The Beginners Bump

Starting out learning how to play guitar can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to get over the initial bump.

It’s Weird at First

Yes, it’s weird for everyone at first. The hardest part is just getting your fingers used to where they’re supposed to go. Allow yourself time to adjust to these weird formations we’re asking our fingers to go to on a whim. The first month is always the hardest, after that it’s still weird but believe me…. it gets better.

Set Realistic Goals

You’re probably not going to be the next (insert guitar ‘god’ here) in the matter of the next few days, weeks or months so be patient with yourself. A few realistic goals are 1) When you see common open chords (C, G, D, Dm, E, Em, A, Am, F) you know where your fingers go 2) you can strum the first 5 or so Rhythms on my Rhythm PDF 3) you can put them both together. If you have those things down I think you’d be surprised at how many songs are at your fingertips.


I think a lot of people get intimidated by this, but it’s not a matter of an hour or 8 hours a day. It’s more of the mindset that more often in smaller chunks of time is more beneficial than less often but for a bigger chunk of time. Working on it for 15 minutes a day is a lot better for your brain and fingers than 2 hours on Saturday.

It’s also not a terrible thing to skip a day here and there. Even if it’s 10-15 minutes 4 or 5 days a week is still better than 2 hours on Saturday. To help with this, getting into a routine (like after dinner or in the morning) helps work it into your daily schedule.

Putting It All Together

So where to begin? It’s about working on a few things every day:

The first few weeks, just get your hands familiar with everything we’ll be embarking on. Think of it as “conditioning”. Choose 2-3 chords (C, G, D, Dm, E, Em, A, Am, F) and work on them for a few minutes every day. Once you don’t need to look at the chart for the chords you’re ready to move onto the next few chords.

When I say work on them, I mean play the chord, take off your fingers and put them back onto the same chord. Do that a few minutes or a certain amount of times then move onto the next chord.

At the same time, choose a rhythm or two to work on. Just mute your strings and go over it a few times. Boom! You’re finished for the day.

The last and final step is to work on Transitions. How long it takes varies on the individual person but I usually find within 4-10 weeks most of these goals are met with some persistence and consistency.

Then you’ll be the hit of every party.

This isn’t the most glamorous way to talk about learning guitar, but it’s the most efficient and the one that produces results. There are songs that can help get you there but the songs are just doing what I laid out here.