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Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners

easy guitarWhen you start out learning how to play the guitar, one of the main goals (obviously) is to learn songs. One of the most common questions that I get from new students is when they will be able to play songs.

The truth is, you can play a song with simply two chords. As a matter of fact, you can actually play a song with just one chord. With a good teacher, you will be able to play easy guitar songs in no time. However, what exactly IS an easy guitar song?

From my experience, most new students want to play their favorite rock songs. Luckily, a lot of classic rock songs are very simple, use basic first position chords. This make learning the songs very easy.

A very popular song which is easy to start learning early on is “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. That songs has 3 chords which are D, C and G.

All you have to do to play that song somewhat successfully is to strum twice on D, twice on C and four strums on G. This is the whole song.

Of course there are some riffs and melodic phrases that require you to master some   technical elements. But, keeping it simple is fine and can be very gratifying indeed.

Another song that I often teach very early on with a new student is “Knocking On Heavens Door”, by Bob Dylan. This is a great rock anthem also made popular by Guns N’ Roses, so by learning this song, not only are you able to play some folk music, you can also claim to be playing an authentic rock n’ roll song.

“Knocking On Heavens Door” only has 4 chords. And guess what! Three of them are G, C and D! Yes, the same chords as we had in “Sweet Home Alabama.” All you need to learn is an extra chord which is A minor, and you are ready to play the song.

It is advised to play songs that are slow in the beginning. Although “Sweet Home Alabama” is medium tempo, slowing it down will still be fine and will sound good. “Knocking On Heavens Door” is in fact a slowly paced song, so although there are 4 chords in the song, it is quite easy as long as you take your time and play it at a tempo which suits you and that you are comfortable with.

If you feel that you are a fast learner, perhaps you should try “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. Again, the chords used in that song include  G, D, C, and you might already know those chords from having learned the two previous songs. “Wonderful Tonight” simply includes an E minor chord, ant that is it. This is also a song that is to be played slowly, so you can take your time and really master it with the proper tempo and speed.

The truth is, that once you have learned just a few of the chords in the first position, you will be able to play a ton of songs with the greatest of ease.  G, C and D are really the key chords to learning songs in all kinds of genres ranging from straight up rock n’ roll, to reggae.

Speaking of reggae, a super easy song to learn in this genre is No “Woman, No Cry”by Bob Marley.

So, master a few chords in the first position and you will be learning some easy, yet great songs and hits in no time.

Learn Guitar Online – How Effective Is It?

learning guitar onlineAs a guitar teacher, I always tell my students to learn as much as they can on their own. In my opinion, it is crucial that you do take lessons, and have an instructor to help you out in terms of technique, motivation and inspiration. However, the fact remains, that there is a lot of things you can do on your own to help yourself become a better player. One of these things is learning guitar online.

Learning guitar online these days is really effective. As a matter of fact, I have taught on SKYPE many times and it works quite well. I also teach by way of video lessons. Here, my online students have requested everything from beginning guitar lessons, to advanced blues and improvisation.  There are also a great deal of online guitar sites that have amazing and very qualified teachers who can show you a lot of useful things as well.

Learning guitar online is very possible to a certain extent. It will never replace the personal connection that one has with a private instructor. However, I tell my students to be like sponges. Absorb as much information as you can. This can be from personal instructors/teachers, bands, friends…..and ….online lessons.

I would even go as far as to say that learning things via YouTube is a great way to learn guitar online. There are a so many great guitar players out there who, thanks to YouTube, are able to teach what they know and inspire on a whole new level possible compared to even just a few years ago. Some of the videos on YouTube are super detailed and filmed in a very professional way so you can see everything that the teacher is showing you. Some videos have multiple camera views so you can see what is going on both with the right hand and the left hand as well. And the best part is that so many of these videos are free. When I was starting out learning how to play, the only outside source of learning away from my teacher was by listening to CD’s and buying instructional videotapes.

While learning guitar online is effective and a super addition to growing and learning, it will never replace the student/teacher relationship of a personal instructor. But it truly is a very power tool indeed to become great at your craft and honing your skills as a guitar player and student.

The Most Effective Way of Learning Guitar Solos

learning guitar soloAs a full time guitar, I get a lot of students who want to learn how to play guitar solos. Let’s face it; the lead player gets all the recognition and adulation. I clearly remember when I first started out playing guitar. I was trying to choose between being a rhythm player or a lead player. I thought that learning the rhythm part was an easy road and would complete me as a player in a shorter amount of time. However, my heroes turned out to be, Clapton, Marty Friedman, Slash, Angus Young and Eddie Van Halen. So much for being a rhythm player!!! I was hooked on learning solos!

The most effective way to learn guitar solos is to just do it! Try it! Obviously you have to master some basics first. You should be familiar with at least the pentatonic scale and the major and minor scale. In addition, you must learn a lot of technical elements such as bending, sliding, vibrato, trills, hammer-ons, pull-offs, staccato, legato, sweeping, harmonics etc etc. Remember, the technical elements are what bring your solo playing to life. Otherwise you would just be playing static and boring notes.

I want to stress the fact that you do not have to be a super technical virtuoso to play good solos. However, you should put some time aside to honing your skill and craft on a technical level to utilize your knowledge and be able to express yourself to the fullest of your guitar playing potential and ability.

A super effective way is to jam along to a backing track. You can find a ton of good backing tracks on YouTube. Or, perhaps you can ask your teacher to create some for you. If you are a somewhat decent guitar player already, you can make your own backing tracks as well using software such as GarageBand, or any other recording program you may have on your computer. You can also create a simple track using a tape recorder. It does not have to be super good quality. All that is needed is a good solid backing track that is played in time and uses the chords you want to improvise over.

Another effective way to learning guitar solos is to borrow some of the solos or riffs from your favorite guitar players. Once you master these riffs, see if you can incorporate them into your own solos.

You can try this over backing tracks as well. However, a real good way to test your solo playing is to improvise in your band if you have one. Trial and error are usually the key to learning to play guitar solos.

When I lived in Detroit and played in my many bands live, I would always try out a new riff or lick. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes not. The point is, by doing this, I learned what to play, and what NOT to play in my solos. This is a super effective way to improve your skills.

You may ask why I suggest that you should do this LIVE?

Well let’s face it. When you are practicing your soloing behind closed doors, nobody can hear your mistakes. However, in alive setting EVERYONE can hear it. In a live setting, you are on the spot, and this is the time to be the best that you can be. There is no other moment than the moment that you are in within that given time and place. Your concentration level is much higher than it is when you are merely practicing. In this way all the mistakes you make will be imprinted in your mind so you never do them again. And all the good things you do will stay in your mind as well, and you can then maintain those good things by doing them over and over again in your solos and perhaps even develop those things into greater solo or even actual songs. This is one of the keys to effectively learning great guitar soloing.

Learning Guitar Tabs for Beginners

One of the easiest ways to learn melodies, songs and solos on guitar is by learning how to read tabs. In short, tabs (or tablature) is music reading made easy and simple. You do not have to know about notes or conventional music reading (although it is helpful) to be able to learn how to utilize it.

I used to joke that reading tablature is the poor mans way of reading music. However, it really is very useful, and of course I have used it myself. Especially when I was a younger guitar player just starting out. In fact, tablature is a helpful introduction for associating notation with the fretboard.

Tabs have a way of giving you instant gratification because it really is so easy to learn and read. And the great thing is, that anyone can learn it. Even a child. Those of my own students that are under 10 years old are able to learn tabs within a few minutes. I love to teach my little students melodies and Christmas songs simply using tabs.

The concept of tabs is super easy. On the guitar, we of course have 6 strings. The guitar has frets on which you place your finger(s) to produce a note.

If the tablature indicates that you are to play a note on the 1st string of the guitar on the third fret, it will show just that.

All you have to do to play that written tablature note, is to place your finger (any finger) on the first string on the third fret and play that note. Simply pluck the first string while fretting the third fret of that same string.

Tabs can also indicate that you can play open notes (open strings) This is indicated by a 0(Zero.)

So, let us now assume that you have a song the has an open 1st string in it. The tabs will indicate that you must play the 1st string with a 0. So, you do not even have to fret any notes at all with your picking hand. All you have to do is play the open 1st string and you are already reading tablature with the greatest of ease.

One of the songs (riffs) that most new guitar players want to learn is “Smoke On The Water” by the classic rock band Deep Purple.

I want you to experience some magic here!

I will teach you that riff right now without me even being it the same room with you. Heck, you may be on a completely different continent, different country in a different time zone.

Here is a helpful tip though: If you can sing that riff, or know the rhythm of it, after reading this article, (and some practice) you will be able to play that riff on the first string. Ready???  Let’s go! :

You may chose any string on the guitar to play this on. Must young students prefer the low e string. But it also sounds good on the high e string. In fact, it sounds great on any string.

Pick a string and play the following sequence of notes:

0 3 5

0 3 6 5

0 3 5

3 0

All on one string only!

That is it. Congratulations! You can now play the “Smoke On The Water” riff based on any of the open strings using our simplified tablature lesson.

That is how easy it is to read, learn and understand guitar tabs for beginners.

Learning Guitar Chords – Guide For Beginners

It is important to realize, that when you play guitar, you will be playing a lot of chords. Chords are the backbone of a song on which a melody is played. Chords have the ability to move a simple melody or tune in many different directions.

There are many different types of chords and they can be varied and altered in many different ways.

So, how should you go about learning guitar chords as a beginner? This is exactly what we will be focusing on in this article.

I have a very simple way of viewing chords. There are two main chord types:

1.Major chords

2.Minor chords.

Almost every chord you play on guitar is going to have a major or a minor chord foundation to them. Every note you impose on those chords are simply additions to the two chord types. So, as a beginner, you should start out by learning the basic major and minor chords in the first position.

You also want to train your ear to hear whether the chord is major or minor sounding (This is often referred to as chord quality.)

Whenever I have a new beginner student, I always start out by teaching the E major chord, and the E minor chord. Once those chords have been mastered, we move on to A major and A minor. After that, we work on switching between the chords. One of the hardest things to learn in the beginning is switching between the different chords. It is indeed a physical challenge that needs to be practiced as often as possible. However, the good news is that once learned, switching between chords get easy over time. In addition, some chord changes (chord progressions) are actually the same in many songs. For instance, if you can learn to switch between G, C and D, you will already be ready to be able to play a wide variety of songs throughout many genres.

Once you master the basic first position major and minor chords, you may “graduate” to leaning and practicing the next important type of chord called the 7th chord. These types of chords are closely related to the major and minor chords and some of them are also found as first position chords.

There is a bit of theory involved in understanding 7th chords which I will discuss in another article relating to theory.

First step for any beginner is:

  1. Learn to play the chord.
  2. Make sure that you produce a good tone, and that you only play the necessary notes within the chord.
  3. Be able to strum the chord in good timing (work with a metronome if possible)
  4. Listen to the chord. Get used to hearing the major/minor quality of the chord.
  5. Switch/strum between two or more chords and get used to changing.
  6. Start learning a song and away you go! :

How to Learn Guitar Fast – Tips And Tricks

So, you are trying to learn guitar, but you just don’t feel that you are learning fast enough! Or, perhaps you are working on a scale or solo, but have a difficult time getting it down so you can move on to the next thing! Well then! Let us see if we can find some ways to accelerate and supercharge the learning process.  In this article we will find ways for you to put your learning curve in hyperdrive and learn guitar fast!

Most teachers will tell you that you have to practice a certain thing many times over and over again before you truly learn to master it fully. While this is true, here is a way that you can speed up the learning process when it comes to learning guitar. Of course you do need to spend a lot of times on many areas if you want to become a versatile guitarist and musician.

However, there is a way that you can learn guitar fast. It’s a simple trick really, but highly effective indeed. The trick is to budget your time with categorizing and managing!

Sometimes, if you want to learn a specific song, riff, scale or technique you spend hours, days, months and even years mastering it properly. But if you want to truly master guitar, it is wise to categorize and manage.

If you are a beginner, you probably need to work on playing chords. This means that you must focus most of your energy on this.

But be sure that you manage your time wisely. If you are working on chords, make sure that the chords are working for you as well. Just strumming the chords is fine as an initial exercise. But we want to supercharge the learning process right?

So, let us now try to budget your time that so you categorize and manage.

With categorizing we have found the topic which in this case is chords.

To manage, we have to list all the things and ways in which you can practice, play and utilize the chords. We already talked about practicing strumming, but what else can we put into this category?

What about chord theory? Or maybe chord structuring. How about working on your time? Perhaps you could come up with a simple exercise in which you practice a few chords along to a metronome. How about trying to write your own songs using a few simple chords? As you can see, the possibilities seem endless, All you need to do is to find a topic or subject that you want to work (categorizing) on and then manage it wisely (managing.)

But, we still need to talk about budgeting our time right? Well, this is super easy. All budgeting means is that you make sure that you have a game plan time wise. So instead of strumming a few chords for minutes, hours, days, months……try to dedicate a specific amount of time on each aspect of your managed subject,

I used practicing chords as an example. So perhaps you could spend 5 minutes on strumming, 5 minutes on chord theory, 5 minutes on chord structuring, 5 minutes on practicing to a metronome, 5 minutes on writing song. That’s 25 minutes concentrating on just one subject. And, we have successfully set a budget time wise for each of the categories. And when you think about it, 25 minutes is not really that much.

Keep in mind that this is only with chords. Imagine if you did the same thing with scales, riffs, technique, grooving, jamming, improvising, sight reading, theory and all the other stuff you want to be able to master.  In addition, 5 minutes was just a suggestion. There is no limit on how short or how long you want to set your own time limit in terms of budgeting your time. You may spend 1 minute or 20 minutes on a given category. That is entirely up to you.

Practicing with this mindset, by categorizing, managing and setting a budget in terms of time will really help you to learn, and or improve your guitar skills fast. It’s very possible for you to learn guitar fast!

Acoustic Guitar Lessons For Beginners

So, you have finally gotten a nice acoustic guitar and are ready to learn! In this article, we will go over some of the important things that you must be aware of and practice in the beginning phases. Here is the basic Acoustic Guitar Lessons for  beginners:

First, you should know the names of the strings on the guitar. This is important for various reasons. It will make tuning your guitar easier and you will get a better understanding about music theory and chords in general.

The string names from the thickest string to the thinnest string are: E, A, D, G, B E

Or as follows:

1st E

2nd B

3rd G

4th D

5th A

6th E

Keep in mind that there is a difference between electric and acoustic guitar strings. The difference lies in the tension and materials used to create the strings. So, be sure that you purchase acoustic guitar strings if you happen to break one, or need a new set.

It it really important that you know this, since tuning the guitar is based on the open strings.

Once your guitar is in tune, you should start to learn the basic first position chords. I would start out with E major, E minor, A major, and then A minor. First, try to strum them just using downstrokes. Once you can do these chords, I suggest that you move on to G, C and D.

You can use a guitar pick if you’d like. It is not required, but it may very well be useful in the beginning. Since you are playing acoustic guitar, I recommend that you start out with a light or medium gauge pick. This will make the strumming a bit easier for you.

Like anything else, you do not want to overwhelm yourself in the beginning. Do as much as you feel you can. But do not push it. Learning how to play guitar really boils down to commitment, patience and perseverance. It is super important that you commit all the basic chords to memory. This will make it learning, playing and even writing songs much easier.

Once you have mastered these chords, you want to be able to change between them.

The reason that you want to do this is because songs are based on chords and chord progression. (A chord progression simply means the structure of a given song.)

In the beginning, you will probably have a tough time switching between the chords and remembering the correct fingering. But just keep working on it and you will master it.

Another thing you should be aware of is the type of chords you will be practicing. The two main types of chords are : Major and Minor.

A major chords is generally brighter or happier in the sound. A minor chords is darker, melancholy and sad in the sound. This is of course relative. You can have a happy song with a minor chord in the progression. You can also have a sad song with a major chord in the progression as well. But it is really important that you can distinguish between the two types of chord sounds. This distinction between major and minor is often referred to as the chord quality.

Once you feel comfortable changing from one chord to another, you want to make sure that you are playing in time and that your rhythm is good. To practice this, it really helps if you use a metronome.

A metronome is a small devise used to help you keep time. You can purchase a metronome in any music store. You may also be able to download a free metronome app on your smartphone, iphone, or ipad if you have one.

Try to find a song that you want to play, but only has a few chords. The really good news is, that with just 3 chords, you can play a lot of songs already.

The “golden” chords for acoustic guitar are G, C and D. I call these the “golden chords” because there are so many songs that consist of just these 3 chords.

Once you can play these chords, and also some of the minor chords as mentioned earlier, you will be on your way to truly mastering the acoustic guitar. That’s all the basic of Acoustic Guitar Lessons for beginners. :)

How To Teach Yourself Guitar

I always say that having a guitar teacher is a huge advantage. Studying with someone in person will make a lot of things much easier. A teacher can help explain things clearly to you, help with your technique and other physical aspects of your guitar playing. And having a mentor is just really cool.

However, it is very possible to teach yourself how to play guitar! Especially with all the resources that are available today on the internet.

When I first started learning guitar about 16 years ago there was no youtube, or internet sites where you could stream video lessons. People from my generation (sounding like an old man here) had to learn songs by listening to tapes/CD’s and buying books and magazines.

If you want to teach yourself how to play guitar, getting a good chord book is still a good idea. You may also want a scale book as well. Although there are other resources available, having one or two good books is really a good thing for any new student of guitar.

However, the internet has really made it possible to learn and teach yourself guitar without having to actually take lessons from a personal teacher.

Youtube is an amazing place for you to learn on your own. There are so many lessons available from learning about the string names, to playing songs. There are even a bunch of videos that talk about music theory and how to apply it to guitar. And these lessons are actually really good. I am often truly amazed at how good these teachers are and how well they explain things.

Sometimes you can simply google what you are looking for. Let’s say you want an overview of all the first position chords on the guitar! By doing a google search on this, you will be able to find hundreds of articles and even images of these chords. You can even search for a good image of a chord chart, paste it to your computer, and print it.  You can do the same thing with scales and even riffs.

Another great way to teach yourself is to buy guitar magazines like “Guitar player”, and “Guitar World.” Here there is often a section that has lessons, riffs, and theory articles. In additions, they feature great interviews with some of the most popular guitar players in the world, and this can be very inspiring.

There are also many great internet sites that may require a signup fee, but will give you access to the sites many online guitar tutorial videos that you can study right in the comfort of your own home.

If you have a friend, who plays guitar, this is also a super way to learn and teach yourself since you can trade ideas and knowledge. Although you are teaching yourself with the help of a friend, I would still categorize this as teaching yourself how to play since it is without the aid of an actual guitar instructor.  Once you know the basic chords and can play simple melodies, getting together with your friends,or starting a band is  really one of the best ways to learn.

How to Play Lead Guitar Fast – Tips for Beginners

Have you ever seen Joe Satriani or Steve Vai play and wonder how they can play lead guitar at such a ferocious and awesome speed?

What about George Bensons lightning fast jazz solos. Or, how about the super fast slide work improvising of slide player Derek Trucks.  Or perhaps you have been awestruck by the amazing lead playing of the legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.  How the heck can these guys play as fast as they do? What is their secret? Can this be learned? I am here to tell you, YES it can!

As a beginner, you are probably wondering if you will ever be able to play anything at all fast. You might be working on chord changes, riff building or even scales and think to yourself “there is no way I will be able to play fast”.

But there is a way. With dedication, practice and perseverance, you too can play lead guitar fast and truly dazzle your audience.

The trick, or “secret” to taking your lead playing to a new level and being able to play fast is simply playing, practicing and improvising slowly!

I tell my own students that speed is an illusion. Of course, fast is FAST! However, speed, or learning how to play lead guitar fast really boils down to being able to play stuff slowly, and more importantly, accurately!  If you want to play lead guitar fast, you have to be able to play lead guitar slowly, accurately and precisely. In addition, you also need to pay attention to keeping time, diction and technical execution.

As you can see, there are many elements which you must implement if you want to be able to play fast. However, if you keep these elements in mind as you practice and hone your craft, you will definitely be able to speed up your lead playing and play much faster.

So, how do you go about doing this? Let us take a look at a few tips that will help you:

Play and practice slowly.

Use a metronome and play at a speed that you can control. Once you can play something slowly, gradually increase the speed on the metronome and keep going until you can play at a fast, or desired speed.

Play accurately.

Be sure that what you are playing or practicing is accurate and sounds good. Record yourself (audio/video) and listen back to whether or not your playing was accurate. The reason I suggest recording yourself is because it is easy to let mistakes go unnoticed while actually playing.

Care about the notes.

If you are rushing the solo/lead playing and not hitting every note, it can come out sounding sloppy and messy. If you care about the notes, and I mean EVERY note, your lead playing will sound much more professional and sincere and this will be maintained as you speed up your playing.

Focus on your technique.

Many times, playing fast has more to do with technique than the actual speed. Sure, you may be able to play something somewhat fast. But do not skip mastering the crucial technical elements that could make it even faster.  Slides, trills, and string-skipping techniques are all elements that will increase your speed and lead playing if mastered properly. Learn to master and control all of these elements, and the speed of your lead playing is guaranteed to increase.

The Proper Electric Guitar Technique You Should Know

As a guitar teacher, I get a lot students who ask me about guitar technique. Some ask me if there is a big difference between the techniques on an acoustic guitar and a electric guitar. Although there are similarities, there are of course also technical aspects on the electric guitar which are proper and should be properly mastered to become the best player possible.

Finger placement is crucial. Making sure your fingers are hugging the frets is absolutely important. (be as close to the right of the frets as possible without actually being on the fret.)

This will produce a much nicer tone in your overall playing. Using as much fingertip as possible is also very important.  Pushing down, and holding the notes tight and firmly will give you better control so you can use technical elements such as bending, sliding, hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato and trills.

Perhaps the most important and proper technique to master on the electric guitar is palm muting. This is a technique that a lot of Heavy Metal players use. However, regardless of the genre or style you play, palm muting is a must know technique. Why?

Because this is really what helps you control the sound/volume of the instrument. If you are an acoustic player and have tried to play an electric guitar, you have probably noticed that it does not take a lot for the guitar to make noise even on a very low setting on the amplifier. Imagine if you cranked the volume up. The excess noise and ringing from the strings not being played must be “tamed” so your playing sounds smooth and clear. You want to learn how to eliminate unwanted noise and sounds that are present when playing with high/loud or even medium volume. By learning this, your playing will sound a lot more professional and articulate.

Palm muting should be learned by everyone who plays electric guitar. It is really what gives a player his/her command of the guitar in terms of tone.

However, this technique is also usable for playing acoustic guitar. Palm muting can be used to make notes, melodies and solos executed in a staccato style and really helps to provide an excellent amount of variation in your playing.

Once this technique is mastered, your playing will soar to new heights, and your will be able to play with much more confidence, eloquence and conviction.