3 Easy Guitar Lessons For 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.

National Guitar Academy

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.)

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