Beginners Guide to Guitar Practice

Beginners Guide to Guitar Practice

When you first get your guitar it’s all new and exciting. It doesn’t take long before you realize you need some direction to get started playing. What you need to know is; What a beginner guitar practice should look like. That is why I have made this beginner guide to guitar practice.

What steps should you take for an effective beginner guitar practice? An effective Beginner Guitar Practice is: One that is purposefully clear on what the goal of the practice is. Then how to accomplish the goal, and the end result is a better guitar player after the practice is completed.

There are steps that every guitar player must take to get to there goal. One thing is for sure. No body Starts out knowing how to play guitar. Every guitar player including Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page everyone. In the history of guitar, “Starts”. Everyone is a beginner guitar player at one time. Then with practice, it’s up to the individual on what they can achieve. This Beginner Guide will get you moving in the right direction. 

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Practice Guitar Routine 20 Minutes  a Day

When you start playing the guitar your fingers will be sore in a matter of minutes. Your fingers are not used to moving in the way that they have to when fretting the guitar.

Not to mention the tips of your fingers. That’s a whole other story. What you want to do is get used to the guitar. A little at a time, so don’t over do it. Practice about 20 minutes at a time. 

The more you practice the better you will become. (Go Figure) Lol. But to start we need to get a feel of the guitar. Holding the pick, and actually plucking the strings. 

The first exercise is not very glamorous, but it is a deliberate step to practice picking that every guitar player needs to know. This is the basic fundamental principles that will make you aware when your playing. How to approach the strings.

This may or may not seem simple in the beginning. But it is an essential step to playing the strings. I’m sure you may have already picked the strings and strummed them. But this is a practice of controlling the pick.

Step one: Use a pick!

Even if later you are going to be playing finger style guitar learn this step. The reason is that you will probably not just play finger picking always. So you will need to know how to pick the strings properly.

So instead of hacking at the strings with your pick. What you want to do is place your pick on the 5th string. Which is the 2nd string from the top.

Then you want to pick down. So pick the 5th string and pick down. Not outward, but down. Stop or rest on the 4th string. You only want that 5th string to ring out. Try not to pick that 4th string.

Next go to the 4th string, and pick it downward, let it ring out. Once you pick the string it should naturally fall to the 3rd string. Where it rests on the 3rd string,

The pick is held at about a 45 degree angle. Give or take a degree. The angle is not set in stone. It should be comfortable for you to play. You do need it to be at an angle so it will fall naturally to the next string.

If when you are picking down, and you miss the string below. Then change the angle a little bit. To avoid not resting on the bottom string.

Go through all the strings. Once you get to the first string, go back up the strings. Of course string one is the last so there is no string to rest on. So start on string 2. Pick downward, and rest on string one. Go up to the sixth string.

Although this seems like an easy thing to be practicing. You can gleam a lot from it. If you take your time to observe, and take in what it feels like when you are picking the string. Listen to what the string sounds like when it is picked properly.

The Goal of the Pick Rest

The goal is not going fast with this practice. You are practicing to gain control, and the ability to go on autopilot when playing. You will not have to wonder about hitting other unwanted strings when picking.

Practice this exercise 5- 10 minutes until your comfortable, and not making any mistakes. This one principle will make picking, and strumming so much easier. So get it under your belt and lets see what the next step is.

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Ten Minutes of Exercise Can 10 X Your Playing Ability

Guitar Practice

Like I was saying when you first start playing the guitar. Your fingers are not used to moving in the way that they do when playing. You may think that your hands are small, and that you are not able to play certain chords. This is simply not true.

I’m sure you have seen young prodigy’s playing extraordinarily. They are not having any problem playing the chords. Even with small hands they can play the chords.

This is because they practice finger strengthening and stretching exercises. So lets take a look at 5 simple yet effective ways to whip your fingers into shape.

First before we get to into finger training. There are a few basic things we need to know, and do every time you play the guitar. I’m talking about with your fretting hand. The hand that holds down the strings.

So lets just touch on this for a minute. Because it doesn’t make sense to practice strengthening your fingers the wrong way.

Basic Fretting Technique

Here are the Basic Fretting Techniques you must know:

  • Play on your finger tips – (the very end)
  • Place your fingers behind the fret when playing the note.
  • Your thumb needs to be towards the middle of the neck (not hanging over the top)
  • You should be able to see between the palm of your hand, and the guitar neck. When playing a chord.

In the beginning you will have to think about the above techniques. When you practice and get further along in your playing the guitar it will become second nature you will just automatically play like this. This is why it is so important to learn the basics first so that later it will be easy.

Now that you know how to hold your fretting hand lets see how we can go about stretching and strengthening your fingers.

Practice up and down the neck like this:

Placing your fingers in each fret box. Starting with the first fret. Your first finger goes in there. Place your second finger in the second fret box. Third finger in the third box, and you guessed it fourth finger fourth box. See the example below.

Beginners Guide to Guitar Practice
My guitar neck

Using the Basic Fretting Technique that you learned already. Using your first finger pick the 6th string at the first fret. Thetn pick the 6th string at the second fret. Using your third finger pick the 6th string at the third fret. We are still on the 6th string. Now pick it using your fourth finger.

Next go to the 5th string and repeat using fingers one, two, three, and four. Picking frets one, two, three, and four. Make sure you use the right finger in the right fret box.

Do this until you get to string one the high e string. When you get there. Start back up to the 6th string. But this time we want to start at the fourth fret, with your fourth finger.

After picking the fourth fret. Pick the third fret on the first string. Then the second fret on the first string. Finally pick the first string first fret. Then move up a string. Do this until you get back to the sixth string.

Related Article: 10 Tips for Learning Guitar Chords.

Concentrated Practice Not Speed!

When you practice this exercise you are not practicing for speed. You will find in guitar you break things down. Learn it slow and then after learning it the correct way you can pick up the pace.

You want to go slow. Concentrate on the feel of placing your fingers firmly on the strings. Getting your fingers placed properly So that the string touches the fret just right. So it sounds out. Listening to the sound that the string makes.

If the sound that you hear is buzzing or just doesn’t sound good. Then find out why and correct the problem. Maybe you are to far away from the fret. Maybe you are not pressing firmly on the string. What ever the case make the correction and try the note again.

It’s all the details that you need to concentrate on so that the outcome will be effective. A good clean picked note that is a clear note.


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Working down the neck

Once you have gone down the strings and back up. Move up a fret. So now your fingers are in box 2, 3, 4, and 5. Still using fingers 1, 2, 3, and 4. Start with your first finger in box 2. Go from the 6th string down. Then back up the strings. Remember when you start on string one you are starting backwards. With your 4th finger.

So continue this down the fretboard. You will notice that the frets get closer together. When you get closer to the 6th string.

Next still keeping your fingers in there own fret boxes practice some exercises that will strengthen your fingers. Here’s a couple of exercise.

Start on the 4th fret with your first finger. Pick the 6th string. Then on the 6th fret. Where your third finger is. Place your third finger on the string, and pick the 6th string. So Now you are only working two finger at a time.

Work your way down the guitar strings. To the first string. Then work back up to the 6th string. Starting at the first string with the 6th fret. Third finger and then the first finger. Then move up a fret like we did in the first exercise. Using the 5th fret and the 7th fret. Work your way to the 12th fret.

Now try work on your first finger, third finger and fourth finger. Start on the 2nd string. With your first finger. So your fingers will be on the 2nd, 4th and 5th frets. Pick them one at a time. Picking First finger 2nd fret, 3rd finger 4th fret, and then pick 4th finger 4th fret. Work your way down the strings. Again work backwards from finger 4 to 1 on the first string. Back to the 6th string.

Finger Exercise 4 & 5

It doesn’t matter where you start. What matters is that you start. But for this example we will start on the 5th fret. Placing your first finger on the 6th string pick the 6th string. Next play the note on the 6th string at the 8th fret. This is played with your pinkie.

So in the same manner you will work down the strings. Using only fingers one and little pinkie. You will find on this exercise that your pinkie is weak. The 5th exercise is the same, but we will pick the first note two times.

Say if your fingers are in the first position. Frets 1, 2, 3, 4. Then we pick the second fret of the 6th string two times. Use your 2nd finger of course. Then on the 5th string pick the 2nd and 3rd fret, with fingers 2 and 3. Next is the 3rd string 2nd and 3rd string again. All the way down the strings fingers 2 and 3. Then working your way up the strings. Pick the first string at the 3rd and then 4th frets. Using the proper fingers that belong in that box.

Don’t forget to work down the neck. Then once you get to the 12th fret you can always work your way back towards the headstock. Click here For a PDF of some finger exercises.

These exercises will strengthen your fingers. Your speed and finger dexterity will increase.

Remember a couple of things. When your first starting out you are using tendons and muscles. These tendons are not used to having a “working out”. So even though you may be all pumped. Ready to get your fingers strong for chords. You still need to take your time.

Don’t do to many at one time. You will fill the strain on your hand and fingers. Since you are working muscle, and tendons you can get whats called repetitive injury’s. This is not what we want to accomplish at all. If you feel any sort of pain or discomfort STOP! 

You can rest and come back later. I would only do the hand strengthening for about 10 minutes at a time. Until you get used to playing.

Click to see this article. If you want to know what to practice on guitar.

Guitar Chord Practice

What we want to do is practice chords. To do this we need to learn some basic Chords. I would recommend starting out slowly. Maybe learn two chords at a time. Then Practice making the chords.

Start with something easy like the E minor chord. Which is one of the easiest if not the easiest chords to make. Reason being you only use two fingers. Which is the 2nd and 3rd finger on strings 5 and 4. Placed on the second fret. If you need a good resource that shows how to make the open chords. Click this link for first position chords.

Then pick one more chord. For this example lets just say the C chord. Which is a little bit harder with three fingers. The first thing you want to do is learn where your fingers go on the chords.

Here’s a link to the Ultimate Guide to learn guitar Chords.

Then practice playing the chord. First you place your fingers in the correct position. Then you pick the strings one at a time. Let’s use that C chord for an example. Here’s how to make the C Major chord:

  • First finger is on the first fret. AT the second string.
  • Second finger is on the fourth string. At the second fret.
  • Third finger is on the fifth string. At the third fret.

First after positioning your fingers in position. Using the Fretting Technique. Playing on finger tips directly behind the frets. Play the strings one at a time.

On the C chord you start with the 5th string. You want to pluck the strings one at a time. When you pluck the strings your listening to see if the string is sounding out. Is it muffled, buzzing or ringing out? If you get to a string that is not ringing out.

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Why is the Chord Sounding Blah?

This is when you want to look and find out why. Is it because your finger is not directly behind the fret? Or is it because your not playing on the tips of your fingers? Is it because your not holding the string down enough? Find out what the reason is. Then make the correction to the chord. Proceed to strum the chord.

In this way you should learn all your chords. After you have been playing for a while you will be able to play the chords with ease. It will be second nature you will know all the basics that we are talking about here. Learn it now so that later it will be easy for you.

After Practicing where your fingers go to make the chord. Then you want to practice chord Transitioning. (changing between chords) Which is a lesson in itself. Click this link If you need help with chord transitioning.

Related Questions

Practice How to Strum a Guitar?

After you have practiced getting your fingers in shape and learning the basic chords. Your next step is to learn how to strum a guitar. Yes maybe you have strummed a guitar before. There are a lot of different strumming patterns out there. There are specific basic strum techniques that every guitar player needs to know. Click this link If your ready to learn how to strum a guitar.

Learn the 10 Things Every Beginner Guitar Player Needs to Know 

When your starting to play guitar there are a lot of things coming at you all at once. But trust me it will get easier. You will take baby steps each time you pick the guitar up. Before you know it you will be playing chords and not thinking about where your fingers are. They will sound good too! What you need starting off is the fundamentals and then you will be on your way to success. Click this link for the 10 things every beginner guitar player needs to know.

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