The guitar is possibly the most popular instrument in the world, with new players taking it up every day. It is currently the most popular instrument taught in the UK’s schools, and millions of new and used acoustic, classical and electric guitars are sold annually.

The guitar is a very attractive first instrument to many due to its versatility and the fact you can sound start to sound quite good relatively quickly. Once you’ve mastered a few basic chords on the guitar, you’ll be able to strum along with many classic songs.

While a career in any part of the music industry is never going to be the easiest option, the guitar’s wide popularity means that there are more opportunities for guitarists that might be the case with many other, less popular, instruments. Of course, there’s more competition too, but those who practice stand a great chance of reaping the rewards!

Whilst there are many different types of guitar including electric, jazz/archtop, acoustic, 12 String and electro-acoustic, it is usually recommended to begin on a Classical guitar with nylon strings. This is because the nylon strings are less severe on your fingers when you’re beginning and they are available in different sizes to suit you ( ½ and ¾).


The guitar is perhaps the most versatile of all the instruments. Whatever style of music you enjoy, from classic to folk, flamenco and rock chances are you’ll be able to play it on the guitar.

Here are a few examples where you can hear the flexibility of the guitar in action...

Spanish Dance
Classical Guitar
Jack Johnson
Eric Clapton - Layla
The guitar is both a social and individual instrument and sounds equally good when played alone or as part of a band or other ensemble. So whether you want strut your stuff on stage, or are happy to noodle away alone in your room, you can get just as much enjoyment from playing guitar.

FUN FACT: The Fender factory makes around 90,000 strings per day. This is over 20,000 miles a year - enough to circle the world!

Getting Started

As mentioned above, it is usually recommended to start your learning process on a classical guitar of the size to suit you. The guitar is quite affordable compared to other instruments for most people. While top of the range guitars are naturally very expensive, you can get started with a much more basic model which costs significantly less and still sounds good and plays well. As with other instruments, you can also rent a guitar from your local music shop or various online instrument rental services.


For young beginners we recommend the Fender ESC Classical Guitar which comes in 3/4 and 4/4 sizes. Its a very high quality guitar for the price and comes complete with a padded gigbag with shoulder straps. Obtaining the correct sized instrument for you is very important and so we recommend you contact your new teacher for advice. If you do not yet have a teacher, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice on this.
The Jose Ferrer Esudiante is a good quality but affordable classical guitar for beginners, which is light weight and easy to play. This guitar is good quality and comes in 1/2, 3/4 and 4/4 sizes. It comes with a nylon gigbag (no padding).

Whilst additional guitar accessories are not essential for getting started with your new classical guitar, here are a few examples of things you might find useful to help you feel comfortable with your new instrument.

A guitar gigbag is perhaps the most important accessory for your new guitar in order to protect it from wear and tear as you carry it to and from lessons and rehearsals. Many different style of cases are available depending on your personal preference and how much travelling you plan on doing with it.

We recommend this handy TGI Transit Gigbag with carrying handle to protect your instrument and easily take it with you - it comes 1/2, 3/4 and 4/4 sizes.
Your guitar won’t usually come with a strap included although it is a good idea to invest in one if you are doing a lot of playing standing up. When choosing a guitar strap it is important that it has leather ends as plastic ends tend to stretch resulting in your guitar falling off and getting damaged. We have a wide range of leather ended guitar straps by Fender & Planet Waves in a wide range of styles and colours.
Classical guitars often do not come with an end pin on the base via which you can attach the strap. If you want to use a strap you will need to have an end pin fitted. Planet Waves End Pins are really high quality and come in black, nickel and brass finishes - simple screw into the body of your guitar so that you can attach any style of strap you wish. We advise you to consult a professional before doing this to ensure that your guitar is suitable (structually).
Whilst pitch pipes are the most basic form of tuning device, we recommend this relatively affordable Fender Clip On Tuner that attaches to the top of your guitar and guides you to tuning your guitar more accurately.
We recommend the investment in a collapsible guitar stand which will ensure your new guitar is not accidentally knocked over which could damage it and require specialist repair. We recommend the Hercules Guitar Stands which either come in a compact tripod design (Hercules Mini Acoustic or Electric Guitar Stand) or a more substantial stand that holds the neck of your guitar (Hercules Shock Safe Guitar Stand which is suitable for acoustic & electric guitars). Alternatively you could look at wall hangers which come in either electric/acoustic guitar or classical guitar versions. Displaying your guitar on a stand also encourages you to play it more frequently as you pass by it every day.
Using a guitar pick (plectrum) produces a crisper and brighter sound from your guitar compared to using your fingers but this tone and quality varies depending on the thickness and strength of the pick. Choosing whether or not to use a pick is simply a question of personal preference but if you choose to then we recommend those that are made by Dunlop or Fender - we advise beginners to start with a medium 0.60 or 0.50 to start with and then experiment with different thicknesses.

Beginner Books

Here are the best selling guitar tutor books for beginners:

Alfred's Basic Guitar Method has been recognised for over 50 years as the best-paced and most comprehensive guitar method available and is the most popular method of learning how to play. It is easy to follow and therefore quick to learn from. The book progresses through the technical basics with the aim to progress to a wide variety of genres of pieces that are included, such as blues, country, folk, jazz, rock and pop songs! Learning to play has never been easier or more fun than with Alfred's Basic Guitar Method - the first choice for todays beginning guitar students. Alfred Basic Guitar Method with starts with book 1 and then progresses onto book 2 and 3 - alternatively you can purchase Alfred's Basic Guitar Method Complete which has all 3 books in one edition.

This Absolute Beginners book is designed to help you progress from the very first time you pick up your new guitar. It takes you through your musical development in a step-by-step, easy to follow process, building your skills up to playing the short pieces with the CD towards the end of the book. The book does not aim to help you progress to a professional player but provides the vital first steps towards that goal in a clear and structured way.

Alfred's Kid's Guitar Course Book 1 is declared as the easiest method book for children aged 5 and up as three cheerful characters guide them through the method in a colourful and lively way. By the end of Book 1 you'll know how to hold your guitar well, strum a sequence of chords and play along to your favourite tunes. The book has an accompanying DVD with a containing a live instructor who demonstrates the instructions described in the book.

Guitar chord dictionaries go through a wide range of chords you can plan on the guitar - so if you fancy playing along to a chord songbook this dictionary will have all the chords you need.

If you do not want to start learning with a tutor book and want to get stuck straight in these 4 chord songbooks are great. Each book is just based on 4 easy chords (with chord diagrams) so you can get started straight away - there is a wide selection to choose from!

Finding a Guitar Teacher

It is highly recommended when starting an instrument to employ a qualified teacher to make the learning process interesting and fun. Teachers can be found across the UK at schools, local music services and musicteachers.co.uk or if you live in our locality please do not hesitate to contact us for details of suitable teachers.

Music Centres - playing in orchestras & ensembles

Music centres are set up in many towns to give students an opportunity to meet like-minded people whilst putting their playing into practice. The centres often have a wide variety of ensembles which you can join if you wish. It provides great opportunities to perform in concert situations across the UK and even sometimes Europe. Here is a list of Music Centres/Services in the UK.

This resource was written by:

Sarah Hayward

Sarah Hayward Bmus (hons), MA

Sarah is a sprightly coloratura soprano and active violin and viola player who enjoys interacting with other musicians and teaching her students. Sarah is part of DS Music’s Education Outreach & Marketing Team and is passionate about the expansion and Educational Outreach of the company in order to help give everyone the opportunity to access music. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Music has the power to change people so help me use it to change the world!! :)

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