Learn to Play the Guitar in 10 Hours – No Musical Talent Required

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Learn to Play the Guitar in 10 Hours – No Musical Talent Required post image

This post is for anyone who has thought about picking up the guitar but hasn’t yet. For those of you who aren’t musicians, becoming one is both more fun and easier than you imagine. I’m writing this post in the hopes that I can convince 1 or 2 of you to pick up a guitar and start making your own music. Below I describe a basic theory and method for getting started with the guitar that I’ve taught in real life to many friends with success.

Before I picked up the guitar, I was operating under a lot of false assumptions about how difficult it is to become a musician.

  1. I believed I was too old to start to learn music.
  2. I believed I had no musical talent and that I wasn’t a “musical” person.
  3. I thought you needed to learn to read music to play an instrument.
  4. I believed to overcome these barriers it would take too much time and effort.

I couldn’t have been more wrong on all these assumptions.

If you don’t have musical talent I’ve got good news for you– you don’t need it.

You just need time. Playing guitar is fundamentally about teaching your fingers to do weird things they aren’t used to doing. That’s it. It doesn’t take a genius. It takes some hours. Set aside 10 hours with the guitar and you’ll be playing some great songs. Promise.

I love playing the guitar. When I think of the decisions I’ve made that have changed my life the most, picking up the guitar was one of the most important and meaningful decisions I’ve ever made.

Learning how to play an instrument opens tons of doors:

  1. A quality and productive way to “unplug” and relax.
  2. You’ll enter in to a community of musicians who are looking to jam, sing, write, and take over the world– it’s like learning a new language and culture.
  3. No matter what your race, sex, creed or color you will increase your sexual attractiveness.
  4. Listening to music will become more enjoyable because you’ll start to pull apart the composition– you’ll begin to understand what is going on. (Eventually you’ll start to make your own).
  5. And as a bonus… once you learn your first instrument, the next ones get easier.

This post will teach you how to play songs on the guitar in less than 10 hours.

The information you need to play the guitar can be learned in 5-10 minutes. That information consists of 5 finger shapes you must remember. I’ve posted them below. The rest of your 10 hours will be spent teaching your finger muscles to play chord shapes.

For those of you who play guitar, you might have noticed that some of my tasty licks aren’t so tasty. I’m no Stevie Ray Vaughn. You don’t need to be superstar to have tons of fun with this stuff. Despite not being the best guitar player, I’ve played my songs in front of 1000’s of people in live venues, had songs I’ve written and recorded played on San Diego’s leading rock station, and played in some super cool seedy dive bars to drunken hipsters. That’s just a few among a countless other memorable experiences. You don’t need to be a genius– half the battle is just showing up.

Here’s what your 10 hours can look like.

  • Minutes 0-30. Read this blog post. All the info is here to get started.
  • Minutes 30-60. Practice making the basic 5 shapes. This is probably the hardest part. You gotta put your head down for 30 minutes and remember the chords that are demonstrated below. Once you start getting these shapes down, adding to your portfolio will be easy. You can even experiment with adding and removing fingers– you’ll find a lot of cool sounds here and you’ll continue to discover these for years to come.
  • Minutes 60-600. Pick up the guitar everyday for 20 days for 30 minutes or so. You can do this while you do other things like watch TV or chit chat. Get your fingers used to moving around on the fretboard. Start jamming out some John Denver baby. Please do sing along. Eventually try to keep up with tempo of the changes in the actual song. Once you can change your chords on time, focus on improving your “touch” with your right hand. Strum the chords in a way that it adds texture to the recording (if you are playing along with the man himself.)

The shapes you need to remember (the only information you need to get started):

G – pointer finger 2nd fret, 5th string, middle 3rd fret, 6th string, ring 3rd fret, 1st string

C – Ring finger 3rd fret 5th string, middle 2nd fret 4th string, pointer 1st fret 2nd string.

D – Ring finger 3rd fret 2nd string, middle finger 2nd fret 1st string, pointer 2nd fret 3rd string. (Don’t hit the big string)

E minor – Ring finger 2nd fret 4th string, middle 2nd fret 5th string

A minor – ring finger 2nd fret 3rd string, middle 2nd fret 4th string, pointer 1st fret 2nd string

Tips for playing:

  1. To get good touch in your strumming hand, it’ll take longer than 10 hours. It’s about reps baby. Try to consider the amout of finesse you are hitting the strongs with. Do a little research on palm mutting and other useful strumming techniques. If it sounds nasty at first, that’s cool. Your fingers and wrists will start to adjust. Focus on getting quality sounds out of the guitar.
  2. With your left hand, fret the strings as close to the frets as possible. This will reduce buzzing and the chords will ring clearer.
  3. You’ll need to press the strings down firmly to ensure they ring out well. One of the toughest parts for beginners is ensuring you aren’t “mutting” the strings that you aren’t fretting. These small touches get programmed in to your fingers after hours of time, so don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on getting the best sound out of your guitar.
  4. Your fingers will hurt, don’t worry about it too much.
  5. It’ll feel weird for the first few days. This is normal. At the beginning a G chord feels like it was purpose designed to give you wrist cramps, after a month of playing the guitar it’ll feel like coming home.

Songs you can play along with within 1 hour:

Easy-ish:

A little faster, perhaps after a week or so of jamming out….

Ok, I did my 10 hours and I Can Play John Dever’s entire catalog. My roommates are going to kill me. What’s next?

  1. Search popular tablature sites for your favorite songs. Google “your song name + tab.” Tablature is basically easy notations of how to play chords and songs.
  2. Consider learning to play your favorite artist’s catalog by reviewing tablature sites for their songs and jamming along to youtube. Guitar driven artists are great to learn from. Think Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, stuff like that.
  3. If you want to learn how to strum along to a song Google [song name + ‘chords’], if you want to play the solos and riffs as well, Google [song name + ‘tab’]
  4. I believe if you focus on learning via things you enjoy, like playing some great songs from your favorite artists, you’ll eventually seek to push your knowledge deeper and go for the crazy stuff like learning scales and all that jazz.
  5. The guitar is a remarkably hackable instrument for a million reasons that will be revealed to you as you spend more time with it. As you go along in your journey you’ll find a million shortcuts and fun ways to learn fast. I’ve rarely heard any of this stuff from guitar teaches, so beware, trust your instincts, and learn from people who can you where you want to be.

Have fun and let me know if you need more help.

Cheers from Bali,
Dan
PS, check out John wail.

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Published on 05.16.11
  • Amy

    Do you have any tips for learning some of the harder chords like F major

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    not really it just takes a bit more time, but its marginal once you get the basics down. i’d keep focused on the easier chords until your comfortable and then move on. f major will feel like shit for a week or so and then one day it will just pop into place.

  • Tan Dung Nguyen
  • http://www.makermistaker.com/ Jeff Finley

    Awesome, my hand never hurt so good after my first day, only 20 minutes trying to form a G or a C chord. Eek!

  • lololol

    Is it okay to start learning to play with a smaller guitar?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    yep

  • jsteil

    Agreed. You can find some decent guitars for under $500, especially if you look around and find some sells. I picked up an Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro for $350 on sale a year ago. I really enjoy playing it and it has great tone (I think) for under $500. Schecter has some nice stuff too for a decent amount of coin. My buddy picked up the Damien 6 with the Floyd Rose bridge for $650ish(?) and he can do some crazy things with it. Schecters appear to be a very versatile guitars as far as tone and playablity goes, IMO anyways.

  • Griev576

    Can you tell me what is the name of the song you are playing at the beginning of the video? It’s sounds really awesome, and i’d like to learn it.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thanks that would just be a standard blues jam in A major, you could google “pentatonic scale / blues scale a major” and just play the chords A – D – E in their blues variations

  • Griev576

    Thanks for the tip, i’ll try!

  • http://atheistcards.com Andy Stout

    Good intro here.
    There’s another good intro site at GuitarChordsCracked.com
    and it has a cool system to figure out chords to songs.

  • Je suis Charlie

    Thanks for the help. “D – Ring finger 3rd fret 2nd finger,” I think you meant string

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thanks! updated

  • eSeS

    Nice little article – Might have to pick up a guitar, and give it a crack. :)
    Hopefully I will be playing ‘Ashes of the wake’ by Lamb of God; start to finish, in no time!

  • Cameron

    I’m still stuck on playing the notes. It feels so strange, as switching notes takes too long.

  • Stephanie sosa

    Hey Dan! :) Reading this really got me excited to play the guitar, thanks for sharing. But I really want to start playing an instrument but I’m not sure which one I should choose. Do you know any good quizzes or something that can help?

  • louis burrows

    Hey dan does it matter if iv got little hands ???

  • http://meesk.com/ Amy R. Nelson

    Thanks a lot ! It’s an amazing one really… Learning guitar within 10 hours !! really cool !

    I have just followed Mark’s guitar learning courses and it is also a great way to learn guitar.Hope along with this article, this will be most helpful to learn guitar quickly.By following it at here: http://goo.gl/8EqVF4 surely it is possible to learn guitar quickly.

  • shiv kumar limbu

    Nice now I can play guitar at ma home

  • annemeli

    hey dan,i wanted to ask you is this going to be hard for me i use to play the piano (for 4 years) but i didnt like it that much and it was to hard but now i want to play the guitar so will it be harder or easier because i use to play the piano?

  • Wmed

    Sorry that I’m so late – hi dan. I’m just about to buy a guitar and I would’ve already except for one factor. I do t know what handed guitar to get. I write left handed but I do other things right handed. Is there a way that I can find out which would be better for me? Than ks

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    yeah absolutely guitar is easier than piano… it’s more physically weird, especially for the first 10 hours, but you’ll be delighted at how easy the guitar is conceptually compared with the piano.

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