80/20 of learning guitar for beginners

goal plan learning guitar

There are certain skills you need to be proficient at the guitar.

And while we have the rest of our life to learn guitar. Sometimes it's good to put our efforts in the places that counts. 

This guide shows you several important skills that will help you to get started on the path of learning guitar. 

Know what you what to do

If I wrote the term "goal setting", you might start thinking about work.

And while it might seem like a dull term to use.

Knowing where you want to go with your instrument is important. Because it will help you to know what to practise. And goal setting for the guitar is a skill that requires learning. 

goal plan learning guitar

You have to be willing to sit yourself down and practice your instrument. Having that drive and passion to practice, working towards what you want to do. Rather than just practising random things.

Practising the right way towards what you want to do is one of the best skills you can have.

If you put in the time, you get rewarded with results.

Sometimes this is tricky to do as a beginner, or even when you've been playing for awhile, and you feel stuck. That's what we are here to help you with as guitar teachers. Find a guitar teacher that is able to help you set some new goals and help you practise in the right direction. 🙂 

Play Basic Chords

As a guitar player, you need to be able to play the basic chords.

These are the chords in the open position. A lot of popular songs use these open chords.

You will be on a good foundation as a guitar player if you can play these in this position. Once you learn these basic position chords, you can move on to other chords. 

And it doesn't matter if they are "easy" chords. Making them sound good is what's going to make you stand out as a guitar player. 

Learning scales

There are different theories on which scales you should learn, major scales, pentatonic scales. Which ones should you do first... And how many positions to play them in... then it's, how do you actually use them? 

And it really depends on the type of music you want to learn, and what you want to do on the guitar. 

Pentatonic scale position 5

If you are into metal, then you will need to learn all 7 modes and positions at some point. 

But if you want to play some general pop music, then probably focusing more on triads and your right hand technique. With some basic knowledge of the major and minor scale will be great for you to start with. 

Sound great strumming

To be great guitar player you have to be able to strum. Even if you want to play lead. You still need to know how to play rhythm. 

When you learn first learn to strum, part of that is keeping time.

You will develop your rhythm guitar playing skills by focusing on your strumming ability.

strumming guitar learning to play guitar

Focus on the up-and-down motion of your strumming. It can be beneficial to use a metronome, or play with other people. And even a backing track. To help you really listen out for the pulse of a song. 

Learning barre chords

Once you have mastered basic open position chords, you should at some point learn barre chords. When you learn on your own, these chords are a steep learning curve, but they open up the guitar in many ways for you.

beginners learning to play barre chords

This will give you command of the entire guitar neck. Having the ability to play open position chords and barre chords means you can play 90% of popular music. 

It also allows you to be able to jam with other people too. 

We've got a guide on playing barre chords coming soon that might help you with this if you are on your own. If you are having guitar lessons, your guitar teacher should help you to build up strength appropriately. With proper stretching exercises and theory that will help you learn barre chords easier. 

Playing some lead guitar

You should have the ability to play at least some lead guitar.

It's a lot of fun learning how to play lead guitar. It's not as difficult as it sounds. Guitar solos don't have to be complex.

In fact, some of the most memorable guitar solos are very short. 

And even if you are playing acoustic guitar, it's surprising how many little melodic phrases are in popular music. So it's useful to know how to make them sound great. 

Learning some music theory 

Having a working knowledge of music theory will help you learn the guitar.

Otherwise what ends up happening is you are just copying and replicating music without understand. And that can hold you back from things like jamming. Or being creative with the music you want to play.  

You need to understand the language of music. Just like learning English. Without this language, you're not going to understand what you are playing. 

We've made a "Understanding music for beginner guitarists" that are designed specifically for guitar players. Which covers a lot of the very basics to help you learn the "alphabets" of music theory. 

Understanding music for beginner guitarists

Repertoire of songs

Most people pick up the guitar because they want to play the songs of their favourite artists.

And other guitar teachers are going to hate me for saying this. But a lot of this, you can actually learn on your own. There are lots of tutorials and tab online for these songs. 

And having a list of songs under your belt means if your friend asks you to play something. You can.

repertoire of songs learning guitar for beginners

Learning songs you like are not only fun, but they also teach you valuable guitar skills.

You're playing will improve each time you learn a new song that challenges you.

You can also use the opportunity to improve your memorisation techniques.

And your guitar teacher should be there to teach you the skills to be able to tackle your favourite songs. And how to be creative with them. More important, make your songs sound good. Rather than just "copying" - which you can do from copying youtube. 

Be willing to experiment 

One thing that will make you a better guitar player is the ability to experiment.

While experimentation isn't a skill, it can help you get out of the box or rut you might be in.

For example, if you play electric guitar, you can try an acoustic guitar.

girl playing ukulele guitar

If you play guitar, try picking up a bass or ukulele. This can help spark your creativity. You may come up with things you never thought of before.

What to do now?

If you are venturing out on your own. I would really consider making sure you are considering each of these skills going forward.

Covering each of these areas will help you improve on the guitar. And become a more rounded musician. 

You might get stuck along the way, and that's okay. If you want to learn quicker and get less frustrated. Consider getting a guitar teacher. 

If you are feeling stuck, and want to find out how to get a free guitar lesson with us in London