How to Play a Guitar for Beginners Step by Step

Guitar mastery can be a challenge particularly for newbies. All those hard strings and different chords you need to master might seem intimidating in the beginning however if you think on the positive side of things, you will eventually know how to play the guitar.

Before learning the basics on how to play guitar for beginners, newbies need to establish a solid foundation first. With regular practice, rocking those chords will help strengthen the digits, the playing hand and the wrist.

This type of strength is actually required if you want to advance towards more difficult techniques. In addition, regular practice will also help a lot in terms of coordination.

So there you go—you have to go through the essentials first before becoming a Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix. In case you want a handy starter guide on this pursuit, we have laid out all of the stuff you need to know; from the parts of the guitar to learning standard chords, we got it all covered.

The Parts of a Guitar

First things first, you need to familiarize yourself with the guitar’s important components. The instrument is divided into 4 basic components, which are the head, neck, body and strings.


Guitar-HeadThe headstock or head of the guitar sits on top of the instrument. It holds the tuners, which are knobs that come with tuning pegs.

These tuning pegs are where the strings of the instrument are draped tightly all over to manage tension and maintain the tune of the instrument.

Located at the headstock’s bottom is the nut. The nut comes with ridges on it so it will hold the guitar’s strings apart prior to winding all over the tuners or knobs.


Guitar-NeckThe lengthy part that you see on the guitar is referred to as the neck. The fretboard refers to the front of the neck. It contains the frets which are arranged in a vertical manner at different intervals all over the neck’s length.

It functions in determining the tabs or chords played on the instrument.

The fretboard is built from a different wood or material compared to its opposite side. It often comes with other items on it like durable plastics in different colors or graphics.

The function of those items is to make placement of the fingers easier for players.


Guitar-BodyThe guitar’s body comes with the sound hole, which serves as some type of amplifier for the instrument. The strings always ends up at the guitar’s bridge which is located at the lower end of the body’s front parts.

The saddle is also included in this part. The saddle has the same purpose as the nut and it comes with grooves or ridges in order to hold the strings of the instrument a distance away from the guitar’s face.


Guitar-StringsThe strings serve as the chord producers of the instrument. Guitars, whether acoustic or electric, come with 6 strings in them. These strings are pressed on the frets in a variety of combinations so it will generate a selection of chords.

The thinnest string out of the 6 generates higher notes while the thickest produces lower notes. Once you practice and toy with different chords, you will understand how the strings have a say in the versatility of this instrument.

Tuning the Guitar

The next crucial step on how to learn to play guitar by yourself is to master the rudiments of tuning the instrument. If the guitar is not in tune, you will have a hard time actually learning how to play your favorite songs or go along with it during guitar lessons.

One of the simplest methods to tune your guitar us to make use of an electric tuner. This gadget is available in guitar stores or any music stores. They are affordable and quite handy and will save you precious time in tuning the instrument.

However it is still important to actually learn how to tune the guitar by the ear. Here are the steps you need to remember.

  • The strings are always tuned E, A, D, G, B and E in standard guitar tuning. Every letter matches up to a string from the lowest 6th to the highest 1st.
  • You must begin with the low E which is the thickest and the top string. Tune the string up and do not tune it down. In case you tuned it too much, loosen the tension and try once more.
  • Next you need to tackle the A string. To get to the A string, position your index finger on the 5th fret of the bottom E string. Pick the 5th string and the 6 string sequentially, moderately tweaking the tuning peg for the 5th string till the two notes are synchronized.

Keep in mind that tightening the tuning peg will make higher pitches while relaxing it will make lower pitches.

  • Next you need to tune the D string. To get to this note, position the index finger on the 5th fret of the A string. Pick the 5th string and the 4th string simultaneously or move between them and make adjustments on the 4th string tuning peg till the 4th string’s pitch corresponds with the pitch of the 5th string’s 5th fret.
  • Following this, you need to manage the G string. To get to this note, position the index finger on the 5th fret of the D string. Pick or move between picking the 4th or 3rd strings. Make adjustments on the 3rd string tuning peg till the 3rd string corresponds with the 4th string’s 5th fret.
  • For the B string, position the index finger on the 4th fret of the G string. Tune the second string to that particular note.
  • Lastly, you can get to the E string by positioning the index finger at the back of the 5th fret on the B string. Tune it by making adjustments on the 1st string tuning peg till the E string’s pitch corresponds with the second string’s 5th fret.

If you want more visual references for this task, you can check out this video:

Holding a Guitar the Proper Way

You have learned the parts of the guitar and have a general idea on how to tune it. Now it’s time to discuss more on how to hold the instrument properly.

Correct posture and hand positioning is essential in guitar-playing, FYI since incorrect positions and stances if done in the long-term can lead to certain neck, arm, wrist, back and shoulder conditions.

Yes, you will be at risk with afflictions like CTS or carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis if you make bad posture a habit.

Proper hand positioning is also needed since it will make beginners learn how to play the instrument correctly and efficiently. Even the tiniest of details need to be taken care of when it comes to guitar-playing so without any further ado, here are the things you need to know about posture.

While Sitting

Seat yourself on a chair and place your feet on the floor while leaving the back straight. If you are right-handed, position the guitar’s waist on the right leg and hold its back against your chest and stomach. Make sure that the neck of the instrument remains horizontal to the floor surface.

Allow your upper right arm to lean on the guitar body’s upper part to keep it from leaning in the direction of the floor.

Position for the Fretting Hand

Your fretting hand’s thumb must lean at the back of the guitar’s neck, positioned roughly in between your first 2 fingers. Bend the first, second and third knuckles.

Make use of your finger tips to press down strings and position the strings nearer to the frets as much as you can. However, remember not to position the fingers on the frets.

Position for Strumming Hand

Lean your upper right arm on the guitar body’s upper part. The right hand must hang easily on top of the sound hole. This position must relax the hand, wrist and arm.

How to Strum Properly

You can position the thumb against the index finger and hold it as is for better support. Bend the pinky, ring and middle finger moderately in the direction of the palm of the hand. Likewise you can do whatever feels comfortable to you.

Next you can do a down strum by using your index finger’s nail against all strings. Follow it up with an up strum using your thumb’s nail. If you want a gentler sound you can strum with thumb and index finger individually.

Using a Pick

The plectrum, most popularly known as a pick, is a tiny piece of durable plastic that comes with a tear shape. It serves as a means for guitarists to pick out single notes and it is also used to strum the guitar. Picks are affordable and very accessible at guitar and music stores.

To use a pick, begin by making a fist with your playing hand with the thumb positioned flat on top of the fingertips. Hold the pick by clutching it upright to the fist between the index finger and the thumb. The smaller end of the pick must jut out no more than a few centimeters off of your fingers.

Avoiding Injuries

Guarantee that you keep your back straight and your spine aligned each time you play. Do not raise the shoulders and make sure that your neck and those parts remain relaxed throughout. Keep away tension from forming in the fingers, hands, wrists and arms.

Every now and then, take a rest and stretch especially if you are playing for a longer length of time. Always listen to your body—if you experience some pain or tension, better take a rest and nurse it back to health.

How to Play Frets

The frets are the metal segments that are arranged perpendicularly to the strings which signify every note. To play one note, you have to press the finger down in-between the metal segments and not upon them.

In case you detect some sort of buzzing sound, shift the finger away from the lowermost fret and nearer to the higher fret.

Make sure to hold the string down securely so it will resonate only in-between your strumming hand and your finger. In this stance, your fingertip must be the one doing the pressing.

Every time you shift from one fret to another fret, the pitch result will be a bit higher as you advance towards the body and it will become a bit lower as you progress to the direction of the stock.

Do a run-through by moving your fretting hand up and down the fretboard. Press on the frets so you can familiarize yourself with the correct pressure required in playing notes.

How to Play Chords

The next thing we need to do on how to learn guitar at home is the mastery of basic chords. The chord is composed of two notes which are played simultaneously.

Chords are responsible for producing a resonant and fuller sound compared to just a single plucked note.

Majority of chords are 3 notes which are played at the same time and there are even some which come with more than 3 notes. Strumming is the act of playing chords.

The standard chords are referred to as the major chords and these are the items beginners need to master first. They are C, A, G, E and D.

The chords are composed of a variety of notes and whenever these notes are played simultaneously, they produce a distinctive sound. We will now talk about accurate notes, patterns and fingering positions used for the standard chords.

C Major

Position the ring finger on the 3rd fret and the 5th string. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret and the 4th string. Lastly, position the index finger on the 1st fret and the 2nd string. Beginning on the 5th string, quickly strum the 3rd string. Avoid playing the 6th string.

A Major

Place the index finger on the 2nd fret and the 4th string. Position the middle finger on the 2nd fret and the 3rd string then place the ring finger on the 2nd fret and the 2nd string. Starting with the 5th string, strum those strings simultaneously. Do not use the 6th string.

C Major

Place the middle finger on the 3rd fret and the 6th string. Next position the index finger on the 2nd fret and the 5th string. Place finger on the 3rd fret and the 1st string then strum all strings in a fast manner.

G Major

Position the idle finger on the 3rd fret and the 6th string. Place the index finger on the 2nd fret and the 5th string. Position the finger on the 3rd fret and the 1st string then play the strings together fast.

E Major

Positon the middle finger on the 2nd fret and the 5th string. Next, place the ring finger on the 2nd fret and the 4th string. Lastly, position the index finger on the 1st fret and the 3rd strong then quickly strum all strings.

D Major

Positon the index finger on the 2nd fret and the 3rd string. Place the ring finger on the 3rd fret and the 2nd string. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret and the 1st string.

Start with the 4th strong and strum all notes fast. Do not play the 5th string.

Some of the chords can be a challenge to get right the first time but with enough practice, you can play them properly without making the notes sound muffled. Regular practice allows you to familiarize yourself with the workings of the strings and in time, you will be able to press down the correct notes and strings.

Check out this video if you want a more visual approach on learning basic guitar chords.

Benefits of Learning the Basics

Chords, scales and guitar lessons are a beginner’s priceless sources that he or she must possess as they develop as a guitarist. Regardless of age or ambition, you must have the drive to become an accomplished guitar player.

Mastery of the instrument is more than just a physical challenge, it is also mental. It takes devotion and lots of will and practice for a beginner guitarist to become an accomplished one. Keep in mind that the best guitar players in the world started at nothing.

They began by learning the basics and by taking in these essentials, managed to master techniques and disciplines which molded them into the awesome guitarists that they are today.

Every journey starts with the first step and this guide is a rightful companion for that leap. If you want to learn how to play the instrument, then by all means, you must start right now!


Learning how the play the guitar by yourself can be a joyful, worthwhile activity. Just be patient with yourself, instill the right discipline and drive and in no time, you will progress from the basics and learn advanced methods.

The duties needed on how to play a guitar for beginners might sound nerve-racking at first but you do need to take the first leap.

And as soon as you accomplish this, you will eventually find yourself on a demanding yet stimulating and rewarding journey to progress.

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