What is the First Thing a Guitarist Should Learn?

If you’re keen on learning guitar but unsure of the starting point, this detailed guide will answer the all-important question: What’s the first thing a guitarist should learn?


So, you’ve decided to embark on the journey of becoming a guitarist. You’ve acquired your first guitar and are now prepared to learn the art of this musical instrument.

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However, the question on your mind is likely, “What is the first thing a guitarist should learn?” This comprehensive guide will illuminate your path, providing the answers needed to commence your musical journey.

What is the First Thing a Guitarist Should Learn?

To start, an aspiring guitarist should learn the ins and outs of their instrument. Becoming familiar with your guitar, understanding its parts, and knowing how to tune it, forms the bedrock of your future as a guitarist.

Understanding Your Guitar

You must first familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your guitar. From the headstock to the bridge, the frets to the strings, every component has a crucial role to play.

Tuning Your Guitar

Next, you should learn how to properly tune your guitar. An out-of-tune guitar can disrupt your learning process, making this skill crucial for your progression.

Learning the Basics of Chords

Learning guitar chords forms the next essential stage of your journey. Chords are the building blocks of most songs, making them a key area of focus for beginners.

Major and Minor Chords

You should first learn major and minor chords as these form the core of most songs. By mastering these, you will be able to play a wide variety of tunes.

Power Chords

Power chords, although more complex, are also vital to learn. They form the basis of many rock songs and will add another layer to your burgeoning guitar skills.

Developing Strumming Techniques

Strumming patterns are an integral aspect of guitar playing that beginners should learn early on.

The Down-Up Pattern

The down-up pattern is the most basic strumming technique. Once you have mastered this, you can progress to more complex patterns.

Syncopated Patterns

Although trickier, syncopated patterns provide diversity in rhythm and style. By learning these, you will significantly expand your strumming skills.

The Importance of Scales

Scales might seem daunting at first but they are a crucial part of learning guitar.

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The Major Scale

The major scale should be your first introduction to the world of scales. With this scale, you will be able to play a wide range of melodies.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Next, you should learn the minor pentatonic scale. This scale is a staple of blues and rock music, opening up a world of new songs to learn.

Understanding Tablature and Sheet Music

Once you have grasped the basics, it’s time to move onto reading tablature and sheet music.

Interpreting Tabs

Tabs, short for tablature, provide a simpler way of reading music for guitarists. They illustrate where to place your fingers on the fretboard.

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Decoding Sheet Music

Sheet music, while more complicated, offers a universal language for musicians. Learning to read it will unlock a vast array of musical possibilities.


1. What is the first thing a guitarist should learn?

The first thing a guitarist should learn is to understand their guitar, its components, and how to tune it.

2. Which are the fundamental chords a beginner guitarist should learn?

A beginner guitarist should start with major and minor chords, followed by power chords.

3. How crucial are strumming patterns in playing the guitar?

Strumming patterns are extremely important as they dictate the rhythm and feel of a song.

4. Are scales necessary in learning the guitar?

Yes, scales improve understanding of the fretboard and assist in the improvisation of melodies.

5. What is the difference between tabs and sheet music?

Tabs are guitar-specific and indicate finger placement on the fretboard. Sheet music is a universal musical notation for all instruments.

6. Can I self-teach guitar?

Yes, with commitment, practice, and the appropriate resources, you can effectively learn guitar independently. However most guitarists find learning from an instructor or a training course to be the quickest and most proficient way to learn to play.


To answer your burning question, “What is the first thing a guitarist should learn?” – you must start with understanding your guitar, its parts, and tuning. From there, you can progress to chords, strumming patterns, scales, and reading music.

Learning the guitar is a journey of consistent practice and dedication, but with time, you will become proficient. Now it’s time to pick up your guitar and begin your musical adventure.

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