From classical music to singer-songwriter jams to stripped-down versions of your other favorites, the acoustic guitar can play just about anything.
And while acoustic guitar is considered more difficult than electric, it’s still fairly easy to pick up.
When you begin practicing your acoustic guitar regularly, you can expect to get the hang of scales and basic chords in 1 to 3 months.
By 6 months, you should be able to play simple chord progressions and songs. You can expect to be playing at an intermediate level by the time you reach the year-and-a-half mark, easily playing various songs and possibly getting booked for gigs.
With 2 to 3 years of regular practice, you should be playing at an advanced level. However, mastering the acoustic guitar is a lifelong commitment and will require daily practice for many years.
If you’re new to acoustic guitar, here are a few tips to get you started.
Before you start playing, be sure your acoustic guitar is tuned correctly. The most common kind of acoustic guitar has six strings, most often tuned to ‘standard tuning’. From the thickest (lowest pitched) string to the thinnest (highest pitched) string, standard tuning is E, A, D, G, B, E.
Using a tuner, check to see if each string is sharp or flat. If you don’t have a tuner available, you can also test the pitch against a piano or use guitar harmonics to tune strings to one another. If the pitch is flat, it can be raised by tightening the tuning peg. If the pitch is sharp, it can be lowered by loosening the tuning peg.
Chords are the most common way to play acoustic guitar, created by arranging your fingers in a specific way across the fretboard and pressing down with your fingertips.
Some basic chords to start with are C Major, G Major, D Major, A Minor, and E Minor. Not only are they fairly straightforward to play, but they also make up the chord progression of many simple songs.
Once you’ve mastered open chords, you can learn barre chords as well. In addition to playing chords, guitar players can also fingerpick to play melodies, guitar riffs, or just add texture to a chord progression. As you continue to learn, practice switching between the two techniques.
Using your knowledge of scales, chords, and fingerpicking, you’re ready to put those skills to use by playing songs. Simple songs will often consist of a simple and repetitive chord progression.
A few to try are “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “Wonderwall” by Oasis, and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. If you want to practice your fingerpicking, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd or “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd are great options.
Even songs with more complicated chords can be modified to easier chords using a capo. But the most important thing when learning any instrument is to choose to learn songs you like and will enjoy learning to play.
Once you have the basics down of acoustic guitar, there’s no telling what you can accomplish. Continue to challenge yourself with new chords, complex songs, or even writing your own music.
Aim to practice for 30 to 60 minutes each day to retain your skills and pick up new ones – however, you may enjoy playing so much that the time gets away from you, and you’ll find yourself practicing for hours on end!
Whether you use your newfound acoustic guitar skills to play for friends, perform on stage, or just make music for yourself, you’ve picked up a fun and exciting hobby to last you a lifetime.