I need to resist the urge to tell you that you can’t learn guitar fast. I don’t want to discourage anyone by any means, but I do want you to know that playing guitar is a skill that you develop and perfect over time. I will say this, though. You can learn to play guitar at a steady pace if you’re willing to put in some practice, and if you approach learning guitar with what I like to refer to as the kamikaze approach, you can learn to play marginally passable guitar pretty fast. Where you take it after that is up to you.
The kamikaze approach to guitar playing doesn’t involve any study of music theory at all. To learn guitar fast, you’re going to focus on learning chords and technique. The most important technique is strumming and picking techniques. These are the two skills you need to learn guitar fast.
For acoustic guitar players, learning the open chords (chords in the first position) is your priority. For guitar players more interested in electric guitar, you’re going to learn these basic chords as well as barre chord shapes based on these basic chords. See the chord charts below. One example shows open chords and the other shows barre chords (closed chords) that change names as you move the shape around on the neck. The third examples shows how the barre shape changes named based on the root of the chord.
The next example is a picking, string skipping exercise. Don’t worry about what notes you play, just follow the picking and string indications. This exercise will help you develop an alternate picking style and help facilitate moving fluidly from one string to the next. These skills are essential to playing guitar well.
The strumming example is ideal for acoustic guitar players, but these same patterns can be learned for electric guitar as well. This is only one of many variations you can put on a strum pattern. Try the exercise and pay close attention to when you strum down and when you strum up. If you can’t read the length of the notes don’t worry too much about it. Just focus on the up/down pattern. Once you’ve mastered this pattern, try changing it up just a little, and add some rhythmic color by using the side of your hand to dampen the strings in between strums.
Of course, playing songs is a great way to learn guitar fast. Visit one of the many guitar TAB websites and find an easy arrangement of one or two of your favorite songs, or find a Youtube video that shows you how to play rock, country, and blues tunes. There’s reallyno better way to learn than to jump right in and play.