It’s never too early or too late to learn to play the guitar. From chords to scales to songs you can learn in just minutes, check out these free resources from Fender Play to get you started.
“It takes a lot of courage to learn something new.”
Many people ask, “Can I teach myself how to play guitar?” Our answer? Yes…and no.
While the drive to play and commitment to practicing is yours alone, sometimes, you want a little help from experts to steer you in the right direction. On this page, you’ll find tons of resources to get you started playing guitar on your own. You’ll learn more about the basics of electric and acoustic guitar. You can read free articles to pick up new guitar techniques and tricks. You can also access free lessons here, designed to get you playing quickly. From scales to songs, we’ve got you covered.
That said, you’ll make the most of your learning if you practice consistently. We know it can be hard to stick with it—that’s why we created Fender Play. We designed it to give guitarists bite-sized lessons that can be played anywhere, anytime. Learn at your own pace from world-class instructors.
Check out all the free resources we have to offer on this page and throughout our site. We’ve compiled some of our favorite articles and videos for you to explore right here. You’ll learn the basics the right way from instructors with years of experience playing guitar. You can see for yourself how we approach online guitar lessons for beginners and why we recommend that you try out Fender Play. We’ve gotten great feedback on the app and want to help you on your journey of learning guitar.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go step-by-step through some key components of how to learn guitar.
“There’s a desire in me to express something—to match what I hear in my head.”
Chords are a group of notes strummed together to produce a harmonious sound. Chord charts are one way for new guitarists to learn chords. These charts are a visual way to learn which strings and frets are used to form the notes to play a specific chord. They also show you where to place your fingers on the fretboard to strum a particular chord.
Even if you can’t play a lightning fast solo like your favorite guitarist, you can still strum along and play the rhythm parts if you know chords. Learn more about chord charts here.
While there are dozens of chords, some of the most memorable songs have been written using only a handful of easy-to-play open chords.
Listen to Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” ”Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears.” “Clay” by Grace VanderWaal. They all contain some combination of the following chords:
Not only are these chords easy to play, they play a major (pun unintended) role in building so many memorable songs.
Watched the video? Feel more confident about playing chords? Good! Because chords are such an important part of learning to play guitar, we’ve put together a comprehensive hub of free chord lessons. From power chords to minor chords and everything in between, you’ll learn more about the structure behind different types of chords and discover how to play them.
“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded”
One of the main reasons a person picks up a guitar is to play a song they love. Learning your first song is a milestone moment for beginner guitarists. It’s exciting to play along with a song you know and inspires you to keep learning more.
Learning to play your first song on guitar is a micro-education in itself. It gives you an opportunity to apply the chords you’ve learned to a song you enjoy. You get to learn more about the structure of a song and different techniques to make a piece of music come alive.
“She Loves You” by The Beatles includes both the G and C chords you learned in the chord lesson above, plus the E minor chord and an A chord—more easy chords for beginners. Check out the video below to learn how to play “She Loves You” and strum along with a simple chord progression.
Learning to play your first song on the guitar instills a level of confidence in beginner guitarists. While chords are important, it’s a lot more fun to see what those chords can do when arranged in different ways. With just a few minutes and a few chords, you can begin playing a complete song—from start to finish. Ready to pick up some new tricks and learn more songs? Check out a playlist full of free song lessons below.
A strumming pattern is a specific way of playing up and down strokes on your guitar. While a number of songs call for you to strum chords in an alternating pattern—switching between upward and downward strokes, other songs call for an irregular strumming pattern. For instance, an irregular strumming pattern may have you play a chord in an “up-up-down-up” pattern repeatedly.
The more you train your ear to listen to how different a chord sounds when played upwards versus downwards, the easier it will be for you to develop your own internal rhythm and dissect strumming patterns on your own.
Play the free video lesson below and check out the different strum patterns in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising."
Now that you know a little more about strumming, here are some tips for perfecting your technique:
“I had to be reminded that the guitar is infinite. It never stops teaching you.”
Guitar scales are a series of notes played in ascending or descending order. These notes form a “musical alphabet.” (If you’ve ever heard “Do-Re-Mi,” that’s just the ascending form of the C Major scale, which includes the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.)
Just as the strings on your guitar start with a low E and end with a high E, the notes in a scale begin with a low version of that first note. (In this case, it’s a low C.) And they end with the same note, played one octave higher. (In this instance, it’s a high C.)
Technically, a scale only includes seven notes. However, playing just seven notes leaves it feeling incomplete. The term “octave” contains the Latin root for “eight.” It’s that eighth note—the higher version of the root note for each scale—that makes every scale sound complete.
Check out this short video and learn to play a C major scale—the musical alphabet we just talked about—on your guitar.
Practicing guitar scales can help you become more familiar with the notes on your fretboard and train your ear to recognize individual notes. You can learn how individual notes sound together and better understand chord composition. Learning to play scales can also help you build speed, dexterity, and finger strength.
There are many more reasons to learn to play scales and a handful of scales that beginners should know. Learning scales can set you on the path to gaining a stronger understanding of music theory and writing your own songs. Better yet, once you learn the rules, you can figure out how to break them. Have fun experimenting with scales!
Like scales, exercises can help you learn more about music theory and improve your speed, strength, and dexterity along the fretboard. Here are some examples of finger exercises that you can practice to help you level up:
“Give me a guitar, give me a piano, give me a broom and a string. I wouldn’t get bored anywhere.”
While chords and scales are some of the basic building blocks of musical theory, techniques are important too. They help you play those chords and scales in a way that sounds and feels good.
Learning new guitar skills and techniques can be fun. They allow you to uncover some of the tricks that help make songs sound unique. Different genres make use of different techniques. Practicing them gives you a better appreciation for the skill levels of your own favorite guitarists.
A guitar technique that may sound complicated is usually easier than it seems at first. Guitar techniques can be as simple as learning how to properly fret a note to slightly more complex skills like the hammer-on and pull-off techniques.
Hammer-ons and pull-offs are a two-step technique on your fretboard. To try it, bring your finger down hard and fast on the appropriate fret and then pull it away. This sounds the note in a subtle, yet effective way. It’s a common technique, whether you’re a fan of folk, hard rock or heavy metal.
Watch this quick video to learn the hammer-on and pull-off technique. Then start listening for it in some of your favorite songs and practicing it on your own!
Now that we’ve gone through a series of guitar basics, do you feel more confident in your ability to learn to play guitar? The principles covered here apply to both acoustic or electric guitar and can be built upon over time. Take it note by note, chord by chord and you’ll discover that learning to play guitar is a lot easier than you think.
Practicing and repeating simple chords, scales, and exercises can help you build your confidence and skill level. Repeat these free lessons as many times as you like. And if you want to learn more, Fender Play gives you access to more lessons to help you get playing songs you love even faster.
Find everything you need to learn to begin playing guitar, all in one place. New guitarists of all ages can find what they need to start playing.
Get tips and advice on finding the right guitar for you. Learn how to shop for a guitar in-person, online, or how to buy used.
Learn how to properly maintain your guitar. From tuning to changing your strings, to setting up your amp, pedals and practice space.