Guitar for Singer-Songwriters
Many singer-songwriters also play an instrument (other than their voice). Some, if not most, play guitar. Others accompany their singing with piano, electronic keyboard, or some other instrument.
But we all have to start somewhere and so what if you’ve not yet learned to play an instrument? This is where you’ll find yourself at the crossroads in your development as a musician and artist. You need to give some serious consideration as to what instrument you wish to learn. After all, you’ll be spending years mastering it (not to mention playing it and composing for it). Of course, you can always add in other instruments later, but the point is each one will require much time and energy to master.
Is Guitar the Right Instrument For You?
There’s no right or wrong choice here. Only what’s “right for you”. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a variety of instruments (through either family or friends), by all means, try to get some time using all of them.
Try to learn to play a very simple song on any instrument to which you can get access. Nursery rhymes are excellent for this evaluation exercise. This will give you a feel for how well you will adapt to that particular instrument.
For the purpose of this article, let’s say you decided to learn the guitar as your accompanying instrument. Ok, great. So what’s the next step?
Buying Your Beginner Guitar
First things first. Time to shop for a beginner guitar. There are many articles and YouTube videos that go in to detail on how to shop for a beginner guitar, so we won’t do that here. The main thing to keep in mind is not to spend too much or too little on your first guitar.
You don’t want to spend too much (say, over $350) because if you decide you want to learn a different instrument, you may take a loss when selling it used even if it is still “like new”.
On the other hand, you don’t want to spend too little (say, under $100) because that means you’re either buying a used or a very cheaply made guitar which may suffer from play-ability issues. Such issues will only serve to make learning the guitar all the more difficult. You may even decide to quit if a poor quality guitar doesn’t sound good to you and is difficult to play.
Start With Some Easy Guitar Songs
Ok, so you’ve now bought your first guitar. You’ll need to learn how to fret and strum some basic chords before you can play even the simplest songs. The good news is, many songs are comprised of only 3-4 chords. So, learn some of the most common basic open chords (C,D,Em,G) and a couple easy strum patterns.
Now, you’re all set to learn some easy guitar songs for beginners. There are plenty of resources on the web that will help you out here. Here’s one example:
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
It’s often said “practice makes perfect”, but that’s not really accurate. It’s actually “perfect practice” that “makes perfect”. Otherwise, you could just be practicing the wrong techniques over and over. If you’re practicing the wrong things, not only will it not sound right, those incorrect techniques will be instilled into your muscle memory making it harder to “unlearn” them and re-learn the right way. So be sure to get professional instruction to help you learn proper technique right out of the gate!
Show Us Your Stuff
Once you’ve built up your guitar playing chops enough that you’re now singing and playing your own songs on guitar, congratulations, you’re a full-fledged singer-songwriter-guitarist! We hope you’ll create some videos and share them on YouTube. Let us know about it and we may even feature it here on SingerSongwriterDirectory.com. You never know, it could give you just the right extra buzz to help launch your career!