Learn to Play Acoustic Guitar

A complete and accurate roadmap to build a rock-solid foundation for acoustic guitar
James Delaney BY JAMES DELANEY 16 OCTOBER 2021
Learn to Play Acoustic Guitar
Table of Contents

There’s a desire in me to express something - to match what I hear in my head. (Eric Clapton)

Some people want to learn to play the guitar just for themselves, others to impress those around them, others want to pursue an artistic career, while others want to express their feelings through music. Whatever the reason, they all have one thing in common: the passion for music and, especially, for the guitar.

There are two major types of guitar: acoustic guitar and electric guitar. Although it doesn't matter too much what you want to start with (see How to learn to play the electric guitar), the easiest way from a logistical point of view is to start learning with an acoustic guitar, because it is enough to only have the guitar to be able to start practicing immediately.

In most cases, learning to play the guitar very well takes years of rehearsals, exercises and practice. However, the techniques and methods that have emerged and developed over time can help you learn basic guitar techniques and simple songs much faster. And if you follow a well-established plan, your technique and style of playing will improve significantly and thus you will be able to play the acoustic guitar in a very short time.

Although this well-developed system can take you faster from the beginner stage to a more advanced level, just getting out of the comfort zone and doing constant daily repetitions (even a few minutes a day) can help you become a real guitarist.

Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded. (Jimi Hendrix)

We further present a system developed by a team of studio musicians and acoustic guitar teachers who will show you the best possible way for a beginner to start learning to play the acoustic guitar and evolve quickly. Are you ready to go? Then let's get started!


1. Getting to know the basics

This is the boring passage that many want to skip, but because it's essential in the way you will go further in learning the guitar, we will present it in a very short and concise form.

1.1. Know the component parts of the guitar

1.2. Choose the right guitar

The acoustic guitar is present in several shapes and sizes, but there are two main types, and for a beginner, it is important to know what to choose, depending on the style want to play. For those who want to play classical music, Spanish/flamenco music, or other traditional styles, classical guitars with nylon strings are recommended. For those who want to focus on rock, blues, jazz, or country music, an acoustic guitar with steel strings is the best option.

The two main differences between those types of guitar are (apart from the chords material):

» Nylon strings produce a softer and more diffuse sound, while steel strings produce a sharp, clear, and bright sound, which resonates more than the nylon ones;

» The fretboard of a classical guitar is much wider than the fretboard of an acoustic guitar with steel strings, and the distance between the strings and the fretboard is greater for a classical guitar.

1.3. Proper posture when practicing the guitar

There are hundreds of articles on this topic, but honestly, we have not seen a perfect universal position to be applied by everyone when playing the guitar. Of course, some common-sense rules should be followed, which may be slightly different depending on the characteristics of each person.

First of all, we should practice on a chair that allows us a posture with the back straight and the shoulders aligned, preferably low on the ground. The back position is a necessary thing when you repeat for a long time, but a correct position will be achieved in time, because most beginners (if not all) will sit bent over the guitar, to see where the keys are.

For the right-handed (who are most guitarists), the classical position is based on the guitar held on the left leg (usually placed on a footstool), and the guitar held obliquely upwards, while the normal position is based on the guitar held on the right leg, and the guitar will be held in an approximately horizontal position. If you are left-handed, the position will be reversed.

Tip: In order to monitor and make sure that you maintain (or try to maintain) a correct position, it would be ideal to see yourself in a mirror while repeating on the guitar.

In the end, these are just some tips, the ideal position for everyone is to feel comfortable when practicing the guitar and to be able to maintain that position effortlessly throughout the rehearsal.

These are the basic tips regarding the correct posture when you learn to play the acoustic guitar, if you are interested in more details, check here how to hold the guitar.