Learning to Play Guitar


At Dream Guitars we are often asked for our thoughts on good ways to learn how to play guitar. We are so lucky to live in this modern age where knowledge is all around us and easy to find.

Here are a few thoughts on the best ways to learn guitar.

If you are completely new to the instrument, there’s no substitute for a good teacher, as initially learning the correct hand positions and physical posture are crucial early on in the process. This will help prevent bad habits or even worse, injury in the future.

Most often we are asked about learning a particular style of play such as Fingerstyle guitar. Many players are brought up on electric guitar, learning to play with a pic and strumming. Hence, the switch to Fingerstyle can seem daunting.

For Fingerstyle, there are some amazing resources that we can highly recommend.

Al Petteway Teaching "The Crossing" from Dream Guitars Vol. 1 The Golden Age of Lutherie

Dream Guitars itself is proud to be producing more and more in the way of free lessons for our viewers. Please be sure to check our website and our Youtube channel often for the latest lessons from some of the top Fingerstyle players in the world.

Dream Guitars also offers a CD and tab combination that is a wonderful learning tool for Fingerstyle: Dream Guitars Volume One: The Golden age of Lutherie DVD by Al Petteway featuring some of the finest guitars in the world and a companion tab book making it easy to learn your favorite Dream Guitars songs that you’ve heard on our website.

Homespun is another company that has long offered some of the best tutelage in the business. Their myriad of DVDs, featuring some of the best players in the world, are a great way to learn Fingerstyle guitar. Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller says “I grew up playing electric guitar and blues. When I switched to Fingerstyle I was lucky to find the Stefan Grossman tapes that taught the early blues material with alternate thumb finger picking. This was a great start for me as getting some independence from the thumb and the other fingers on the right hand is key to Fingerstyle. Then I moved into slide material and later found the homespun tapes from Martin Simpson, Al Petteway and many more of my heroes.

Another great resource is CandyRat Records – they have some of the best Canadian artists on their label and offer educational material as well. Look for Don Ross, Antoine Dufour, and Craig D’Andrea.

But don’t forget about private lessons and camps as you begin to improve with Fingerstyle guitar. Some of our clients will book a private lesson with Al Petteway when they come to visit the shop. Spending an hour or two with the Grammy-winning guitarist can shed light on your strengths and weaknesses and give you a fresh look going forward.

There also amazing workshops all over the country, most in the summertime, in the form of week-long camps where you can study with a half dozen or more teachers and jam with many like-minded guitar loving nuts. Here in Asheville we have the Swannanoa Gathering every summer where Al Petteway hires many of the top players in the world to come and teach for a week at Warren Wilson College. You choose classes each day from a variety of instructors and styles. It’s simply magical. You’ll go away with enough material for a year or more of practice.

We highly recommend the Swannanoa Gathering and if you plan to attend, come swing by Dream Guitars as well while you’re in the area. We’d love to have you.

For more information on any of the resources above or to pick our brains further on the topic, please feel free to call the shop 828-658-9795.