tips for learning guitar

Start Playing the Guitar Like a Boss: My Top 11 Tips For Guitarists In 2023

11 Things You Can Do In 2023 To Unleash Your Inner Guitar Hero And Start Playing Like A Pro!

The year is 2023 and you want to learn how to play the guitar!

Congratulations! Learning guitar is one of the most awesome and rewarding hobbies you will ever undertake and you’re in for a real treat.

On the flip side, learning how to play the guitar can be very challenging and frustrating if you go about it the wrong way.

That’s why I’ve put together this special list of learning tips for guitar players which I’ve learned from 18 years of playing guitar myself and 15 years as a professional guitar teacher.

Whether you’ve just bought your first guitar and are at the start of your guitar-playing journey, or are someone who has been playing guitar for years (or even decades) but still feels like a beginner, this article will give you some great insight to make learning how to play guitar more fun, more fulfilling, and much easier!

Let’s get into it!

The Secret to Guitar Mastery: 11 Tips for Beginner Guitar Players in 2023

Below is a list of 11 Essential Tips For Beginner Guitar Players in 2023.

Of course, these tips are broadly applicable to guitar players of any level, but if I had a time machine and could go back and give beginner me some advice, this is what I would be telling him:

  1. Get lessons from an expert teacher
  2. Buy good gear that makes practice fun and learning easy
  3. Have an outcome in mind and work towards your goals
  4. Have a regular practice routine that is part of your schedule
  5. Don’t overconsume content
  6. Realise that this is a long-term game
  7. Work smarter, not harder – Learn how to practice
  8. Make Music With What You Learn
  9. Play with other people as frequently as possible
  10. Start being creative right away
  11. Become a guitarist – do what guitar players do

I’ll be expanding upon each point in more detail throughout this article.

Guitar Tip #1 – Get Lessons From An Expert Teacher

While this might seem like a bit of a cop-out and a means of drumming up business for myself and other guitar teachers, I am adamant that the #1 way to get better at playing guitar is to get guidance from a professional guitar teacher.

A great guitar teacher will be able to ask you about your goals and the type of guitar player you want to be and then create a personalised lesson plan aimed at helping you reach those goals.

They will be able to give you all of the relevant concepts and exercises that you need in order to improve and will be able to tell you what to avoid practising or what to come back to later.

A Great Guitar Teacher Makes Learning Easier

Most importantly, they will be able to give you active feedback on what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong and what changes you need to make to your posture, hand positions and practice habits. You just can’t get that from a Youtube video.

With the global pandemic taking place over the last two years there has been a huge flood of people picking up guitar for the first time. This has resulted in a pandemic of frustrated guitar players who have tried learning guitar from Youtube by themselves but are stuck at various levels and totally overwhelmed by content.

The best way to get unstuck is to find a great teacher, they’ll figure out exactly what you need in order to get the ball rolling and back on track to success.

Check out my guide on how to find a great guitar teacher near you if you need help finding a guitar teacher in your area.

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Guitar Tip #2 Buy Good Quality Guitars and Guitar Gear

Having the right gear can make a huge difference in your guitar-playing experience which is why I recommend you invest in a good quality guitar, amp, and accessories.

Good gear will make practising and learning fun & easy because quality instruments are not only easier to play, they also sound way better!

When learning guitar is easy and you’re having fun you will be way less frustrated and far more motivated to continue playing.

One of my favourite sayings is “you get what you pay for” and that certainly rings true for guitars and guitar-related gear.

Buy The Best Guitar You Can Afford

When we’re first starting out we are often sceptical of our long-term commitment to the hobby and go for a cheap instrument. These cheap instruments are physically harder to play and aren’t very inspiring to pick up.

Plus, every dollar you spend on the wrong guitar and equipment in the beginning is a dollar less you have to upgrade to a better instrument later.

My advice is to set a budget, do some research and get the best guitar you can within your price range. The motivation you get from owning a quality instrument might be the difference between practising enough to become good and giving up after a few months because ‘guitar is too hard and I sound bad”

Guitar Tip #3 – Envision The Guitar Player Your Want To Be And Set Goals To Work Towards

One of the most important things you can do as a beginner guitarist is to have an outcome in mind and work towards your goals. 

This can be challenging for a beginner because your knowledge on the topic of guitar playing is quite small and you are limited by what you think is possible.

This doesn’t need to be complicated though, all you need to do is think about the kind of guitarist you want to be and work backwards from there.

For example, if you really like Ed Sheeran and want to be like him, you just need to set goals like “I want to be a great acoustic guitarist and songwriter who can sing and play at the same time and effortlessly play through all of my favourite songs”

That is a much clearer and more defined goal that will make it quite clear what you need to learn and practice.

Having a clear goal in mind will help you stay focused and motivated, and will make it easier for you to plan your practice and stay on track.

And once you achieve one particular set of goals, you can set more for the next part of your guitar-playing journey.

If you’re not sure what kind of guitar player you want to be, try taking the guitar personality quiz to figure out what kind of player you are and what you need to focus on learning.

Guitar Tip #4 – Make Practising Your Guitar Part Of Your Schedule

When you first start playing the guitar you’ll likely be obsessed with it and will want to spend every minute of every day playing it.

You’ll probably have a guitar in hand every chance you get for the first couple of weeks.

But then life will get in the way!

Something will come up, you’ll put practice off and break your streak.

Soon enough multiple things will pile up and fight for your attention and playing guitar may take a backseat. 

I’ll do it tomorrow” you’ll tell yourself….

But tomorrow never comes!

While you have good intentions to practice your guitar, unless it’s part of your schedule you will probably miss it, forget or put it off for another day.

We humans are creatures of habit and the best way to ensure our practice happens is to schedule it in and make it part of our routine.

Determine how much time you want to spend practising your guitar each day or each week and then plug it into your schedule. 

When you practice consistently you will improve consistently, and the best motivator is consistent progress. Before you know it you’ll be back in a cycle of positivity and keen to do more practice once again.

Guitar Tip #5 – Don’t Overconsume Guitar Content

This is probably the second most important point after finding a quality guitar teacher.

Consider yourself lucky because there has never been a better time to learn how to play guitar than right now in 2023.

There is an abundance of great content on the internet and everything you could ever want to know about playing guitar is online, most likely for free.

Unfortunately for you, there is also 10x the amount of bad content out there too, and as a beginner, you can’t tell the good from the bad.

Not to mention, even good advice learned at the wrong time can be problematic and cause you to attempt to learn or play something well beyond you resulting in you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

It’s very easy to learn a whole bunch about a number of topics but never actually get good at playing it.

Case in point: how often do you watch four or five guitar lesson videos on Youtube one after the other. Sure you might understand the concept and pause the video to try out a few ideas, but likely you’ll go onto the next video, skim through that, play a few more examples and totally forget everything you learned from the previous one…

You might do this with several videos on the same day and nothing from the first couple make it into your practice routine for the week or your long-term memory.

Focus Is The Key To Becoming A Great Guitar Player

If you want to be good at guitar you need to focus on becoming really good at a small number of things and this means avoiding trying to learn absolutely everything there is to a low level.

As you master a concept, then go out and learn a new one.

It’s tough, but if you can do this you’ll be a much better player both short-term and long-term.

If you want structured learning check out my free beginner guitar course that has everything you need to learn in one place.

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Guitar Tip #6 Realise That Learning How To Play Guitar Is A Long-Term Game

One of the biggest frustrations for me as a guitar teacher is having people give up at the three-month point because guitar is too hard or the student doesn’t sound like their favourite player does on record.

The truth is that learning how to play guitar is going to take years.

Sure you can accelerate the process by practising more efficiently and getting guitar lessons from a great teacher but it is still going to take a long time to get really comfortable and develop proficiency.

The quicker you come to the realisation that guitar is going to take a long time and commit to the long-term outcome, the sooner you will become less frustrated with the learning process.

Remember, what you hear on the recording is often the product of 10+ years of hard work for the guitarist playing on the track. They are a professional and likely practised for multiple hours a day to get to that point. It’s unfair of you as a hobby player to compare where you are 3 months into where they are 10 years in and get frustrated.

As Long As You Never Quit You’ll Eventually Become A Great Guitar Player

Here is a tip: If you want to be successful at guitar, all you need to do is not quit.

If you accumulate enough practice over a long enough time frame you will eventually become good…

Imagine if everybody decided they would spend 5 years taking guitar lessons before they made a decision about quitting, then everyone would be good at guitar.

So don’t quit! Commit to the long term and keep working towards your goals.

Guitar Tip #7 Learn How To Practice – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Everyone is told what to practice but never how to practice.

This leads to people putting in a lot of effort but not really getting anywhere.

It also leads to a lot of wasted time spent ‘learning’ rather than actually improving and people wondering why they aren’t better guitar players for all the time they put into ‘practising’

I know because I was guilty of it myself for many years.

I used to think that learning new things all the time was practising, but practising by definition is the repetition of an action with the intention of improving it.

Once I stopped trying to expand my knowledge by learning new things and settled for improving what I already knew, my progress went through the roof.

Perfect Guitar Practise Makes Perfect

I also became aware of how inefficiently I was learning new information and how much time I wasted relearning things over and over again.

I now teach my students efficient learning techniques so they can learn something once and remember it forever. That way the rest of their practice time can be spent on improving what they know.

This means they can learn less and make dramatically more progress, and now that you know this hopefully you can too.

Check out my guide on how to practice guitar using the three phases of guitar practice

Guitar Tip #8 Make Music With What You Learn

One of my biggest regrets from my early guitar-playing days is not making music with what I learned.

I fell for the myth that I needed to be good enough at certain things before I attempted them, so I was always learning other people’s songs or doing other people’s exercises to improve different techniques.

Now I’m a firm believer that the best way to get good at something and to show that you know it is to create something with it.

So if you learn a new scale, rather than play up and down to a metronome try making a few melodies out of it or improvise over a backing track.

If you learn a new chord progression, try writing your own song using that chord progression.

If you learn a new theory concept, apply it to your guitar and see what you can come up with.

You will become a much better guitarist and musician by applying what you know rather than just perpetually learning things.

Guitar Tip #9 Play With Other Musicians As Frequently As Possible

Another thing that many aspiring guitar players get hung up on is waiting to be ‘good enough’ before they jam with somebody.

One of the keys to my early success is the fact that a few people in my friendship circle played guitar (and a few other instruments) and we had the opportunity to jam with each other.

This meant we were motivated to practice more so that we could have the songs we were learning to a good enough standard to jam together.

Plus nobody wanted to be the worst guitarist or the person who let the group down.

As a result, we all improved dramatically in a short period of time and most importantly, we were working on skills that you can’t get sitting in your bedroom by yourself.

If you know any other musicians then I recommend you jam with them as soon as possible.

Make a short list of songs, learn 1-3 of them and organise a date to jam together.

It can be another guitarist, a drummer, a singer, or any other instrument. It doesn’t matter, as long as you get started.

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Guitar Tip #10 Start Being Creative Right Away

You might have noticed a theme for the last three points where we hold onto a belief that we need to be at a certain level before we attempt something.

All this does is result in that skill staying at level 0 while our other skills improve, and then when it comes time to improve that skill we feel like a noob again.

I experienced this first-hand when I didn’t work on any creativity or improvising for the first 2.5 years of my guitar lessons at high school and then went to study music at university and was expected to be playing creatively at a tertiary standard…

It was a very rude awakening.

One of the most fun and rewarding elements of learning to play guitar (or any other instrument) is being creative.

For whatever reason, we often put this on the shelf to come back to once we are good enough, but the truth is you can start creativity from Day 1.

The sooner you start creating things, the sooner you start applying your knowledge and measuring your skills.

And the more fun you will have, so incorporate being creative into your routine.

Guitar Tip #11 – Become A Guitarist

I’m often asked what is the difference between those who are successful at guitar and those who aren’t.

My answer is that the people who are successful at guitar adopt the identity of a guitar player and subsequently undertake the actions and behaviours that guitar players do.

Guitarists do guitar things like:

  • Practice their guitar (usually every day)
  • Play their guitars just for fun (yes this is different to practising your guitar)
  • Listen to guitar-based music
  • Go and see live shows to be inspired by other great players
  • Read guitar magazines or articles online
  • Watch youtube videos about guitar
  • Buy guitars and collect gear
  • Hang out with other guitar players
  • Jam with other guitar players or join bands
  • Argue with other guitarists about who the best guitar player is
  • Spend hours and hours checking out their next guitar purchase in online guitar stores

Most importantly, Guitar players NEVER QUIT!

If they quit they wouldn’t be a guitarist any more, and the moment that you quit you are no longer a guitarist.

Now you don’t have to become obsessed with guitar or make it the only personality trait that you have, but you do need to adopt the behaviours that are conducive to being successful at guitar.

After all, if you want to be a bodybuilder you need to work out consistently, eat the right foods and get the right amount of sleep. If you don’t exhibit those behaviours you’ll never get to your goal.

So take on the identity and behaviours of a guitar player and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of guitar.

Bonus Tip – Learn On The Right Guitar

After getting to the end of this article it was glaringly obvious that I missed one very important tip…

That is to learn on the right guitar.

I’m asked on a daily basis what is the best guitar to learn on, and my answer is whichever guitar you can play the music you like on.

There is a common myth that you need to start on acoustic guitar and work your way up to electric. This is totally false.

In fact, electric guitar is easier to learn on and is far more versatile making it a great (but more expensive) choice for beginners.

Ultimately, choose the instrument that best reflects your musical taste and the styles you will be playing in and get the best instrument you can for your budget.

Or, just buy both! 🙂

In conclusion

In closing, these 11-pointers are guaranteed to help you play the guitar like a boss in 2023. 

Whether it’s seeking out expert guidance, setting achievable objectives, adhering to a consistent practice regimen, practising smarter, creating music, jamming with others, tapping into your creativity, or embodying the lifestyle of a guitarist, these tips will steer you in the right direction towards becoming a better guitarist.

By following these tips and dedicating yourself to the craft, you’ll soon be well on your way to mastering the guitar and playing like a seasoned pro. And if you happen to be in the vicinity and looking for guitar lessons near me, I’d be honoured to extend my support.

So go ahead, grab your guitar and start playing like a boss right now!

About The Author

Meet Michael Gumley, the expert guitar teacher who has been helping aspiring guitarists for over 15 years. With 12 published books on playing the guitar and over 1000 successful students, Michael has solidified his reputation as one of the leading guitar teachers in the industry.

But don’t let his impressive resume fool you, Michael is more than just a guitar teacher, he’s a true lover of music and all things guitar. With a passion for sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their musical dreams, Michael approaches each lesson with a fun and lighthearted attitude.

His students often describe him as ‘the best explainer of things they have ever met” armed with an arsenal of tips, tricks, and analogies to help them understand any topic. When he’s not teaching, you can find him strumming away on his acoustic, shredding on his electric, or jamming with friends.
So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, if you’re looking to take your guitar skills to the next level, look no further than guitar lessons with Michael Gumley and his team of wonderful guitar teachers at Melbourne Guitar Academy.

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