Beginner's Guitar Curriculum

A friend recently queried me about guitar lessons, and if I could throw together a curriculum. So I decided to take a shot at it. Here's a basic learning path that starts at absolute beginner and ends at somewhere around intermediate.

Chord Charts

A beginning guitarist needs lo learn the basic chords. For this reason, I made some free, visual guitar chord charts to help budding guitarists learn basic chords.


The issue is motivation. When you learn there has to be payoff as you go, or else motivation dies and you wind up hating the instrument. The fact is, learning an instrument requires uncreative, repetitive practice, combined with study of dry theory and technique. My goal therefore is to intersperse moments of discovery and creativity. Hopefully theory and creativity will reinforce each other.

The Big Rules of Guitar

These are the big rules of sounding good. These are too important to be listed among the technical topics below, and they apply across the curriculum.

Technical Topics

These are the various skills and areas of knowledge that you'll need to be a decent guitarist. Some are easier than others. This list basically makes up the curriculum, and the creative steps listed below will be done as determined by the teacher.

Phase 1:

  1. The parts of a guitar
  2. Changing strings and guitar care
  3. Tuning the guitar and knowing the notes of each string
  4. How to hold the guitar
  5. Proper left hand position
  6. Proper right hand position

Phase 2:

  1. Distinguishing major, minor and 7 chords by ear
  2. Reading tabs and chord charts
  3. The open major chords B, E, A, D, G, C and F
  4. Minor versions of open chords
  5. 7 versions of open chords (as in E7)

Phase 3:

  1. Basic strumming patterns
  2. Strumming with proper right hand motion
  3. Common chord progressions
  4. Switching chords while strumming and without pausing

Phase 4:

  1. Recognizing musical intervals by ear
  2. Recognizing the root note of a chord by ear
  3. Visualizing chord progressions in root note intervals
  4. Barre chords
  5. Power chords, 2 chords and other chord variations

Phase 5:

  1. The major scale
  2. The minor scale
  3. Learning to get fluid with one or two scales
  4. Pentatonic major scales
  5. Pentatonic minor scales
  6. Relationships between minor and major scales
  7. The blues scale

Phase 6:

  1. Palm muting
  2. Hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, trills
  3. Strumming with your fingers instead of a pick
  4. Finger picking

Creative Steps

These are generally the more fun and less measurable aspects of playing. These are also where theory morphs into creativity and guitar starts to be fun. No particular order is necessary here.