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The guitar is one of the easiest instruments to play, as well as one of the most difficult; read on…
learn to play guitar

They make it look so easy to play guitar

Watching somebody like Eric Clapton or Eric Johnson play acoustic guitar makes it all look so easy. Then you try to play acoustic guitar and your fingers feel like they are made of wood or something! You want to be able to play blues, lead, rock or country, but just can’t!

If you are playing simple strums, like for a campfire song, you can master that in very short order. However, learning to play acoustic or electric guitar is a lifetime project, full of surprises and pleasure; and there is no end to what you can master.

If you truly are willing to make the effort, you can learn to play acoustic guitar. How do I know this? Because I have done it. Here is my own personal story, in a few words.
When I was 15, I saw Santana, Traffic, Cream, Steve Miller, Quicksilver Messenger Service and a ton of other bands. Man, did I ever want to be able to play acoustic guitar!

So I asked my player friend to show me some things. He looked at my big fingers and told me I should take up the trumpet. My fingers just did not seem to fit the strings, no way could I ever play all those chords!

I went to my stoner friend, who played in a band, but he was too messed up and never showed up. Finally, I took a lesson, but never had enough money to go back. I played by the hour in my basement, but had no musical skill whatsoever, none. I only knew Am and Em, which drove my mother nuts: “Don’t you know any other songs?”

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A slight improvement

Then, when I went to college, I discovered Bluegrass and all kinds of great acoustic music. Ahh…, this seemed more accessible to me, in fact a guy in my dorm was really good at it.

He tried to teach me to play acoustic guitar, but I was really slow and basically sucked. He played traditional music, as well as Grateful Dead type acoustic music, and eventually a lot of it rubbed off on me.

Around this time I also got hooked on finger-picking guitar; Mississippi John Hurt, Pete Seeger, Hot Tuna sort of music. Things were getting better, and I also discovered that there were different style of necks, even for my big fingers.

Soon I left for Sweden to live in a commune. Every night we sang and played original music together, which was a great way to learn how to sing and play acoustic guitar. I also learned to relax and make music, not just riffs, licks and runs. You can pick up many good playing tips by playing with other people.

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Enter the church

I want one of these

The next step was church music, which also taught me a lot about group participation and timing. It is one thing to play alone in your living room, another to play in front of a huge group of people who are singing along!

Church music was great for learning how to play with a group, keep good time, be discreet and play backup rhythm. One drawback, however, was the limited focus of the genre. More than once I found myself getting uncomfortable looks and comments from elders.

When the first instructional videos came out, I really made progress with my playing. Now I could watch Doc Watson play that song as many times as I wanted! Once you understand what is done, it is just a matter of training yourself to do learn to play acoustic guitar.

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