illnesses including heart disease, and also better cognitive behaviors.


Learning the guitar can improve memory skills, and also help with cognitive health in later life. 

You can’t get stuck in one genre

While it is true that you should definitely play the music that you like, you should also try to expand your horizons.


If you only play one style of music then you will end up being a one-note guitarist. Session musicians get more work when their repertoire encompasses different genres and not just one.


Using one of the websites that convert songs to chords is an easy way to try out different styles of music than you would normally listen to. It will help you to improve and learn different techniques too. 

You will need to restring and tune your guitar

You can’t always just pick up your guitar and instantly play. The instrument will need tuning and you will need to learn how to do this. Fortunately, there are many gadgets and apps to help you to tune the guitar easily.


You will also have to replace your strings, perhaps more often than you realised. Always have a spare set of strings to hand when you are practicing or playing live. 


Last July, the BBC reported how guitar sales were booming as housebound individuals got their groove on. Many of these new guitarists would have been surprised at what they discovered after taking up the guitar.


There are many things to be aware of when starting any new hobby, but mostly you just need to remember to believe in yourself and understand that with practice comes progression.


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