In this day and age of the Internet, the only real need for a private instructor is to learn advanced methods and techniques from a professional. If you are just starting out, there is a wealth of free, self-explanatory knowledge on the Internet and since the vastness of cyberspace can seem daunting, I’ve gathered the best of the best to help you become a rockin’ guitarist in no time, plus your pockets will be a little heavier at the end of the day. Before you start learning the basics of a guitar you can choose a guitar that is perfect for you. In this case, HappyNewGuitarDay.com is there to help you.
First, you must know how to tune your guitar. http://www.gieson.com/Library/projects/utilities/tuner/ is a free tuner source that uses an actual guitar sound instead of a midi sound. You can also download the tuner to your computer so you can use it when an Internet connection isn’t available. You will need Flash Player installed to see the program. Once your guitar is properly tuned, your chords won’t sound like a dying animal. This website also has a little video that shows you how to restring an electric guitar. Stringing an acoustic guitar isn’t that much different.
A relatively new website called http://www.looknohands.com/chordhouse is the best free resource on the Internet for every chord imaginable, plus for beginners, it lists the names of each string by default. It has two guitar pages, one for basic chords and another for advanced chords and it is a one-stop resource. You can choose your chord by using drop-down boxes and not only see the fingering but you can hear the chord and play along until you get it right. It will play the chord one string at a time and then the full chord. This feature is also a great reference if you are a little rusty or come across a rare chord or two in a song.
I recommend learning a few basic chords first before you tackle a song. These chords are A, B, C, D, E, F, G and some other frequent-flyers like Em, Am, B7, etc, but learn A through G first. Once you start looking at the chords used in your favorite songs, you will know which other chords are commonly used. Just go back to this website and put them to memory.
Those with smaller hands will have difficulty with the B and F chords and variations and they need some more practice and muscle-memory to become quick on these. Sometimes a guitar with a thinner neck is needed for people with smaller hands. Some cheap guitar manufactures have it all wrong. They make child-sized guitars yet they have a regular width next. Always go to a music store to try out different sized necks before making a decision on your guitar. For women, http://www.daisyrock.com/ makes guitars with thinner necks but they don’t sell their products online. You have to do a search on their site to find a store in your area.
Next, you will want to put your chords to some good use. There are some excellent chord and tablature websites out there. I recommend going straight to sheet music with cords as you will see the actual name of the chord to be played where tablature shows where your fingers should be for each chord and sometimes if written by novices, doesn’t tell you the chord name. Tablature is good for guitar solos and a specific artist’s technique, otherwise, I recommend staying away from tabs.
Start out at www.ultimate-guitar.com as pretty much any song you can imagine is found there. You can search for a song or band name. Once you pick a song to look at, you will see that there might be more than one version, but lucky for you, others have already rated which one is best. Try out with the version with the most stars. Ninety-nine percent of the time it will also be the best version for you.
Next to each song, you will see chords, tab or Guitar Pro. Guitar Pro is software that allows you to download the chords onto your machine and have it play itself back at any tempo you choose. These Guitar Pro downloads were made by users like me and you and some are complete with each instrument where others just have the main tune. While this software is not needed it can come in handy and I use it on harder songs, especially because it is true sheet music and as a classically-trained musician I sometimes do better with the big picture and the structure of sheet music. You can try Guitar Pro 5 for free by visiting http://www.guitar-pro.com.
Even though you may want to jump right to your favorite songs, it might be better for those with no previous training to stick to songs that are comprised of less-complicated chords and regular strumming. It’s always a good idea to master the basics before you move on to trickier riffs. Plus, not all songs with seemingly straight-forward chords are as they seem. A couple of key tips will help you out with certain requirements that are not always explained on the sheet music.
Some songs might have straight-forward chords yet when you play along with the song it is a key or two off. If this happens, check the top of your sheet music to see if a capo is used and on what fret it should be placed on. A capo is a device that holds down all of the strings on any of the frets to create a higher tone. If you have the capo on the third fret and you have to play a C, you still play the C as you normally would without the capo, but you start it on the first available fret. It won’t sound like a C but this is just how it works. Musicians will use the capo when performing a song that is normally too low for their voice and some songs like Hotel California were written with the capo on higher frets, to begin with.
Sometimes you will have to tune down a half-step. For instance, some Green Day songs are tuned to E flat, which is a half step down for all strings. Some other songs only require that the low E string be tuned down a half-step. You can either do this by ear or purchase a guitar tuner to help you out. Another good free resource is at http://www.musiceffect.com/tuner as it lists all tunings imaginable.
These websites are all very clear-cut and should take the mystery out of learning to play the guitar. These are just a few of the many sites available to the novice player. A quick search will open you up to the vast world of free guitar tabs, lessons and online communities ready to help you out in a pinch.