Do I have to learn to read music?
It is not essential to learn to read music in order to play the guitar, however I would always recommend trying to learn a little. By learning some basic music-reading skills and theory, your learning experience can be greatly enhanced. At times learning music can be like learning a language and it is useful to understand the terminology and signs used by other musicians.
Do I need my own guitar to have lessons?
It is essential for anyone learning the guitar to have their own instrument. It is sometimes possible to borrow a guitar for the first lesson, but you will not be able to take this guitar home with you. If you do not have your own guitar at home then you will not be able to practice and your progress will be seriously hampered, if there is any progress at all. Once you have your own guitar then you will be able to practice at home regularly as well as bring the guitar to the lesson to learn on. If you purchase an electric guitar then you do not need to bring the amplifier to the lesson since there is one available for students to use.
How long will it take me to become good?
The answer to this question depends mainly on yourself and how much time you can devote to practice.
Obviously the more you practice, the faster you will improve. Assuming you practice regularly and have a lesson once a week, you should be able to play something musical in a month to six weeks, maybe less. Having said this, everyone is different and some people will pick things up more quickly than others due to a natural aptitude. It is never a good idea to measure your own progress against that of others. Learning a musical instrument is not a competition or a race. In the end the only opponent is yourself.
How much should I spend on a guitar?
This is really up to yourself.
Try to buy the best you can afford. Nowadays there are some quite good quality beginner instruments around. I would recommend spending a minimum of £100 if you are buying a guitar that is brand new. It can often be worthwhile checking the second-hand market too, although it may be a good idea to get the advice of someone you know who plays the guitar before you buy from a private seller.
How often should I practice?
The more you can practice the faster you will improve. If you can only practice for twenty minutes each week then it may take as long as a year to master the basics. However if you practice twenty minutes every day then you will improve much more quickly.
Should I start learning on an acoustic guitar first?
To begin with it makes little difference whether you are learning on an acoustic or an electric since all guitars have the same notes and work in more or less the same way, the main difference being how the sound is amplified. Obviously certain styles of music are associated with certain types of guitar, but in the beginning it is not too important which you use. What is more important is that you feel comfortable with the guitar you are playing. i.e. it is of a suitable size for your body and hands. Very young children may struggle on a full-size electric or acoustic since they will not be able to reach the end of the guitar. For this reason it is better for them to use a half-size or three quarter-size guitar.
What is the best way to practice?
It is best to try and practice as regularly as possibly. It is far better to practice for twenty minutes every day than to spend four hours practising the night before your lesson. By practising a little each day you will have more chance of remembering what you have done before and also becoming more comfortable with the guitar. I would recommend that beginners try to practice for twenty minutes everyday. This should be twenty mins of focused practice. Not sitting in front of the TV while practising or twenty minutes of messing around. Try breaking the practice session up into smaller chunks. For example, start out with some scales or exercises for five minutes, then move on to playing some chords for five minutes, then try practising chord changes and finally give yourself some time at the end to reward yourself by playing a song you like.