Guitar Lessons For Beginners (Start Here)

Getting started as a guitarist can be daunting – maybe you’ve bought your first guitar already, or maybe you’re waiting to find the right guitar lessons for beginners first before pulling the trigger on your new axe. I personally learned the oldschool way by attending a half hour lesson in my home town many moons ago (I started learning around 1990), and if I can be honest – spent way too long in the beginner stage before moving on to playing the songs that I wanted to play. This extended process of learning pages of music theory and basically being treated like I wasn’t worthy of my first guitar really stunted my growth as a guitarist in the early days – remember the episode of Friends where Phoebe wraps Joey across the knuckles for “touching the guitar before he was ready”? I had a similar experience, and made very little progress until one little thing changed in my approach to learning guitar.

Fortunately, I found a new teacher that changed absolutely everything for me by teaching me all the fundamentals required to become a great guitar player, and showing me how to put them in practice by working through songs of my choice using these foundation techniques. The learning curve was initially very steep in the ‘old model’ of theory first, and playing second – but this new Foundation First approach could only be described as a steady improvement curve. Every time I learned another one of my favourite songs, my technique improved. It really was a win-win situation for me; the more songs I learned, the better I became and the more challenging songs I could then approach.

Almost 30 years down the track I have now structured my own approach to guitar fundamentals to make the process of learning guitar even more streamlined, simple and easy to follow.

Learning How To Play Guitar Online

You might think that having guitar videos at the click of a button on YouTube makes the process of learning to play guitar easier for you – but the truth is, half of these videos are either far too advanced for your currently abilities as a beginner guitarist, or, they’re created by other beginner to intermediate guitarists who themselves are struggling with various habits and limitations in their playing ability, and are likely to pass on these same bad habits to you. I found that many of the guitar lesson VHS tapes I purchased as a kid in the 90’s had a similar disheartening effect on my playing – at the time I simply couldn’t keep up with guitarists like Paul Gilbert and Zakk Wylde with their super fast delivery and extreme chops, when I was personally still struggling with the fundamentals and my ability to play with clear articulation. In the beginning stages of learning to play guitar, faster isn’t necessarily better, instead, better technique will let you play and improve faster.

This all absolutely changed when I went back to the fundamentals and realised that I really was missing quite a few of the foundation elements of guitar technique, and my playing was incredibly uneven between techniques like picking, hammer-ons, legato, strumming and my knowledge of scales and chords. After all, what is the point of being a shred master if you can’t play a simple chord progression?

By attacking the foundation elements of guitar in a structured and simple way, my playing made much more progress in a short time – and I very quickly surpassed the level of the guitar teachers in my area and started to teach others how to reach the same levels of success with the very simple progress of guitar fundamentals.

Just like the fundamentals of learning how to sing, the fundamentals of playing guitar really are like the ‘house’ that your guitar playing is built upon; the rock solid base that your guitar chops are being built on each day as a practice and learn new songs. A great place to start with guitar lessons for beginners is the Guitar Fundamentals course available here at Bohemian Guitar Studio, in which you will learn;

  • Get to know your guitar
  • Guitar fundamentals (Posture, Holding the pick, Fretting basics)
  • Changing strings and tuning your guitar (plus 5 rookie mistakes)
  • Playing melodies
  • Reading guitar tab and chord charts
  • Basic Chords and Barre Chord patterns
  • Left hand technique (hammer-ons, Pull-offs, slides)
  • Right hand technique (strumming, alternate picking, down picking, finger picking)
  • Hand communication
  • The Major, Minor and Blues Scales
  • Basic soloing elements
  • Warmup Exercises

With this streamlined and well structured approach to learning the fundamentals of guitar, it’s never been easier to learn to play guitar correctly.

If you have any questions about guitar lessons for beginners, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

Are You Struggling To Learn Guitar Chords? (This Really Worked For Me!)

Learning the basic guitar chords like C, D and Em is pretty easy, right? But what about more challenging chords like a Bminor or the weirder ones like 7th chords, Diminished and add9 chords? These advanced level guitar chords used to make my head spin until I learned this simply trick for deciphering guitar chord charts and the incredible pattern that will allow you to play ANY chord ever created. This really worked for me, and it’s going to open up your guitar playing like never before – let me share with you the secret to playing guitar chords like a pro.

You’ve probably looked up guitar tabs for your favourite songs before – and find chord based songs pretty easy when they’re the common straightforward open chords like C major and E minor, but half way through the song the band throws in a totally weird chord that you’ve never heard of before, and one that you’re really struggling to remember from the overwhelming chaos that guitar tabs sometimes can seem like. How can you learn guitar chords quickly and easily, and is there a better way to play tricky chords that doesn’t require you to remember a million different chord structures and positions? Of course there is – so let’s get down to business.

How To Read Guitar Chord Charts

I remember having a guitar chord chart poster on my wall as a kid, and honestly, I never used the damn thing because it was just too damn hard to read. For starters, the guitar neck seems to be vertical on these diagrams, and I sure as hell wasn’t playing with my guitar pointing towards the sky, and secondly, there was no key for what all the markings, dots and numbers really meant on these charts – so beyond the very basic chords along the first few lines, things just became to complicated to follow towards the trickier chords at the bottom of the chart.

The secret to reading guitar chord charts with ease is this simple key that I’ve put together;

Now, you advanced guys that have been playing for 10, 20 or even 30 years like me might find this key a little old-hat, but I would have killed for this simple key to reading guitar chord charts in my early days, and I really wonder now why it wasn’t included on that guitar chart poster that seemed to taunt me as a kid. The reason I’m sharing this simple trick with you, is the fact that I wasn’t a “naturally gifted” guitarist, I’ve worked hard for the progress and success that I’ve enjoyed over the past three decades of studying the guitar – and I want to share with you just how simple it can be to improve your guitar playing. The ability to read guitar chord charts, along with basics like holding your pick correctly, a healthy posture, correct picking and fretting technique and other fundamental techniques like hammer-ons, slides, pull-offs and barre chords really do make up the “foundation” of your guitar playing ability. If your foundation sucks, then you’re really going to struggle when it comes to more advanced level songs that require you to build upon these foundations. In the same way that foundation is key to a great singing voice, a rock solid foundation really is key to becoming a better guitar player too – don’t shrug off the basics, they’re the mortar and glue that holds together an advanced guitarists’ technique.

Now, open chords follow their own rules and patterns, so it’s worthwhile using this key the learn the bulk of your open-position chords that involve open strings that aren’t fretted, because some of these chord patterns are really unique to the open position when you play – but as you ascend up the neck and learn about inversions and different positions along the neck, there is a set of specific patterns that actually repeat for EVERY single chord. A great example of this is a Bminor chord that is barred from the second fret on the A string (fifth string) of your guitar – this position can actually moved along to ANY fret on your guitar to change the key of this chord using exactly the same pattern – pretty cool, right? Well, the same goes for almost every other chord type, right through to advanced chord variations. All you need to do to play ANY chord, no matter the key, is memorise this one simple pattern just like the B minor barre chord to absolutely unlock your fretboard and release you from the ‘beginner’ sound that open chords often trap you in. Let me share with you this simple trick for learning any chord;

These simple patterns can be played at any position along the fretboard and your chord library will immediately grow ten fold!

Learning how to play barre chords in this manner really opened up my own ability to play my own favourite songs by my guitar heroes like Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Nirvana – and also allowed me to start writing my own songs and start structuring my own progressions while understanding what made a great song ‘great’ in the first place. This also set the stage for incredible lead guitar technique too, and made the process of structuring solos over complicated progressions much easier as I started to notice these patterns all throughout my favourite songs, and also songs I have written myself.

Barre Chords really are the key to fluid movement around the fretboard as a rhythm guitarist!

If you have any questions about barre chords or these simple but effective chord patterns, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

How To Read Guitar Chord Charts

Reading guitar chord charts is an important skill when learning how to play guitar – and will carry through as an important tool even as you become more advanced and start learning more challenging chords. Fortunately, learning how to read guitar chord charts is super easy using the following guide.

Starting with chords really is one of the best ways to improve your guitar playing skills. Scales can be overwhelming, and sprawling songs really can bring a beginner guitarist undone – but guitar chord charts really are magic because they show you exactly how to play the chord, and you’ll immediately hear any issues in your technique or whether you’re making an error with the chord; either the chord will just sound ‘wrong’, or you’ll hear fret buzz and other artifacts that don’t belong in a nicely played chord.

What is a guitar chord, and what is a guitar chord chart?

Chords are a series of musical notes played together in union, in the case of guitar strummed, creating a set of harmonious pitches.

A guitar chord chart is a simple way to learn and identify new chords when you are playing guitar. Over time you will learn to memorise the common basic chords like C, Em, G, F etc, but more challenging chords might not necessarily be in your repetoire, and a quick glance at the chord diagram will have you playing that tricky D#MinAdd9 in no time flat. The secret to reading guitar chord charts is to learn the following key;

Diagram 1. In the first diagram, we see an Open chord, where the open/unfretted strings are either left to ring at their original pitch, or muted to avoid disharmony. The solid line at the top indicated the nut of the guitar, where the strings are held before running to the tuning heads. The lighter horizontal lines indicate the literal frets (the metal bars set into the neck at various intervals), and the vertical lines indicate the strings themselves.

The “X” indicates a muted string that does not ring/is not played, the open “O” indicates an open string which is left to ring in the chord, and the solid dots are fretted notes – often marked with a number as in diagram two, indicating which finger should fret the note;

  • Finger 1 – Index Finger
  • Finger 2 – Middle Finger
  • Finger 3 – Ring Finger
  • Finger 4 – Pinky Finger

Diagram 2.  In the second diagram, we see a barre chord (Commonly referred to as a Bar Chord). The solid line running through the centre of a fret is a barre usually created by the index finger lying across each string – the number found next to this bar indicates the fret number at which the barre is created. The number indicated in the fretted note itself indicates the suggested finger to use in the chord as above.

As you can see, chord diagrams are easy with this simple key. I encourage you to get started learning some beginner chords using the simple key to guitar chords.

Do you have any questions about how to read guitar chord charts? let me know in the comments below!


How To Improve My Guitar Playing [5 Tips]

Learning how to play guitar takes time and practice, but with these 5 easy tips you’ll no longer be asking yourself “how to improve my guitar playing” and instead you’ll start asking “what song can I learn next!”. Guitar playing is ultimately a game of coordination that requires a controlled touch rather than muscular force. Are you ready to find out how to improve your guitar playing? Let’s get started!

#1 – Stop clamping

The neck of a guitar isn’t a baseball bat or a weapon, so stop gripping it like your life depends on it and learn to release and fret your notes properly instead. Clamping the neck of the guitar is a bad habit often formed very early on in a guitarist’s progress, so make sure you set up the foundation elements of guitar playing like your posture and hold the guitar properly so that you’re not creating strain or grappling with your guitar – the guitar should feel like an extension of your body, not a dead weight that drags you down. It might be an axe, but it’s not a weapon… stop wielding it like one and let your guitar strap or the way you’re sitting hold the guitar in place for you, let go and simply focus on fretting your notes properly without clamping your thumb down on the neck.

#2 – Coordination and balance

I often espouse the importance of balance and coordination in singing, but it’s the same premise with guitar – you need to coordinate your two hands while balancing every aspect of your guitar playing, from how you fret the notes to your tone. A great way to develop coordination between your two hands is to practice chords and licks separately, first with your left hand, and secondly with your right hand. The more comfortable you are with each element of your guitar playing, the quicker you will be able to add them together and play songs with confidence and perfect timing. Practice your left hand chord shapes while watching TV, or practice your right hand strumming and picking technique while your favourite show plays in the background – the more natural and ‘unintentional’ you make your guitar playing, the sooner you will learn to balance and coordinate your guitar playing hands.

#3 – Timing is key

It’s not just the drummer’s job to keep time in a band, you first must learn how to keep your own time. This is key to becoming a great guitarist. Any timing flubs will leave you sounding sloppy and unrehearsed – the better your timing is the better your guitar playing will be overall. Try to count out loud when you practice chords or your favourite songs, or tap your foot along to the beat. The better your timing is, the sooner you can progress onto more complicated songs with varied times and styles. Timing will also help with #4 –

#4 – Sing and play guitar at the same time

Treating your singing voice and guitar playing as “One” instrument is a great way to improve both your voice and your guitar skills. If you want to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time, a great way to do it is to create central timing like this video demonstrates:

As you can see, focusing on your timing will allow you to recall muscle memory so that your guitar licks and the vocal line simply flow out without too much effort.

#5 – Foundation is key

Another key aspect of guitar playing that I also espouse in singing too is the foundation elements like posture and how you hold your guitar. In the same way that your breathing and posture ‘support’ your voice when you sing, your posture and the manner in which you fret your notes and pick your strings ‘support’ your guitar playing and serve as the perpetual motion engine that runs in the background while you focus on the chord changes and scales that make up each song you’ve learned.

These five tips will help you improve your guitar playing more than scales on their own could ever do. These foundation elements and key points have been an important part in my own journey as a guitarist over the last 25 years and really lay the base of your guitar technique when you start to learn more complicated techniques and tricky songs and licks which take your full attention away from the basics like chords and strumming.

Beginner Guitar Playing Tips

Along with releasing your claw grip on the guitar neck and setting up the foundations of your guitar technique, one of the best tips I can share with you about improving your guitar playing is that it’s more important HOW you play than WHAT you play. If you practice scales all day long, sure, you might get a little better and more confident, but if you play the same scale the RIGHT way, the time needed to build confidence and the learning curve will be much shorter and your guitar playing will be much more efficient. As an example, if you practice a major scale for two hours a day, five days a week – without holding your pick in the right manner, you’ve wasted 10 hours of your time that could have been better spent on countless other exercises. Now, if you practice the same scale, but you are careful to set up your foundation, hold your pick correctly, practice with intent and coordination and continually release any strain – you will master the scale in a matter of hours and you will be able to move onto the next scale or a more difficult song sooner.

A great place to start is the free foundations courses available here at Bohemian Guitar Studio which will show you how to set up a powerful base for your guitar playing so that you can focus on improving your guitar playing without chasing your tail on the basics.

If you have any questions about learning how to play guitar better, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

How To Play Major Chords On Guitar

Playing Major Chords on Guitar is one of the very first things you should learn how to do on your journey towards becoming a great guitarist. Major chords are known for their bright and ‘happy’ disposition, unlike Minor chords which are known for their dark and ‘sad’ character. Major chords are found in absolutely every song and often to set the mood of the song, or even resolve a song at it’s climax in a pleasant way.

There are a number of different positions and ways to play major chords on guitar, but for this tutorial we’re going to focus on the first position at the very base of the guitar neck where the guitar tuning knobs sit. Aside from B and F, these chords are sometimes referred to as ‘open’ chords, or open string chords – not to be confused with open tuning. Before we get started, it’s important that you memorise the names of each of the strings on your guitar. The thickest string on the guitar, the one at the top when you sit down with your guitar is the E string, or ‘Low’ E string. Going down towards the second thickest string on the guitar we have the A string, followed by the D, G, B and finally the ‘High’ E string being the thinnest string on your guitar.

EADGBE – Every Angry Dude Goes Bananas Eventually

Are you ready to learn some major chords?

How to play the C Major chord on guitar

C Major is a very common chord that features in many popular and hit songs and is one of the easiest chords to play as a beginner. Starting with the right finger on your left hand on the 3rd fret of the A string (this is the second thickest string on your guitar), you simply then place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (third thickest) and finally your index finger on the first fret of the B string (the second thinnest string). One of the key factors in playing a C chord is that you actually start strumming from the A string instead of the E string (the thickest string on your guitar). It looks like this:

C Major Chord

How  to play the D Major chord on guitar

The D Major chord is another common chord featured in many famous songs, and is another relatively easy chord to master – even for a beginner! The D Major chord is another chord that uses only a few of the strings on the guitar, so it’s a great place to start if you’re just learning how to play guitar chords. Now, starting with your index finger on the second fret of the G string (cheeky!), you simply position your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string and finally your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string. Now, the trick with playing a D Major chord is learning to start strumming from the D string itself, just like this diagram:

How To Play the E Major Chord on Guitar

The E Major chord is the easiest chord Major Chord you’ll ever learn to play and involves strumming every string on the guitar from low E to high E together. The E Major chord starts with your 2nd and 3rd fingers on the 2nd frets of the A and D string respectively, followed by your index finger on the 1st fret of the G string, like so:

How to Play The F Major Chord

The F Major can be particularly tricky, but is a great chord that will introduce you to the concept of barre chords and using your index finger as a ‘bar’ across every string of the guitar. Starting with a flat bar made by the side of your index finger across every string of the guitar, you then simply use your remaining fingers to fret the chord in a similar fashion to the E Major chord we just discovered above, like so:

Mastering the F chord is the best introduction to barre chords and will be a huge help when delve into barring each of your chords so you can play them in various position and gain easy access to absolutely every chord on the guitar in any possible position. For now, just treat it like one of your other open chords and don’t “fret” too much about perfecting the bar shape, that’s a lesson for another day.

How To Play The G Major Chord

The G Major Chord can be tricky at first, but is a very rewarding and pleasant sounding chord when you master it’s quirks. Another chord that features every string on the guitar, the G Major Chord also uses every finger on your left hand, starting with your index finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string and then your ring finger and pinky on the 3rd fret of the B and high E string respectively. The key to playing an effective G Major chord is to keep your left hand relaxed and not to push hard with your thumb – over time you will be able to fret your fingers much more efficiently without trying to ‘clamp’ them down on the guitar neck, but for now, just take it easy and try to relaxed your fingers and wrist as much as possible.

How To Play The A Major Chord

The A Major Chord is another easy one for you to master with a little practice. Again, starting from your A string, you simply fret the 2nd fret on the D, G and B strings using your index, middle and ring finger for this pretty sounding and simple chord, like so:

Remember, don’t hit that low E string when you strum the A Major chord or you will sound out of tune and dissonant!

How to play the B Major Chord on Guitar

B Major is another tricky chord like F Major in that it involves a Barre shape and again avoids strumming of the low E string, when you play it, but this time around, there are two different ways to implement a bar. You can either bar your index finger from the second fret on the A string right through to the high E string and fret the remaining notes on the 4th fret of the D, G and B strings with your middle, ring and pinky finger – or, you can simplify the chord by doing a bar with the your ring finger on the 4th fret from the D string, like so:

These basic chord shapes are the absolute best way to learn how to play Major chords on guitar, as they not only show you the base shapes for each of the main major chords, not including sharps and flats (we’ll get to that soon!) of course, but they also show you the two main barre shapes starting on the E string (F Major) and the A string (B Major).

With these basic shapes, you can start stretching your fingers and developing coordination between your hands by changing between each chord on this list while practising various strumming patterns to loosen up your hands and free your mind. We’ll look at taking these bar chords elsewhere on the fretboard soon, but for now, check out this guide on how to play Minor Chords on the Guitar so that you can start playing actual songs!

If you have any questions about playing Major Chords on the guitar, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!


How To Play Guitar and Sing at the Same Time

Learning how to play guitar takes time, and learning how to sing takes time – but what about learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time? If you’re nailing the guitar parts, and you can sing your hear out, but the two seem to meet together in a train-wreck of missed cues and off timing, you’re in luck – here’s the best way to learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time.

The first thing you need to do is absolutely master your guitar parts so you can pump out the chords and riffs without a second through, and then adding in your vocal lines is a simple process of maintaining balance. Lets learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time.

Master your guitar parts

Memorising your guitar parts is easy to do, but is THE most important part of the equation that is playing guitar and singing at the same time. If you’re constantly looking down at your hands and searching for how to play the next chord (or the chord you just missed!), your singing will suffer greatly will effect your overall performance. By memorising your guitar parts and even learning how to play the full song with your eyes closed, or while watching TV, or while driving (I’m joking!), you allow yourself to focus on the balancing at that is singing in itself without your focus being drawn away from your breathing and pitch.

The best way to master your guitar parts in the process of learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time is to count out loud “One and Two and…” etc, considering the timing of the song you choose, so that your focus is on keeping time and counting rather than on chord changes and guitar licks. By counting and playing at the same time, you actually train the mechanism of balance between your fingers and your voice – master your guitar parts first for the quickest path towards your dreams of being a folk guitar master or screaming rock axeman.

Nail your vocal lines

The obvious next step is memorising your vocal lines so that they flow out without strain or too much thought. In the same way to counting will help you master your guitar parts, tapping along to the beat will allow you to connect the mechanism of your voice with your hands without too much effort. The more comfortable you are with your vocal lines and singing, the better the song will be when you bring it all together. If you’re struggling with the vocal lines, there’s a great free course and tons of free singing resources here.

Now that you’ve mastered your guitar parts and vocal lines respectively, it’s now time to bring them together with the central focus of timing. That means, when you play the guitar you focus on the timing in your head in the same way you do when you sing – this central point of ‘focus’ allows you to recall the muscle memory required in both guitar playing and also singing so that you can sing and play guitar at the same time with ease. Singing and playing guitar takes some time to master, but with this simple process you can shorten the learning curve and get started on the process of balancing between your axe and your voice.

5 Steps To Better Guitar Playing

If you’re having some trouble with your guitar parts and you feel like there’s just something you’re “missing” in the whole scheme of things, these 5 tips will absolutely change your life and change your guitar playing for the better!

#1 – It’s not a baseball bat

That’s right. Are you clamping the bejeezus out of the neck of the guitar when you play chords or attempt a guitar lick? Clamping hard with your hand puts strain on the thumb and engages your tendons in a way which really isn’t conducive to great guitar playing. Do you see Slash straining and flexing his arms when he shreds a Guns ‘N Roses solo? Of course not – because it’s a guitar, not a baseball bat. Stop clamping and release that thumb!

#2 – Foundation is key

In the same way I espouse the foundations of the voice for great singing, there are certain key fundamentals in guitar playing that you really should get down pat first before trying anything too strenuous. As un-Rock ‘n Roll as it is, posture and how you hold the guitar is an important part of learning to play guitar, along with how you hold the pick and general retaining a strain free and fluid posture. Is your foundation up to scratch?

#3 – Timing is key

Keeping time isn’t just the job of your drummer, it’s an important part of playing any instrument to a level of proficiency. If your timing is off, your playing will sound sloppy, and you will especially struggle when it comes to singing and playing guitar at the same time. Tap along with your foot if you have to, or buy a metronome, or even a metronome app for your phone and play, play, play!

#4 – Balance and Coordination

Guitar isn’t a muscular sport, it’s a process of balance and coordination that is similar to learning how to sing. You need to balance and coordinate both of your hands together in a fluid and well timed manner, not to mention timing and balancing your chord changes with timing, tone and timbre, volume, coordinating with other instruments and so on. Start slow and focus on balance between your left and right hands – a great guitarist controls their two hands individually but in a controlled and balanced way. If you’re getting out of time and there is fret buzz, string noise and a whole lotta sloppy mess when you play, it’s due to lack of balance.

#5 – Practice makes perfect

No really, it does. Continual practice is the only way to achieve mastery of your instrument, and guitar is no exception. I know, your favourite rock guitarists just threw on a guitar and played Stairway To Heaven perfectly the first time they tried, right? Wrong. Many famous guitarists often talk about the hours and hours spent, and lengths they went to to achieve the skill and ‘ease’ that you hear and see when you play your favourite records. Can you honestly say you’re investing enough time in your ability to play guitar and your ability to sing? You reap what you sow my friend, you reap what you sow.

Playing guitar and singing at the same time relies on every single step above, from constant practice right through to continually building your foundations. A great place to start is the free guitar foundations courses available here at Bohemian Guitar Studio which will show you how to balance your two hands while keeping two hands and ultimately achieve the tone and talent of your dreams.

If you have any questions about learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!