Who else wants to find the best way to learn guitar for adults?
So you’ve decided you want to learn the guitar.
The only problem is, you’re an adult.
Maybe you don’t have hours to dedicate to practicing or maybe you’re just not sure where to start.
Not a problem.
Here we’ve broken down the best way for an adult to learn to play the guitar.
If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar for an adult, see our recommendations in this post.
- Step 1: Decide What Type of Music You Want to Play
- Step 2: Buy the right guitar for you
- Step 3: Focus on mastering the basics
- Step 4: Be consistent
- Step 5: Practice Practicing
Follow this short guide, and you’ll be jamming like a pro in no time.
Step 1: Decide What Type of Music You Want to Play
If you’re really interested in playing jazz music, you’re going to have a different focus than if you only want to play punk rock music.
Punk rock needs, at maximum, knowledge of 3, maybe 4 chords.
Basic jazz guitarists need to learn a dozen or more complicated chords to even get started.
Knowing what music you want to play will determine what kind of guitar you need to buy and how you’re going to move forward.
Whatever you decide, spend some time looking at the different guitars used in the type of music you’re looking to play.
You’re going to be a lot happier if you take a little time, do a little research, and end up with what you’re really after.
See this post for more on the different types of guitars.
Step 2: Buy the Right Guitar for You
The right guitar for you meets a few different criteria.
One of the most important criteria? You think it looks cool.
No matter how playable, or full of features a guitar is if you don’t like the look of your guitar you’re probably not going to play it.
You’re an adult. Go for the guitar you really want.
As long as it’s set up to give you the sound you’re looking for, you should be fine.
This is why we did step one.
Nothing’s worse than wanting to play heavy metal and trying to do that with a single-coil Telecaster.
It can be done, but you’ll probably be a lot happier with something that has humbuckers.
Now, if you simply want to play an electric guitar, you’re probably going to want a Stratocaster or Strat-type guitar.
If you just want to learn the basics of playing the guitar, then a classical guitar or an acoustic is probably your best bet.
See this post for a more indepth explanation of choosing a guitar.
Step 3: Focus on Mastering the Most Important Basics for You
This step is dependent on what kind of music you’re looking to play.
If you’re looking to master playing shred guitar you’ll want to focus on things like improving your picking speed.
If you’re interested in fingerpicking, being able to pick at 180bpm isn’t going to help much.
This is why knowing what kind of music you’re interested in playing is so important.
If you’re taking lessons just about any teacher can help you master the basics chords and notes.
But, if your teacher specializes in folk music, he’s probably not going to be able to help you master complicated jazz tunes.
This is where the internet and home study courses can really help.
The benefit of a real life teacher is that you get immediate feedback on your playing.
But, if you’re a busy adult, you might have difficulty finding a teacher that’s available at 11:00 p.m.
If you buy a course online you can watch it at any time of day or night. You can even break it down, and watch it in small chunks of only 5 or 10 minutes each day.
Plus, there are lots of different courses on different techniques and different playing styles.
No matter what kind of guitar you want to play, there’s a course for it available somewhere online.
Step 4: Be Consistent
It seems a bit counterintuitive, but it’s more effective to practice a little bit every day than to try to cram it all in over 1 or 2 days.
It’s far, far better to play for 10 minutes every day than to spend 1 hour every week playing.
A set of basic exercises played daily for 5 minutes will get you farther along than almost anything else.
There are practical reasons for this also.
In order to play you need to build callouses on your fingertips and muscle strength in your hands.
At first, it might be painful to play if you play for too long.
This can lead to taking breaks from playing and eventually lead to giving up playing the guitar.
Not because it was too difficult, or you weren’t motivated, it just never became an enjoyable habit.
See, if you talk to anybody who has played the guitar for a while, they’ll tell you that if they don’t play on a regular basis they run into two major problems:
- Their finger callouses get “softer”
- Their hands start to cramp
But, if they play every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, their hand muscles stay limber and loose, and their callouses stay rock solid.
If you give up playing because your hands hurt, you may never take it up again because you’ll associate playing the guitar with pain.
So, be consistent. Play a little bit every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
In no time, you’ll be shredding like a pro because you’ll have developed the enjoyable habit of playing.
Step 5: Practice Practicing the Right Way
Most people fail to learn guitar because they’re not consistent, they’re not patient and they don’t practice properly.
If you’re practicing the right way, you’ll see small, consistent improvement in your playing and before you realize it, you’ll be actually playing the guitar instead of just practicing.
So what is practicing the right way?
Simple. Set small, attainable goals for yourself.
If you’re learning to play basic chords, practice changing between them until you can do it with your eyes closed.
If you want to play shred guitar, practice playing tremolos with your pick.
Choose a song you want to learn, and break the song down into pieces, and slowly learn each piece.
By practicing this way, you’ll get a lot farther because you’ll be focused on learning what you want.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn the basics but it does mean that you’re going to enjoy learning the basics a lot more if you reward yourself for reaching small goals.
A lot of this will depend on what type of music you want to play but think of it this way:
If you practice this way, you’ll be learning the building blocks of the kind of music you ultimately want to play.
Honestly, this is the best way to learn guitar for adults.
The Best Way to Learn Guitar for Adults: FAQ
- Can I Teach Myself Guitar?
- Absolutely, yes. It may take longer, and you may not learn things “right” but many before you have successfully walked this path.
- What is the best way to learn guitar on my own?
- Online courses can be really helpful, as well as music books. To start out, check tutorials on youtube. There’s a lot of great information available out there for free.
- What should I learn first on guitar?
- How to pay the g chord. It’s the easiest chord there is. Knowing the basic chords will go along way in playing the guitar.
- Is guitar easier than piano?
- Depends. You can take a guitar with you pretty much anywhere. The bar, a cafe, the bathroom, you can practice anywhere. You can’t do the same with a piano. As far as playing music, it’s sort of apples and oranges. I will say that if you learn one, it’ll be easier and more intuitive to learn to play the other.
JT currently resides in Southern California and has been playing the guitar since he was 13. He enjoys baking French pastries, drinking loose-leaf tea, and running Slackware Linux.