If you are expecting your first country guitar lesson to be about learning to play, please think again. It’s about doing nothing!
Here’s what tends to happen when beginners think about taking up and learning to play guitar. First, there is a rush of enthusiasm that often results in dashing out and buying a guitar that they think they want to play. Next they pay – often a lot of money – for some lessons that they believe, because they’ve been told, will have them playing like Keith Urban in a matter of days.
Next comes disillusion. They find that the guitar they bought is difficult to play and they don’t understand why. The lessons are way ahead of their current knowledge, their wrists ache, their fingers are sore and things like amplifiers and foot stools are starting to gather dust in the corner. Worse, their dream of being a country guitar player is over. Don’t let this happen to you.
You can avoid it simply by understanding that whatever you think you want right now, you may well change your mind once you get started learning guitar. Taking one country guitar lesson isn’t going to break the bank. Signing up for a whole series may be a different story. So shop around, for everything.
Before you spend any money on a guitar, visit at least two guitar shops and try out at least three each of acoustic, electric and classic guitars. Don’t worry that you can’t actually play them yet. Just get an idea of how they feel in your hands, what they sound like when you pluck the strings and whether or not you can easily reach round the neck with your fretting hand. All guitars are not the same!
Once you have some idea of what you would like to buy, ask one of the assistants to play it for you so that you can hear what it sounds like. That’s how you are going to sound one day. If you do then decide to buy, ask the assistant to do four things for you: change the strings to a lighter gauge, lower the action, provide a padded gig bag and give you a discount. You will also need a strap, but you may or may not have to pay for that.
If the shop says no to any of that, go somewhere else. It’s a tough market and it’s a buyers market. Don’t be afraid to call the shots.
Now what about lessons? Sure, you can hire a private tutor, and if he or she is any good – and you get on well together – you will certainly learn to play in time. But you will spend a lot of money doing it. There’s a much cheaper, and much more relaxed, way.
Do a search for country guitar lessons online and look for the free stuff. Some of it is terrible, some of it will be too advanced for you, but some of it will be just right. And even the bad stuff won’t have cost you a cent. Stick with this for a while until you are certain that country guitar is the way you want to go. If you find that you are attracted to blues guitar instead, or rock maybe, then you can change your mind without losing money. Your guitar will play any of it.
Finally, no-one does free lessons forever. The good stuff has to be paid for, but by the time you move on to that you will already have a shortlist of tutors you like and from whom you are learning. And that’s where you spend your money. Remember, however, that no country guitar lesson will ever be a substitute for practice. Be patient. Take your time. You will get there.