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How To Begin Your Guitar Playing Journey Part 2

In Part 2, we will look at the next steps you should take when first learning how to play the guitar. These include-

Electric vs Acoustic

Finding musical styles you enjoy

Holding a guitar pick

I get asked often by prospective students or their parents if they should start learning to play the guitar with an acoustic guitar or electric.It doesn’t matter if you have an electric or acoustic, both are quite suitable for starting. With that said, I generally recommend beginners start with an electric guitar.Electric guitars are easier to play as the body is smaller than an acoustic guitar, making them more comfortable and the strings are closer to the fretboard so they are easier to push down.You can do everything on an electric guitar that you can do on an acoustic guitar but the same isn’t true in reverse.It doesn’t even matter if you have an electric without an amplifier. It still makes sound, just more quietly.

Whatever your preference in music is, it’s good to listen and take notes on what you like and what you don’t like. What sounds good (even if you aren’t fond of it) and what sounds bad. What’s even better is to watch videos of good guitar players. You will notice different playing styles or similarities between different players. There isn’t always a right or wrong, but there are easier and more effective ways to play than others.This is where a good teacher can help you sort out what is best for you.

Having the right positioning as we talked about in the first article is important. It makes it easier to play. The guitar is designed to feel natural and if you hold it right it will.

Next, it is important to ensure you are holding your guitar pick correctly.Hopefully, you’ve found, bought or borrowed a guitar pick.If not, you’ll need to buy yourself some. Don’t be stingy, go and pick up at least 10 of them – guitar picks are easy to lose (they often don’t cost more than 30 or 40 cents each). You can experiment with different shapes and brands, but I highly recommend medium gauge picks to start; ones that aren’t too flimsy, or too hard.

Open your picking hand, and turn the palm to face you

Close your hand to make a very loose fist. Your thumb should remain beside your index finger.

Rotate your hand until you are looking at it’s profile, with your thumb’s knuckle facing you.

With your other hand, slide your guitar pick between your thumb and index finger. The pick should be approximately located in front of the knuckle of the thumb.
Be sure the pointed end of the pick is pointing directly away from your fist, and is protruding by about a half an inch. Hold the pick firmly.

Position your picking hand over the soundhole of your acoustic guitar, or over the body of your electric guitar. Your picking hand, with thumb knuckle still facing you, should hover over the strings.

Using your wrist for motion (rather than your entire arm), strike the string of your guitar in a downward motion. If the string rattles excessively, try striking the string a bit softer, or with less of the pick surface.

Now, pick the sixth string in an upwards motion.

Repeat the process several times. Try and minimize motion in your picking hand: one short picking stroke downwards, then one short picking stroke upwards. This process is referred to as “alternate picking” Try the same exercise on all of the strings.


===> Holding the pick in this manner will invariably feel awkward at first. You will initially have to pay special attention to your picking hand whenever you play guitar.

===> Try and create fluidity in your alternate picking. Your downstrokes should sound virtually identical to your upstrokes.

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