a to z

Welcome to a new little series I’m writing.

It’s an A to Z on learning guitar for beginners.


Below I’ll share some really valuable advice that will help you no matter where you are on your guitar journey…

Especially if you’re a beginner or you’ve been struggling.

Here we go…



Playing along with audio tracks is great for your playing. Doing so will help you improve your timing, fine-tune the details, and learn songs faster.

Doing this was one of the turning points that took me from sounding pretty awful musically to actually being a competent guitarist quite quickly. It’s not easy, but you will get better at it with practice, and your patience will be rewarded!



Barre chords are wonderful, and they’ll open up many doors to your guitar playing, but don’t try to master them right away (this is a mistake some beginners make).

If you are really keen on nailing barre chords, however, just pick one barre chord shape and practise it for a minute or two each day. This will give you a taste of barre chord playing, but without it interfering with the essentials.



Getting good at your chord changes requires time and focus. Yet, you can trim this time down if you practise your chord changes with focus every single day.

Choose 1-2 chords, set a timer, and get working on them back and forth with good technique. Do that every day and you will get smoother changes at a faster rate.



The “Death Grip” happens when you squeeze so hard with your fretting hand that the fingers and thumb get very sore.

Always try to relax your fingers as you play and play with the lightest touch possible. I call this “Minimum Pressure Required”. Make that a habit and you will beat the dreaded “Death Grip” – once and for all.



Most guitar teachers neglect to teach students the essentials. Sure, most are pretty good at teaching chords, songs, and strumming patterns, but there’s so much more to beginner guitar playing than all that.

For instance, good posture, optimal playing position, picking notes with good tone, smooth movements, avoiding plucking the wrong strings, etc. – all these are critical. Work on these essentials every day.



Playing five songs from start to finish is what I encourage all students to do (no matter how simple the songs are).

Achieving this goal means your chord changes will have to get smoother, your strumming, timing, and rhythm will be better, and your all-around musicality will improve. So if you can’t do it yet, don’t worry, but from today, start working to play five songs from start to finish.



A lot of beginners out there are playing guitars that are low quality, poorly set up or plain just don’t suit the student.  It’s so important to get a guitar that suits you.

If you don’t feel comfortable playing your guitar, go to a shop, and try out ten guitars. This will help you learn so much more about exactly which guitar is the right one for you.



Many think the sole reason Jimi Hendrix was so good was because he was blessed with natural ability. Personally, I don’t believe all that much in “natural ability”. With Jimi and the other greats, what made them so good was their desire to constantly improve. Jimi got so good because he practised so much. So be inspired by guys like Hendrix and realise they are human, just like me and you.

Funny side note – when Sarah (Archie’s mom) and I were expecting Archie, one name I suggested calling him was Hendrix – she was not up for that and said it sounds like a name for a pet. Ha-ha.



Don’t learn in isolation. I always urge students to learn and jam with as many people as possible, be part of an online community, or join a music club of some sort.

I know my emails help many of you out and help you feel less isolated, which is wonderful. (Do keep reading them and please forward them to anyone who needs them)… But of course, get yourself out there as much as possible and get learning with who you can, when you can!



Guitar playing should be fun! There are multiple ways to bring more joy to your playing.

This includes improving one tiny thing each day (achieving goals makes us happier), playing music you love, and finishing off on a high every day. Remember, joy through music is the reason most of us started playing guitar in the first place.



Don’t take on board too much knowledge. Instead, use it. For instance, spending too much time learning lots of scales and chords can hold you back.

That’s because it’s what you do with your knowledge that truly counts. The best guitarists make the most of what they know before they sit down and learn new stuff.


On that note, let’s wrap this up for today.

Tomorrow we will cover part 2, continuing with the letter “L”.

In that email, we’ll cover a few surprising things about guitar playing, so stay tuned for that.


For now, if you want more help with your playing, don’t forget you can check out my book bundle

It’s on sale until the weekend and you get a brand-new PDF mini songbook, which is a great addition to the bundle.



Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.


The A to Z of Learning Guitar (Part 2) – Dan Thorpe's Acoustic Guitar Domination
September 15, 2022 Reply

[…] Part 1, go here, but if you’ve read that already, keep […]

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