An Illustrated Guide to Playing Guitar Like a Lazy Person

by Terence Leung


Just started playing guitar? Want to learn? Well hell, this is not the canvass to learn from. If you want to play guitar but just want to play it with the low-water mark of just barely being able to play, follow these very simple steps (with pictures no less, since they’re supposed to be worth a thousand words, this will save me bagfuls of time than actually writing).

Part 1: The Basics

1. Never underestimate the importance of playing the air guitar. Why actually learn to play the solo in Metallica’s “One”, when you can imagine yourself playing it with a tennis racquet in front of a mirror? Here’s an example:

Perfect facial contortions, off balance glory pose and perfect rock-star miming. With technique like this, you too can pretend to play anything.

2. Practice makes perfect and is also a bloody waste of time. Learning by doing? Screw that, the new-school of ‘learning by sleeping’ is highly recommended.

Guitar optional!

3. Never change your strings. As you probably won’t be playing everyday, why bother with new strings? After all, they’ll just sound muddy and dim in six months time anyways. Spend your money on booze, become an alcoholic, graduate to hardcore drug use, go to rehab, repeat process as many times as necessary and you’ll be on the faster route to rock-stardom!

4. Do not join a band. It’s far too time consuming and the chances of finding band mates that are competent (read: not a lazy person) is next to nil. Most likely, you’ll end up with highly sarcastic, jaded and cynical folk that prefer to listen and write about music instead of actually playing it.

5. Be a complete snob. You are the best guitar player in the world, everyone else either sucks, plays with no passion, and/or are uncreative high schoolers. Have excuses at the ready for someone who is better than you (although you will never admit this).

Excellent examples: remember to keep a straight face:

“I never took the inordinate amount of time to practice to play fast like that”

“He/she has a way better guitar, the guitar on my neck is super warped, I play ghetto”

Or my favorite,

“Give me two weeks and I’ll play circles around you”

Part 2: Actually “Playing”

1. Learn the beauty of novelty songs. Feel like a wind-up cymbal-clapping monkey when you’re at a party and some musically handicapped git asks you to play “Stairway to Heaven”? Ha! Instead, knock em’ dead with rousing, dripping-with-cynicism renditions of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”.

Here are the main chords, you can figure the rest out yourself; I was too lazy to:

Hit Me Baby One More Time: B-minor, F, D, E-minor, F.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head: D-minor, A-Minor

Complicated: D-minor, B-minor 7, F, C

2. Which brings me to: Learn to read tablature. Man, reading music is like speaking another language. Leave that music-school wank in the books where it belongs, that stuff gives me the brain farts. I highly recommend and

Ouch! Look at how that wrist bends! Save your efforts for masturbating instead!

3. Barre chords. I get way too lazy to actually bend my wrist that far and wrap my entire hand around the neck of my guitar. Why bother when you can use your thumb? Worry not friend, you can now play the F chord whenever you want.

(left) Ouch! Look at how that wrist bends! Save your efforts for masturbating instead!
(right) Much better. In fact, you don’t even have to get it right this way, just place your fingers somewhere in the vicinity and just go nuts.

4. Scales suck. Mixolydian, Eucalidian, Pentatonic, Chromatic… blah blah blah. You gotta practice A through G! Plus the sharps and flats! Just use your ear and play enough random notes until you can make out what you’re playing. If not, learn to play in ‘A’, the easiest one.

5. Never play with a guitar pick. It’s actually better to play with one, but the effort needed to put into buying one (never buy more than one because you’re never supposed to play with one), carrying one around and actually learning how to use it properly takes too long. You have a thumb.

Part 3: Acting

1. Learn to sing. At the minimum, which is what we’re striving for here, learn to sing in tune. Since 85% of most songs are written with the same chord patterns, you can learn to “play the songs” and sing! Chicks and/or dudes will be all over you because you can now play “Brown Eyed Girl” (without the intro of course, that would take at least 5 extra minutes of practice to get it right). Please refer back to Part 2, paragraph 1 for additional and recommended song examples.

2. Contorted Facial Expressions. The more in pain you look when you’re playing, it has to mean the better you are playing and hence, the harder the piece is.

3. For multiple-guitar owners only: never play with your other guitars. I highly recommend playing your exhilaratingly cheap acoustic guitar. As for your diabolically expensive electric guitar? Don’t play it, it takes too much effort to plug it in and turn on the amp because then you got to fiddle with the distortion, tone, volume… etc… Instead, get a guitar stand (or, just lean it precariously against your wall) and have it out for show. Never dust or clean it either, that’s for wussies.

4. Always look to learn to play another instrument. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. That’s what only we, the lazy person, want to be.


By this point, you will either not want to play the guitar or you will want to learn to play it properly. There really should be no gray area. For those who learned playing with these methods, welcome to the club. As for myself, I’m sure one day, I’ll learn to play the right way, in the meantime, there’ll be plenty more of this.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Playing Guitar Like a Lazy Person
  • by Terence Leung
  • Published on June 1st, 2003

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