If you want to learn music theory, one of the best instruments to take up is the piano – or even just an electronic keyboard. The piano is great because you can see all of the notes in front of you and learn how to use two hands at once, playing independent notes. You can learn all types of ways of playing the piano, as well, including classical style and jazz style. But is there another way to learn music theory if you don’t want to become a piano player right away?

Absolutely: you can buy yourself an inexpensive acoustic guitar and learn all about scales, chord progressions, and the relationships between notes. If you already own an acoustic guitar but don’t know how to play it, and don’t really understand music theory, this article will help you get off on the right foot. Or, in this case, on the right finger.

How to Learn the Basics

One of the first things you’ll want to do is actually buy a metronome. A metronome is that annoying little device that you set in order to hear a constant tempo. Why do you want to play with one right away? Can’t you learn rhythm and tempo independent of learning other music theory? Well, you can, but practicing with a metronome right away is vitally important because you might not realize how far off your internal sense of rhythm and timing is. You can play the metronome slowly at first, in order to make things more accommodating for you as a beginner. Once that gets easy, you’ll know you’re ready to kick the tempo up a notch and practice playing your music with a more difficult and faster beat.

You’ll also want to focus on basic music theory you’ll find in any beginner’s music book: learn about major and minor scales. Be sure to pay special attention to the relationship between notes in these scales, because once you understand how these relationships work, you’ll be able to essentially understand these scales no matter what the “root” note is. For example, playing a “C major” scale on guitar should be just as easy as playing a “G major” scale. On the piano, this might be a little trickier because of the difference between white and black notes, but on guitar, you know how easy it is to move up a half and whole step.

Putting Together Chords

Once you have the basics down, you can move on to ideas like chord progressions. The I-IV-V chord progression and its variables are one of the best ways to get started: you can play a variety of songs out of that chord progression, and even improvise your own melodies quite easily. When you start to see the relationships between chords, you’ll get a better understanding of how a song is constructed, and how one chord might be used in order to “set up” the next. There are a lot of different elements that go into constructing a song, but once you know how to play basic chord progressions on guitar, you’ll feel like you’ve really improved a lot.

Strumming and Picking

Strumming and picking are essential skills on the guitar, and you’ll want to learn how to use both of them. If you memorize a specific finger-picking pattern, for example, you will be able to produce a sound out of your guitar that sounds like two people are playing: it’s a great way to sound more “advanced.” Strumming the guitar is an essential skill, as well: if you can strum a guitar with clarity and authority, you can really start to play.

There are a lot of other elements at play when you learn music with the guitar, but these basics should hopefully give you an idea of what to expect.

Whether or not you already know a musical instrument, you might be thinking about taking one up. Perhaps you want to enhance your musical skills and take on a new challenge, and perhaps you simply want to get involved in the world of music in some (even limited) way. If you’re at either of these stages, you might be considering a number of instruments, but the chances are good that you’re considering a popular one, like guitar, piano, and drums.

While there are many types of keyboard instruments just as there are guitars, we might suggest that the acoustic guitar can make an excellent choice. Why? Well, we’re about to get into that. Here are four reasons you might want to make an acoustic guitar the next instrument on your to-do list.

Reasons Why It Is A Good Idea

Reason #1: Guitars are very handy.

No, an acoustic guitar is not a good tool to hammer in that nail so you can hang a picture up, but as far as musical instruments go, an acoustic guitar can be quite handy. They’re usually light and easy to carry around, and it only takes a bit of tuning to make sure that the guitar is ready to play. In most cases, you can pack your guitar along with you and bring it out quickly if you want to entertain your friends with a song around the campfire. Even though acoustic guitars look kind of large, they’re hollow, which means they’re not as difficult to bring or pack as you might think. With a good amount of skill on the acoustic guitar, you can also play a variety of different songs – in fact, many songs these days are actually written for the acoustic guitar.

Reason #2: No plugs required.

The electric guitar produces such a dynamic sound that it often blows an acoustic guitar out of the water, but that sound comes with a price: equipment and setup time. An electric guitar can sound great on a stage or in a studio, but if you simply want to bring your instrument with you and bring it out at any given time, then you’re going to want to stick with an acoustic guitar. There’s also the fact that buying less equipment means you’ll have more money left over to spend on other things – like guitar lessons, if you’re feeling ambitious. There are indeed electric acoustic guitars that allow you to “plug in” acoustics, but generally an acoustic guitar means just that – it’s playing its own sounds. No wind up, no plug-ins, no batteries.

Reason #3: Cool factor.

In many cases, taking out the acoustic guitar and playing it in public can actually make you look a little…well, try-hard. As in, trying too hard to impress people. Why is this? It’s because you can’t deny the “cool factor” of an acoustic guitar: you’re playing an instrument that produces a bright, bold sound, and you’re doing it by picking up a piece of wood attached to some strings. That’s pretty cool. It’s so cool that it’s becoming a bit of a cliche. You can look cool, however, with an acoustic guitar without having to become a try-hard. Just play it when you enjoy it and you won’t ever be one of those “try-hards.”

Reason #4: It’s easy to learn.

The acoustic guitar can require a lot of skill, but it doesn’t take long for you to learn some basic chord progressions and play simpler songs. You don’t have to be an expert to start sounding like you really know what you’re doing, and that’s what’s great about an acoustic guitar: it can be a highly accessible instrument. You’ll want to learn music theory, of course, but you can get some more immediate rewards for practicing your guitar by focusing on some basic chord strumming.

We hope this article has convinced you to start learning.