Category Archives: Beginners

Top 10 Accessories You Need as a Beginner Guitar Player

As a beginning guitar player, there are several accessories that you should pick up.

These accessories will make playing guitar easier for you.

Many of these accessories are perfect for your guitar case. Have them on hand before practicing as they will save you a lot of time.


One accessory that you should have is the metronome. 

accessories guitar metronome

This helps you keep time and is perfect for practicing. 

There are many different metronomes that you can buy. You can find ones that are small enough to fit in your guitar case. 

There are downloadable metronomes apps onto your phones. But the trouble with that is you could get distracted picking up your phone. 

Peg Winder 

The peg winder is another accessory that will save you time.

This guitar accessory makes it easy to put strings on your guitar as well as take them off. The winder goes on the guitar tuning pegs.

Peg Winder accessory for guitar

If you change strings a lot, this accessory will be very useful for you. 

Staff and Tab Paper

When you're learning a guitar, you'll be taking a lot of notes. Try to have some staff paper and tab paper on hand. You can buy these in notebook form. You’ll always have a piece of paper or notebook ready to go when you need to take some notes, jot down a chord, and so on.

If you are really modern, you can download apps that have guitar tab on. 

We like Goodnotes on the iPad Pro with the pencil

Here's my notes from my own personalised template: 

ipad goodnotes guitar tab

Guitar Picks

You can never have enough picks. 

Make sure you have plenty of these in your guitar case. You can buy a bag of pics for super cheap. Try to not get the super thin ones. Medium and thinner picks are our preference. 

Single Guitar Strings

Another accessory you should have in your guitar case is some single strings. Try to have or three sets of full replacement guitar strings as well.

The single strings you should have on hand include the G string, B string, and the small E string.

Single guitar strings guitar accessory

The reason for this is that these strings tend to break the most often. The larger thicker strings don't break as often as these do.

Try to have a couple of these strings on hand as replacements. You can get replacement strings in bulk to save the money.

Strap Locks

You should have some strap locks. These buttons keep your strap in place on your guitar. They prevent your strap from falling off your guitar.

The regular strap button on your guitar isn't strong enough to hold the strap if you've got your guitar upside down. Or if you decide to do any rockstar moves.

Strap Lock for guitar straps

 A strap lock will keep the strap in place on the strap button so it doesn't fall off and damage your guitar.

Guitar Capo

accessories guitar capo

Another accessory to consider is the capo. This allows you to play songs in a different tuning. 

If you want to sing along while playing your guitar, the capo is ideal.

 It puts your guitar in a range that is comfortable for your voice. While not a complete essential, it will help you if you want to be a singer.

It doesn't have to be expensive, but we do love this G7th Capo

Guitar Multi-Tool

The guitar multi-tool is an excellent accessory. This often includes Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, a string cutter, and so on. You can use these tools for minor guitar adjustments.

They are also super small, and can save a lot of room in your guitar case by having this type of multi-tool on hand. You won’t have as many tools taking up space in your case.

Guitar Tuner

your first guitar tuner

Make sure you have a tuner on hand.

It is important to tune your guitar every time before you play. Just like you wash your hands before you eat.

There are a whole host of different tuners that you can buy.

Some of them are small enough that you can click them onto your headstock. This makes it easy to tune your guitar using the vibration of your guitar.

The right chair & Music Stand

Tiger music stand

Another accessory to have is a solid and dependable guitar stand. You don't want one of those cheap flimsy ones. Pick up a decent guitar stand that has a heavy base so it doesn't move around.

You also need to be comfortable while playing guitar.  

Make sure you have a comfortable guitar stool or chair. You can get chairs designed for playing the guitar.

Make sure the chair doesn't have armrests. If you have armrests, they can get in the way while you were trying to play. 

In summary

These accessories make practicing guitar easier. By having them on hand you'll save yourself a lot of time. Make sure you have picks, extra strings, a tuner, and other accessories before starting your practice session.

A bonus accessory that I want to mention is: Nail clippers. Keep a set in your guitar case. And whenever you nails feel a little long, you've got them ready to trim your nails. 

Don't want those nails digging into your beautiful fretboard.

Haven't bought a guitar yet?

If you haven't got your guitar yet. And want to know what else to consider when buying your next guitar. Read our "Ultimate guide to buying your guitar" to help you. 

Want to learn to play guitar?

Whether you haven't gotten started at all. Or you can already gotten started but want to improve faster. 

Find out more about our beginner guitar lessons on how you get help you build a solid foundation. So that you can keep advancing on the guitar, but more importantly. Have lots of fun while learning. 

Should I get a guitar teacher?

Guitar lessons for adults with guitar tuition east london

As a new guitar player, you may be wondering whether you should take guitar lessons.

Fine... we are biased. We teach guitar. But really, I tried learning guitar without a guitar teacher, and when I had one. Wow. Did it help my playing.

So you might like one too.

Hope this article shows you the benefits of taking guitar lessons from a qualified teacher. While you can teach yourself, there are lots of benefits to learning from someone who knows what they are doing. 

Having a guitar teacher to teach you the basics

A lot of people think - oh I can teach myself the basics, and then go to a teacher. And while you definitely can. And some do pretty well. You might end up wasting a lot of time. 

One thing a qualified guitar teacher  can do is teach you the basics with a strong foundation. Without a strong foundation, you might find yourself struggling in the future. 

This includes basic chords, scales, music theory, songs, and so on.

This might sound simple, but it's not when there is so much information out there.

The basics are what's going to help you advance on the instrument.

If you don't know these concepts, you can end up spinning your wheels. A good teacher will give you the foundation you need and make sure you don't have any holes in your learning. 

Confidence and Motivation 

The teacher will install confidence in you. There's something about knowing that you have someone looking out for you. For your progress, and what you are learning. That fills you with confidence. 

The teacher will also motivate you to do better. Helping you to stay accountable, if that's what you need.

You will have a set path to follow that helps you with what you need.

And with a good guitar teacher, you will learn at your own pace that's right for you.

The teacher won't give you something that you're not ready for. If you teach yourself. It's easy to pick things that are too hard and get disheartened. I've seen it time and time again.

And you might feel a lack confidence in your own abilities. And if you don't have a path to follow, you can feel lost. Which is demotivating and make you not want to practise. 

No bad habits

It's easy to develop bad habits when you teach yourself.

For example, you may finger chords in the wrong way.

You may play things out of position.

Your guitar teacher will show you the best way to play chords, scales, and other musical concepts.

They will help you avoid bad habits.

This makes you're playing better.

You will learn music in the correct way. If you do develop a bad habit, the teacher can help you work out of it.

Sometimes we get students who have been playing for 20 years who come in. And it does take a good while to train some of the bad habits out, and restart again. 

Songs and repertoire

A great guitar teacher will help you be able to learn songs that you never thought you could.

Whether that's developing the skills required to play them.

Or maybe changing them up so even as a beginner, you can play some of your favourite songs.

By being able to play these songs, you will have more confidence. Not only that, you're going to have a lot of fun.

If your teacher self, you may find it difficult to learn certain songs because you lack the ability to play them.

Learning guitar techniques

Many guitar techniques require a lot of practice and dedication.

A guitar teacher can show you many different guitar techniques. You will learn these in the correct manner.

You will have a wide range of skills in your toolbox and at your arsenal.  

For example, you'll learn rhythm guitar, lead guitar, strumming, finger-picking, and so on.

A lot of these guitar techniques are difficult to learn on your own. And a guitar teacher can teach you from the very beginning. This gives you a solid foundation. And be able to teach you the skills you need to play the music you love. 

Having help with practising guitar

When you take lessons with a teacher, you will have consistency with your learning.

You will have certain things that you will want to practice at home after the lesson.

This helps keep you on track and gives you something to work towards.

If you teach yourself, you may have unproductive practice sessions. Not knowing what to work on and how to move forward.

The teacher will give you something specific that you must learn when you go home. These learning materials build upon the last one. Helping you to constantly keeping building on your previous skills. 

Having other people to play guitar with

One of the best things about a guitar teacher is other people to play guitar with. 

Whether it's just your guitar teacher, or maybe you even get to learn with some other people in the room. 

It means you won't get up as a bedroom guitarist. 

Playing in with and in front of other people will give you more confidence. And as you get better, you can play in front of friends and family.

It's a lot of fun playing guitar with other people. And it's nice to have supportive people to do it with. 

Be around people who love music as much as you do 

Your guitar teacher will be someone that loves music as much as you do.

If you would like more people who love music around you. You'll be able to discuss music and understand it better with a quality teacher.

Your teacher will be the expert that can guide you through the process of learning music and playing guitar. 


While you can teach yourself guitar, you'll get more out of it with a guitar teacher. You won't be learning bad habits. And you will learn all of the basic concepts that you need to know.

You'll be working with a professional that loves music as much as you do. Consider getting a teacher and enjoy playing the journey of learning to play guitar. 

If you live in London and want to find out how we can help you to learn guitar. You can meet our guitar teacher in person to find out how you get on with us first. 

Should I buy an Electric or Acoustic guitar – quick guide

Size shape of acoustic and electric guitar

If you're starting out on your journey to becoming a guitar player, you might not know what guitar you should buy to get started.

This is a quick guide will show you the main differences between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. It should help you decide what guitar is the right one for you.

If you would like a comprehensive guide. Head over to our "Ultimate guide to buying a guitar" for everything you need to know to buy your next guitar! 

Choosing an Acoustic Guitar

There are two main types of acoustic guitars. The two types are the steel-string acoustic and the nylon string acoustic. Both of them have pros and cons when it comes to learning to play acoustic guitar. Here is what you need to know about both of them.

Choosing a Nylon String Guitar

If you have never played guitar before, the nylon string is the easiest guitar to play.

This is often called a classical guitar.

You won't get finger pain when you play nylon strings because they are softer.

This type of guitar is often the first choice for younger players. Student nylon string guitars don't cost that much.

choosing classical guitar to buy

If the student decides they want to keep playing, they can move up to a regular steel-string acoustic or an electric guitar.

The downside to the nylon string guitar is that they have a neck that is a little bit wider than a regular steel-string acoustic. This is so the guitar can accommodate the nylon strings. The problem with this is that it's harder to play chords on a nylon string.

This usually isn't much of a concern as most beginners will only be learning a few single notes to start. As the player develops, they may want to switch guitars.

Choosing a steel-string acoustic guitar

The acoustic guitar tends to be the main choice for adults. the reason for this is that it allows them to play a lot of their favourite songs.

choosing acoustic guitar to buy

Plus sides to Acoustic Guitar

You can find acoustic guitars in various price ranges to meet all budgets. Along with different acoustic guitars and body shape and sizes

You don't need any extra equipment like an amplifier, which is required for an electric guitar.

Acoustic guitars are also great options for parties or camping. 

Downsides to Acoustic Guitars

The main downside to the acoustic guitar is the strings. The strings on the acoustic are thicker when compared to a nylon-string or an electric. They are harder on the fingers. This can be a problem for some players has he might not want to practice as much If their fingers are hurting. To reduce this problem, put a light gauge of strings on the acoustic guitar. This will eliminate a lot of finger pain for beginners. 

The other trouble with acoustic guitars is that sometimes they have a large body. Which means a beginner who is constantly looking over to check whether their fingers are in the right place. End up with back ache and poor posture. Electric guitars or a smaller shaped acoustic will help with this. 

Choosing an Electric guitar

If you enjoy rock/metal/punk music, you will probably start playing on an electric guitar. The electric guitar is a lot of fun. 

It allows players to learn their favourite rock songs. They come in a wide range of prices, so they are suitable for most budgets. Almost every teenager is going to want an electric guitar because they seem "cooler". And I don't blame them!

choosing electric guitar to buy

Plugging in an electric guitar with some gain and even playing a simple scale  sounds really awesome. 

Plus side of Electric Guitars for beginners

As mentioned before. Electric guitars have thinner strings and also a thinner body. This means for beginners, it won't hurt their fingers as much. And allow them to practise for longer. 

And reduce neck and back pain from leaning over the guitar to look at the fretboard constantly. 

Also electric guitars are quieter to play unplugged. Useful if you don't want to disturb any neighbours in a London Apartment. 

Downside of Electric Guitars for beginners

The mean downside to the electric guitar is that you have to spend a little more money. The electric guitar plays best with an amplifier.

Most decent amplifiers will cost you about a hundred pounds.

While some guitar kits come with amplifiers, these are usually not that good. If you plan on getting an electric guitar, the amplifier is extra. If that's something you want to wait for, you can get a headphone amp. 

A headphone amp allows you to listen to your guitar "plugged in" through headphones. 

We like this one Vox Headphone Amp. Click for Amazon link. 

Vox headphone amp for electric guitars

And it's useful for London apartments where you want to stay quiet for the neighbours too. But still sound awesome practising. 

Children Sized Guitars

kids guitar lessons guitar tuition east london

Our student Uche with his bright blue Nylon String 3/4 size guitar. 

It’s important to remember that all three of these guitars come in 3/4 sized. This is a smaller version of the full-sized guitars.

These are excellent options for younger students. The smaller bodies are easier for them to hold.

The neck isn’t as wide, and this will accommodate their smaller fingers as they grow.

Best choice for you 

The guitar you buy is going to be up to you. My recommendation as a guitar teacher is that younger beginner guitar players start with the nylon string. The reason for this is that this guitar is easy to play.

A lot of guitar students stop playing because their instrument is too difficult for their fingers.

Younger guitar players don't have the hand strength for acoustic guitars. Adults can get by with either an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. You will have to make this choice yourself based on the type of music you like. 

Want more help on buying a guitar?

Read our "Ultimate guide to buying a guitar" to help you with the specifics of what to look for when buying a guitar. 

On top of that, find out how to buy a guitar, how much to spend. And find out what to look out for as well. 

And we talk about different accessories you might want to make sure you have too. 

Going to a guitar store

It's a good idea to go to a music store and talk to one of the store clerks. It will show you the various models for all three guitars. The most important thing is that you want one that feels comfortable.

visiting guitar store to buy guitar

Many beginners don't realise how much a guitar can weigh. And it's a good idea to try it out in person.

If you already have some guitar skills, you're going to want a guitar that meets your growing needs.

Want more help in person? Or want to speak to us about learning guitar?

Find out more by contacting us about our guitar lessons in London. We can even help you pick the right guitar for you based on the type of music you like. And the guitar techniques you want to focus on. 

For you if you are feeling awkward or struggling with playing barre chords

beginners learning to play barre chords

Feeling awkward or ending up in pain
when playing barre chords?

Are barre chords holding you back from playing your favourite songs and playing the guitar the way you want to?

A lot of people struggle to play barre chords the way they want.

This can be very frustrating.

For some guitar players, it stops them from progressing further on the guitar. For others, they give up guitar altogether.

It can seem really embarrassing when you have been playing the guitar for a while and still can't comfortably play barre chords, changing between chords, or going from open chord to a barre chord.

It feels awkward, your wrist is hurting and you wonder if you are ever going to get it.

Feeling this way is completely normal, and lots of people who try to teach themselves struggle with barre chords as well.

Having had experience helping hundreds of beginners get over this challenge of learning barre chords so that they can start feeling confident about their guitar playing. Be able to jam with other people.

Being able to play barre chords separates between mediocre guitarists and an actual guitar player.

Being able to play barre chords allows you to be able to jam with other people, get excited about approaching new songs.

You will be able to play 90% of the popular songs out there with ease.

I get that not all of you can come to our guitar lessons in London 

"The Complete Guide to Improving Your Barre Chords" is here to help you so that you can:

-Overcome your current challenges with barre chords
-Learn how to play barre chords and understand the theory behind them so you can feel confident approaching any song
-Understand the right technique and the biomechanics of playing barre chords
-Learn how to prevent injury so that you can play barre chords for hours and still feel great






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

Setting up a practise area to play guitar even if you don’t have much room

learning songwriting guitar lesson

Many people pick up a guitar and just start playing anywhere. And leave their guitar lying around at random places around the house. 

But if you want to have somewhere where you can really focus, then it's useful to have a few things set up. 

You see this guide to help get your practice area organised and ready for learning. 

Have everything you need ready 

Before you set up your practicing area and sure you have everything you need.

Such as your guitar picks, guitar strings, music paper, guitar stand, books, and so on. 

You don't want to be fumbling around trying to find things while you're trying to practice.

Make a list of everything that you need. This will save you time as you are practicing.

If you need something for the next practice session, have that ready to go.

Dedicated Room or Area

If you can, try to have a dedicated room for practice. This could be a spare room or office in your home. It's fine to practice in the bedroom, but you can get distracted. The living room has distractions, too. A dedicated room gives you a place where you can go on your own to practice your guitar. And the benefit of being able to try things out without worrying what other people think about your guitar playing. 

If you live in London, this can be a luxury. So I would recommend having a little area where you've set up your guitar things in a corner. Where you can't see your distractions. Whatever those might be for you. 

Or this could be somewhere in an office where you've got space to do so as well. 

Remove obstacles and clutter

You don't want to be bumping into things or climbing over furniture while practicing. This could be difficult in a small apartment, but you need the room to practice. Remove is things away from your practice area to keep it clutter-free.

And I don't know about you but I can really struggle to focus if I'm always thinking about tidying up things around me. So it's best to keep it clear. 

Dedicated guitar chair

When practicing the guitar, you need a chair that does not have armrests. The reason for this is you want your arms to be free while playing. You can buy dedicated guitar stools or chairs for this purpose.

You can get these at most guitar stores. You can also use a regular office chair that doesn't have armrests.

Make sure the seat is comfortable and that it has a good back. Your feet should rest on the ground. Some players like a footstool, so you might want to pick one of those up and try it out.

guitar-footrest practise room set up

Or some huge books can work as well. 

Desk or table 

You may want to have a desk or a table in your practice area. This makes it easy for you to reach for something that you're using for the practice session. if you don't have a desk or a table, a small bookshelf is suitable for your paperwork.

The key point is to keep things organised before you begin practicing.

And the more you play, the more collection of books, papers you might come to collect as well. 

Music Stand

This is where you'll put your paperwork while you were practicing. you can get different music stands, but you want one that has a solid base and enough space for your books. 

Tiger music stand

Some stands are quite flimsy and small, so you want to avoid these. There should be small pieces of metal on a stand that you can flip up to hold your books in place.

We like this one: 

Here the link on Amazon: Tiger Music Stand

Getting away from distractions 

Set up your practice area away from the television, video games, or anything else that is going to distract you.

It's important to concentrate on your music and not anything else.

Turn off your cell phone if you have one while you practice. Let others know in a household that you plan to practice guitar and don't want to be disturbed.

Folders or a filing system

You may want to invest in a filing cabinet or a good folder system. This is a good way to organise your music.

For example, you can have folders for songs, scales, chords, different techniques, and so on. This gives you a central location where you can find all your music. You might get lots of loose papers in the cause of learning guitar. And it's good to have a system to organise them. 

You could use the filing cabinet to store music books as well based upon what they are about.

Motivational Posters

Guitar practicing takes a lot of work. You should motivate yourself by putting some posters on the wall. These can be pictures of your famous players, famous music quotes, and so on. These will give you added motivation when you play. you could also put pictures of scales, chords, and other things you can refer to them.

If you don't have wall space. You could have images on your phone and follow inspirational guitar players online to help inspire you. 

Set up a schedule

You could put this on your wall if you want.

This is where you can write down what's your plan to do during the practice session. You could make a poster out of this, so it's large and easy to read. This gives you an incentive as you practice.

Check off each thing that you practice. This lets you know that you have accomplished something.

Or you could write it down in a notebook when you are planning on practise. It doesn't have to be a lot of time. But every little bit will help you build up a habit. 


By following these tips, you should have a great practice room. this keeps you organised and gives you the space you need to practice your guitar.

If you would like help on what to practise during your time. Whether you are getting a bit lost on what yo do. Or want to avoid practising the wrong things and wasting time. Find out more how we can help with our Guitar School based in Stratford, East London.

How to look after my guitar

changing guitar strings looking after your guitar

Your guitar requires some basic maintenance and care.

If you neglect your guitar, you may develop problems with it. Which would be a shame after buying something.

Here are several steps to help you take care of your guitar. Following them will help your guitar play well and look good for years to come.

If you have bought a guitar yet and would like to, read our "Ultimate guide to buying a guitar" to help you. 

Changing Guitar Strings

Whether you have an electric or an acoustic guitar, you need to change the strings often.

Strings get corroded and this transfers debris onto your fretboard. Your hands also sweat when you play.  This sweat reduces the strings life. If your hands sweat a lot, you’ll need frequent string changes.

You are always leaving tiny skin particles on your strings every time you play it too. Sounds gross - but that's why it's useful to change your strings. 

changing guitar strings looking after your guitar

How often should I change my guitar strings?

If you have the time and money. Then it would be great to change the strings once per month.

The longer you leave them, the more they lose their tone.

You’ll notice this more on acoustic guitars. Electric guitar strings have a longer life.

That's why it's a good idea to get good quality strings. You can find coated guitar strings last longer. And these need changing less frequently.

To preserve string life, wipe them down with a cloth after you play. Wash your hands before you play to reduce grime build up.

Clean the finish on your guitar

Use guitar polish and a polishing cloth to clean the finish.

Don’t use household cleaners.

You can buy these supplies at a guitar store.

Use a few drops of polish on a cloth. Clean the back, sides, and top of the guitar.

Take the strings off before you do that as it’s easier. Polish your guitar about once per month to remove smudges and debris.

wiping guitar down looking after guitar

Cleaning your fretboard

Your fretboard can build up with grime and debris.

Before you put fresh strings on, you should clean in the fretboard.

Take a credit card or another thin piece of plastic. You can gently scrape the grime off of the fretboard. There may also be debris by the frets themselves too.

You need to scrape this away. You should only do this if you noticed debris. Usually you only have to do this once every couple of months. 

If you're not sure how to clean your fretboard, talk to a guitar technician.

Watch the humidity

If you have an acoustic guitar, watch the humidity.

If you live in really humid climate, a dehumidifier might be useful.  This will help maintain the quality of the wood of the guitar.

Keep the guitar out of extremely cold or hot conditions.

hot cold weather for looking after guitar

Don’t leave your instrument overnight in a car in case of extreme weathers.

Leave your guitar away from radiators and AC units in the house. 

Electric guitars don’t need humidifiers. But may be worth getting one, if the guitar is quite expensive.

Using strap locks

Guitars have strap buttons, but straps can fall off of these easily. If you’re standing up, your guitar may fall and suffer serious damage.

Use strap locks that keep the strap secure on your guitar. These don’t cost you a lot and can be a lifesaver for your instrument.

Strap Lock for guitar straps

Especially if you want to look cool and have your guitar around your back or do cool stage moves.

Use a Guitar Stand

When practicing, ensure that you use a guitar stand.

Don’t lay your guitar on the bed or against a couch as it may fall over.

A good guitar stand will help keep your guitar secure. And are a good investment.

Keep your guitar in a case when you leave the house

When you’re not using your guitar, keep it in the guitar case. If it’s lying around, it’s easier to knock to over and damage it. You can also buy guitar hangers to hang it on the wall, so it’s out of the way.

Get a good quality Guitar Case

strong guitar case

Getting a good quality case to hold your guitar is important too. 

There are a number of things to watch out for with a guitar case. For example, are the straps going to last? 

Is the case padded that it will protect your guitar if it gets knocked? 

Does it have a good quality zip that won't break?

When you put your guitar in. Make sure both your zip closures are near the top of your guitar. This is to reduce any weak points at the base where the guitar might fall out. 

(Trust me - I've seen it happen) 

 Getting your intonation checked

You may want to have your guitar's intonation checked. This ensures that the guitar is in tune up and down the fretboard.

This is best done by a qualified guitar technician. You can do it yourself, but it takes time to learn.

You don't have to do this, but it can make a difference in how the guitar sounds. Beginners may not notice the difference in the tuning, but you will once you've played for a while.

Be careful with your belt buckle

If you wear a large belt buckle, this can damage your guitar. If you're standing up and playing, the guitar body can bang into the belt buckle. It's best to avoid wearing large belt buckles when standing as you play. If you do wear them, you have to be careful to ensure you don't get any scratches on your guitar.

Periodic Check-Ups

Take your instrument to a guitar technician once per year. Do this to ensure that everything on the guitar is working as it should be. Your guitar technician can do simple checks on your instrument to rule out problems. Just like an MOT for a car. 


These are some simple ways to look after your guitar. With a good quality guitar, if you take care of it. A guitar can last more than a lifetime. 

elderly man playing guitar

Getting the most out of your guitar

If you would like to improve your guitar playing and you live in London, England. Head over to our homepage to learn more about our guitar lessons.

We can teach you how to look after your guitar. But more importantly, how to have fun and enjoy the learning experience of playing guitar. 

How to get started with “Jamming”

Women playing music together at home

Jamming with friends is a fun and social way of improving your guitar skills and becoming more creative.  

What's Jamming?

No, it's not spreading strawberry jam. 

Strawberry jam in a glass jar.

Jamming is playing with another musician. 

This might involve just two guitars or it could be more.

And it sounds really cool when  you play with other musicians with other types of guitars. Like the electric guitar with an acoustic guitar. 

A bass guitar is a good addition to spice up the pitch range as well.

How to have a good jam session  

Some of the key tips to having a good jamming session is knowing how you can fit in with the other players. (Normally someone is play more of a lead part and the other as the rhythm player).

jamming guitar players

The rhythm player may be more focused on rhythm and good dynamics, while the lead guitarist may be playing around on a different area and range of the guitar's fretboard. The difference in their playing styles is what brings about an interesting jam session. 

Including other instruments in your jam 

Jamming can also be in the form of a band where other musical instruments like the piano and the drums are added.

Women playing music together at home

And when this happens, it's important to know how to communicate with other type of musicians. This is where a lot of guitarists fall short. 

Even if they have been playing for years, they might not understand fully what they are playing. 

And it is also useful to be able to have a basic understanding of other musician's instruments too. 

If you would like to improve your musical understanding, and have lots of opportunities to play with other musicians and even other instruments too. Contact us about our guitar lessons for adults to find out more. 

Ideas to help you progress learning guitar

choosing electric guitar to buy

Making progress for your guitar playing can be quite easy, when you feel inspired, you've got music you want to play, and you know the methods and path you need to keep getting better. 

Learning to play a song in a way that helps you progress

One way you can do this is by asking your tutor to teach you to transcribe the song in a way that will help you improve your playing.  

With the song designed specifically for you by your guitar teacher.

You can progress to learning new chords, strumming or picking technique that goes well with the song and starts practicing these new skills.  

You can also use this as a learning opportunity to help you train your ear to identify rhythm and melody in the songs as well. 

The better your ear becomes, by practising different variations of your songs, the more you will be able to be learn songs faster in the future. 

Constantly be challenging yourself

Challenging yourself is another way of progressing in guitar.

Repetition is good when you want something to stick. But giving yourself challenges and getting out of your comfort zone is going to help you get better at the guitar. 

Use your understanding to help you progress

Some ways you can challenge yourself is by using what you have learned in music theory to come up with your own melodies and chord progression.

Play those new chords with basic strumming patterns and use other methods like fingerpicking, bending, tapping and others to make it more interesting and challenging.

You can also challenge yourself by learning to play a harder song instead of sticking to simple songs.

Improving your confidence on guitar

A lot of people think progressing means similar improving technique. But guitar is multi-faceted animal. 

Improving your performance and confidence on guitar is one form of progress. 

How to do this?

One way you can progress confidence is by performing in front of an audience.

This builds up your confidence in contrast to keeping what you have learned to yourself.

Musicians feed off the energy of their fans and that's why they work hard to become better at what they do.

You don't have to start big, you can simply start by performing in front of your tutor, then advancing to friends and family and then later you can try out a bigger audience like a church.

Doing this helps you find which areas you have not perfected and allows you to polish up on those areas.

More opportunities to progress on guitar

If you would like more opportunities to jam and play in front of supportive people, then get in contact with us. We have lots of extra-curricular activities for our students to help them develop into well rounded musicians. 

Find out more by contacting us about our London guitar lessons, where lots of beginners and even more advanced performers come to us for more guidance on how to progress on the guitar. 

Basics Music Theory for Guitar

ipad goodnotes guitar tab

Before diving into playing the guitar, it is essential to understand the music theory for guitars.

Understanding music theory for guitar

Music theory is like a language for music.

Similar to a language where letters form words and words form sentences, music theory adopts the same principle.

This article will cover the very basics, but for a more thorough run through of beginners guide to music theory. 

Check out this article: 

Okay, let's get back to a few of the basics that we will cover including: 

The musical alphabet

  • Creating a scale on guitar
  • Circle of Fourths
  • Circle of Fifths
  • Triads in music
  • Chords in scales

The musical "alphabet"

A great place to start is the music alphabet which is composed of twelve letters.

The base letters or natural notes are seven and they include; A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Then we have five other notes that are known as sharps and flats. Sharps represent a higher form of the natural note while flat represents a lower form of the natural note.


















These notes are also the basic guitar chords.

The distance between notes

It is also important to define the distance between notes. 

There are two forms of steps, the half step which is the smallest distance between notes.

e.g. from B to C and the whole step which is two half steps apart e.g. from C to D. 

What does this mean on guitar?

Interpreting this to guitar language, every single fret on a guitar is a half-step, so if you play the sixth string of the guitar, at standard tune its E when open.

Pressing on the first fret makes it an F and this is half step movement form E, moving on to the second fret raises the pitch by another half a step making it an F sharp and so on.

Creating a scale on guitar

Having understood the music notes, we can select several notes in an orderly manner and come up with what is known as the major scale, which is a set of notes that are commonly used in music.

The major scale is set up in such a way that if you start with a particular note, you will end up on the same note.

The formula for this is given by WWHWWWH where W represents the whole step and H represents half step.

A clear example will be starting from G going through A B C D E F# about the formula then back to G again.

 The standard major scale only accommodates seven notes at a go.

The circles of fourths

Another thing to take note of is the circles of the fourths.

It's known as the circle of forth because the guitar is tuned in fourths.

The circle of forth is a simple tool that organises all scales in a neat graph that can be easily interpreted.

The circular graph starts with a C note at the 12 O'clock position and moves anticlockwise.

With this movement to figure out the next position on the circle, we move to the fourth note of our C scale which was F.

The next note would be the 4th note in the F scale, which is Bb.  

You keep going with this pattern, and it creates a circle is arranged in such a way as you move down you generate more flat notes, making the next letters be Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, and Gb. 

When you come up with the other side of the circle you encounter natural notes B, E, A, D, and G.

Circle of fourths music theory

In scales, flats and sharps do not exist in the same scale. 

So when looking at this circle, remember that: 

The Db is the same as C#, the F# is Gb and the natural B is same as Cb. 

These notes are identical and sound the same when played on a guitar.

That's why writing out the circle of fourths, you end up just with flats instead of a mixture of sharps and flats.  

When you take the circle of fourths and move in anti-clockwise direction it becomes the circle of fifths where you will encounter sharps instead of flats.

Circle of Fifths

With the circle of fifths, the next note is of the C scale will be the fifth note which is G. And if you keep going, we will end up writing up writing some sharp notes instead of all flats. 

Music theory seems confusing?

These show how music theory can be an abstract language to learn but the more you understand it, and is able to apply it, the easier it is to understanding playing guitar and music. 

In our acoustic and electric guitar lessons, we would be able to apply these concepts into music. So you aren't just trying to understand these concepts, but actually know what this means for you. 

Understanding basic triads

The other important subject to learn in music theory basics for guitars is basic triads.

 The word triad is another name for a three-note basic code.

So basically it's just taking the major notes and cramming them together in different combinations to get a different type of chords.

The three basic triads found in the major scale include; the major chord, the minor chord, and the diminished chord.

Creating an emotional effect on your listener

These chords have different emotional effects on a listener, for example, major chords in a song create a happy or triumphant scene, and the minor chords create a sad and somber scene and diminished chords which are used to create tension. 

In our guitar lessons, we can help you understand more about how to use triads all over your guitar, in playing, and songwriting to create more expressive music. 

Chords in your scale

Finally, another important subject to take note of in music theory basics for guitar is the chord scale. Chord scale basically allows you to take a scale in a particular key and figure out what chords you can play on that scale and will sound good together.

The process is simple, we start by building a triad which is a group of notes, we then compare these group of notes to get to their own major scales, and by comparing it to its key, we determine what type of chord it is whether major chord, minor chord or diminished chord.

Building a chord scale helps a guitar player discover which set of chords sound good together and makes it easy for a guitarist to come up with interesting music.

To see a better illustration of this, go to our beginners music theory guide. We even have downloadable content so you can have references sheets that help you learn to use these in your own guitar learning as a beginner: 

Practising the guitar for beginners

electric guitar beginner player

Beginners in guitar playing may be overwhelmed by the many things available to practice.

This is because guitar playing cuts across many music genres. Such as country, jazz, rock, a soul among others.

To avoid this confusion in your guitar practice sessions. It's best to break down these sessions to small manageable tasks that can be accomplished.

How to get started

As a beginner, you don't have to start with composing songs. You can start by copying songs that you enjoy listening to. And then start your practice session by reminding yourself of the basics. This might include the chords and strumming patterns in the song. 

Practicing a song you love makes it easy and quick to learn guitar.  And once you get to play the song in full. It really brings a sense of satisfaction motivation that helps you carry on.

Don't only practise guitar by copying songs 

Besides just learning songs for motivation. It's important to consider the make up of the song too. 

When thinking about guitar chords in the songs. We should always keep in mind that the quality of sounds the guitar produces. This might depend on how hard you are pressing the string down. Or where on the fret you are placing your fingers. And how you are transitioning in and out of your chords.

Practising your strumming dynamics

The pressure required on the strings can vary depending on whether you are playing an acoustic and electric guitar. 

For electric guitars, you don't need to press the strings as hard as on acoustic guitars. 

This is because the strings of the electric guitar are thinner. And often the strings are closer to the fretboard depending on the set up of your guitar.  

On acoustic guitar, it might hurt to hold the chords down in the beginning. This is only while you build up callouses on the tips of your fingers. And this is completely normal.  

Practising finding notes on your guitar

In addition to learning how to hold chords correctly. We need to practice identifying guitar notes on the fretboard. 

Joe Satriani is a famous guitarist. He once wrote in a magazine for practicing musician in the 1980's a simple concept. 

To play like this, you've got to know the notes on your guitar

His exercise was picking a note and trying to find every single one on the fretboard.

This method can also be used for triad chords as well. Trying to find each type of triad chords all over the guitar. 

Developing muscle memory for your guitar playing

Another good practice technique involves the development of muscle memory. 

Guitar playing requires very specific muscle memory. Especially for your right hand. 

To improve you can challenge yourself with different picking techniques.

You can start simply by picking the strings in a systematic pattern from top string to bottom string. Keeping it simple and in a way where you can hear each string individually.

Later you can vary this picking pattern and jump some strings. When you are good enough you can move on to playing the individual strings randomly. 

You can even do this with your eyes shut!

As you do this through each level, you will start improving your speed. And you will get to the point where your right hand will get used to picking different strings without looking down at your strings all the time.  Which makes you look a lot more confident. 

Listening to the pulse of the music

Music is all about the pulse. 

When you practice, you should train your ear to listen to the pulse. And make sure you are keeping to the groove of the song.

One of the ways you can do this is by using a metronome.

This is a device used by musicians and guitarists to mark time at a selected rate by giving a regular tick.

The metronome can be set faster or slower as well depending on the exercise.

For beginners, a slower pulse is used to give time for our brains to figure things out. 

Whether they are practising chord progressions; strumming or plucking style. After some practise, they can slowly increase the speed. Until they are able to play the song at its actual speed.

Using a backing track is a nice way to add more flavour than a plain metronome. 

Here's a backing track in C that can help you keep time. And also make you feel like you are playing music while practising chord changes.

Getting more help on practising and learning guitar as a beginner

If you need help with how to practise effectively. Or you want to progress quicker learning the guitar. Then get in touch with us and schedule in a free introductory guitar lesson for beginners in London

Guitar techniques…where do I start?

elderly man playing guitar

There are numerous ways one can play the guitar. As a beginner guitar player, the most common and easy technique for you would be strumming. 

This is where you hold your chord and strike all the strings, and you can do different ups and downs depending on the song. 

And vary this with how loud or quiet each strum.  

Going beyond that though, there is a whole world of guitar techniques we can work on.

Other guitar techniques include:

  • Fingerpicking 
  • Hammer-on
  • Hybrid Picking
  • Vibrato
  • Pull-offs
  • Legato
  • Bending
  • Thumb muting
  • Tapping
  • Harmonics
  • Scratching
  • Muting
  • Slapping 
  • Slides
  • Palm muting 
  • Percussion

And many more...

Does this list seem overwhelming? 

Where to start?

Maybe if you've been playing for awhile, you've already given most of these a good go. 

But there's a difference between knowing how to do them, and being able to pick them out of your tool box at any time. 

For beginners, this might be the first time you are seeing some of these names.

What we would recommend for beginners guitar players

How are you getting on with your strumming? I would make sure that you are doing okay with your strumming and keeping with the pulse of the music. 

Then I would have a look at the type of music you like and want to play on guitar. Maybe it's more acoustic fingerpicking, or maybe it's more rock and punk. 

The techniques that will be more relevant to you will stand out and I would start by practising those techniques on its own. This way, instead of copying just the song, you will be able to use that skill in other new songs that you like. 

What we would recommend for intermediate guitar players

I would write a list...

Write down all the techniques that you already know. Go through them, and see which ones you are really comfortable with and which guitar techniques you are less sure about. 

And then every time you across something new, add it to the list for you to practise in isolation. 

Soon you will have an array of guitar technique and tools at your disposal. 

You might find there are even sub-categories of certain techniques .

Eg. muting. 

You can use different fingers on your right and left hand to help you mute. 

So it's important to find out what works for you and the type of music you want to play. 

Do I need to learn all of these guitar techniques?

If you only want to play a certain type of music then now. But there are definitely several genres of music that require a high level of competency to be able to play. 

So I would assess what it is that you need and focus on those first. Going through your list and make sure you stay rounded with your practising. 

What if I'm worried about developing bad habits or not playing them right? 

That's a common reason why people will find a guitar teacher to help correct them and give them feedback. If you live in London and would like someone to guide you in the right direction. Learning the right guitar techniques for you to play music you like. Or making sure you aren't developing long term bad habits. 

Or even just making sure you are definitely learning what you need and haven't got any missing holes in your playing. Then get in touch with us below to find out more about our guitar lessons and how we can help you. 

Common Guitar Tunings

keith richards rolling stones

Standard guitar tuning exists, so that we can transition easily between simple of chords. On top of that, be able to play scales with ease and minimising the hand movement. 

A standard guitar has six strings named E, A, D, G, B, E from top to bottom.

The main ways to tune a guitar  

Some people are able to tune their guitar by ear. This does take some ear training and practise to be able to do this.  So don't worry if you are just starting out and can't do this. 

You can use an electric guitar tuner, or download a guitar tuning application for your phone if you are a beginner.

It's useful to use an electric guitar tuner that clips onto your guitar. Because  the tuner uses the vibration of the guitar to detect the tuning. Meaning that you will get a more accurate reading. Even if you are surrounded in a busy environment. 

Getting more creative with your guitar tunings

If you want to get extra creative, it is useful to know options of alternative guitar tuning.

Black Key Tuning

Some of the popular alternative tunings out there include the black key tuning. This was made popular by Curtis Mayfield a famous guitar player in the 1960s.

Mayfield was so good that he inspired famous musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Funkadelics.

The black key is the black keys on a piano translated to a guitar. It starts with F#, A#, C#, F#, A# and finally F#. This tuning fits with R&B songs.

Open G Tuning

The next tuning is open G. And was made popular by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

keith richards rolling stones

The open G is a five-string guitar tuning. However, it will be tricky to tune your low E string to a G. So what makes sense is that we tune the top and bottom E string to a D. Tune the rest like a banjo: D, G, D, G, B, and D. 

Open D Tuning

Another tuning is the open D and its spelled D, A, D, F#, A, and D. And is used a lot by fingerpicking guitar players on the acoustic guitar. 

This tuning has been used by famous artists players like Joni Mitchell and Eric Johnson.

Violin style tuning

The next tuning is the new tuning created by Robert Fripp of King Crimson. The tuning spells C, D, G, A, E, and G.

This tuning has the potential to break your guitar strings. But when done correctly can produce music like another instrument like a violin.

The tuning has a wide range of harmonic possibilities.

Nick Drake Tuning

The Nick Drake tuning is more complementary to acoustic guitar. It is a very good tuning for a chord progression type of strumming.

And the tuning is: C, G, C, F, C and E.

Nick Drake guitar tunings

Try out different tunings and see how you get on. We've got another article about this. Written by a friend of ours with more about opening guitar tunings and DADGAD if you are interested: 

If you would like to get more creative with your guitar playing then get in contact with us about guitar lessons in London

We can help you understand the guitar and the fretboard, so that you can create your own music and songs. 

Understanding Music For Beginner Guitarists

Learning music as a guitar player

Understanding Music For Beginner Guitarists

Understanding music for beginner guitarists

This guide is NOT full of jargon and fancy terms for music.

This is designed for you if you are learning guitar for the first time and would like help on understanding music and the terms associated.

And you would like help and clarity on what it all means.

Getting notes and chords confused? We’ve got you covered.

I hope as you go through this that you will pick up your guitar to go through the exercises to help you pick it all up even faster.

Note: With this guide, you are also going to get our amazing quick reference music theory terms guide. Read to the end of references of these.

Learning music as a guitar player
Learning about notes on guitar fretboard and strings
Learning about melody with guitar
Ch. 4. Learning about scales
Ch.5. Learning chords on guitar
Ch. 6. Major and minor chords. png
Musical keys on guitar music theory
Rhythm on guitar
Bonus Tips Guitar music theory

Chapter 1 

Why Understand Music?

1. Why understanding Music is important for guitarists
What is music? 

Music is anything that’s combined together to create it’s own artform, and a great way for you express yourself.

This guide is going to help to understand some of the ingredients that’s used to create music.

Is this related to Music Thoery

You may have heard of the term “Music Theory”, that’s just terms that people have invented to explain music and the general principles and guides in music.

1. Pizza making with music
Why is it useful to understand music?

It’s kind of like when you go to make a pizza. If you don’t know what the ingredients are to make a pizza, and you don’t have the recipe. It becomes hard to do it from scratch. You would be stabbing in the dark.

Now if someone gave you the base, and a few options for the toppings and how to cook it. Then you can start creating your own pizza.

If you understand the actual ingredients, then you can create more than just pizza, but calzones, and even doughnuts with the same ingredients!

1. how will this help me music
How is it going to help me? 

With music, once you understand the foundations and what you can do with it. You can do way more things with music than before.

1) Be able to be original, and not a copy cat when it comes to playing music. 

2) Create your own original music 

3) Be able to use your instruments fully rather than just "paint by numbers"

4. Be able to express yourself 

5) Feel like a musician and be able to be creative

6) Being able to play and communicate with other musicians

Can’t I just download chords and tab and play them without understand what’s going on? 

And of course you can do that. This is what happens for 90% of musicians.

You can play a lot of very popular songs and sound great without understanding what’s really going on.

But as you improve on guitar or any other instrument, you may find yourself trapped.

When you lack knowledge in some key areas, it makes it difficult to put your own stamp on the music you play.

With many students when we first meet them, are both frustrated and bored of copying and repeating the same things. Without being able to expand on anything.

If you ever want to play with other people too. It’s a great idea to have understanding of music, because it becomes a musical language you can use to communicate with other musicians.

Often students come to us with confusion about certain terms or are missing understanding on things that make it much more difficult to understand more complex music theory too. So we are going to go through some main foundations of  music that will help you.

The components of music are all linked together.
Components of music terms and music theory for guitar

They all work together interlinked with each other, so let’s start with the most simple component – Notes.

Chapter 2 


2. Notes on Guitar

You may hear a lot of people confuse learning “notes” with learning ”chords” on the guitar.

A note is a singular pitch.

If you sing out loud one pitch and don’t change it. That’s a “note” that you are singing.

On the guitar, if you pick one string only for on one fret, you will be playing one note.

So how many notes are there?

There are almost infinite notes because notes are refined by the pitch of a sound. In musical terms, we like to name them using letters. A to G to help us identify them.

Notes On A Fretboard Of The Guitar

Between A-G, there are notes in between the letters as well.

Here are all the notes in order and what you can call them. Don’t worry about the notes in between yet.

1. Fretboard on Guitar notes

Sorry if it's a little small on mobile, but the note order is: 

  F | F#/G♭| G | G#/A♭| A | A#/B♭

 | B | C | C#/D♭| D | D#/E♭| E | F

The reason why I’ve started on F is because for your first and sixth string on the guitar. When you press your finger down on the first fret, that’s F.

Try counting up the frets to find the notes:

F, G, A, B, C, D, E 

on the first and sixth string on the guitar*.

*The first and sixth string is the top and bottom string on your guitar.

Notes With No Strings Pressed Down on Guitar

If you play the string “open”, with no fingers on any frets. Then you get a “E” note.

This is what you use to tune your guitar with a tuner.

2. guitar fretboard strings

Can you work out what the other notes are on the other frets of strings 2, 3, 4, 5 given the names of each strings? *

Download our full guide for a copy of an empty  fretboard diagram and one with the answer.

Tip: Use the same order of letters and gaps in between from previous page and repeat for the other string but start on the name of the string.

Reading Notes in Music

When you read guitar music, you will either be reading tablature or score.

This is how each note is shown in both occasion:

2. Notes on guitar and strings

For score, the notes are shown on each line, which tells you what notes are but not where to play them.

With tab, the fret number and lines help tell you which specific note to play.

Finding Notes in Music on Your Fretboard

If you see a A note on score or in passing. It can be played in multiple different places on the guitar's fretboard.

Try finding all the As on the guitar and playing them!

fretboard note A on guitar

This is why guitarists use tab for music most of the time because it’s easy for them to understand where exactly they have to play each note on the guitar.

 fretboard note A on guitar

Octaves and Notes

When you tried playing all the different A notes, can you tell some are higher than others?

When you get a higher or lower A to each other. That’s called an Octave.

2b. guitar notes A on score

On guitar, even the same pitch A note gives a slightly different sounding A note tonally.

Try playing your different A notes again on the guitar, and this time try to listen to the difference between each A note and see which are an octave away from each other.

Will you tell me what ♭♮♯ mean?

♭♮♯are called "accidentals" on score music.

♯ is pronounced “Sharp” and it means one note higher than before.

♭is pronounced “flat” and it means one note lower than before.

♮means “Neutral” and the note goes back to what it was before.

G♯ = A ♭ which is the fret in between G and A.

You will notice that some notes don’t have a fret in between them:

Between     B and C       and also      E and F.

If you ever see B♯, it just means C.

And if you see F♭, it means……?

1. Fretboard on Guitar notes

What about semi-tones, tones, intervals,
note functions?

These are all different ways of measuring the distance between two notes. And Note function is more special because it’s used to measure specific relation.

2c. Fretboard frets and notes and tones

What do we do with these Notes now?

Notes is used for nearly everything in music. They are like the letters used in languages. Used in phrases, sentences, paragraphs.

But a lot easier because there’s only 13 notes instead of 26 letters! It’s just a new language that we are learning.

Using these 13 notes, we can create music with it.

Knowing your notes on the fretboard is going to make the whole process of learning to play guitar a lot easier.

Chapter 3 


understanding music theory melody on guitar for beginners

Melody ties nicely into notes because:

A melody is a sequence of notes that is pleasing to the ear.

If you sing out loud going from one note to another, creates a melody.

On the guitar, if you play a sequence of notes that sound pleasing to the ear, you’ve just played a melody.

What makes a great melody?

This is really down to the listener, as your ear develops, you may appreciate different melodies than you do now. While there are principles that can work as guides, there are always exceptions for melodies.

3a. image on music notes

Can I play any notes to create a melody?

Technically, yes you can. But it may not sound very appealing.

There are specific notes you can use to help.

Certain notes following each other make melodies sound more attractive and create a sense of entity.

Rhythm is also very important when it comes to creating melodies.

When you first start playing guitar, the main focus is chords and melodies are often either provided separately by a singer or a lead guitar player.

Playing through fingerpicking songs and some other genres, you will find a melody being played at the same time as the rhythm part, which is pretty cool!

As we go through this article, I’m going to try and explain the fundamentals in as linear order as possible.

Because we are working through paper rather than with your instrument in person. But there will be little references jumping back and forth a little.

Chapter 4 


understanding scales on guitar
What’s a scale?

A scale is a collection of notes

Why are these useful? 

People always want to learn more scales but what do they mean for music?

Besides scales being a good dexterity exercise when you play through. Scales are used as the basis of understanding music.

Understanding how you scales are created, you can then use it to understand the fretboard, how to build chords, where the notes in melodies come from.  So even if you aren’t interested in playing “lead”, it’s still important to understand.


How do scales work on guitar?

We are going to focus on the most common scales here.

A standard scale has 7 notes, and includes one of each letter.

Remember the A, B, C, D, E, F, G?

That’s where we will start from. 

What's in a scale?

C Major Scale

You have the naming note of a scale, which is also called the tonic note. (Some people call this the "root" note)

In this case, the tonic note is C.

The main two types of scales are major and minor.

And the most popular scales have 7 notes in. – Great news is that there are 7 letters available for you to use!

Tonic Note

Major or Minor

Common Scale

7 Notes

Major Scale on Guitar

Building a major scale. All Major scales follow this specific pattern.

On mobile, you might find it easier to see these diagrams on landscape view

Tonic fretboard note intervals music theory

Next thing we do is number the position of each note in relation to the scale.

We like doing this with C Major Scale first, because all the numbers land on the letters without any accidentals.

So the notes in a C Major scale is:


No matter where you play the scale on the guitar, no matter what note you start on, every major scale follows the same pattern of tones and semi tones.

Try doing it yourself, start on any note on the guitar, and see if you can follow the same pattern to play a scale along a single string.

If it’s confusing, go back to C major scale and follow the fretboard diagram to find the right notes.

Fretboard diagram notes on fretboard

Major scales are also known as “happy” scale, because it sounds cheery as you play through it.

Minor Scale on Guitar

A minor scale is built differently because the distances between each note is different.

Numbering the positions, the 3rd, 6th and 7th note is “flattened”.

The notes in a C Minor scale is then:

C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭ C

Now try playing through the minor scale starting at any note, following this pattern.

You might notice that when you play through a minor scale, it sounds sad.

minor scale fretboard note interval music theory

The other common minor scale you will see is A major scale:


This is because the A minor scale is in an easy positions to play, and uses all the letters without any accidentals too.

Notes on fretboard guitar music theory beginner

Playing through all the scales, you can see why it’s important to know your notes on the neck.

Chapter 5 


5. chord & chord progression on guitar

Nearly all songs have melodies and chords.

What is a chord?

A chord is two or more notes played at the same time.

There are lots of names of different chords, and a lot of different versions of the same chord because you can have same notes on different places on instruments.

What is a chord progression?

Chord Progressions is a series of chords played one after another. They often repeat throughout a song. 

Can I put any notes together to make a chord?

Kind of – but like melodies, it might not sound very good. So let’s start with the basic foundation of chords first and go from there. J

The most popular chord you will come across is chord with 3 notes consisting of the 1st, 3rd and 5th Note.

Using your knowledge of a major scale, we can build some chords!


5th Note of Chord


3rd Note of Chord


Naming Note of Chord

Remember how we named each position of the scale with a number? This comes in really handy now.

Major chord scale fretboard notes construction

To build your first chord, C major. We are going to use the 1st, 3rd and 5th note starting from C: C, E, G.

The most important note is the root note – which is C for this chord. And like scales, the main type of chords are major and minor.

But when I play a C chord, I play through 6 strings? Why is there only 3 notes in a chord?

That’s true, but have you ever worked out what you are playing on the 6 strings?

Go through each string and figure out what the notes you are playing are.

tableture guitar C chord
Playing a c chord on guitar fretboard

What’s the next chord in this scale? If we start from D, and take the 1st note as D, and the 3rd and 5th note in relation to D (which is the 2nd, 4th and 6th note on the scale), we get D, F, A.

D chord based on the C scale as minor chord

Notice how the 3rd note is in a different relationship to the root note: D.

This 3rd note is “flattened”. And it is 3 frets away from the root note.

This creates a “minor” chord. And starting from D,  we have D minor chord.

Comparing Major and Minor Chords

We call the two different relationship between the root note and the 3rd as either “Major 3rd” or a “Minor 3rd”. And this is the main thing that distinguishes between a major chord and minor chord.

Eg. C major chord = C E G

Whereas C Minor chord would have a flattened 3rd, so it becomes:

C, E♭, G.

All 7 chords built on the C Major Scale

all 7 chords based on the C major scale

This is the start of writing chord progressions.

When you know what type of chords are used, major or minor. You can write songs based on those chords.

Using any major scale, the chords always come out in this order:

Chord Number

Type of Chord

In Numerals






















All chords built on the same scale are called diatonic chords.

In music, we like to write to write the chord numbers in Roman Numerals.

Major - Capital Letters

Minor – lowercase letters

The Most Common Chord Progression

Now that you can see where chords come from, just like melodies, you can randomly pick chords to play one after another, they may not sound great at random.

Let’s look at what some of the most common chord progressions are.

I V vi IV

  Sounds like this:

Used by thousands of songwriters, it creates a hopeful, cheery sounding song.

80% of top pop songs only use 4 chords that repeats throughout. Let’s see what popular songs use exactly this chord progression.

Songs that use Chord Progression: I V vi IV




Jessie J

Girls Like You

Maroon 5

When I come around

Green Day

Don’t stop believe



Lady Gaga


Natalie Imbruglia

Happy Ending


Hey Soul Sister


It’s all about you


Letter to Elise

The Cure

Walks Like Rihanna

The Wanted

Under the bridge

Red Hot Chilli Peppers


Avil Lavigne

For more songs, go to downloadable to get the more songs with this common chord progress. 

This means that you technically only need to learn 4 chords and you can play an endless amount of songs!

It’s the melody, the rhythm, timing, instruments that makes each song unique.

Second Most Common Chord Progression:

The other common progression is:


Listen here:

Which uses exactly the same chords, but the feeling it creates is slightly more sad.

This is because of the relationship between each chord changes to create a different feeling.

It’s interesting how the relationship of different notes make a chord sound different. And the relationship between chords make music sound different too.

Perfect, so all I have to do is learn 4 chords?

Fortunately there’s a lot more to playing guitar than learning 4 chords! Otherwise it would be quite boring and you would be done in a week.

In lessons with us, you will understand how to best use these chords to create your own music. And understand why the relationships have an impact on the feeling you get from the song.

On top of that, it’s the execution of these chords, and the confidence in playing them. And the creative flare you provide, that makes the song unique to you and your guitar playing. (Even if you did just play those 4 chords. ) That’s the type of things we can really help you with in person.

Of course, there is so much more you can learn for your guitar playing besides playing 4 chords really well. Which makes learning guitar really fun! And a wonderful journey to embark on.

Chapter 6 

Major & Minor

6. major and minor key and scales guitar
What does major and minor mean? 

Major and Minor is a way of describing happier and sad sounding music components.

The reason why something sounds happy and sad is because of relationships of the notes away from each other.

So far, we’ve explored major and minor chords & scales.

Major happy face

Sounds Happy



Minor sad face

Sounds Sad



Let’s do a little bit of ear training to see if you can recognise if something is major or minor!

What type of scales are there? 

Can you tell by listening to the following scales if they are major or minor? (Does it sound happy or sad?)

Answers at right at the bottom of this guide. So no cheating.

What type of chords are there? 

Can you tell by listening to the following chords if they are major or minor? (Does it sound happy or sad?)

Again, answers are at the bottom if you need to check.

How did you find it? This exercise can be really hard or really easy for you depending on your level of ear training. And it's definitely something you can improve at. 

This "feeling" you get some major and minor chords and scales carry over into the Key of music. 

Let's have a look at this in the next chapter. 

Chapter 7 


music keys on guitar
What’s a key? 

A collection of chords built from a scale.

When people talk about a “key” of a song. This is the naming note of the scales, and chords used in the song.

For example:

A song in the key of C Major:

Has the notes from C Major Scale in it – and these notes can be used for the melody.

And the chords used in the song come from the chords built from those notes. As discussed earlier in the chord progressions.


The Key of C Major

Where C is the tonic note and C Major is tonic chord.

C Major














Notes in a C Major Scale

You can work out what the notes are from starting at C and following the tone and semi tone relationship.

Chords in C Major

Following the pattern for major scale:

Major – Minor – Minor – Major – Major – Minor - Diminished

The Key of C Minor

Where C is the tonic note and C minor is tonic chord.

C Minor













Notes in a C Minor Scale

You can work out what the notes are from starting at C and following the tone and semi tone relationship.

Chords in C Minor

Following the pattern for minor scale:

Minor – Diminished -  Major – Minor – Minor – Major - Major

You can see here how the notes relate to the chords from the previous chapters. And how the key is made up altogether. 

Applying Different Chord Progression
to Different Keys

Thinking about the I V vi IV progression before. We can move the chord progression in different keys:






C Major





D Major





E Major





F Major





G Major





A Major





B Major





If you play a song that has the chord progression: C, G, Am, F,

You know it’s the same relationship as chord progression: D, A, B, G

This is called transposing, when you move all the notes/chords to a different key but keep the same relationships. The feeling you get from the song is the same!

guitar keys learning music theory
Understanding keys and chord progressions:

A lot of guitar players don’t understand about keys and chord progressions because it’s not necessary. On a lot of guitar tab or chord sheets.

The chords are there and it’s not easy to see how they are linked together.

Once you understand, it can open options for you in personalizing songs, writing leads, trying different chords, being creative with your own songs.

If you are with other musicians and they request for you to transpose a song to a different key, you can do that too!

Go to the bonus tips section for a full list of notes and chords in each key.

Chapter 8 


8. rhythm on guitar
What’s Rhythm?

A placement of sounds in time with music.

Rhythmic patterns tends to follow the beats of a song.

Beats is like when you tap your foot along to a song and is liked to the pulse of the song. 

If you had nothing else going on in a song, no melody, no chords. Having interesting rhythm is something you can still express a lot of emotion and have a lot of fun with!

And without rhythm, a note – is a pitch and is not music. Even a chord by itself with no rhythm is just a chord. This is why rhythm is so important.

The two things that create rhythm is the presence of a sound and the absence of one.

These sounds can be created by notes or chords played on your guitar, or even using your guitar as a percussion instrument.

length of note duration music theory rhythm reading

Different duration of notes

And when there are no notes and chords being played. That’s a rest.

musical rests in music theory rhythm reading

Different duration of rests

There’s a complete system for rhythms to make it easy to read for musicians and guitar players. 

This is also why for if your piece of music has lots of different rhythm in, instead of a straight-forward strumming pattern. It’s much easier to read the score music than tab or chord sheet. 

Different Durations of Sounds/Notes & Rests

Through score notation, you can see the duration of each sound/note and also rests last for. These are some of the common notations: 


whole note rhythm
half note rhythm
quarter note rhythm reading music
eighth note rhythm reading music
Sixteeth note rhythm


whole note rest rhythm reading music
half note rest music rhythm reading
quarter note rest rhythm reading
eighth note rest rhythm music reading
sixteeth note rest music rhythm reading

Note Length

Whole Note

Half Note

Quarter Note

Eighth Note

Sixteenth Note

In 4/4 Time

4 beats

2 beats

1 beat

1/2 beat

1/4 beat

How do all the different notes and rest durations relate to each other?

Scroll across to see table on mobile:

Duration of Note


1 x 1

whole note rhythm

2 x 1/2

4 x 1/4

8 x 1/8 

eighth note rhythm

16x 1/6

16th notes rhythm reading

1/8 notes and 1/16 notes are written like this to save space:

eighth note rhythm 2

How do we group these rhythms symbols? 

Bars are what we use to organise beats, notes and rests.

beginner and end of musical bar

90% of popular songs has 4 beats in a bar and each beat is ¼ note: Q

This is called  

The top 4 is the number of beats and the bottom is the duration of each beat.

¼ =  

So 4 x   =  1 bar

Here is 4 bars as an example of how all the durations of beats and rests fits together:

Count of beats in a bar:

4 bars of rhythm reading score music

Each bar adds up to 4 beats.

The third line is the duration length of each symbol. I’ve represented rests in brackets ( ) so you can see clearly. 

mobile 4 bars score rhythm music reading

When you count out loud, you would say:

1, 2, 3, 4,   1, 2, 3, 4,   1, 2, 3, 4,   1, 2, 3, 4

Try counting out 1 louder when you first start 

How does this apply to guitar? 

This might seem scary, and rhythms can get even more complex.

When you first learning the guitar, the most important things you need to focus on is what this means for your strumming patterns.

You may see this type of strumming pattern written out:

strumming pattern rhythm on guitar

The top line shows this to be 4 beats in 1 bar

If we wrote this rhythm out in score, it would be:

strumming rhythm score guitar reading

A muted percussion sound/note is shown with X at the bottom of the symbol.

What does it mean?

The symbols represent whether your hand is strumming up or down, or if it’s a muted strum. If it’s blank, then there is no strumming. 

down strum

= Down Strum

up strum in guitar

= Up Strum

Muted strum on guitar rhythm reading

= Muted Strum

Tip: In most popular guitar music, a chord is held for the whole bar and a 4 chord progression repeats through 4 bars.

A few more rhythm keywords to mention:

A few other things that are related rhythm I will quickly mention includes:


How fast the music is going

Normally you count this as the number of beats per minute.

The most popular songs are often around 80-110 BPM.


How you make the note sound.

The note could be played louder, or softer, so making it sound shorter and pointy or having a note held for longer.

In a 4 bar beat bar as we’ve been going through, the first and third beat are commonly played louder than the other beats.

This all still seems very confusing...

Rhythms can seem very confusing, and it’s one of the things that a lot of guitar players ask us for help with.

Especially when it’s not applied to music that you are working on.

In lessons, we would be able to show you how this all applies to your favourite music, and you understand it and is able to use it.

We will help you not only know all the facts, but actually be able to apply it to music so you can become a great guitar player.

Any questions, contact us on 02031434809 or email at today if you want to ask how we can help you in our lessons.

Oh wait! You’ve still got bonus tips in the chapter below waiting for you!

Chapter 9 

Bonus Tips For You

Bonus music theory understanding for guitar tips

Well done for getting this far!

I tried to make everything as easy to understand as possible. But if there is anything that is confusing or you think could have been explained easier. Drop us an email: so we can help you. J

In this bonus section, you can download the following:

Fretboard Diagram – important for learning your notes

All notes in all keys – useful reference guide for melody writing

All chords in all keys – useful in chord writing and working out keys of songs.

Fuller list of songs built on the idea of the most common chord progression: I V VI vi 

I've also got the answers to Ear Training exercises from earlier.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this article/workbook. It took some time to put together, so if you appreciate it, share it with anyone you know that you think would benefit from it!

Downloadable Content:

This content is too difficult to upload online and will be much easier for you to access to help your musical understanding for your guitar playing as a beginner: 

Click on the link below to download this whole guide which includes your bonus content. 🙂 

If you choose to download the guide, you may get other guitar learning email advice from us in the future. 🙂 To opt out, just unsubscribe from the email you get from us. 

Oh I nearly forgot! 

The answers to your ear training exercise from Chapter 6 - major and minor. 

Scroll down to find them:

downloadable content for beginner musician guitar

What type of scales are there? - Answers 

C Minor

G# Major

F Minor

C Major

C Major

E Minor

G Major

A Minor


What type of chords are there? - Answers 

A Minor

D Minor

G# Major

C Major

D Major

A♭ Minor

G# Minor

G Major

author jennifer guitar tuition east london



at Guitar Tuition East London

Handmade and crafted by me 🙂 

I hope you've enjoyed this guide

“Understanding Music for beginner guitar players.”

Any questions, contact us on 02031434809 or email at today if you want to ask how we can help you in guitar lessons at our school. J

Different Acoustic Guitar Body Types

sizes and shapes of acoustic guitar

There are a bunch of different guitar body shape and size. Knowing about them can help us choose the right guitar for a particular playing style. Or even for us to feel more comfortable playing guitar. 

The acoustic guitar has three main sizes: small; medium, and large sized guitar.

Small sized acoustic guitars and their features

The small size guitar has nice mid-range punch and clear articulation.

There are lots of popular playing styles that can be played with a small guitar. If you want to use this little guitar to play some nice acoustic tracks and do some fingerpicking. Then it should suit you great. 

Example of a small guitar includes the Parlour Guitar. 

Parlour Guitars

Baby parlour acoustic guitar

The parlour guitar has a small compact body with a punchy sound with a delicate tone.

The parlour only has 12 open frets.

19th and early 20th pre-war size Martin 1-21 of 1881 was referred to as parlour guitars. And these were made popular by Jimmie Rodgers.

Some modern versions of modern parlours are made by companies like Eastman; Blue Ridge and recording king.

Most parlours have V-shaped necks and a good for songwriting because of their convenience. 

The parlour can also be seen as a more comfortable option for players who find large body guitars uncomfortable.

Another take on the parlour size is the travel.

This is a great guitar which is easy to travel with. And is a great option for beginners or kids. Martin, Johnson, and Fender all make their own version of the "travel" guitar.

Medium sized acoustic guitars and their features

Middle size guitars exhibit the largest dynamic range and the largest tonal response. They are very balances on both the treble or the base. Because they sit somewhere in the middle. This makes them a nice rounded guitar for the collection. 

Medium sized guitars makes a logical choice for a bunch of different styles. Like fingerpicking, flat-picking, and strumming.

Concert and Grand concert acoustic guitars

yellow orchastra acoustic guitar

The concert and the grand concert are a mid-sized body shaped guitar with a full waist.

Because of their smaller body, these guitar has more controlled overtone. Great for fingerstyle; and perfect for sound projection when recording.

The Martin 00 series were some of the most popular guitars in this category. Introduced in 1877 as gut string guitars and similar to a classical guitar shape.

Some of the famous musicians known to use the concert and grand concert guitar include: Woody Guthrie, John Mayer and Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan's first guitar was a Martin 00-17.

The Dreadnought

torquiose Dreadnaught acoustic guitar

The dreadnought was originally designed in 1915 by Martin D. And first sold by the Oliver Gibson Company on special order.

It was then officially released in 1931 by Martin with country musicians in mind.

This instrument has over the years being played by popular musicians like Johnny Cash, Neil Young.

Gibson made a variety of the dreadnought like the j-35, j-45, j-15 and hummingbird. 

Dreadnought is often associated with folk music, in particular, the 1960's folk boom. They were also used in bluegrass music .And are now used in different arrays of music genres.

Auditorium or Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar

purple Grand Auditorium acoustic guitar

The auditorium and grand auditorium is similar in shape to the dreadnought. But with a much more pronounced waist.

This waist provides a different tone from the dreadnought. Grand auditorium tends to have a mid-range scoop which makes them compatible with singer-songwriters and worship leaders.

A few notable guitars in this category are the Taylor auditorium. And the early 1900 Martin classics. Including the Martin-000 series and the Martin-OM series.

Many artists have played the grand auditorium. But one of the most famous moments for this guitar is the Eric Clapton. Playing it at the unmarked concerts.

Larger sized Acoustic Guitars and their features

The Large body size guitar has the largest bass response tonally. And can produce a loud volume from the resonance.  They make great guitars for strumming. 

The Jumbo sized acoustic

Blue Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

The jumbo has the largest guitar body shape in acoustic guitars.  This shape is responsible for providing more bass and volume.

This guitar was designed by Gibson to compete with the dreadnought. It's designed with maximum resonant space for greater volume and a deep sounding box.

The Gibson j-200 and the superjumbo are the most popular jumbo body types.

The jumbo is widely used in country music and a little in rock music. This instrument is great for solos too. 

Other jumbo manufacturers apart from the Gibson. Including, Taylor, Martin, Guild, Ibanez, Ivarez and Takamidi. The last three being Japanese companies who made the jumbo at a cheaper price.

I want to know more about buying guitars

We've written our ultimate guide to buying a guitar here: 

Where to buy your new acoustic guitar? 

Our favourite guitar store is PMT based in Old street or Romford 

What about electric guitar body shapes?

The difference between electric guitar body styles is simply the lack of a void which is common in the acoustic guitar. The electric guitar is basically a flat board and the sounds it produces do not depend on the shape and size of the body but on the electric conductivity of the strings as well as the bridge type.

I want to take guitar lessons with my new acoustic guitar!

If you would like to take London acoustic guitar lessons, then get in touch with us to find out how we can help. 

What can you do with backing tracks?

ear training for learning guitar

What can you do with backing tracks?

Many beginning guitar players don’t know why they should use and what to do with a backing track.

Before looking into these two questions let’s first define our terms:

A backing track is a recording intended to be used while playing your instrument. So why should you use a backing track?

It depends on what you are looking to achieve and in the following suggestions you find the reasons why those processes are relevant for you. The most important aspect is that backing tracks are fun to use.

In addition, they can help you a lot.

By their design they need you to keep the time, keep track of which chord is played, which chord will come next, what to play, when to play it and then actually playing it. This is ideal training.

Here are three ideas what to do with a backing track to get you started:

Use For Aural training

The first thing that comes to mind is ear training.

ear training for learning guitar

If you don’t know the chords in the backing track this is an ideal opportunity to start a process of try and error to figure them out. Here is a procedure that could work for you:

  1. Listen to the whole backing tracks and especially listen to the chord changes.
  2. Start with the first chord and ask yourself whether the chord sounds major or minor.
  3. Guess a chord of the type you determined. For example: G major.
  4. Play the chord you’ve guessed and play it over the first chord of the backing track.
    1. If it doesn’t fit, try again. Don’t get discouraged: If the type is correct, there are only 12 notes to start the chords from.
    2. If it fits, write the chord down, go back to step 2 and start again with the next chord. If it is the last chord you are finished.


Try Practicing chords

You could use the backing track to practice your chords and your chord changes. Using a backing track is very useful because of two aspects.

First is that it immediately sounds fuller and is more fulfilling to play with a backing track than training alone. So if you are struggling to practice your chords try to use a backing track with them.

The second aspect is the mercilessness with which the backing track is keeping it’s rhythm.

Metronome for guitar playing

If you are used to train on your own without a metronome this is very important, because in the real world nobody is going to wait on you to change the chord. Training with a backing track is one way to deal with this. If the backing track is switching the chords too fast at first reduce the number of strums you use or leave single chords off until later but don’t correct your playing too late by speeding up. If you are too late on one chord change it’s better to stop and start again a few measures later.

Ideas to vary this process range from playing different types of chords (Power chords, Open chords, Bar chords,… ) to concentrate on fluent changes between them.


Improving Your Improvisation

You could work on your improvisational skills. In fact this is one of the most common uses for backing tracks.

London guitar lessons student at GTEL
Rob, our guitar student improvising on his electric guitar

No matter what level of playing you’ve reached by now applying what you know to a backing track is a challenge that can be very fun and fulfilling to tackle. Many backing tracks come with proposed scales to use over the track. Starting with that is a good idea.

When going further take one aspect of your improvising and focus on it for two to five minutes. Afterwards pick the next aspect and work on that.

Possible topics to work on are:

  • Playing short phrases (e.g. one bar long)
  • Connect two chords
  • Using a Call and Response scheme
  • Targeting chord tones
  • Targeting “wrong” notes and focusing on making them sound intended
  • Use bends/slides/legato techniques (excessively).


These ideas were presented by René Kerkdyk. René is the owner of Rock Gitarre Hildesheim, the first guitar school in Hildesheim, Germany. If you live close by and are looking for guitar lessons, you can find them by clicking on the link above.




Seven Easy Steps To Creating Clean Sounding Guitar Chord Changes

Learning to play guitar

Seven Easy Steps To Creating Clean Sounding Guitar Chord Changes

Changing quickly between guitar chords, so they are clean and smooth, is the key to making the songs you play on your guitar sound great.

This is a fundamental skill that doesn’t call for hard work, although it does require some time and attention in the beginning. It is a process that cannot be rushed however, when you follow and practice the instructions below – daily, you will begin to see results quickly.

Is close enough good enough?

The effort required for clean and swift chord changes, is usually why most beginning guitar players choose to adopt the ‘close enough is good enough’ theory.

Don’t let this be you!

To begin, pick two chords you can play comfortably (E minor to A minor). You will continue to play these two chords back and forth, over and over again. Do this so you can focus on the steps below

7 Easy Steps for Smooth Guitar Chord Changes

The first six of the seven easy steps, to smooth guitar chord changes below, all use your fretting hand only. You will NOT be strumming. To prepare:

  • Place your thumb in the middle of the back of the guitar neck
  • Use your fingertips to fret the chords
  • Make sure there is a gap between the palm of your hand and the guitar neck so you are not touching (muting) the thin E string.

Step 1. 

Place your fingers in position for the E minor chord. Once your fingers are in the correct position, slowly lift offyour fingers from the strings. Not completely away from the fingerboard, but just enough to hover over the strings where your fingers normally fret the chord. Do this slowlyby holding your fingers above the notes of the chords – for a second or two – and then…

Step 2.

Place down all your fingers at the same time back into the position of the chord. It is vitally important to do this! It is normal that your fingers will want to come down one at a time to begin with. Mentally tell yourself to place all your fingers down together will gradually make this easier. Getting your fingers to come down, at the same time, is a key step in getting smooth and clean chord changes.

Step 3.

Repeat the above two steps for another four times for a total of five repetitions. When you place down your fingers for the fifth time, press a lot harder than you normally would fretting the chord and hold for 10 seconds.

  • Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 for the A minor chord. Make sure you do all these moves SLOWLY as this helps build the much needed hand strength and muscle memory. 
  • Repeat steps 1-3 for a total of five times.

For the next step repeat the same above Lift off/ Place down technique. This time however, you will liftoff one chord, and then move your fingers into the next chord shape. Before placing your fingers down into the second chord shape though, hover over the chord shape before you place downall fingers togetheronto the next chord.

Steps four and five will explain exactly how to do this.

Step 4. 

Hold E minor chord in position – lift off – change and hover your fingers over the Am chord before you place downall your fingers together into the A minor chord.

Step 5.

Lift off A minor chord – change and hover your fingers first over the E minor chord – place down all fingers together into E minor chord.

Step 6.

Repeat back and forth SLOWLY between both chords for 2 minutes. Get yourself a countdown timer to do this.

At this stage, your fretting hand maybe feeling sore, tight or even fatigued. This is completely normal to begin with. Give your hands a rest if this is the case. By doing these steps daily you will gradually build up the strength in your hands.

For the next step you will continue with the same two chords but you will add your strumming hand. You will be actively listening to how each chord sounds now. 

Step 7. 

Hold down E minor and strum all the strings (string 6 through to string 1) with your strumming hand once only. Now change to the A minor (hover then place fingers down together). With your fingers in place, strum (strings 5 through 1) for the A minor chord once only. 

Now repeat this by going back and forth between the two chords.

Once you have completed the seven steps, choose two different chords. Work through them as you have just done. Then repeat all the above exercises with all the chords you know. Mix up the chords in any order. This will prepare you for changing into and out of chords as you would in songs. 

Make the commitment to yourself to practice chord changes for five to ten minutes daily. Knowing, and practicing the above steps, you are training yourself to become a better guitar player. Happy practicing!

About the author: For over three decades, after having picked up at guitar at the age of thirteen, Allen Hopgood has played countless gigs playing straight ahead rock, blues, pop songs and jazz standards. He continues to refine his chops everyday while running his very own guitar school in the Gold Coast areaof Australia. 

Creating A Simple Chord Progression


It is fairly straight forward to come up with a chord progression for pop music.

You certainly do not have to be a genius to get it done. The typical pop song is either in a major or minor key. The first thing you need to do is to pick a key to work in.

playing barre chords on guitar

Picking a key to work in 

Let’s pick C-major for this example. To make things simple, we will be using only the chords in the key of C-major. To understand what the chords are, we need to first know the C-major scale:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

To work out the chords in the key of C-major, we will form a chord for each of the notes on the scale. When forming a chord, we are only using notes that are part of the C-major key:








Each of these chords can also be described as a chord degree.

The chord degrees of a major and minor key are written in roman numerals. The chord types are the same in each major and minor scale. These are the chord degrees of the major scale:

I      major

II     minor

III    minor

IV    major

V     major

VI    minor

VII   diminished

Each of the chord degrees also has a function. A harmonic function describes the role that a particular chord plays in a larger harmonic progression.

learning songwriting guitar lesson chord progression

Here are the functions of the major scale chord degrees

I      Tonic

II     Supertonic

III    Mediant

IV    Subdominant

V     Dominant

VI    Submediant

VII   Leading Tone

We can simplify these functions into three main groups: tonic chords, subdominant chords and dominant chords.

Tonic chord degrees: I, III, VI

Subdominant chord degrees: II and IV

Dominant chord degrees: V and VII

Some General Rules

  • Subdominant chords work well after tonic chords, but before dominant chords. 
  • Dominant chords work well after subdominant chords. 
  • Tonic chords followed by either a dominant or subdominant chord usually works.

Now that we know about the different chord degrees and functions of the chords, we can start to look at our chord progression in more detail. In pop music you will often find melodies with an amount of bars that is divisible by 4. Therefore, typically you will come across melodies with a length of either 4,8,12 or 16 bars. Let’s pick 8 bars for our example. Our goal is to fill each bar with a chord that is in the key of C-major.

It is very common for a song to start and end from the first degree chord. This means that a piece in C-major will often start and end with a C-major chord. Let’s place two C-major chords in our 8-bar structure at the beginning and end:

C I   I    I   I    I    I    I  C  II

Next, we will want to work on the chords in between the two C-major chords. At the end of a pop-song, it is very typical to use a dominant chord before the tonic chord. Let’s place the dominant G-chord at the end before C:

C  I   I    I    I     I     I   G  I  C II

Adding more chords your chord progression 

Now that we have our basic chords figured out, we can start adding more chords to the chord progression. We could add any chord from the C-major scale inside the structure we have created. Some chord structures will sound better than others, but it is up to you to decide which chords you want. Let’s place e-minor and F-major into the second and third bars:

C  I  em  I F I   I   I   I G I C II

F-major is a subdominant chord, so it would make sense musically to add a dominant chord after that:

C  I  Em  I F I G  I    I    I G I C II

After a dominant chord, it is typical to have a tonic chord. Since we have the C-major chord as the last chord of the entire composition, we could now use a different tonic chord as the next chord. Let’s try a-minor:

C  I  em  I F I G I am I   I G I C II

We are at the point where only one chord is missing. This chord is in between a tonic and a dominant chord is most often a subdominant. Therefore we can now place d-minor, the subdominant chord we have not used yet, as our remaining chord in the progression:

C  I  em  I F I G I am I dm I G I C II

After a few simple steps, we have come up with an 8 bar chord progression for pop. I recommend practicing creating chord progressions by coming up with at least 10 different chord structures. 

Important Note: 

Remeber, the general rules given in this article are meant to give you some direction as to what is common in tonal music. You certainly can and should break these rules, because music composition is not about rules written on paper. It is about what sounds good, and what you, as a composer, want to express through your music!

© Matti Carter 2018

About The Author:

Matti Carter is a composer and piano instructor based in Tampere, Finland. He teaches piano at a piano school he founded in 2016 in Tampere. If you are interested in taking piano lessons or have any music related questions, feel free to contact him.

Wrist hurting when playing guitar?

wrist pain from learning guitar

Why Does Your Wrist Hurt When Playing the Guitar?

If you have pain in your hand and your wrist when you are playing the guitar, we are going to look at some of the reasons why this might be and how to solve it.

If you are right at the beginning of learning the guitar, then you may have pain that you have to go through in the beginning while your hand grows stronger.

wrist hurting playing guita

There is a couple of things we will go through that might help. It’s important to remember it’s normal to have certain level of pain when you first start learning.

Make sure you don’t play through shooting pain.

Keep your practising to about 20-30 minutes when you are on your own. If you have a great guitar teacher, making sure your technique is correct. You can play for hours and you would be fine.

Biggest Cause Of Wrist Pain

One of the biggest cause of wrist pain is to do with tension in the rest of your body.

Whether it’s in your shoulder or back or any other areas.

This tension may stem from how you are sitting. I have linked below a video on how to sit properly to help you with this to ensure you have good sitting technique when playing the guitar.

Playing Barre Chords

If you are struggling with barre chords. Which can happen whether you’ve been playing for 6 months or 6 years, it all depends on where your guitar playing is at.

When you first learn to play barre chords, you need to build up strength in your wrist to be able to play them for long periods of time.

In the beginning, keep consistency, and regularity with practising those barre chords with 10-15 minutes at a time. The cool thing is that once you have really improved your barre chord playing and built up those muscles. It’s a skill that is going to stay with you basically forever.

Another struggle with barre chords

Another common thing that causes wrist pain is when you are trying to play barre chords, you spend a lot of time pressing hard on the guitar.

If you are getting a lot of tension in your wrist, forearm, even your thumb. Then you might be pressing too hard on the guitar while playing barre chords.

A good exercise to try to combat this is to gently press down for a chord from a muted stage, then keep squeezing until a clear sound comes out. You can do this for both chords and for single notes to check if you are over pressing.

wrist hurting playing guita

Pressing too hard on the guitar

Also with a lot of guitars, when you are pressing too hard, you are actually bending the string and can get your notes out of tune.

Other reasons for suffering from wrist pain

There are other reasons that your wrist pain might be happening, but if you are getting lots of wrist pain, then you need to get a professional guitar teacher to look at your posture and technique to ensure that short term, you save yourself from wrist pain. And sometimes even a doctor because it might not be guitar related at all.

Having a professional guitar teacher look at your technique means in the long term, you are not doing any sustained damage to yourself. Whether that’s your wrist and perhaps other parts of your body if you are using incorrect techniques.

If you are based in East London in England and are suffering from wrist pain and what to know how to overcome this and learn proper technique for playing the guitar through our guitar lessons. Get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you and find out how we can help.

We provide a holistic approach to teaching that not only helps you with learning songs, building up your confidence on the guitar. But ensures that you enjoy learning guitar as a journey in a vibrant community that supports your long-term success.

Click on the button below contact us and request your free introductory guitar lesson and find out more about guitar lessons for you.

3 Important Things You Need When Learning to Play Acoustic Guitar

Tommy Emmanuel Guitarist Guitar tunings

Learning how to play the acoustic guitar is the most popular way to start these days.

However, that is not necessarily the easiest way to go about it. The acoustic guitar does present some physical challenges because they tend to be bigger than electric guitars.

Don’t despair, you can definitely overcome those challenges if you go about it the right way.

Here are 3 important things you need to know to help you successfully learn how to play the guitar when you start on an acoustic.

1. Start On The Right Foot And Buy Yourself A Good Quality Guitar

Acoustic guitars come in many different levels of quality and the higher the quality of the guitar you learn to play on the easier it will be.

You should definitely avoid beginner or entry level acoustic guitars if at all possible. These guitars are very cheap and they are typically much harder to play.

Why? Because they are usually full body guitars so they are bigger and bulkier to hold. The strings are typically further from the fretboard and a lot more difficult to press down.

When you buy a higher quality guitar you can usually circumvent those many of things. For example, you can find thinner bodied guitars which are ideal for people who are just starting out like.

Investing a bit more on a good quality guitar that fits you better at the start will help you start on the right track and make it more likely you will succeed at learning to play the acoustic.

2. Prepare To Add A Healthy Dose Of Perseverance

Playing the guitar is not the easiest skill to learn. Trying to learn on an acoustic guitar makes it slightly more difficult, and that is still true if you have a good quality guitar to start with.

The acoustic guitar presents challenges with the size of the body. Even on a thin bodied guitar it will be thicker than it would be on an electric. The neck on an acoustic is also typically wider so you have to stretch a bit more.

Then you have thicker strings, the action is higher so the strings are further from the fretboard and means they need to be pressed harder to contact the frets.

Then you have to coordinate two hands and arms at the same time as you are overcoming all those other physical challenges!

There will be easy parts and more challenging parts when learning to play and that means you will need to add some perseverance when things get a bit difficult.

I’m not saying all of that to discourage you but to prepare you. Those challenges can definitely be overcome and many times avoided when you get the proper direction and training, which happens to be the next topic in this article.

3. Find A Professionally Trained Guitar Teacher

Finding someone to help teach you how to play the guitar is a good step, but not all guitar teachers are the same and most do not actually have training on how to teach.

They know how to play the guitar, and probably quite well, but they do not necessarily know how to approach teaching you how to do it.

When you find a professionally trained guitar teacher, someone who was taught how to teach and how to teach the guitar specifically, you are learning from an expert in the field of guitar.

Such a person will have the most advanced techniques and strategies to train and teach you how to learn to play the acoustic guitar by teaching the right things that you need.

This is critical for your success!

The Most Important Of The 3 Items In This Article

Finding and then learning from a professionally trained guitar teacher is by far the most important of the 3 items in this article.

That’s because finding the a person will likely mean you will be studying with the best teacher in your area. They can help you overcome any and all of the challenges that may come while learning how to play to the acoustic guitar.

They will also teach “you” specifically, not just give you stuff, and build a plan for you and your goals that will be tailored around what you want to accomplish.

Learning to play the acoustic guitar can be challenging but all of that gets easier when you find the right teacher.

About The Author:

Maurice Richard is a professional guitar teacher that operates out of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has been a member of an elite guitar teaching mentorship program since 2007 and has taught many people how to learn to play the guitar. Find out more important things you need to learn to play acoustic guitar by visiting his website right now!

How To Get Better At Strumming Patterns

rhona our guitar student performing guitar

Do you want to make your strumming sound better and more interesting on the guitar?

Do all your songs sound the same, or do you struggle to get your strumming to sound like the song at all?

This problem that you are having is very common and one I often get asked by students.

They say to me “How can I get better at strumming patterns?” or “Can you teach me more strumming patterns” on the guitar.

Most of the students who are struggling with this problem want the songs they play to sound better. And are sick of playing one chord at a time. Or they have one or two strumming pattern which they use for every song, so everything sounds the same.

They then diagnose the problem as not knowing enough strumming patterns. If this sounds like you – I can help you.

The first step is to acknowledge what your real goal is here.

Do you want to collect more strumming patterns?

Or do you want to make your rhythm guitar playing sound better?

If you want to go and collect strumming patterns, in that case, learning strumming patterns is the way to go. But that path will likely lead to you having to go and learn a new strumming pattern for every song that you go and learn. This requires a lot of effort to play each individual different strumming patterns. Because you’ll be only looking at the rhythm for each individual song you work on.

A better way to solve that problem would be training on your own ability to master rhythm playing on the guitar. Then you can pick up any strumming patterns based on what you want to play at any given time.

Try this simple exercise below.

Basic rhythm pattern:

BEAT 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Strumming Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
  1. Begin by muting your guitar strings with your fretting hand (so that we don’t get lots of extra noise.
  2. Strum down and up with your right hand while also SAYING out loud the beat numbers at the same time.
    1. You should sound like this “One And Two And Three And Four And”
    2. All the beats should be evenly spaced in time. No gaps should be longer than another.
    3. Note how when you are on a 1,2,3 or 4 your arm is ALWAYS making a downward strum
    4. When you are on the “Ands’ or the ‘+’ you are always playing an up strum.

Pattern 2:

Now we are going to start learning how to play more interesting strumming patterns:

To create a new strumming pattern, all I need to do is remove downs or ups from the strumming key line.

BEAT 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Strumming Key Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
Pattern 1 Down Down Up Down Up
Pattern 2 Down Down Down Up Down

I have put two examples here labelled pattern 1 and 2.

Make sure when you make up your own strumming patterns using the method above that you make sure that the Downs and Ups are in the right place.

Down always on 1 2 3 4

Up always on And (+)

When you practice it, you need to always be moving your hand as if it was playing down and up all the time.

Can you see how on patterns 1 AND 2 there is nothing on the AND (+) after the 1. Even though you don’t strum through the strings here, your hand is still going to move upwards – but it will do so without hitting the strings.

Creating Your Own Strumming Patterns

Practise doing this with new strumming patterns that you create for yourself, so your arm is used to moving in this motion, then it will become easier for you to learn any new strumming patterns that come across your way!

This is a great simple exercise to get you started working on your rhythm work, which will make a huge difference to your guitar playing.

If you are based in London and would like some more guidance and direction on how to improve your guitar playing. Contact us via the link below to find out how we can help you with your guitar playing so that you can master rhythm guitar playing and anything else you are after much quicker and easier.

Click on the button below to go through to our form to get started.

Get Better Results When You Practice Guitar

Music theory guitar lessons with a teacher

3 Ways To Get Better Results When You Practice Guitar

The higher quality your guitar practice is, the better results you get and faster you become a great guitarist. Fact is, many guitar players have no idea how to practice guitar to get results. A lot of them just practice things in a random manner, hoping to get better. This approach is very limiting and only gets minimal results. Here are some ways to make your practice more effective:

Integrate your skills together

Practicing guitar skills in isolation will help you master those skills to a certain degree. However, playing real music with guitar requires being able to use many different skills at the same time. For example, playing great guitar solos involves mastery over skills such as: improvising, lead guitar technique, rhythm (for timing), phrasing, ear training, fretboard visualization and music theory.

A lot of guitarists would only work on technique to become great lead players. Then would become shocked when they try to improvise a solo but struggle to play anything that sounds remotely musical. Avoid this by continually looking for ways to practice combining different guitar skills together.

Eliminate distractions and practice with total focus

The things you practice for guitar are certainly important, but the way you practice is just as important. You get more results in your practice when you practice with total focus. In part, this means totally eliminating distractions. These can include videos, television or anything else that might cause your mind to wander.

Practising Guitar with Strong Focus

When you practice with strong focus, you increase the quality of your practice. Many players make the mistake of practicing for long hours at a time without breaks and lose focus during this time.

As a result, they stop concentrating on what they are doing and retain much less benefit from their practice. Remember, you don’t have to practice 5+ hours per day to become a great guitarist. Work together with a guitar teacher to create a practice schedule and determine how long you should practice each item within it.

Track your progress

Practicing effectively is not just about repeat the same exercises over and over. You must practice using a schedule centered around your biggest musical goals. Then you need to consistently track and measure your progress every week to see how much closer you are to achieving them.

To track a measure your progress effectively, track every single aspect of your guitar playing in as much detail as possible.

Having the perfect guitar teacher for you

Having a great guitar teacher is the best way to guarantee results from your practice efforts. They understand how to help you achieve your guitar playing goals fast and will give you a schedule to follow. From there, you simply need to practice exactly as they tell you. Anytime you aren’t sure what to do, they will guide you to keep you on track.

3 Ways To Make Learning Guitar Even More Fun

carys dan performing electric guitar open mic

How to get better at guitar and have way more fun learning

Learning and getting better on guitar is one of the most fun things you can do. Unfortunately, tons of guitar players make their learning experience much less fun for various reasons.

When practicing guitar feels like work, makes you frustrated or sounds boring, you know something is wrong. Good news is, there are ways to avoid this and make learning on guitar more fun than ever. Here are just a few ways you can do it:

Set clear & tangible musical goals

Learning guitar without clear goals is only fun for a little while. Eventually, you run into several roadblocks that take away from how much fun it is to learn guitar. First, it’s hard to feel motivated to keep practicing when you don’t have something specific you’re trying to achieve. Second, it’s hard to stay motivated when you aren’t sure why you are learning a specific thing.

Guitar players who learn without goals also tend to overwhelm themselves with too many things to learn at once. This happens because they don’t know what they should be learning or simply try to get good at too many things at the same time (without using a guitar practice schedule to make their practicing time as efficient as possible).

Set musical goals for yourself so you have something to look forward to every time you play. Take the time to narrow down things you want to achieve into tangible goals (such as playing a lick at a specific tempo, playing a song perfectly several times through, etc.). Set short, medium and long term goals for yourself. As you are going through this process, avoid making vague goals for yourself such as “get better” or “play faster”… The clearer and more tangible the goal, the easier it is to understand what/how to practice to reach it.

Track how much progress you make each week

As soon as you have thought of all the goals you want to achieve, begin tracking your progress in all areas of your playing every week. This achieves the following:

  • It makes sure that you are not being held back by weaknesses in your playing. Since you are tracking your progress in all areas of your guitar playing, you quickly find the weak areas that hold you back. When you improve these areas, your overall playing improves and you don’t deal with the frustration of feeling like a total beginner at one thing, and an expert at another.
  • You practice more efficiently, because you don’t waste time working too much on things you’ve already mastered.
  • You see yourself getting better. Tracking your progress helps you really see yourself improving. This is a big part of what makes learning guitar fun. Every time you see yourself getting better, you feel motivated. The more motivated you feel, the more fun you have.

Take lessons with a great guitar teacher

Taking lessons with a great guitar teacher makes learning much more fun than trying to figure things out on your own. With a guitar teacher, you have someone with tons of experience and expertise to guide you all the way through the process of reaching your goals. Whenever you feel frustrated, you can go to him to get instant feedback to fix your problem. This means less time feeling frustrated and more time having fun.

Apply the information of this article into your guitar playing now and watch as you start having more fun than ever before!

Are you not getting the response you want from your friends and family when you play the guitar for them?

Taking London guitar lessonsguitar tuition East London

Are you not getting the response you want from your friends and family when you play the guitar for them?

Read more to find out how to improve on it next time.

We’ve all been in a situation, even from the very beginning of playing guitar. Where friends and family will ask us to play something. It can be daunting. Especially in the beginning to know what to do and what to play.

We want to help you understand a few easy things you can do to make it simple for you next time this comes up. So that you can feel more confident about your guitar playing in the future.

Who are you playing to?

When you are playing to your friends or your family. Is it your 80-year-old grandmother listening to you who is into classical or jazz? Or your brother whose into rock music? It is important to consider what your audience thinks sounds “good”. Playing what they enjoy is an important part of impressing them.

When you are in the beginning. Focus on improving your strumming. You want a variety of strumming patterns and techniques on the guitar. So even when you are playing open chords, you can add a style that speaks to your audience.

Playing within your skill level

You might be practising your latest piece at the moment. This piece of music might be the most exciting thing that you are playing currently. If this is the hardest piece you can play on the guitar. Then it is not the best thing to be playing in front of someone else. (Unless you are working on trying to perform it and that’s why you are practising it.)

When you play for someone else, you will most likely be more nervous than when you are playing on your own. When you are nervous, you will make more mistakes. The simpler you can keep the piece you are playing, the easier and more effortless you will seem. This makes you look more impressive! So stick with something simple that you are confident with when trying to impress others.

Perfect your strumming

As mentioned above, practising your strumming so you can play a variety of genres is useful. This will get your playing to sound more impressive and professional.

The quality of your strumming will improve the sound of your playing. Check out my other strumming articles and videos to find out how to improve on those if you are unsure.

What to do when making a mistake

When making a mistakes, don’t show it. Keep a poker face. Don’t’ flinch, don’t make a face. Keep carrying on playing the guitar.

Most of the time, no one will know. Even if it seems obvious to you. You playing through the whole thing is a lot more impressive than stopping and starting. It will sound a lot more professional as well.

Keep on practising

Always practise the pieces that you want to play in front of other people. Try filming yourself as well to see if you are making any silly faces. Also when filming yourself, you will feel extra pressure like when you are performing. Now you can practise with the extra adrenaline.

Finally, just go for it! The more you do it, the easier it gets!

Put yourself out there. Ask your families if they would sit and listen to you play. So that when you play to your friends and want to impress them, you will be that much more confident. This is because you’ve had lots of practise and feel prepared about what you are going to play on the guitar for them.

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Beginner Guitarist to Professional Musician

Guitar Tuition East London group performing guitar

Do you ever wonder what the professionals do to get to where they are?

They were all beginners guitar players once upon a time. You can start at any age and make considerable progress on the guitar. We are going to address some of the “tricks” you can use to make your playing sound more professional and improve faster on the guitar.

Having Persistence For Playing The Guitar Long Term

While you are learning the guitar, at any stage of your learning, you must have persistence. You must keep going even when it gets tough, and you need to be pig-headed about it. There are so many skills when you first start that you need to develop. Including getting your brain working with your fingers and your wrists and building strength. Initially, until your brain has worked out those things, progress can seem slow. Sometimes you are just having a bad day, or a bad week or a bad year where you haven’t had to chance to play as much as you have wanted.

You have to still keep going.

It is only a failure if you give up, if you keep going on. You will keep improving under the right instructions and training. The only difference between people who can’t play the guitar and people who can is that those who can’t give up.

Sitting Comfortable With Your Guitar

A lot of beginner guitar players struggle to know how to sit with their guitars. They worry about where they should place their hips and legs and shoulders. Another big problem is that when they go from playing sitting down to standing up, they struggle as it feels unnatural. We are going to help you solve this issue.

By sitting comfortably, you will save yourself from having tension and back pain in the future. I have seen many advanced guitar players who struggle with their posture and have a lot of technique and tension issues now because they didn’t resolve this early on. So let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Most people when they sit with a guitar, they have it on their right leg. (If you are right-handed). And the guitar is laying horizontally across them. What this does is that it then requires your body to curl over to provide additional support to make sure your guitar doesn’t move all over the place. This then creates extra tension in your back.

Going from this position to standing up as well is very different. The guitar has just gone across your body into an entirely new position to you. Your brain now has to reconfigure your hands in the new place and work out how to play the frets from an entirely different angle for your wrists and fingers. So that’s twice the work you need to put into practice to make sure you play fluently in both positions.

How To Solve This?

We are going to solve this by first shifting your guitar to your left leg. (if you are right-handed). And the first method we are going to use involves a footstool. We are going to place the stool below your left leg to raise that knee up. If you don’t have a footstool, you can use a few books that you don’t mind putting your feet on. You will see how the curve of your guitar should sit nicely on your left leg.

Make sure the angle of your guitar is not horizontal but at an angle where the headstock is now in line with your eyes. The guitar should sit comfortable (and you should too), with no hands supporting it at all. It might feel a bit strange initially. A good way to practice is to sit like this for a few minutes every day, getting used to not having to hold the guitar with your hands at all.

You will notice that this position is the same as the position that guitar would be in when you are playing standing up. This means that your hands are already comfortable playing at that angle and it will save you a lot of time practising to make you feel comfortable in both positions.

Alternative method to ease tension

An alternative method to achieve the same effect is to use a guitar strap. Have the strap on short enough that the guitar sits above the legs and in the same position it would be if you were standing up.

If you are playing a guitar that is relatively light, this works great. If you do have a heavy guitar, I would recommend having it on your leg instead. So that you don’t have that weight on your back if you are practising for extended periods of time. It’s useful to keep both options open so you can switch if your guitar does get too heavy.

Do you want maximum effectiveness at learning guitar to progress faster?

All this information is generalised to help you progress faster on the guitar. If you want maximum effectiveness, having a guitar teacher who can get you to your goal is essential for your guitar playing progress. If you are struggling to get starting and feel lost not knowing how to improve. Or getting overwhelmed with all the information online about how to play the guitar, then contact us. Our location is situated in London, and we can help you progress quickly and easily on the guitar to reach your goals.

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Why Some People Can Write Songs And Other Can’t?

learning songwriting guitar lesson

Why Some People Can Write Songs And Other Can’t?

In the world of musicians there seems to be a quite sharp distinction between people who can compose original music and people who can’t.

The general agreement is that the former have some specific quality or talent that the latter do not possess (usually called “creativity” or “inspiration”)
As a consequence, many musicians simply believe that they will never be able to write songs – after all, they tried already and came out short. Maybe you think that this is your case too.

The reality

Well, the reality is quite different. And our outlook much more optimistic than you would expect 😉
Everybody can learn to write songs. Yes, I wrote “LEARN”: writing music is a learned (and teachable!) skill, just like guitar playing, riding a bicycle, or driving a car. It only LOOKS like a “natural ability”, but in fact people who can “naturally” write songs simply picked up a few basic techniques.
This means that even if you have no “creativity” to speak of at the moment, you CAN learn to be a creative musician.
The only “problem”, if you want to call it this way, is that your training should start in a strange place – that is to say, you will NOT start from something that resemble songwriting.
At the same time, this kind of training is very fun, and not hard at all to do. You may have already done something similar (in fact, I’m sure you did, otherwise you would not be here reading this article…)
So what is the right kind of training that will get your started on the way of learning how to write songs and compose original music? Rather than writing pages and pages about it, I prefer to show it to you in a video, so watch this:

Doing the exercise:

See, that was not hard at all. You can do this exercise literally anytime… but do not underestimate it because it looks so simple to do. First of all, depending on how much you can concentrate, this exercise can become quite complex. Secondly, the benefits that come from doing this consistently far surpass what you can imagine right now.
And if you do not believe this exercise will boost your creativity and ability to write… then my only suggestion is: do it once every day for a month. Then decide by yourself if you see any difference. You have my guarantee, you will be surprised.

Do you need to understand more music to get started? As a beginner, it can be quite overwhelming with all the terms. Especially learning on guitar. Use our “Understanding Music for Beginner Guitarists” to help you.

About The Author

A professional prog rock musician, Tommaso Zillio is a regular writer of columns about music composition.

How To Make Your Strumming Sound More Professional So That You Can Express Yourself Creatively and Emotionally

Guitar lessons Jam in London

How To Make Your Strumming Sound More Professional So That You Can Express Yourself Creatively and Emotionally

Why Improve Strumming Patterns?

Strumming patterns are an essential part of rhythm guitar and are important in almost every piece of music. Your strumming hand is responsible for conveying the emotion of a song to your audience.

We are going to take a look at how to improve your basic strumming patterns so they’ll sound clearer and more dynamic. Your playing will also sound more creative, plus it will add variation to your guitar playing.

Watch our video with Darryl to see how you can improve your strumming, or read on for further explanation.

You’ll want to get your strumming patterns to sound so good that when you play these chords that you have mastered, your guitar will sound awesome. Don’t let your strumming you bring down after all that work with chords and rhythm playing! Use that strumming hand to show your audience how tight and professional your playing is.

The first issue I often come across when people strum the guitar is that they strum it like it’s an on/off switch. There are certain types of music and certain times when you may want to strum your guitar this way. Generally, to achieve a more melodic feel to your music, you need to be a little more delicate.

Let’s imagine that when you strum your guitar, you are stroking a cat. Strum the first few strings slowly and then speed up on the last few strings. To practise this, try doing the up stroke, then down strokes separately, and then put them both together. Practise this until it feels comfortable. Afterwards, apply this technique to your strumming patterns.

The other common mistake people make is forcing their pick through the strings really hard. When you strum, you want to feel your pick bouncing through the strings. Try to hear the difference between forcing your pick through the strings, compared to bouncing through the strings. They sound very different, don’t they?

Keep in mind, there is a time and place for the on/off switch type of strumming and forcing your pick through the strings – punk music is a good example. However, to make your guitar sound more melodic, practise this technique to make the chords you’ve learned sing.

The second thing you can do is split up the guitar strings when you strum. We are going to practise this by taking a really simple strumming pattern; we’ll focus on strumming different strings on different beats of the bar.

Let’s try strumming on the first and third beat of the bar. We only strum the lowest string of the chord. But for beats 2 and 4, we’ll strum the higher three or four strings. You should hear a nice emphasis on beats 1 and 3 with the bass strings, with the higher strings on beats 2 and 4 creating the melody to make the chord sing during the rest of the bar.

how to solo on the guitar

Try practising this for a while. Then, combine this technique with the first technique – the one we likened to stroking a cat – to give your chords more life and bounce. You’ll really impress people because good strumming makes even simple chords sound great!

If you are struggling with getting your strumming to sound good, or you want to improve your guitar playing in general, get in contact with us. We are passionate about helping you achieve what you want on the guitar.

We know what it’s like to feel frustrated and wonder why your guitar doesn’t sound good no matter how much you practise. Our professional instructions will help you to advance in the most fun and easy way! We are so confident that we can help that we even offer an introductory guitar lesson, so we can find a plan that works with you and your needs.

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Top 5 Mistakes in Soloing And How To Avoid Them (For Beginners)

Student playing at gig.

Top 5 Mistakes in Soloing And How To Avoid Them (For Beginners)

Every guitarist no matter what any level of playing they are at can make mistakes in their guitar solos. Even at a professional level. We are going to outline some of the common problems that beginners and intermediates struggle with when it comes to soloing and improvising on the guitar.

We will discuss how we can avoid the top five mistakes to improve your guitar solos tremendously.

crowd image for guitar solo

Playing With No Space

A common mistake that people make when they improvise is always playing throughout the whole guitar solo. They don’t leave any space. Imagine someone was talking to you, and they spoke constantly, with no stops or pauses. It’s very tedious and tiring to listen to. This is what happens in your guitar solo if you don’t leave any stops and pauses between notes.

You need breathing space in your guitar playing because they help to form phrases. Phrases are short musical sentences. When you start your playing and have pauses in between a few notes, they create sentences into your playing rather than having continuous speech. Even when you play fast, you can still have spaces and pauses to add tension and emotion in your playing.

Gap illustrating guitar solo for guitar playing

Having Gaps In Between Your Notes

A lot of new players have gaps in between their notes when they play. These voids produce a guitar solo that does not flow fluidly from one note to the next. The notes end up sounding slightly staccato, which is a term for short, pointed sounding notes. There will be times when you want to accent these notes intentionally. However, doing this constantly throughout your playing won't sound very pleasant.

To avoid this, work on eliminating the gaps between your notes. Having smooth phrasing and playing will make your solos much more pleasing to the ear. You will also sound a lot more professional as well.

cat out of tune bend guitar solo

Out of Tune Bends

When I hear people play bends incorrectly, it often sounds like a cat dying. This happens because they are not bending the string into another note in the scale. It is not enough to just bend it to create a good sound. You need to make sure the bend is in tune with the scale and key that you are playing in.

I am not going to go into detail regarding scales and keys here. If you need more information about scales and keys, ask your guitar teacher about them. Alternatively, if you are in London, you can contact us to find out how we can help you improve your guitar playing and teach you more about music theory.

How to practise your bends?

We are going to take a look at how to get your bends to sound good. To do this, we are going to use a tuner. When you are practising, use the tuner to help you make sure that when you bend your string, it is in tune when it gets to the next note in the scale.

While the tuner will help you stay in tune, the more practise you have, the better your ears will get at listening to when you are bending the note correctly.

Practising your bends this way may seem hard the first few times. You will have to do this exercise three to four hundred times to see improvements in your bends. You also need to make sure that every time you do a bend, you make it to the next note. And when soloing, make sure it is in the scale and key of the piece you are playing.

It doesn’t take very long to practise this a few hundred times, and you will soon find your solos sounding less amateurish and more professional once you have improved each of your bends.

guitar rhythms electric guitar solo lesson

Same Rhythm

I find that with a lot of guitar players that when they solo, they will use the same rhythm all the time. Or they'll use the same rhythmic value. Rhythmic value is defined by how long a note is. To change this, all you have to do is vary the rhythmic value, and play with a variation of shorter and longer notes.

When you alter the length of each of your notes when you are improvising will make your solos sound more captivating. You'll be able to convey more of a story to your listeners and connect with them better. Variety in your improvisation will make your solos sound more impressive than before.

beat rhythm guitar solo electric guitar lesson

Starting On The Same Beat Of Each Bar

Another common mistake that beginners make when they improvise or play a solo happens due to making all the phrases start from the same beat of each bar. When they begin their phrasing this way, it makes their solos sound more predictable, and therefore mediocre.

For example, if you are counting bars in a four-beat rhythm, a lot of players will pause and always begin a phrase on the 1st beat. The next time you improvise, try starting on a different beat - maybe the 2nd or 3rd - or even on the off beat.

You can also play slightly before the bar starts as well. You will get much more interesting phrasing this way, and your solos will sound a lot more intricate and adventurous.

Using different ideas to help 

All of these tips combined will make your guitar playing sound much more impressive. You will be able to impress more with your improvisation. You will be able to connect with your audience on a deeper level. They will add a lot of variation to your solos no matter what style you are playing. You can be confident that you will sound more creative than ever before.

What To Do Next?

We understand that soloing and improvising can seem difficult to master at first,  especially without the right instruction and the right information, given in the correct order. If you are struggling with your guitar playing and would like to become an excellent guitar player - and want to learn in a fun and easy way - contact us to find out how we can help you.

We are so confident that we can provide you with the path to becoming the guitar player that you want to be that we will offer a free introductory lesson. This guitar lesson gives us the opportunity to get to know each other, and you can find out how we'll be able to solve your guitar playing problems.  Click on the button below to find out more about the introductory guitar lesson in London that we offer.

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