Just received a guitar for Christmas and no idea where to start? This is the exact position that I was in 2 years ago after my wife bought me my very first guitar. I knew that I could take on lessons if I wanted to but both the expense and the time that I’d have to give up put me off. I asked a very good friend of mine Bharat Bhise, an absolute maestro on the guitar, to give me some tips which I could use to teach myself the guitar. Now I am no Jimi Hendrix but I can play well enough to knock out a song or two, and it is all down to the help of Bharat. And so, pick up your guitar, and give these tips a try.
One of the best practice tips which Bharat gave me was an exercise which would speed up and strengthen my fingers, and it is super simple. From the top E string, play the first 4 frets with each finger on your left hand, then do the same on the second, the third, right the way down to the bottom string. Once you have completed the run, go backwards back up to where you started from. This will be tricky at first but if you do it daily you are going to improve very quickly.
Naturally you are going to want to play some songs as soon as you possibly can and instead of learning music the best course of action is to learn how to read tablature, a much simpler method of playing guitar. Tablature is shown using 6 lines on a page, these six lines represent each string on the guitar, and a number will be placed on each line, this is the fret that you have to play. There is an absolute wealth of tablature online which you can find for all of the songs that you love and once you have cracked how to read it, you’ll be playing your favorite songs in no time at all.
The one thing which Bharat used to really hammer home to me was the importance of practice, at least an hour per day if you want to play well. He used to tell me that Slash of Guns n Roses fame would practice the guitar every single day because he was scared that if he didn’t, he would lose the ability to play. Well, if it is good enough for someone like Slash, it is certainly good enough for mere mortals like us.
The last piece of advice which Bharat gave me was to practice some simple blues scales, which you can find online and on video sites like YouTube. Most songs are based in the blues scales and learning them can give you a shortcut to nailing the song that you are trying to play.
Keep practicing and good luck!