The acoustic guitar is one of the most popular instruments to ever exist – and for good reason. Because of its range and versatility, it’s a fantastic instrument for both solo and group performance. While its electric brother might be more suited to soloing and other showy styles, the acoustic guitar is an incredibly rhythmic instrument that can propel a song forward without always stealing the spotlight. Learning the acoustic guitar is easy, and it’s the best way to start learning to play guitar.
Acoustic Guitar advantages
The acoustic guitar has several strengths that the electric guitar lacks. For one, its aforementioned rhythmic sound is an excellent backing for many styles of music. Most acoustic guitarists focus heavily on chords and strumming. I would advise beginners to focus on these areas as well.
Learning Guitar Chords
We’ll start with chords. If you’re new to the guitar, I recommend learning as many chords as you possibly can. Once you’ve learned the standard chords and their basic variations (minor, suspended, 7 etc.), try creating your own by adding on new notes. Of course these won’t really be chords you’ve discovered, but experimenting with new sounds is absolutely foundational to a wide and deep library of chords. You’ll probably find that you often use these “discovered” chords while practicing with other guitarists.
While learning new chords, I highly recommend focusing especially on chords that use all six strings of the guitar. The guitar is an incredibly rich sounding instrument and chords that use all strings tend to sound much fuller than more limited chords. Barre chords are especially useful. They use the structure shown below.
This diagram shows a standard F chord, which uses a barre structure. When playing barre chords, you apply pressure to a fret using your entire finger. You can play any major chord by simply moving the structure up or down the fretboard.
Learning Guitar Strumming
The rich, rhythmic effect produced by a guitar strum is one of the instrument’s most unique qualities. If you’re just starting out, I recommend playing repeated downstrums. If you have access to a metronome, try playing along with it. Start at a low BPM (beats per minute) and gradually raise the tempo as you get better. Focus on strumming in time with the beat. When you’ve gotten more advanced at playing in time, try playing without a metronome.
Now try throwing in an upstrum on every third beat like this: downstrum-downstrum-upstrum-downstrum. Once you’re able to keep time with that rhythm, try playing alternating upstrums and downstrums like this: downstrum-upstrum-downstrum-upstrum.
Once you’ve mastered these strumming patterns, you should be able to figure out how to play any pattern on your own. Just practice different patterns and don’t be afraid to try something different. No guitarists play a single strum pattern throughout a whole song. Mix it up a little!
What Are Capos?
Capos are an inexpensive way to try a different sound on your guitar. These devices typically attach to the neck of your guitar and modulate the sound by applying pressure to the strings at a higher fret. This can allow you to create some very pleasant sounds without risking a broken string. You can also use them with an electric guitar, but their effect is most notable with the rich sound of an acoustic.