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 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 (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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Join over 12,000 entrepreneurs who receive weekly TMBA updates and receive access to our first 200 podcast episodes:

Published on 05.16.11
  • Ash

    Thank you so much for such a well-written and straight forward blog post! I used to take guitar lessons when I was about 13, but the teacher was horrible and it really put me off. Having my guitar sitting around and gathering dust seemed pointless, so I’m using this to get back into it again as a 20 year old. I’m already remembering some of the chords, and it feels amazing!

  • Tia

    Dan, this is the best teachings I have come across, muscle memory makes so much sense! Your ways of simplifying the learning is so encouraging and positive that I feel hopeful to strum the guitar again after 38 years of not giving it a second glance. Thank you!

  • Krisu

    i want to thank you, i readed this like month ago and now i can even see my progress! You gave me motivation that i needed and i understood that i should not expect playing like a pro after few hours, so i set a clear goal. Now i even play some fingerstyle songs! Thank you mate, you are reason that im almost obsessed to playing guitar now! cheers! And other guys reading this everything you truly need is time! When it is time, music starts flow in your veins ;)

  • Shahnila…

    Nice playing with guitar…web is nice but if its designs contains color full themes it would be very beautiful…..

  • Jiwon Hwang

    Anyone wants to practice guitar from scratch according to Dan’s article? Let’s start a group and practice together! Just first 10h!

  • Rituparna Mohanty

    I found a very interesting platform to learn anything from Math to Music online



  • Landon Braithwaite

    beginner here, just a little confused on the C major chord. On here you say to strum all the strings but when i look it up else where it says not to strum the 6th string

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

    Both would work! Try it and do what sounds right to you.

  • Will Horton

    Just picked up an Epiphone Less Paul. First guitar in about 12 years. This is helping me greatly thanks for everything man

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

    cheers man good luck!

  • RWD

    Les Paul – end of story :)

  • origami-dano

    I bought a Yamaha bass and amp at a garage sell for $70.00! Don’t know a damn thing about playing it! just wonder it was a good buy and do the basic hand positions apply to bass?

  • Nephilim1977

    Okay. I’ve been debating on buying an accoustic guitar over the past couple weeks (since I like neo-folk music) and wondering if I could learn to play.
    Found your page today and decided to buy one and try out your method.

    Wish me luck :D

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

    generally speaking you can identify the deepest note in each chord and play that as the most basic “bassline” most of the times with the base you aren’t playing chords but just one note. this article probably won’t be that useful for ya with bass but rock on regardless! :)

  • Agatha Anderson

    I did this for an hour yesterday and an hour today, my fingers are SO sore! But i simply cannot remember anything!!! I have to read it every time :(

  • Aadi

    Hi Dan! Could you suggest me a good guitar for a beginner like me with a budget around $500?

    PS: I have no previous experience, but a lot of enthusiasm to get started :D

  • chris

    i felt exactly the same way! i was expecting to find a limited time offer but instead I found free information from an awesome author

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

    hell yeah congrats!

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


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

    yes, if you want acoustic I’d suggest any Yamaha that has a solid top, something in the 2 to 300 dollar range should do well. If you want to play electric, I’d buy a Squire Statrocaster (or Telecaster) which you can get for even less. Good luck!

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

    PS, I’m playing a 200 dollar Squire Tele in the video above.

  • Aadi

    Cool! I used a Givson acoustic couple of years back and I am hoping Squier Strat will be much easier on my fingers. Thanks again, Dan.

  • Andy Lawrence

    you rock Dan!
    its been 5 years i purchased a guitar but due to continuous thinking of its too late kept me as it is for these 5 long years but today after coming across your website i felt like taking it out from my closet, but to be honest i was disappointed because i was not able to play it but after following your instruction i could play 2 songs in 1 hours time thank you so much for such beautiful and helpful information now i think i can play guitar for all my life ;)
    being a beginner its really awesome feeling i am not able to express my feelings into words.
    thank you so much for your help may God bless you abundantly

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

    absolutely great to hear Andy thanks so much for giving it a shot! hope you enjoy your musical journey.

  • martin
  • jigsaw

    Jamorama – The Ultimate Guitar Learning Guide ===> http://bit.ly/1G97h3b

  • Ashwin Campbell

    I found an almost new guitar in the trash the other day (case, strings, tuner, etc) and my musician friend said its cool then I found this site. I feel like I got lucky twice. Now to get lucky with the ladies!

  • Im50morghann

    Great Info on here, I just started playing a week or so ago and this makes me never want to put my guitar down!

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

    awesome so great to hear :)

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

    haha sounds like a plan

  • agon.a.demiri

    <3 <3

  • Brent

    Did it ever occur to anyone that the blues legends on the banks of the Mississippi had the worst guitars imaginable? Don’t worry too much, you can get great sound from some cheap stuff if money is an issue (as it is with this PhD candidate taking up learning guitar as a hobby)

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


Next post: