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Berklee College of Music

Guitar for Beginners

Berklee College of Music via Coursera


Grasp the essentials needed to begin playing acoustic or electric guitar. You'll learn an easy approach to get you playing quickly, through a combination of exploring the instrument, performance technique, and basic music theory.

For students who have long thought about picking up the acoustic or electric guitar, this course will provide an easy-access foundation that will get you playing. When first learning guitar, it is important to have the material presented in stages, in an enjoyable way that allows you to grasp the basics of the instrument and music. The course begins simply with the parts of the guitar, the names of the strings, tuning, and technique—whether finger-style or pick. It then explores the basics of music theory with such topics as scales, triads, power chords, and fingering and shapes.

At the end of this course, students will understand the structure, parts, and accessories of the instrument, in addition to an understanding of its basic maintenance. Electric guitar players will learn the operation of their instrument along with basic options for amplification, effect pedals, and sounds. Students will also learn to develop correct technique and apply theory concepts to their playing. They will have the foundational knowledge necessary to pursue most intermediate guitar courses.


  • Welcome to Introduction to Guitar
    • Welcome to Guitar for Beginners! Before you begin the course, we will cover all the details about the course and what you'll need to know to get the most out of your Berklee massive online course.
  • Acoustic / Electric Guitar and the Basics
    • In this first lesson, we will take things slow. We will focus on how to choose the right guitar for you and what accessories are essential for any guitar player. We'll also learn the parts of the guitar and get you comfortable with your instrument.
  • Getting Started: Fundamental Guitar Skills
    • In this lesson, you will learn how to tune and you will start playing your instrument from the ground up! Be patient and remember: focus on being accurate and play in consistent time with your metronome. These things are far more important than playing with speed.
  • The Twelve Half Steps and Basic Notation
    • While you don’t need to be an expert on music theory to play guitar, it is important to know the basic building blocks of music. With this understanding, music will no longer be shrouded in mystery or complexity. This lesson presents fundamental musical ideas in a fun, non-intimidating way.
  • Scales: Construction and Fingerings
    • In this lesson, you will dig into scales. Don’t be intimidated. Some of you may have heard of, or practiced, scales. It might have been during piano lessons. Most likely it wasn’t very exciting for you. Hopefully you'll find the approach to scales in lesson 4 much easier and even fun.
  • Chords: Building Easy Triads and Power Chords
    • In this lesson, you will use all of the skills you’ve gained from the previous lessons to build the foundation of harmony. You will play certain scale notes at the same time to create chords. Let's look at why chords sound like they do, how to build them, how to easily play chords in open position, and how to play chords that you can move all around the neck.
  • Putting it All Together: The Pentatonic Scale and Songs
    • Now that you have the "science" of the guitar in your fingers, you will learn a couple of songs. You will do this by using melody (from the scales) and harmony (from the chords) we have learned. You will also learn an essential scale for playing melodies and soloing.

Taught by

Thaddeus Hogarth


4.5 rating, based on 22 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 2229 ratings

Start your review of Guitar for Beginners

  • Anonymous
    Good basic intro to guitar for someone who has barely held the instrument. It starts you with just two chords. Then a few scales. But the last part is suddenly very difficult for a beginner, a whole lot of chords including barre chords, and only o…
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    Astitva Bhate
    As a guitar enthusiast, I had the pleasure of trying out the beginner guitar course and I must say, I was quite impressed. The course is designed to take someone with little to no experience and turn them into a confident guitar player.
  • Soumik Chattapadhyay
    Excellent course for Guitar beginners. Each part is thoroughly explained and if you have any doubt there will always be the discussion forum for help.
  • I am 3/4 way through as an audit, but I need to go very slowly to understand all the concepts and practice. It is one thing to learn one aspect of the guitar (ex. parts), and another to incorporate music theory, reading notes and scales, chord diagrams and practice to play these independently with songs.

    I would like to go through this process, slowly and have a 2nd class of the same type , as I can see that after getting outside resources, there is allot more to learn.

    This is truly a beginning class, that needs time though to gain any real knowledge of the instrument.
  • Mg Oowin
    If you decide to change your own guitar strings, here is a tip I learned through experience.

    Do not cut the original strings off.

    Instead, unwind them and then use them to measure the new strings you are about to put on your guitar.

    Make sure to add a little extra room and cut the new strings to size before you put them on.

    It does take more time to remove the strings but it will avoid the mistake I made where you cut a new string too short and then have to go buy another one because it won't stay on.

    This removes excess string that would get in the way so it speeds up the process too.
  • Roberto Medrano
    The course is a good intro to the very basics. I'm not completing the course, because it's too basic for me, but I'd recommend it to someone who is just starting. Unfortunately, the teacher is dull and uninspiring. Not a tone (no pun intended) of excitement. He doesn't seem to enjoy teaching the class. I took a Berklee intro to music lead by a piano teacher, he would often say the only requirement is to have fun. And it was fun, he made it fun.
  • Anonymous
    This is a great course, well thought out and presented.
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    Saleem Mahfoos
    Hi my name is my force my my goal is guitar main goal is one of singer and guitarist and you I am so much singer big singer in India please support me please please teaching me in teaching me guitar please sir and guitarist is my goal and this singe…
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