Posted by: worshipguitarguy | August 30, 2006

Beginning Your Guitar Journey Pt. 2

guitar_girl_2.jpgSo you’ve bought a guitar, and you can’t get over that wonderful spruce smell filling your case.   But there’s one little problem… you have no clue how to play this thing…

Well, neither do I… 😉  But I’ll try to give you some tips to help you get started.

Should I take guitar lessons?  This is coming from a completely self taught guitarist… YES, YES, and YES!!!

There is no substitute for a good guitar teacher.  Good teachers show you proper technique, fingerings, and rhythm.  If you try learning on your own, you’re likely to develop bad habits that will slow your progress. 

Being self taught, I spent the first four years of my playing developing bad habits, and the next four trying to break them.

After personal lessons, what other resources are helpful?  My first suggestion would be instructional videos.   Watching a good guitarist play demonstrates proper technique and rhythm.  Things like tab, chord sheets, and online articles can’t give you that form of instruction. 

For worship guitar, I’ve checked out Paul Baloche’s video series.  While dated now, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Each video is very practical and informative.  Also, there’s a new series out by Musicademy in the UK… Phil Ayres from the site said he’ll be reviewing it in an upcoming podcast so stay tuned to him for more info. 

Another thing, get a good metronome.  Rhythm is crucial when starting out, so practice with one.  There are several cool computer based metronome programs out there (Metrognome is one of them) that let you tap in tempos.  They’re worth checking out.

(Note: after posting this, I ran across a very cool metronome online.  You can check it out at )

What chords are important to learn for worship guitar?  Us worship guitarists are often simple folks.  If someone can play rhythm in a key other than G or E, then they’re considered to be advanced.  😉  So to start, here are some common worship chords  (in G and E).


Note to understanding the diagrams above:  There are six vertical lines… each represents one of the six strings on your guitar.  The far left line represents the low E string, and the far right line represents the high E string.  Next, the space between the horizontal lines represents a fret on the guitar.  So the first space would be the first fret, the second space is the second fret… etc.  Each filled in black circle represents a place where you should put your finger.  For instance on the A4 chord, there are two filled in black dots on the second space, on the middle two lines…  That means you’d put your fingers on the D and G strings on the second fret.  If there is a open circle at the top of the diagram, that means play that string open, without placing a finger on a fret. Since there are open circles above the A, B and high E strings, you want to strum those too when playing a chord.  An X above the diagram means don’t play that string when strumming.  In the A4 example, I usually don’t play the low E string open, I mute it, so the low note in the chord is an A. 

A common progression in worship music is one called the I-V-VIm-IV.  (I’ll explain this in a later post.)  In each key, you might play one measure or four beats of each chord.  So strum (with downstrokes) on each chord four times, (on each beat,) then switch to the next one, following the pattern below…  You may find the order of these chords reminds you of several popular songs you know.  (Practice playing and switching chords with your metronome.)

G  ——————————————-
G             D                Em7            C9
/  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /


E  ——————————————–
E             BaddE         C#m            A4
/  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /   |   /  /  /  /

Once your comfortable with your downstroke, then practice playing an upstroke in the middle of each beat.  As you get better, you can practice leaving out certain beats in your strums, giving your playing more flavor.

As a beginner, are there any other things to remember?
A couple things off the top of my head…

First, keep your strumming hand and wrist loose. (if your right handed, that’s your right hand.)  This will keep your rhythm smoother, and it can help prevent injuries later on.

Second, watch the joints on your fretting hand (your left hand if your right handed.)  Make sure all your finger joints are curling in, not bending out.  Before strumming a chord, pick each note individually to see if it rings out clearly.  If it isn’t, check to make sure another finger or part of your hand is not touching that string.  Also make sure your pressing down on the string hard enough.

Well, that’s it for now, feel free to leave some thoughts and I’ll be back with some more beginning stuff later.



  1. Cool. Looking forward to more articles on this topic. Thanks for posting them.

  2. How do you play electric guitar in a worship band?

  3. Hey Cross Rocker,

    Thanks for stopping by! I’ll make it a point to write some beginning articles on electric playing. Thanks for bringing it up…

  4. cool I am at beginning stage,and I learned a lot.. keep on updating. futher please stress more on acoustic guitar strumming pattern.. I know all majors and minors but don’t know which strumming techique will work for particular worship song ???
    bit confused with strumming while reading notes and how many times to strum on perticular words or sentence.

    With Regards

  5. Hey Jedd… strumming pattern… ahh the bane of all beginning guitar players. That’s one alot of guys struggle with, so let me see what I can do about that one!

  6. This is a terrific site! I do have one comment on the chords. The A4 you list, I could be wrong but believe is an A2 (drop the 3 add the 2). An A4 is x02230. This site is much needed and appreciated!

  7. I think you’re right Kevin, I just grabbed those from the chord chart example I posted before and didn’t change the references…

    (I think the technical name of the chord you listed is an Asus4, isn’t it?)

  8. Hi there,
    i am a learning guitar, can you help me out in strumming the guitar, and also show me some basic chords i need to know, please do can you tell me how many kinds of strumming do we need to know in worship music… favorite singer is chris tomlin and matt redman.
    thx a lot

  9. Hey Raymond,

    The two basic keys and chords above are an excellent place to start. I think many worship guitar players first learn the keys of E and G, before moving on to the others. Also, check out the lesson about CAGED Chords here on the site. Once you get those down, you’ll be in awesome shape.

    As far as strumming, that’s a difficult thing to explain in words, it’s much easier to show… We’re trying to make the first ever Worship Guitar Guy video podcast this month, and it will cover strumming technique!

  10. Hey
    This is a really cool site. I recently started guitar, and I’m ok I guess. But wheneve i try to play a song it sounds like the chords are in the wrong inversion. Can you even do different inversions on a guitar?

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