Learning Guitar or Ukulele? Here's the Easiest Way!

The best quick Guide to Learning Guitar or Ukulele - From Old-School to New Tech. Some tricks to speed up the learning process.


Jace Snel

3/14/20235 min read

grayscale photo of people holding assorted music instruments
grayscale photo of people holding assorted music instruments

Whether you're a beginner or looking to improve your skills, there are several approaches you can take. Online tutorials and in-person lessons are popular options but don't forget about the many apps and practice tools available. By exploring these resources and finding the method that works best for you, you can make learning guitar or ukulele a fun and enjoyable experience. Start your musical journey today and discover how easy it can be to learn a new instrument.

Learn the Basics!

Like any skill, it's best to start with the basics to make progress quickly and efficiently. This includes learning essential skills such as tuning your guitar, mastering basic strumming techniques, using a pick effectively, understanding the different types of instruments and pedals used by guitarists, choosing the best instrument, and some beginner songs that will help you learn different skills needed.

Finding the right size instrument is usually one of the main keys for beginners. When considering a guitar you can buy 1/2-sized, 3/4, full-sized, and even jumbo! (I have a breakdown of beginner guitars here) But, for younger children, you might want to start with some ukulele lessons. Smaller children can have issues with reaching around full-sized guitars to play effectively and some ukuleles will be too small to fit their fingers in between the frets. If you are a very young beginner starting with a smaller (soprano) cheaper ukulele is totally fine. Adults would much prefer to play on a slightly larger (concert) sized instrument.

Here are a few good options. Don't forget to shop around for prices!

Mahalo Rainbow Series

This is my pick for the cheapest ukulele. It's one of the most popular ukuleles in Australia. They're great for kids under 9. They stay in tune pretty well and sound fine for a beginner ukulele. It'll be too small for older kids and adults to play seriously. They have a cheaper range, but they're more of a toy than an instrument.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

This is what I would pick as the next step up. Concert-sized ukuleles will last you for life. It's right in that sweet middle ground in terms of size. It's a great lead-in instrument to the guitar and a great backing for singing.

Finding a good guitar teacher!

Having a good guitar teacher can offer you more advantages than you might think. A guitar teacher provides personalised guidance, structure, and support to help students improve their playing. They teach correct techniques, offer access to resources and knowledge, and provide emotional support and motivation. By investing in a guitar teacher, students can make faster progress, avoid bad habits, and achieve their goals faster.

How to find a good guitar teacher?

  • Look for recommendations from friends, family, or musicians you might know in the area.

  • Check-in with your school to find out if they have a music teacher, often schools have teachers come in for a day or two to offer lessons.

  • Online directories like google or gumtree can be helpful. Proceed with the usual cautions however when sending your kids to meet strangers obviously!

  • Attend a lesson or consultation before you commit to anything, and see if you enjoy the lesson, the teacher, and the style of the lesson.

  • Discuss your goals! If it's as simple as learning the instrument, you can just go with the flow. However, it's great to have a goal in mind. Whether it be a song you'd like to learn or if you want to learn how to solo along with a band. This will help determine if the teacher has the skills required to teach you what you need to know.

Following these tips will help you can find a good guitar teacher who will provide quality instruction and help you progress in your musical journey.

Cordoba Ukulele
Cordoba Ukulele

Take advantage of modern technology.

Modern technology can provide a huge amount of information. Knowing where to start can be hard but there are plenty of different resources from guitar apps, online communities, Udemy, Youtube, blogs such as this one, and virtual guitar simulators (think more Garageband than Rockband).

In the beginning, these are more likely going to be secondary resources to help you practice in between lessons. No doubt there is someone with a tutorial on the latest song you are learning already on Youtube.

Practice Consistently!

Practicing an instrument is a fundamental component of developing musical skills. Regardless of whether you are a novice or a seasoned player, consistent practice is critical to mastering your instrument and refining your musical abilities over time.

Regular practice enables you to build muscle memory and refine your timing, rhythm, and pitch, which are crucial elements of musical performance. Furthermore, frequent practice allows you to learn new techniques and concepts that will expand your skill set and make you a more versatile musician.

Apart from developing your skills, practicing an instrument can help you confront and overcome obstacles you may encounter as a musician. Whether you are grappling with a difficult technique, trying something brand new, or striving to master a complex piece of music, consistent practice can assist you in breaking down the challenge into more manageable steps and gradually working towards proficiency. With commitment and persistence, even the most daunting musical obstacles can be overcome, which can be a great motivational feeling.

Practicing an instrument is important for anyone who aspires to become a skilled musician. By committing to regular practice, you can refine your skills, learn new techniques, and build confidence in your abilities, allowing you to attain your musical goals.

Learn some simple songs first.

There is this funny thing you see as a guitar teacher. This... constant need to go faster. Kids will always ask me "How fast can you play that?!" which usually leads to me explaining about timing and feel (and then flexing obviously). They give me a similar look to what my dog gives me when I ask him "Do you wanna go for aaa... ?" So, realistically the best way to learn about these things is to start learning simple songs. Some songs that are incredibly famous are also incredibly easy to play.

Songs like "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Wonderwall," "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," "Sweet Home Alabama," and "Horse with No Name" are great examples of easy-to-play songs that help novice guitarists gain confidence and build foundational skills.

Timing and feel are important because they make the music sound good and give it a soulful quality. When timing and feel are done right, the music will have a groove that makes it fun to listen to. Even if a musician plays all the right notes, if the timing and feel are off, the music won't sound good. So, it's pretty important to work on timing and feel when practicing music.

Join a community or a band.

So, maybe you're a complete beginner and not ready to join a band, but there are other great communities out there that can help support your learning. Over on Reddit at r/guitar, for example, you can find a lot of like-minded people discussing all things guitar. Alternatively, you can go over to ultimateguitar.com which has a big guitar community in its forums and is also the best source for tabs! You could even follow The Galah over on Facebook, or subscribe here for more help!

When you're ready though, joining a band is a great idea. Even if you don't intend to play gigs, or write your own music it will help improve your musicianship, practice your creativity, learn new ideas, and gain social connections, and it's just a lot of fun.

Hopefully, this will help you get started and point you in the right direction. Learning an instrument can be a challenge so having a teacher to help, joining a community and just giving it a go with some easy songs are great moves to gaining a lifelong skill. Just don't forget to practice!

man wearing gray tee shirt holding red guitar
man wearing gray tee shirt holding red guitar