Of course, you can. There are plenty of tools at anyone’s disposal to help aid in the guitar learning process. But how long does it take to get good at the guitar? Can you expect to become an expert guitarist in the next few years if you practice regularly?
Is the guitar easy to learn?
Depending on your willingness to dedicate a bit time to the craft, it absolutely can be. It is all about practice and dedication. You will struggle to become a good guitarist if you’re not interested in the music you are playing.
Learning how to play the guitar can seem like a daunting task in the beginning. Why? Because learning an instrument is similar to learning a foreign language. You cannot expect to become fluent right away.
You need to immersive yourself in a musical environment, learn from your tutors, and learn from your peers. You not only need to practice regularly but you need to practice smartly. Nowadays there are plenty of ways to improve your skills, refine your technique, and learn songs.
Whether you’re reaping the benefits when learning guitar on your own with the help of blog posts or with an app that has online guitar lessons you can always improve technique and proficiency through concerted practice.
If you are someone who prefers a guitar app to help you while learning to play guitar, then see our list of guitar apps that we have reviewed.
Thankfully, there are now a plethora of resources that are accessible to beginners. There are many ways to teach yourself guitar chords. You can rely on in-person tutorship, online tutorials, and Youtube videos. You can even self teach, the guitar is a versatile instrument that has plenty of room for experimentation.
Teach Yourself Guitar
- Learn the Basics. Before you start to learn guitar chords you have to begin with the basics. Learn a bit about the instrument and how to navigate the fretboard.
- Teach Yourself Notes and Chords. All the best beginner guitar books will have you learning a few notes and then a few basic chords. Before you learn guitar chords you have to know how the individual notes relate to each other.
- Teach Yourself with Guitar Apps. Can you teach yourself guitar via apps? Millions of budding guitarists will be able to tell you that apps are a great way to learn efficiently and inexpensively.
- Learn From YouTube Videos. Today there are many professional, informative, and fun ways to learn online. Teaching yourself guitar has never been easier.
- Learn Some Basic Songs. One of the best ways to learn guitar chords is by teaching yourself a few of your favorite songs. Chords and melodies that are easy to remember will make your practice easier.
- Listen Well. Once you have experimented with finger placement it is time to open your ears. Listening intently to chords over and over again will make teaching yourself guitar a lot easier.
- Play With Other Musicians. A great way to learn guitar chords as a beginner is by playing alongside other guitarists and musicians. Teaching yourself guitar is always easier when you have some help.
- Play Different Genres. Delving into the harmony and chord usage in unfamiliar genres is one of the best ways to teach yourself guitar chords.
- Practice Regularly. When you are teaching yourself guitar you must try to practice every day. The more you practice the easier it will be to remember the new chords you are learning.
Learning how to play the guitar can be a lifelong process. As you develop as a musician you will find new and more effective ways to learn and practice.
It is important to educate yourself whenever you can. Becoming a better guitarist also means becoming a better musician. You can teach yourself many things but eventually interacting with other musicians is the only way to progress. You will reach new levels in the company of other guitarists.
By following informative steps and allowing time for plenty of practice, you can teach yourself the guitar.
Step 1: Learn the Basics of the Guitar
How do you learn the guitar by yourself?
The most important step to start playing the guitar is learning how the guitar works, as well as the different parts that exist on the instrument. You cannot just pick up the guitar and play without knowing exactly what you are handling.
Understanding the basic structure of the guitar is critical. Learning the guitar, for beginners, should always start with getting familiar with the strings and fretboard. To teach yourself guitar chords you’ll need to grasp how the strings and fret system work together.
Being able to navigate the guitar with your fingers is important before you start trying to play any songs. Nail the basics and you will have a solid foundation to build on as you begin to learn chords, notes, and songs.
Do not just dive right into playing chords without knowing what you are playing and how exactly the guitar works. This will lead to a hollow understanding of the instrument, further complicating the learning process in the long run. You want the learning process to be both manageable and fun.
A good way to further your understanding of the basics of the guitar is to use literature precisely written for people self-teaching guitar playing. This will help with any specific and contextual questions you may have as a beginner.
“Guitar Basics: A Beginning Guitar Method Book 1,” by Michael Christiansen is an excellent book for people teaching themselves the guitar. It begins by explaining the fundamentals of the instrument. Once you understand the fundamentals it is easier for the more complicated concepts to fall into place.
Books such as this are extremely helpful, not only because of the necessary information they provide but because a beginner can read and learn the information at their own pace. Sometimes going to group lessons can hinder your ability to learn at a manageable pace. These kinds of books can be vital for beginners who don’t have a lot of spare time or learn best at home.
If you are using a book to teach yourself guitar, do not rush. Slowly read through the fundamentals and apply what you have learned in the readings to your own guitar. This will be extremely helpful as you move on to learning chords.
Step 2: Teach Yourself Guitar Notes and Chords
Guitar notes and chords go hand in hand. Notes are individual sounds played on a single fret of a string. Chords are a set of notes played simultaneously to create a fuller sound.
Most songs use a combination of both to create melody and harmony. As you make progress music theory can become quite complicated but it is important to learn the fundamentals of the music language first.
Notes exist on every fret of every string of the guitar. For example, if you pluck a string, you will hear the note it produces. If you then place your finger on a fret of that string, the guitar will produce a different note.
Notes are singular and fairly complex to memorize across the entirety of the fretboard. It will take some time before you are able to pick out every note on the fretboard. Don’t worry, however, as there are products that can help you memorize notes as you teach yourself the guitar.
Fret Daddy is a set of stickers that can be placed on the fretboard of the guitar. On each sticker is a note that corresponds to a string and its frets. This is a visual representation of notes all across the fretboard. As you place a finger on a fret, you will know exactly which note the guitar will produce when strummed.
Take your time learning notes and finger placements. This knowledge will be integral to the next step. As you become more familiar with the notes, memorizing them in the process— you can remove the stickers and move on to guitar chords.
Chords are a set of notes played simultaneously. Each guitar chord consists of at least two guitar notes. Though chords are technically more complex than notes, they can be learned much faster than individual notes if you teach yourself notes and memorize them beforehand.
The way many chords are structured can be simple for beginners because it is about finger placement and shapes. Once you learn these basic chord shapes you can strum and sound like a proper guitarist.
Jake Johnson’s “Guitar Chords: Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Carry, One Chord on Every Page,” is an excellent book to help teach yourself guitar chords.
This book consists of 360 chords. As the title explains, each page consists of one chord. Each page explains what notes are used in a chord and where your fingers should be placed to play the chord correctly. The concept of a chord is simple and the physical requirements should not be too hard for a beginner.
Keep practicing a chord until you can play it without messing up your finger placement. After some time, you will be able to memorize and play the chord without the air of the book. Once you have familiarized yourself with a chord, move on to the next one.
After learning multiple chords, try transitioning between the chords you have taught yourself. This may take some time. However, it is extremely necessary to learn how to transition, as this how a guitarist plays a song.
Chord progressions are the logical next step for a beginner. As you learn the relationship between chords you will also begin to learn more about harmony and key signatures. There is no escaping music theory! But it doesn’t have to be scary. Learning this way is natural and can broaden your musical horizons.
Step 3: Teach Yourself with Guitar Apps
Once you have an understanding of guitar notes and chords, you are ready to move on to learning songs.
Some people are able to play a song by ear. They can distinguish which notes and chords are played in a song by familiarizing themselves with their distinct sound. For most people, however, they need help teaching themselves how to play a song.
Perhaps the best way to learn a song is with the help of the app Ultimate Guitar.
Ultimate Guitar is an online source that provides the notes and chords for thousands of songs. Ultimate Guitar is available in app form, providing tools to help a person learn notes, tabs, chords, and tuning—enabling a beginner to learn full songs on their own. It is a simple and accessible resource that has helped many beginners develop their guitar skills.
UG shows a person teaching themselves how to play the guitar the correct chords of a song and when to play them. In the app, a chord is represented by their given letter and is located above a word in the given lyrics.
This is where transitioning between chords becomes extremely important, as many songs have fairly quick chord transitions. To improve as a guitarist you must seek to develop your knowledge of chord progressions and focus on your finger dexterity.
Apps like Ultimate Guitar can also help you learn other techniques and fundamental skills on the guitar. They can teach you how to strum a guitar without a pick. And how to solo over certain chord progressions and in different keys. There is a wealth of great guitar knowledge online that is definitely worth checking out!
Step 4: Learn From Youtube Videos
Can you teach yourself guitar from YouTube videos? Absolutely.
YouTube is possibly the greatest resource available if you looking to teach yourself guitar online for free. There are thousands and thousands of hours of content on Youtube all aimed at guitarists who want to learn notes, chords, and songs. It can be quite overwhelming for a beginner but it is definitely worth exploring.
Alongside books and apps, you should take a look at what is on offer on Youtube. A range of music educators from Adam Neely, GuitarJamz, and Andy Guitar have millions of subscribers learning from their expert tips and step-by-step guides.
They create videos specific to certain genres and certain levels of expertise. Some channels also create more contextual content that can be useful to beginners and professional musicians. The fantastic thing about Youtube is that eliminates the barrier to entry for beginners. You all have the same opportunity to learn from experts and improve your guitar skills.
Learning from Youtube is accessible and can be easily tailored to your own schedule and ability. It is a great place to learn as you progress as a guitarist. There is always a range of information for beginners all the way up to experts.
Youtube is particularly useful if you want to teach yourself guitar chords. The video format enables simple visual and audio presentation.
Most musical educators on Youtube have developed their own style of communication. This means that there are a variety of ways to learn new chords. If you don’t like the way an expert in conveying the chordal information you can very easily find another expert who suits your learning style.
Learning guitar self taught allows for creativity and experimentation and Youtube is the best facilitator possible.
Step 5: Learn Some Basic Songs
One of the best ways to teach yourself guitar chords is to learn some basic songs. Many popular songs are based on a few simple chords so it is also a great way to expand the repertoire. Once you have learned a few basic chords and chord progressions you will unlock a whole host of new music to play on the guitar.
It can sometimes be difficult to get the hang of certain chords. Learning musical elements in isolation can quickly become boring and disheartening.
It is important to have a goal in mind when you are trying to teach yourself guitar chords. One of the most satisfying goals to strive towards is being able to play a whole song.
Songs like I Can’t Get No Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones can be perfect for learning E, A, and D chords. These chords may sound pretty bland on their own. The groove and melody of a song will help you memorize chordal shapes and progressions with greater ease.
Learning the Love on the Brain chords or the Hows it Gonna Be chords can unlock your ability to learn several other songs. Once you have mastered these songs the chords you have learned will help you as you learn new songs and pieces in the future.
Tackling a few of your favorite songs will help you approach some of the trickier chords in a productive manner. It can be difficult for a beginner to form F chords but if they are part of a song the task becomes more manageable. Cementing these chords will also help you understand how to solo over them in the future.
Chords are integral to most popular songs. Different chords and progressions are associated with different genres. For example, learning some jazz standards on the guitar will help you understand 2-5-1 Chord progressions and 7th chords.
Learning some basic songs will help you cement your knowledge. It is a simple and fun step that you can accomplish on your own.
As you become a better guitarist you will start to play around with different chord voicings. Finding inventive ways to voice chords will improve your music theory and your understanding of the layout of the guitar.
Step 6: Listen Well
Part of becoming a great guitarist is having a good ear. You can train your ear by actively listening to a wide variety of music. Being able to hear pitch, dynamics and notes will help you learn guitar chords. You will also become a more sensitive and considerate musician.
Unlike the other tips, this is something that can be done away from the guitar. While you always want to relate everything back to the guitar, it is also important to developing your overall musical skill. This can be achieved by listening intently and with a purpose.
A chord is comprised of various notes. The better you are able to hear each individual note within the chord and understand their relationship the easier it will be to improve.
It is a great idea to familiarize yourself with the complexities of harmony. You should be able to listen for dissonance and logical harmonic ideas. This will help as you come to play and write your own music.
Learn the sound of a C Major chord or the sound of an A minor chord. Listen to how you can utilize different parts of the fretboard to create great sounding chords.
Listening actively will help you when you eventually move on to experimenting with chord voicings. The same chord can be played in a variety of ways which will change the texture and the feeling.
This is a great thing to learn as a beginner. It is also a step that is perfect if you want to learn how to play the guitar by yourself. You don’t need anyone else to help you listen to music.
Take time to listen to your favorite guitarists. Become familiar with the chords they use and when they use them. Learning from the greats is the best way to teach yourself guitar.
Listening to music while thinking about your own guitar playing will also help you hear how the guitar fits in with the rest of the band. You may eventually want to play with others. Actively listening will help you become a reliable and good guitarist to have in a band.
It is also a form of practice that you can do anywhere you go. Sometimes it is impractical to take your guitar with you. But there are always opportunities to listen to music. On your commute and during breaks at work you can devote 15 or 20 mins to actively listening and thinking about the guitar. It is a no-brainer!
Step 7: Play with Other Musicians
Playing with other musicians is usually a great way for beginners to quickly pick up knowledge. You can read all the beginner guitar books you want but you also need some practical experience.
Now that you have watched the videos, learned a few songs, and listened to some new music it is time to start playing with other musicians. Teaching yourself guitar can sometimes become quite lonely.
Thankfully, playing with other musicians can be a fantastic social experience as well as a great chance to learn. You can ask about certain chords that you are struggling to play and you can learn about chords you’ve never heard of.
Simple things like chord voicings can change the way you sound. You can learn these from videos or beginner guitar books but you can also learn by playing with other guitarists.
When you are playing in a band you will also learn how different chords and harmonies work in an ensemble setting. As a guitarist, you will need to learn when certain chord voicings are appropriate. One of the best ways to do this is by playing regularly in a band.
Similarly, you can learn plenty about chords from other musicians. The best way to teach yourself guitar is to become immersed in the world of music. There will be things you can learn from pianists, bass guitarists, drummers, and even vocalists!
Step 8: Play Different Genres
As a beginner, it is easy to become rigid in your practice and listening habits. The best way to teach yourself guitar is by picking and choosing what you like from different genres of music.
When you expand your repertoire to include music from a variety you increase your ability to learn more chords.
As a beginner, if you stick to learning pop tunes you may only learn 4 or 5 chords. Similarly, staying within the confines of a certain genre of music will not challenge your knowledge of chord progressions.
Even if you are firmly committed to only learning pop songs there are plenty of guitar chords you can steal from jazz, blues, and country music. When you are teaching yourself guitar it is easy to become stuck playing the same chords over and over again. Delving into different genres will get you out of that rut.
If you are reading beginner guitar books and watching beginner videos you may rarely come across augmented or diminished chords. By practicing songs in a variety of genres you are more likely to come across chords with which you are unfamiliar.
Whether you are a jazz enthusiast and have never tried playing metal or you are a blues guitarist that never plays pop songs it is always good to broaden your horizons.
When you have practiced the basics the best way to teach yourself guitar is by being open to music that you may not always enjoy.
Step 9: Practice All the Time
Can you teach yourself guitar if you only practice once a week? Perhaps, but progress will be very slow. The best way to master the chords is by practicing regularly.
As a beginner, the best way to practice well is by getting into a good routine. You can also design the practice plans that will help you learn guitar chords and have fun at the same time.
If you are putting in the time then you will gradually build up a bank of chords that you can use when improvising or writing your songs.
Practicing regularly is the best way we know to become familiar with finger placement and transitioning between chords. After a few hours of repetition, certain chord voicings and progressions will become second nature.
As a beginner, you may feel far away from the skill level of your guitar heroes. You can take some comfort in the knowledge that Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn all spent thousands of hours practicing chords.
You can never spend too long experimenting with chord voicings and progressions.
Key Takeaways on How to Learn Guitar by Yourself
Can you teach yourself guitar?
As long as you follow our provided steps in order, you will be able to teach yourself the guitar. It may take some time but we believe these steps are foolproof and they will get you results.
Do not rush through the process because each step is necessary to improve your playing skills. Practice as much as you can. The more you practice and study certain aspects of the guitar the more proficient you will become in the future.
As you learn chords, licks and solos it is also important to consider how the guitar compliments and blends with other instruments. Learning guitar by yourself is great but if you truly want to expand your skills you will have to eventually play with other musicians.
The hardest thing about teaching yourself guitar is discipline. The best way to combat this is by developing a schedule. If practicing becomes a habit then it will feel less like a chore and more rewarding!
If you follow these steps and go into every practice session with determination and enthusiasm your playing will improve dramatically. It is also important to stay curious throughout your practice schedule. Curiosity will stop you from developing bad habits and help you explore new musical avenues.
Not only will you be able to teach yourself guitar notes and chords, but full songs as well. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you teach yourself how to play the guitar.
If you teach yourself the correct way, you’ll be playing the guitar like a pro in no time. Learning an instrument can be a life-changing experience. If you follow any of these six simple steps to teach yourself guitar chords you will definitely become a better musician.
Are you ready to teach yourself guitar playing?
Share with us below with any questions, tips, or tricks you’ve learned while learning to play guitar.
Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.