Learn the acoustic guitar


Close up of acoustic guitar

The acoustic guitar tends to be a popular choice for beginners in particular and this is for a number of different reasons! These include price and the fact that there are fewer technical aspects to consider, making it a simple platform for guitarists starting out.

It’s also ideal if you have aspirations of writing your own music – in fact, you’ll be surprised by just how quickly you can begin building your own songs! Of course, you can always swap over to electric in the future or vice versa as the fundamental playing of each type of instrument is the same. The choice ultimately lies in the type of music you want to play!

So, why choose the acoustic guitar?

There is a purity to the acoustic guitar, and you’ll immediately be able to pick up the instrument and practise whenever you feel motivated to do so, without having to worry about amps or cables! This also makes the acoustic guitar a great option if you want to play in front of family and friends, perhaps even around a campfire with breezy tunes to strum along to. That isn’t to say the acoustic is easier than the electric to learn though! There are still a variety of tricky techniques to get your head around, allowing you to flourish as a guitarist in the future.

Note: A classical guitar uses nylon strings whereas the modern acoustic uses steel string, hence it’s often referred to as a “steel string acoustic”. These strings both sound and feel different but the instruments look relatively similar and branch from the same family of guitar. If you have a classic guitar, you’ll still be able to play popular songs so you don’t need to feel as though you are stuck in one genre!

What techniques are involved?

Strumming patterns

Strumming on guitar; it’s a simple down-and-up stroke you make across the strings of your guitar, usually with a flat pick. This guitar technique is easy to do initially but difficult to do well. It’s not hugely used on an acoustic guitar but is still important to note.

Check out Wonderwall by Oasis, Hey Ya! by Outkast and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan.


Fingerpicking is a technique for playing the guitar, using the fingertips and/or fingernails, rather than with a pick. Learning how to fingerpick your acoustic guitar opens up a whole new world of possibilities for your playing. The things you can do multiply drastically when using a fingerpicking approach, but it can be difficult to master without the correct technique as your foundation!

For some examples of fingerpicking on acoustic guitar, listen to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez and Cherry Wine by Hozier.

Classical (reading standard notation)

Tablature or TAB is the most popular option, particularly for beginners as it is an intuitive way to read music. Standard notation is written on five horizontal lines called a staff. Each line and space between the lines represents a note. The lines and spaces of a staff can represent different notes based on which clef is used and can allow guitarists to visualise melodies. If you want to learn grades, this is an essential part of the learning process.

Acoustic Guitar Grades

Rockschool & Trinity 

For each grade, you will need to choose 3 songs to play in your exam. Click on each below to see what your choices are!

Grade 1 | Grade 2 | Grade 3 | Grade 4 | Grade 5 | Grade 6 | Grade 7 | Grade 8

Ready to strum along to your favourite tunes? Get started with the acoustic guitar today!

Contact us to book a free trial lesson