When you’re just starting out, learning the guitar can be overwhelming. As a beginner, you’ll have loads of questions but you might not always know where to find the answers. So, as part of our ‘Ask Us Anything’ series, we’re answering all your guitar-related questions to help you play better and get the most out of your guitar practice.
So, here are the answers to the 11 most common beginner guitar questions you sent to us—enjoy!
1 - How do I start strumming on guitar?
Before you can start strumming correctly, you need to make sure you have the right posture. Make sure your guitar head is roughly at a 2 o’clock position and then strum from your wrist, not your elbow. Remember to keep your wrist nice and loose, use a thin pick (i.e. a 0.46), and hit the strings softly.
2 - How do I solo using scales?
The key to learning how to solo using scales is to learn one scale pattern at a time and to practice soloing only using this pattern . It takes time and happens step-by-step, so be patient, it’ll pay off!
3 - How do I play riffs?
To play a riff, you need to break the riff down into its smaller components, note-by-note. From here, slow down the tempo of the riff you’re playing so you can focus on playing the notes accurately and cleanly. Also, remove any rhythm from your strumming to better focus on purely hitting the right notes. As your accuracy improves, you can gradually bring the tempo back up to speed and introduce the rhythm!
4 - How can I improve hearing chord changes?
One trick to improve your musical ear when it comes to listening for chord changes is to listen to a change in the bass note. When the bass note changes, it’s easier to detect than some of the higher notes. From here, you can begin to work out whether you think the chord being played is major or minor—but this will take some training! Don’t expect to get this right away.
5 - How can I make playing A-shaped barre chords easier?
Firstly, to play barre chords correctly, you need to make sure your posture is correct. Playing A-shaped barre chords is especially hard as you use your ring finger to cover three strings at once. However, for some players, this is simply too painful. If that’s the case for you, try playing A-shaped barre chords using your index, middle, and ring fingers, rather than just your ring finger.
6 - How do I tune my guitar?
One great technique for a beginner guitarist is to use the 5th fret method to tune your guitar. However, you need to be sure that at least one of your strings is in tune to get this right. Instead, it’s more reliable to use a tuner or a tuner app such as the one available in Fretello to ensure all your strings are in tune.
To tune your guitar using a tuner app, all you need to do is pluck one of your strings and watch the needle. When the app needle moves to the middle of the screen, you know your string is close to being in tune. From here, simply turn that string’s peg clockwise or anti clockwise to either tighten or slacken the string until the needle is bang in the middle letting you know your string is in tune!
7 - How do I stop hitting other strings when I play?
To stop hitting other strings when you’re playing, make sure you are pressing the guitar strings using your finger tips. Ideally, your hand should make a C-shape when pressed away from the fretboard. If you play with the pads of your fingers, you’ll start to play unwanted strings. This also means that if you have long nails, you’ll need to trim them otherwise you won’t be able to play strings using the tips of your fingers!
8 - How do I become a guitarist like Shawn Mendes or Ed Sheeran?
First of all, you need to be practicing about 15 minutes a day if you want to start really improving. But, you need to make sure you have a practice routine that works for you. That could mean playing for 10 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening, or vice versa, for example. If it’s pop music that you want to learn, it’s a great idea to focus on learning the chords that most pop music is built from.
9 - How do I learn to play jazz music on guitar?
Jazz tends to use very different chord shapes than most other genres of music. This means that even if you’ve been learning guitar for many years, learning jazz can feel like you’re learning guitar from scratch all over again. If you want to learn jazz, a good place to start is to learn some of the popular three-finger jazz chords, plus a few standard jazz songs including Autumn Leaves and go from there!
10 - How do I stop my fretting hand from hurting while playing?
The best thing you can do to prevent your hand from hurting while you play is to make sure you’re sat in the correct posture. Keep the neck high, at around 2 o’clock, play from your wrist, and make sure you’re not gripping the neck of your guitar too hard.
11 - How do I take the CAGED system up and down the guitar neck?
The CAGED system states that there is a pattern for all the C,A,G,E, and D major and minor scales and chords. To move these up and down the neck it’s best to focus on one or two of these patterns first and start experimenting with these up and down the fretboard. Eventually, you can start to add a new pattern.
Next, look for phrases and licks that can’t be played in one pattern, but can be played in another. Then look for phrases that can link between the patterns!
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