beginner secrets

Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately.

I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…

Today we are talking about a key advantage the guitar has over the piano and two things that can make or break a beginner’s success on the guitar.

Here we go…


Email #1 

“Hi Dan

Only a few weeks into my journey into playing at 62 so baby steps. Took my original full-size guitar back to the store as my arthritic hands and short fingers were just not getting to the cords.

They kindly swapped it for a new 3/4 slim neck and my confidence at making progress has already improved. 

Just want to thank you for your latest lesson too. I am getting a huge amount of benefit and enjoyment learning basic finger picking with “When the Saints.” It really suits my early journey into guitar, gives me confidence and more importantly is something I can play with my limited abilities. 

Thank you and please keep this simple style coming. It’s just what I need.” 



This is really pleasing to hear on two counts.

Firstly, for the fact that Rob didn’t “settle” for the wrong guitar.

That’s so important because getting a guitar that suits you is essential.

You want the right tools for the job, after all.

Getting a guitar that doesn’t suit you can be like trying to drill a hole with a pool cue.

…Or trying to play pool with a drill!

You get the point – getting the right guitar that suits you makes everything easier to play.


Secondly, it’s great that Rob is putting this guitar to good use.

Playing a simple song, having fun, building up good technical habits, and growing in confidence…

This is precisely what all beginners should aim for.

So, keep these things in mind because doing the above really is one of the secrets to making a successful start on the guitar.

Well done to Rob for making a great start.


Email #2

“Hi Dan, 

As a small child (5ish?) we would regularly visit my aunt so that mum and her sister could spend hours drinking tea and gossiping. I hated it but my aunt had a piano and I could play it so long as I didn’t make “loud or horrible noises”. Needless to say the piano lid was often slammed down and locked because my musical creativity (played mostly with fists) was always deemed “loud and horrible”.

Then one day my uncle gave me the tip to only ever play the black notes. The piano lid was never slammed again. Try telling a 5-year-old would be guitarist to just jam with pentatonics! 

I really do think beginner guitar is much much harder than beginner piano. I am still hoping that as I get better with the guitar it gets easier and I was right not to learn the piano.”



That’s a really interesting email.

It highlights how tricky the guitar can be compared to the piano.

One thing Mike touched on here was that when you play the black notes on a piano, you are automatically playing a cool scale (the E♭ minor pentatonic scale).

You can literally just jam and tinkle those notes in a random way and it will usually sound cool.

Doing that on the guitar requires you to know where the scale notes are.

…And of course, it requires the fretting hand fingers to be precise, the picking hand to accurately pluck the correct string, and both hands to be coordinated.

So, yeah, beginner guitar playing is often harder than beginner piano playing.

Anyway, that’s the bad news.


The good news is that once you get better at the guitar, due to the layout of it, it’s an extremely versatile instrument.

Take barre chords for instance…

Master them and you’ll be able to play songs in every key just by moving the same shape around or changing your starting point.

Changing keys on the piano is more intricate and something I’ve never got good at. I tend to play a lot in C Major and G Major on a piano because they are easier keys for me to play on that instrument.

Anyway, I always find it interesting seeing how different instruments compare and contrast.

…But more than that, this is a lesson on sticking with it, because although the guitar starts off challenging, many doors open up as you improve.

So, never stop trying to improve!


For more on barre chords, playing them with great technique, and utilising the whole fretboard, you might want to check this out:

The Ultimate Guide to Barre Chords


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.

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