I do not know about you but the first time I decided to play guitar (too many years ago to count and not get depressed from how old I am) I thought I would just pick it up and magically start producing beautiful tunes and then rise to fame in a matter of months and smirk at my math teacher who thought I was going nowhere. Well, should I even say that is DEFINITELY not how it all ended up? The Christmas I got my first guitar I set down, took a deep breath, and instead of sounding out melodious and beautiful tunes that would get me out of my small town and put me on the pedestal of fame, I sounded more like ten cats screaming at one another.
I really hope that your delusion of grandeur was not as far gone as mine and that is how you ended up on this page. If you are a complete beginner and want to start off slowly and smoothly getting into guitar playing, you are in the right place.
First of all, I really hope you chose a nice guitar for beginners that will make your entrance into the music world a little bit easier. Do not forget about the importance of strings. If you have a really nice guitar for beginners but have heavy gauge strings on them you will probably destroy your fingers right away. Get something light or medium, you can read up on which strings are the best for beginners.
First things first, when you start practicing for the first time your fingers will not be flexible enough or ready for the strain that is required for playing. If you do not want to overwork your fingers before even starting the exercises do a bit of stretching. Just like when you are about to put in an hour or two of exercise in the gym you should stretch first to avoid any “complications”, you should do the same for your fingers. You would not want to exercise one day for several hours and feel good about the time you put in and then the next day your fingers will hurt so much you will skip a day or two. That is just not efficient. There are a lot of videos that explain how to properly stretch your fingers. This is probably one of the best videos that explain the finger stretching techniques:
The next step is the actual exercise. The first and the easiest would be to put your four fingers on adjacent frets and then lift up one finger at a time. This might seem like an easy thing to do before you try it but if you have never paid your finger on a guitar before your fingers are probably not used to it. You might notice that once one of your fingers lifts off the other will automatically follow. After you have done that work your way down the strings at you play a chord. Then as your fingers stretch and they are all on the separate frets, not touching each other move up to top frets because the distance between them grows and your fingers stretch more and more. Make sure that your fingers are rounded and not flat. This exercise will not only stretch your fingers but also strengthen your hold on the strings. Do this exercise several minutes a day and your fingers will slowly get used to it and it will become more and more natural and easy. The next exercise, which is a little bit harder, is pretty much doing the same but this time around instead of just lifting fingers separately you take that finger and put it on your palm. Do the same process with every single finger several times. And since a “picture” is worth a thousand words you should watch a video that will demonstrate exactly how to do that. This one is a good option:
You can do these very basic exercises for several days and once you have realized that you do not have to strain yourself doing them you can move on to other exercises. The other issues I want to touch upon are different products that can help you in your exercise. Let’s say you are not always around your guitar or you do not want to disturb your roommate with the music, there are a lot of products out there specifically designed to strengthen your fingers and make them more flexible. There is Luvay Pocket Guitar, Finger Exercise, Scales & Chords Practice Tool, a great tool that does not have any sound and is very compact and you can carry it wherever you want. The other option is a finger strengthener like D’Addario Varigrip Adjustable Hand Exerciser which improves your grip on the guitar, strength, and dexterity. These two are a great option if you are on a go a lot and cannot really carry around a guitar at all times or just want to exercise without a sound. They are not the same as a guitar, I know, but they are a great option to make the learning process go faster. For instance, when I first started taking piano lessons (I know it is not the same as a guitar but bear with me) I didn’t even have a piano at home, so my teacher made me draw out piano keys on cardboard and exercise on those. You can do basically the same with a guitar but instead of looking like a lunatic playing on a cardboard-like me you can actually get a tool that will help you with that.
It might be a little bit disheartening and overwhelming when you start your learning process, you might think it is too hard and you will never enjoy playing guitar because you have to constantly strain your fingers and brain to do it right but there is a learning curve and if you persist you will sooner or later not only enjoy playing it but also be great at it.