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

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. Try to consider the amount of finesse you are hitting the strings 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 “muting” the strings that you aren’t fretting (credit natasha at www.dresshead.com). 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:


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,
PS, check out John wail.

Published on 05.16.11
  • Amy Renee

    I’m so excited after reading this! I just bought an electric guitar and my ten ur old daughter and I are going to learn together. Thank you for the fantastic tips!

  • Robert Dispensa

    Read through the info. Already had the cords written down in a notebook. I’m left handed so I rewrote them facing my way. This Blog is the most straightforward information I have read. Thanks for putting it so easily.

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

    thanks Robert enjoy the guitar! Jimi Hendrix was left handed so you’re in good company.

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

    cheers have fun!

  • Alex

    I found this link, and I read the information but do the same rules apply if you are a lefty?

  • http://www.webdominator.co.za john

    Seriously, you can have access to 80 teachers for a miserable $19.95 per month; a piddly amount to invest in yourself. Learning things right the first time will save you a ton of pain later on. Yeah, you can “learn to play” in ten hours, but really: you will not know the instrument, and you will not be able to express the real you. Why not check out some info here? http://bestwaytolearnguitar.xyz – you will be glad you did!

  • noah krause

    So i am going to try this.
    i heard from my friend the les Paul special 2 sounds close to the les paul jr. That was used on American idiot and i was considering it because he told me it the $150 range and that would be kinda affordable because im a freshman and i was that’s kind of tone i want.
    is this correct?

  • Mark Lilly

    Yeah buddy I agree it’s the plsyer

  • Aryaman Navale

    Hey, I am a teen and i want to buy a guitar with my own money and i found one for 50 dollars but i have a feeling its gonna be bad. Whats you take?

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

    seems like a pretty low risk, why not give it a try and see how it goes? I think my first guitar was about the same price.

  • Aryaman Navale

    Thanks a lot, i think i’ll be going for the Yamaha F310 if my budget permits, and i would like to ask you whether your first guitar was good enough.

  • filipe reys

    I really enjoyed your post. I also had this conception that to play an instrument would have to stay for years studying music, until I found that studying the right thing in the right dose, learning to play guitar would be much faster. Now with these tips I am sure that I will evolve much more.

    Thank you, my friend!


  • Mesmerized Sceptic

    So cool! been trying to learn for forever. Gonna give this method a go. My lil bro just had a heyday with my guitar though, and the neck snapped. (can’t say I’m sorry though:) A friend recommended this one, wanted to know if anyone out there has feedback? I need cheap, I’m on a student budget, but I’m not ready to give up (too much) on quality…
    Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic

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

    sounds good! best of luck…

  • Mesmerized Sceptic

    Thanx! Know anything about the Epiphone DR-100?

  • Cryptic

    Is a Toledo acoustic guitar also good?

  • James

    Bud, how to tune the guitar

  • Noah Efurd

    I Just Want To Say Thanks Because I Wasn’t Getting Anywhere On The Guitar Making No Progress But When I Read This I Felt Like I Needed To Keep Playing And Learn So Thank You.

  • Suzanne

    You are so patient and supportive. I’m totally doing this! How do you tune it?!

  • http://fugenx.com/mobile-application-development-in-san-diego-san-jose-san-francisco/ johnparker92

    Recently I decided to join the guitar class I am interested in learning guitar, but my age is 24. I think in this age learning something take more time! but I will never give-up on this matter and one thing I really inspired from your blog, please help me to buy a good guitar, How to select the best one? cost of guitar?

  • Capp

    Despite practicing for many days, and possibly due to having very thin fingers, my fingertips hurt a lot when trying to play chords on my new acoustic guitar. Any advice on ways to have the pain minimized as it deters me from practicing further. I am an extreme novice. Thank you.

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

    its a pain everyone shares. the only way around it is through it. you play long enough and the pain will go away.

  • Noga

    I’m renting this guitar (https://fatlama.com/item/epiphone-casino-coupe-82392297). First time playing an electric guitar – any tips?

  • Sandy

    Hi Dan I am a 72 year old great grandma trying to teach myself to play my Faith Venus guitar and loving it but I find some chords a stretch too far!! I seem unable to manage the F at all. Is there an alternative maybe? Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

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


    Excellent! F is difficult, it’s one of those things you can do for hours and hours and then one day it just “clicks.”

    In the meantime, you can finger it this way (attached photo). And to make it even easier, you can just use your pointer finger only on the second string, first fret. With the small string you can either 1) let it ring and see if it sounds okay with the song or 2) don’t strum it.

    So the final chord shape basically feels like a “C” but down a string on the second and third fingers.

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