3 Easy Guitar Lessons For Beginners

Guitar lessons for beginners need to be easy, simple and practical. We want you to make music as quickly as possible so let’s get started.

guitar lessons for beginners

As a guitar beginner it’s important to get off to the right start and we’re going to do just that with 3 quick guitar lessons for beginners.

  1. We’ll start with some easy chord transitions.
  2. Then we’ll look at simple strumming patterns.
  3. Lastly, we’ll look at a brilliant beginner lead guitar scale.

The aim is to get you making music that sounds good as quickly as possible. Guitar should always be a pleasure and never a chore.

Chords should always come first

Chords are the first thing you should focus on. There are exceptions, but 99% of the time focussing on chords sets new guitarists on the best path to success.

No matter what genre of music you’re looking to play, you need to know your chords.

Even if lead guitar is your ultimate ambition, chords are the essential foundation to understanding the guitar.

guitar lessons for beginners

Start off with EASY chords

There are many different types of chords. Some are easy to play and some are an absolute swine to play. Pick the chords you learn first carefully! 🙂

I often see beginners trying to learn guitar using hard chords like C and D. This is crazy. The best guitar lessons for beginners are based around simple chords.

The first chords you learn should be simple (aim for 2-finger chords at first) and in an EASY chord progression (ie, it’s easy to get from one chord to the next).

Guitar Lessons For Beginners – Lesson 1

Ok, let’s get started. There are 6 chord exercises in lesson 1. When you’re searching the internet for guitar lessons for beginners you need to make sure those lessons meet your first goal:

Your first goal as a guitar learner is simply to get comfortable holding the instrument and moving between EASY chords (ideally, in a fluid way).

Here’s a few super-easy chord exercises that are ideal for beginners…

Don’t think of these following chords as ‘baby’ chords. I’ve been playing guitar for 24 years and I still play these chords all the time because they still sound great!

If you’re unsure how to read the chord diagrams below, check out our guide: How To Read Chordboxes In 60 Seconds

Exercise 1: Em to G6

This is a great beginner exercise. Strum down on each chord 4 times. When you get comfy with that, add the upstrokes in.

easy guitar lessons for beginners

Listen to the audio to hear how this should sound:

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Transitioning back and forth between these two chords is one of my favourite guitar lessons for beginners because:

  • It’s easy: It takes just one finger to transition to the next chord.
  • It sounds good: These two chords are closely related and sound good together.
  • It’s important: These are two of the most common guitar chords of all.
  • It helps with strumming: Because the chord change is easy, you can quickly start to focus on your strumming. That’s where the rhythm is. That’s where the MUSIC is! 🙂

This has quite a rocky sound, especially if you just strum the two or three thickest strings. Have a play and see what you think.

‘Horse With No Name’ by America can be played in its entirety with just these two chords.

Guitar lessons for beginners (Exercise 2) – Em to Asus2

This is another one of my favourite guitar lessons for beginners. Two cool chords and the change is pretty easy.

guitar lessons for beginners

Listen to this audio clip to hear the timing and what this should sound like.

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TOP TIP: If you want to improve your strumming you have to work on it with a song that has EASY chords. (Otherwise, you will constantly be distracted by the chord changes, rather than focussing on the musicality of your right hand.)

Download a free beginner chord guide and learn easy versions of every chord

 Say goodbye to frustration and twisted fingers. Say hello to MAKING MUSIC.

  Learn beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is one of our most popular guides and will improve your chord ability quickly. Click here to download the guide.

Guitar lessons for beginners (Exercise 3) Am7 to C

This is one of the best guitar lessons for beginners because Am and C are very closely related and crop up together all the time.

guitar lessons for beginners Am7 to CThis is another one-finger chord change, but here we’re adding on the 3rd finger for the first time. The C can be a bit of a stretch at first, so take your time. (You will almost certainly need to move your wrist further forward to create the reach you need.)

These chords have a very mid-heavy sound and are well balanced for pretty much all styles of music.

Play these chords in the same pattern as the others: downstrokes to begin with, then add the upstrokes in.

Note that both of these chords are played on the first five strings of the guitar. Try not to hit that low E string (the 6th string) as it will muddy these chords.

Top tip: for all these chords, strum with a pick, not with your thumb. They will sound louder and clearer that way.

Guitar lessons for beginners (Exercise 4) Dsus2 to Bm11

This is another one of my favourite guitar lessons for beginners because it starts to develop the dexterity of your fingers in a more intricate way.

guitar lessons for beginners D to Bm

These chord names sound complicated, but they’re not too complicated to play.

Try bouncing back and forth in the strumming pattern we used for the earlier chords.

As with the previous example, skip the low E string on both chords and also leave out the A string out on the Dsus2.

Guitar lessons for beginners (Exercise 5) Fmaj7 to Dsus9

Ok this is a cool, indie-tastic chord transition. Check it out:

best guitar lessons for beginners

Try and create your own strumming pattern for this one. How do these chords make you feel? Should you play this fast or slow? What feels ‘right’ to you?

Both these chords are played on just the first four strings of the guitar. Leave the low E string and the A string out.

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guitar lessons for beginners chords

Guitar lessons for beginners (Exercise 6) E to B7

Ok, let’s try something a bit harder. We’re going to try a different strumming tempo here.

3 guitar lessons for beginners

Listen to the audio to learn how to approach this a bit differently. We’re going to strum quickly here:

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The E chord uses all six of the strings, but with the B7 we want to leave the low E string out.

For a bit of fun, why not time yourself on these chord changes? How many times can you change from Em7 to G6 and back in 30 seconds? What about the other chord changes here? Are you quicker at some than others? Try testing yourself like this once a week and see how much quicker you’ve gotten at each change.

“My fingers hurt”

Yeah, they will at first, BUT… as you practice more and more your fingertips become calloused and won’t hurt any more when you press on the strings.

It helps a lot if you use extra light strings on your guitar. (Get your guitar re-stringed at your local guitar shop, it will cost around $15 / £15.)
guitar lessons for beginners

Cool beginner songs

Of course, we don’t just want to play these chords for the sake of it. We want to use them in songs.

Check out this article, it rocks! 10 Easy Songs For Guitar Beginners

acoustic guitar lessons for beginners

Tips for mastering the above exercises

  • Use your fingertips, not your fingerprints.
  • Only strum the strings it says to strum. If the chords don’t sound right, take your time reading the chord diagrams and make sure your fingers are in the right places.
  • Don’t be put off by complicated sounding chord names.
  • Strum chords with a pick, not your thumb.

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Guitar lessons for beginners – Lesson 2

We’ve done a few chord-based guitar lessons for beginners, now let’s move on to a new area.

Classic strumming patterns

For these exercises, we’re going to use the Em and the G6. You can try them with other chords eventually, but these are the best two to use to begin with because they’re quite forgiving as we can hit all the strings. (There’s no need to worry about leaving any strings out.)

Rock strumming

One of the most important guitar lessons for beginners is learning how to strum. (Strumming IS the music.)

If we want a rocky sound it’s best to focus our strumming on the lower strings of the guitar (the thickest ones).

Also, to create a choppy feel we’re going to use all downstrokes for this one.

The rhythm is 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and… etc.

guitar lessons for beginners strumming

Listen to how different this sounds when I play the lowest 3 strings (these are ‘powerchords’) and then all 6 strings.

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easy guitar lessons for beginners

Country strumming

Now, if you’ve just said to yourself, “Ugh! I don’t like country. I think I’ll skip this one.” I’d urge you to still give it a go.

I’ve only called it country strumming because this type of strumming is particularly common in that sort of music. That doesn’t mean it isn’t used in rock, indie, pop and other styles.

Like the rock exercise, the rhythm is ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4’ and it uses all downstrokes, BUT, for this sort of strumming we want to first pluck just the low E-string (the thickest one) and then strum the whole chord.

So instead of counting: “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and…” perhaps count: “string, chord, string, chord, string, chord, string, chord…”

guitar lessons for beginners strumming patterns

It should sound something like this:

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Using up-strokes too

We don’t want to limit ourselves to just downstrokes when strumming the guitar.

One of the hardest guitar lessons for beginners is learning how to ADD upstrokes in. Most people can do downstrokes in time, but when it’s time to add the upstrokes in it tends to throw people out of time.

Remember, the upstrokes don’t replace the downstrokes. They simply add to what’s already there.

This is one of the reasons it’s best to use a pick, not our thumb, to strum. The thumb is really not designed for up-strumming and will sound even thinner and quieter than it does on the down-strum.

Let’s try a nice straight forward “down up down up down up down up…” pattern. (You hear this sort of strumming in a lot of styles. With these particular chords, it reminds me a bit of Britpop or folk.)

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Check this out, it’s one of our most popular lessons of all: How To Strum With Rhythm & Musicality

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simple guitar lessons for beginners

The amount of different strumming patterns is infinite and it would be impossible to cover them all, but these ones should help get you started. Once you start learning songs, it’s important to try and listen to the strumming pattern and see if you can copy it by ear.

Here’s an idea… why not record yourself playing these exercises on your phone? You could do this every week or so and then listen back to see how your playing has improved over time. This is important for ‘seeing’ progress.

Check out this article, you will dig it: 10 Easy Songs For Guitar Beginners

Try an arpeggio

Most guitar lessons for beginners focus on basic strumming but forget about arpeggios.

What’s an arpeggio? Well it’s basically when we play the notes of the chord one at a time rather than all in one go.

Try picking ‘random’ notes out from within the chords in an arpeggio style. It sounds cool! You don’t always have to strum, you can pick the notes out to create a twinkling/cascading feel.

Guitar lessons for beginners Lesson 3: An easy first scale.

One of the best lead guitar lessons for beginners is to learn the Em pentatonic scale. It only requires our first two fingers and it’s a pretty simple pattern.

When picking it, try to use down and up strokes alternately. This is called alternate picking.

Use the index finger for the second fret notes and the middle finger for the third fret notes.

guitar lessons for beginners scales

What can we do with this scale

The best of all guitar lessons for beginners is simple: JAM. If in doubt, jam! 🙂

One of the most important skills you’ll learn as a guitarist is improvisation. There’s plenty of tabs out there that you can plod through note by note, and that’s fine, but improvisation is the heart and soul of music and it allows us to find our own sound.

Music is one of the creative arts, so don’t ever be reluctant to get creative.

So your mission is clear:

  1. Learn this scale.
  2. Jam with this scale.

How do I improvise with a scale?

Firstly, we need either a backing track or another guitarist who is willing to play rhythm guitar for us. Any of the strumming exercises from earlier will do as a backing for improvising with this scale.

You could record yourself playing the chords with your smartphone and then jam with the scale over your recording.

If you don’t have another guitarist around to help I’ve done a backing track for you to play to below.

Hit play and pluck any note you want from the scale. Then pluck another. What you’ll notice is a melody is starting to form itself.

Remember, you can’t go wrong so long as you stay in the scale, so don’t hold back. Get stuck in!

Here’s a backing track for you to jam along to with this scale:

cool guitar lessons for beginners

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Did you enjoy these guitar lessons for beginners? I hope so. Remember, you can always bookmark this article and come back to it as many times as you need to.

Click here to download this article’s worksheet. (It has all the chord diagrams and a summary of the main points covered here.)

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

I made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. I hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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