Guitar Road Map for Beginners

So, you’ve taken up the guitar.  Awesome!  Guitar is an absolutely amazing way to discover a whole world of creativity, passion and beauty.  You could spend a whole lifetime learning and not exhaust all the possibilities.  Maybe you want to play acoustic guitar, write and sing songs.  Or maybe you want to play finger style blues or play electric blues, or heavy metal or classical or jazz or folk…..  The possibilities are endless and your journey with guitar is sure to evolve over your entire life if you stick with it.  In the beginning it’s a bit of work.  As time goes by, you’ll learn to express the unique musical voice that each of us carries within.  My advice is to persevere and really take the time and energy to learn to play - it will serve you for your entire life!


Guitar Discovery

As you’ve probably discovered, it’s not as easy as it looks and it takes some effort and work to progress.  The biggest enemy or obstacle for beginner’s is frustration and giving up.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Having a good roadmap that outlines the basics that you need to learn is a good way to move forward and to evaluate your progress.   At the moments of frustration (we all have a few of those, even when we’ve been playing a while), it’s good to go back over the list and recognize what you’ve accomplished. 


Important Milestones

Below is a list of important learning milestones that you can use to guide you and review your learning and progress:



1.     Learn to read chord charts

2.     Learn to read tablature

3.     Learn to tune the guitar

4.     Learn hand position for the fretting hand

5.     Learn Pick position and basic picking technique for the picking hand


And then…..

1.     Learn Some beginning single note picked songs (as opposed to chords)

2.     Learn beginning chords:  C, G, D,

3.     Learn additional chords:  Am, Em, E, D7, Dm, A7,


As you continue…..

1.     Add to the beginning chords to form the complete chord versions instead of beginner’s versions of the chords

2.     Work on strumming patterns

3.     Learn more complex, challenging single note picking songs

4.     More chords - suspended chords (Dsus2, Dsus4, Asus2, Asus4), B7, F


Down the Road

For Down the road……..

1.     Learn barre chords

2.     Learn scales:  major scale, pentatonic scale

3.     Learn to add various more complex elements into your songs such as bass notes, more complex strumming, riffs and licks.

4.     Ability to sing and play at the same time

5.     Learn more lead guitar skills with scales, riffs, licks

6.     Learn to improvise


This is a pretty good list of many of the basics that you’ll want to work on and master over the first year of playing.  It is not an exhaustive list - you may cover other material as you learn.  It is really helpful to have a great teacher and learning environment to help you learn and master the skills, to support, encourage and inspire you and to help you really enjoy and fall in love with this great endeavor that is playing guitar.


Andrew Bassuk is the owner and principle teacher at Harmony Music Center in Ventura, CA.  To learn more about him and Harmony Music Center please visit: