How to Play Guitar
It's quite simple to learn to play the guitar. Mastering it, and becoming a good guitarist, is something that can take years, however, requiring dedication and practice. But anyone can learn the basics in a short period of time.
How to StartFirst of all, your guitar needs to be in tune. From thickest to thinnest, the strings should be EADGBE. A simple way to remember this is by a making up a mnemonic. The easiest way to tune is using an electronic tuner, which is cheap, very accurate and easy to use. Reach the correct note by tightening or loosening the string as needed on the machine heads.
The thin metal bars on the guitar neck are frets. You make chords by holding down the appropriate shape on the fret with your left hand and strumming on plucking the strings above the sound hole on the body of the guitar.
Initially you'll find the fingertips of your left hand hurt from the pressure of the strings. But after a few weeks they'll harden and you'll be able to play more easily.
The First ChordsThe first three chords to learn are C, G and F. One you can manage those you'll be able to play a number of songs, and your fingers will be adept at changing. Don't worry if it takes you a while to make each chord. That will become faster with practice.
For the third chord, add F. This is a little different, since the first finger holds down the top two strings at the first fret, which means you hold it at an angle. That's hard at first, but persevere.
FingerpickingOnce you've learned how to strum properly, varying the rhythms to add to the melody, you should learn how to fingerpick. That involves using the fingers of your right hand to pick out the notes of the chord you're making. It's generally a repeated, rhythmic patter, with the thumb playing the bass strings and the first (or first and middle) playing the upper strings. Again, it takes time to learn, and even longer for it to sound comfortable and natural.
More AdvancedThe more you learn, you'll realise there are different ways to make the same chord. One of them is using barred chords, With that, your first finger covers the fret entirely, and you make the chord shape (either E or A, major and minor) with your other three fingers. It makes for faster chord changes, and works with both major and minor chords.
Making quick, smooth chord changes will take several months. Don't become discouraged when it doesn't happen overnight. The more you play, the easier it will become, until it's second nature and you don't' even need to look at the fretboard.
There's no guarantee you'll become a great guitarist; that depends not only on practice, but also talent. However, you will have years of pleasure ahead playing the guitar.