There are many ways to learn guitar. There are videos, email sites, personal teachers, group lessons, CD's and any number of ways that you can start. So let's talk about some of the basics.
Are you willing to practice every day?
Can you live without fingernails on your left hand (do not laugh, I have lost students who refuse to cut them)
Do you have persistence?
Do you know what you want to learn?
How about what type of guitar you want to play? (rhythm, electric, bass, classical etc)
Are you self motivated? (if not get a personal teacher)
Can you follow instructions?
OK so you have the answers to all these questions now let's put it all together. You will not be able to learn guitar if you are not willing to practice. Practice is the blue collar part of playing an instrument, without it you do not get very far. So if you know you¡¯re lazy you might want to think about learning an instrument.
You need to be able to press down on the strings so you need pretty strong fingers, wrists and you can not have nails on the left hand. It just will not work. So if you're a model or something and you need your nails, learn how to play guitar when you can do without them.
More times than not you will sound lousy. If you want instant gratification you will get frustrated fast. If you think that you can not deal with being less than perfect for a while you might want to lower your expectations to a level where you can meet them without getting too frustrated.
Have a plan about what you want to learn and what type of guitar you want to learn to play (meaning guitar style not guitar brand). You need to have a working understanding of what you want to learn before you more forward to decide what you should do next to get there.
If you are self motivated there is a good chance that you will be able to learn using videos and CD's that are out there that are self teach videos. Most of them come with books and graphs, the videos will show you positioning and how to play. It is a very good way to learn how to play if you know that you will sit down and watch the DVD's.
If you need a bit of a push you should think about getting a teacher. But then again, I believe that a personal teacher is the best way to learn. Not everyone can afford one and in that case you have plenty of options. But there is something to be said about having a teacher sitting opposite you, mirroring what you need to do and you following their hands, their posture, the way they enunciate some of the strumming and the like.
There are many, many good teachers out there. Music stores usually have teachers on-site but most of them tend to be a bit expensive. There is also the local high school; the music director probably has names of teachers as the choir director of your local church can as well.
Before you begin to play you are going to have to answer all of these questions. In addition you have to buy the gear that you will need for the guitar style you have decided to play. There are many good guitar brands out there but you will have to stick to one that you can afford. Remember, it's your first guitar, get one that can survive a beating because at first new guitarists do tend to beat their guitar a bit.
Have fun. Always have fun. Do not ever let it become a chore, find ways to keep it fun and entertaining. The minute it feels like a job is the minute you will probably decide not to play anymore. And that would be a shame.
Find some people to jam with. Have a jam night at your house (use acoustic guitars if you can so you do not blow the neighborhood out). Playing with others is a great way to learn how to play and you can learn from each other. Kind of like group study.
And stay focused. Do not forget your dream. Put a picture of your favorite guitar player up on the fridge or in your room. You can then remember why it is that you are learning. Visualize your success. Learning an instrument is a great esteem builder, character builder and can add a great amount of satisfaction to your life. Use music and the guitar as your friend and let it sweep you away.