What genre of music do you like?
There are also a lot of other things you can do to accelerate the learning process. Finding a good teacher (easier said than done) and learning how to practice are your best bet. Try to seperate the elements. One of the most important is rythmn, make sure you practice rythmn with a metranome by clapping along to written patterns, this is very easy to learn...getting good takes a little practice, even if your fumbling (a little) with your chords if you can maintain your rythmn (pattern) your friends (audience/yourself) will still enjoy it.
If you learn how and what to practice you can shave years off the learning process.
Check out www,danmansmusic.com
They have a free library of 1000s of songs/lyrics/tablature
which will save you buying songbooks.
Not sure what to suggest but suggest not the Beatles nor Dylan.
People always think they're both easy. To my limited abilities they're not.
Playing with, watching other PLAYERS who are more advanced always helped me.
I like most types of music, but mostly folk, rock (not metal, grunge, etc) Also some country (but not pop country)
Also check out the tablature page on harmony-central at: http://www.harmony-central.com/Guitar/tab.html
A Neil Young songbook is one fun thing to try. You will be amazed at how many of his classics you can play with basic chord familiarity.
While on the topic, what "teach yourself guitar" PC software would you guys highly recommend for the "very beginning" guitar player. Both my daughter and I are looking to start playing acoustic guitar.
Rockethouse,great advice!Papertrail,Johney Cash has some easy ,fun songs,i also agree with Boa2,Neil Young!!!!!!!
Neil Young and Johnny Cash sound like a good start. I am looking for songs that I can listen to and play along with. I own several Cash and Young albums.
you will find many, many songs; dead, neil young, zappa, dylan, others.....also links to chord instruction and other neat things
for neil young start with sugar mountain and tell me why; easy stuff
Ellery, I know "The Lou Gehrig Story" by heart, But I can't find the chords anywhere. If I could "I'd be the luckiest man alive". Oh, you're talking about Black Sabbath. Their version is a distant second.
Gillian Welch - tab for most of the songs off of her "Revival" album can be found via a Google search. These are really cool songs that use common chords (you will need a capo)and simple structure. BTW, her sideman, David Rawlings, is a great guitarist.
Get hold of Garcia/Grisman stuff from Acoustic disc. It will blow your mind.
Early Who. 1964 through "Tommy". "I Can't Explain" and "The Kids are Alright" are good easy ones. "I Can't Explain" has a rough patch in the middle, and I believe good tabs even mark the spots where you must literally bend the neck of the guitar backward to get the proper effect. Some of "Tommy" is easy, but other parts are quite difficult.
I second the opinion that you should avoid the Beatles or Dylan. Add Joni Mitchell to that list, as well. They are rough.
Ah Grasshopper. Using tab and chord sheets are good for getting some songs to play under your belt but if you want to improve and be able to do away with those silly chord books (not song books) there is a magic bullet. It is the CAGED system of guitar chords. There was one particularly good lesson on the web about using this in a chord melody format...the chord melody portion gets deep so if you find the lesson just ignore that part. there are several others out there as well
What you need is knowledge of the basic cowboy chord forms (ie the open positions). You also need to learn how to spell chords based on scale intervals. knowing scales is also good but not really needed at this point. the lessons will show you how to link the chords up and down the neck using bars and partial bars. using the spellings you get 135 as a recipie for a major chord, 1357 for a maj 7th, 135b7 for a dom 7th, 1b35 for a minor etc. there are a million lessons with chord spellings out there. (b=flat, #=sharp))
what the hell is 135 you ask. take a major scale (cdefgabc for example) and number from start to finish twice. Why twice you ask? because the d in the C scale used as an example acts as a 2nd but also as a 9th which is how you will tend to see it in a chord. Likewise a 6th and a 13th, a 4th and an 11th are the same respectively. you also need to remember that a major scale is wwhwwwh with w= whole step (2 frets) and h = half step (one fret). THe cool thing about this system is that you are working with forms and numbers and can skate by without the note names for a long time and by shifting forms up and down the neck you get to change keys but only have to track the same ole forms.
the important note to identify in each chord form to begin with is the 1, or the tonic...i.e. the note that gives the chord it's name. from that the 7th is a half step down same string (all figured from the one), the b7th is a whole step down same string. The 4th is same fret one string up ..up being 6th string to 5th for instance(need to adapt this by 1/2 step between 3rd and 2nd strings). 5th is one string up and one fret up. the third is one string up 1/2 step down. a b3rd is one string up and a whole step down. and octive is two strings up and a whole step up. the octave is just a repeated 1 so the whole process starts over. Using wwhwwwh you can fill in the blanks when a chord tone other than those comes up. another good one to remeber is that the 5th is also one string down same fret (ie if the 1 of interest is a d on the 5th fret 5th string the 5 of that scale (and appropriate chords) is on the 5th fret 6th string).
note: scales are notes arranged linearly while chords are just scale tones stacked vertically (generally in intervals a 3rd apart)
what you get out of this is the ability to form any chord you want anywhere on the neck by building it on the fly rather than memorizing a million chord forms.
For the advanced guys: this approach opened my eyes wider and faster than 25 yrs of playing...if only i learned it ealier. if you know the 5 major scale patterns and how the link up you will quickly see how all the chord forms relate to one or more of the scales. this alows visualization of the scales and chords over the entire neck. You also can move into combining chord tones and scales in soloing and chord melody work in a much more natural way. Using the chord form as a base gets you into playing the correct modes (all a mode is is the appropriate major scale that, when started at the tonic of interest and evauated in stacked 3rds, gives you the chord of interest). as you proceeed on this coarse and start thinking about chord substitutions you will notice that parts of some chords are identicle to parts of other chords with the same form, and notes but with different names. That can lead you to substituting scales as well but that is a way different animal i haven't mastered enough to talk about much.
Waaaay too much information is what i bet you are saying at this point. Ya it is. actually it is the key to understanding the neck and incorporating theory with minimal pain. as a start at least learn the cowboy chords in open position and relate the 1, 3, b3. 7 and b7. That alone will give you a ton of chords. Basic bar chords result in moving the E shape chord (tonic on the 6th string) and the A shape chords (tonic on the 5th string) up and down the neck. Learn to manipulate just those two forms and you'll be miles away from a lot of players. then when you see the B7b5b9 chord it won't scare you ...just build it.
I write to encourage you. First, when I was a beginning player, there were no simple chords. Each one was hard to learn by itself. Then, learning the transition to the following chord was also hard.
That being said, I found the least difficult route was to find a song I really liked, with no consideration of whether the chords were easy or hard. At least you will be motivated to learn a song you really like.
Get one chord under your fingers, then the next. It may take six months to get to the point where you can play that one song badly.
Move on to another song-amazingly, many of the first group of chords you learn will be in the next song, so you will build on what you know.
FWIW, I haven't played an open chord in more than 14 years.
Good Luck-and practice a lot!
Piezo, I'm happy to see you so enthusiastic to share/go past the simplicity of the basic building blocks of western music, triads (3 note chords), and for taking the time to do so but in my experience as a teacher it is very easy to overwhelm a begginer who is just struggling to make basic chord changes and sadly when presented with basics that way you have here you will see many beginners just scratch thier heads and put their guitars in the too hard basket rather than be excited by how simple it can really be. Mknowles16 is right in that there is no sustitute for practice...you dont get nothing for free.
I see too many people go the long way around, the shortest line between a and b is with the proper help.
I've been attempting to play for 30 years & all that stuff was way beyond me. Saying that I was never very serious, the practice bit was easy but learning all the theory was not on the agenda - I had enough 's--t' to study to make a living without doing it for relaxation 2 !
Shame as I now wish I had.
I still couldn't tell u which key a song is in but I can find my way up & down the neck, transpose into other unknown keys and generally find my way around the geetar.
Working out tunes is no problem but my raddled old brain will only retain them for micro seconds.
I find that if you love a song and know the words without resort to a song book, then check out the chords for reference - then just go with it.
I play for my own enjoyment, won't be tempted on stage but in spite of the fact I can still only play about 5 songs all the way thru - it has given me priceless enjoyment over a long period of working away from home.
I still have friends who decide late in life to buy a guitar(usually the same ones who buy a motorbike)& come round for lessons. They invariably know more theory than me & annoy me by thinking they will be J. Hendrix over night & it's my fault if they're not.
Stick with it & don't worry too much. Just enjoy it and if you can play a few tunes with your kid, you'll have a great time!