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The 5 Best Ways to Learn to Play Guitar

The 5 Best Ways to Learn to Play Guitar

Has that dusty guitar been sitting in your attic for years? Or has it been standing in the corner of your living room as a tasteful decoration? Maybe hanging on your wall?

Or maybe you just heard Steve Vai for the first time. Or Jimi Hendrix. And you went out and bought a brand spankin’ new guitar. You couldn’t resist.

Regardless of how you got here, this much is clear – it’s time to learn to play guitar.

But how exactly do you get started?

Luckily there are a number of ways to learn a new instrument and some great options for all of you aspiring rock-and-rollers out there.

Below are the absolute best ways to learn the instrument and to begin your journey to become the next Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Tony Rice, Django Reinhardt, or Eric Clapton.

1. Take Private Lessons

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One of the most popular ways to learn any instrument is to take private lessons. Private lessons are a great option since they will allow you to have guidance every step of the way. You’ll get specialized attention and will be able to progress at your own pace.

If you’re someone who can’t be motivated to teach yourself, then the steadiness and structure of private lessons will likely be great for you.

One drawback however is that private lessons are also one of the more expensive ways to learn. If you can’t afford to spend money on lessons each week, then continue reading on for some cheaper alternatives.

2. Take a Class

Similar to private lessons, taking a full-fledged group class is another great possibility. Although not as common as private lessons, classes will be considerably cheaper since you will be sharing the cost with other students.

Many community colleges offer continuing education classes for beginning guitar players, as do some larger music lesson studios.

The drawback with group classes however is that you may not get as much individualized feedback and direction as you would in a private lesson.

3. Book Learning

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In private lessons or in a classroom setting, you’ll likely be using a guitar lesson book such as the Hal Leonard Guitar Method series. So why not cut out the middleman and simply purchase the book?

A guitar method book will take you step by step and give you a well-rounded education, teaching you how to read music notation and tablature, and how to play basic chords.

If you have the dedication and drive, using books and teaching yourself in this way may be just right for you. It’s also a cheap alternative to a more formal education.

4. Youtube

Another great (and cheap) way to learn to play guitar is by using Youtube. Youtube is one of the best modern luxuries we have for learning pretty much anything, including guitar. Simply search for “guitar lessons” on the site and a nearly endless string of results will appear.

For the visual learners out there, Youtube is great and will allow you to see exactly how various notes and techniques are played as your virtual instructor or instructors walk you through their lessons step by step.

5. Other Internet Resources

Although Youtube is one of the best websites for learning a new instrument, don’t forget that there’s a whole World Wide Web out there. A simple Google search will deliver an abundance of online guitar websites, each featuring articles and lessons that will help you learn the instrument.

Websites such as Ultimate-Guitar.com have lessons, articles, chord charts, and guitar tabs that will allow you to study the instrument and learn songs by your favorite artists – all without spending a dime.


It’s easy to see that there are plenty of options and methods for learning to play guitar, but remember that you don’t have to pick just one. By combining some of the methods above, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can learn to play guitar.

Take a private lesson and then go home and build on what you’ve learned by browsing guitar lessons on the internet. Learn a new technique in a guitar method book and then watch a Youtube video to get the full visual. The possibilities are endless.

Now you know how to get started. So stop reading, grab that guitar, and get to playing!

Small Instruments for Musicians Who Love to Travel

Small Instruments for Musicians Who Love to Travel

beach-musician-300x199Backpacking with a large instrument like a guitar, a keyboard, a bass guitar, a tuba, or heck, a cello, can be difficult. Although guitars are fairly portable, they can still be a bit too bulky for the constant traveler. Luckily, there are many small instruments that are perfectly travel-sized and ready for any journey. Not only that, many of them are also super cool in their own right.

I’m preparing to take some trips of my own over the next few months and although I’m pretty darn sentimental about my guitar, I’ve decided to leave it behind for now and track down a small instrument to call my new best friend.

This is a great list for guitar players who are looking to scale down, but it’s also worth a look for other musicians who are looking for a more portable option. A lot of skills transfer over between instruments, so don’t be afraid. Many instruments can be easier to learn than you may think.

Whether you’re brand new to music and looking to learn an instrument for the very first time, or you’re looking to travel light while doing some street performing, or you just want to jam with your many hostel-mates and Couchsurfing hosts, one of the below instruments may just be the perfect fit for you.

Ukulele

The King of Small Instruments

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The ukulele is one of the smallest stringed instruments out there, and is great for traveling musicians who want to carry light. Many ukuleles are also available at great prices, many for under $50. On the other hand, if you’re a singer/songwriter who is accustomed to singing emotional ballads you might have some adjusting to do. It’s pretty difficult to make any song sound too sad when the ukulele is backing you up.

Mandolin

The Folk-Lovers Ukulele on Steroids

The mandolin is another small instrument that’s a great choice for travelers, especially if you’re into folk music. The instrument has one of the most unique sounds you’ve heard and works great as a solo instrument or as accompaniment for your voice. Compared to the ukulele, the mandolin has a lot of versatility and can create a much more diverse array of sounds.

Harmonica

The Classic Travelers Sidekick

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If you don’t have any interest in singing while playing, then the harmonica is a great choice for you. It’s also probably the easiest small instrument to carry around. On the cheaper side you can get a harmonica for under $10, but if you’re looking for something that’s higher quality you’ll probably want to go with something like the Hohner Marine Band harmonica.  The only drawback is that you’ll need different harmonicas for different keys, which can become an issue if you want to do a lot of jamming with your hostel-mates or anyone you meet on the road.

Melodica

A Piano Lover’s Strange Mistress

The melodica is a little less well-known, but is a really cool sounding instrument that kind of sounds like a cross between a harmonica and an accordion. This also happens to be one of the best small instruments for piano players who want to keep playing while on the road. Believe me, it’s going to be a heck of a lot better than carrying a keyboard, or god forbid, a piano around.

Violin/Fiddle

For the Cultured Professional

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Depending on how you play it, you may either call this a violin or a fiddle, but regardless, there’s no denying that it can be one of the most beautiful sounding instruments in the world when in the hand of an expert. However it can also be one of the most terrible sounding if you’re not quite up to par. The learning curve for this instrument is a bit higher than many of the others on this list,  but if you’re up to the task, a violin (or fiddle) may be a great small instrument to carry around with you while you trot around the globe.

Backpacker Guitar

For Guitarists Resistant to Change

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If you’re a guitarist and REALLY can’t stand to leave your guitar behind, you do have the option of getting a Martin backpacker guitar. They’re portable, lightweight, and a perfect way to get your guitar playing fix while on the road. Although truth be told, they are a little funny looking.


How have you guys dealt with carrying instruments while traveling? Any tips, methods, or interesting small instruments that you would like to share with the class?

Let me know in the comments below.