Lesson For The Absolute Beginner

author: NRG_sama_ date: 04/02/2013 category: for beginners
rating: 7.8 / votes: 26 
Lesson For The Absolute Beginner
This lesson is, as the name suggests, for the ABSOLUTE beginner who knows nothing whatsoever about the guitar.

Step 1 - Holding The Guitar

The spot for placing the guitar on the thighs could be a bit different for different shapes of guitars, but the basic positioning stays the same - the inward curve of the surface of the guitar (the side towards the thinnest string) should be placed on the right thigh (if you are a righty) or the left (if you are a lefty). The picking hand should be placed with the elbow in such a position that the fingers reach the strings (near the pickups for an electric or the middle of the sound hole in an acoustic). The hand position must be such that the guitar stays with the neck horizontal even without holding with the left hand, the elbow kinda "balances" the guitar in a horizontal position.

Step 2 - Holding The Plectrum (a.k.a. Pick)

Holding the plectrum is a key point in which most beginners make a mistake. You should NOT hold the plectrum the way you hold a pencil. Rather, you must hold it between the outside surface (NOT the front surface) of your index finger and the front surface of your thumb. The pointy end of the plectrum (if you are using the general "teardrop" shaped plectrum) must be protruding (sticking out) about 5-7 mm from the fingers.

Step 3 - Placing The Picking Hand On The Guitar

There are two techniques of doing this: EITHER 1. Anchoring the pinky, ring finger and middle finger on the guitar's body. OR 2. Keeping the hand floating in air in a loose fist form. I've heard people say that the second technique is way better, but I tried them both and found they were about the same in terms of efficiency. As a beginner, tech. 1 would be easier. I can name pro's using either technique - Michael Angelo Batio uses tech. 1 (when he is playing with one hand XD) and Paul Gilbert uses tech. 2.

Some Basic Terms And Their Meanings:

  • Note - A note is a single sound (produced by a single picking motion) from one of the strings.
  • Chord - A chord is when you play many notes together with a strum (but not a collection of random notes! Chords follow some specific patterns and scales which you would learn later).
  • Open - when you play (pick / strum) without "holding" any note with your left hand (or right hand if you are a lefty), it's called "playing on an open string".
  • Fret - the area between two raised metallic bars. These are the places where you hold down.

    Exercise 1. - Learning To Pick

    This exercise is aimed at developing your otherwise untrained right hand in order to make it know the position of the strings. You won't be using your left hand for now. (NOTE - the following exercise is in tab (tablature) form, if you don't know how to read tabs, try googling it up)
    e|-----0---------------0----------|
    B|----0-0-------0--------0--------|
    G|---0---0-----------0-------0----|
    D|--0-----0---0------------0------|
    A|-0-------0-------0-----------0--|
    E|0---------0--------------------0|
    
    (NOTE - don't play the ascending and descending first part in a strumming manner, pick each note separately, one in a downstroke and the next one in an upstroke and so on)

    Exercise 2. - Learning A Bit To "Alternate Pick"

    People refer to this as an advanced technique sometimes, but if you practise it from the very beginning you will get good at it with no "Extra" effort. By the way, still no left hand in this one, sorry :) Play this:
    e|----------------------------------------0-0-0-0-|
    B|--------------------------------0-0-0-0---------|
    G|------------------------0-0-0-0-----------------|
    D|----------------0-0-0-0-------------------------|
    A|--------0-0-0-0---------------------------------|
    E|0-0-0-0-----------------------------------------|
    
    (NOTE - DO NOT try to play blazingly fast from the very beginning, it will mess you up big time. Start slow and gradually raise your speed, but only till you can control the strings. Don't try to play uncontrollably fast.)

    Step 4 - Fingering Basics

    This is the part where your left hand comes to play. Rest your left hand on the neck in such a manner that the thumb is at the middle of the second fret (but not touching the sixth string, the thumb must be on the upper surface), and then hand your hand down, putting the weight on the thumb. You must let it hang freely, don't "hold" onto the neck. As you advance in learning, you will find that the fretting fingers (index, middle, ring and pinky) would come closer to the neck in order to reduce time delay. Hold onto the 1st fret of the 6th string with your index finger and pick the 6th string (the uppermost and fattest one). You sound hear a pure sound with no noise. If you hear a noise, or a dull "thump"-ish sound, it is because you are not applying enough pressure on the string. Correct that error if it happens. Try this with all the fretting fingers on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th frets respectively. (NOTE - DO NOT neglect the pinky, it is the most basic and the biggest mistake. Take extra care to develop it)

    Exercise 3. - Strengthening The Fretting Fingers

    This is the MOST BASIC and MOST USEFUL exercise that is out there. Make sure you can do this effortlessly and fast, until you proceed any further and learn anything else.
    e|-----------------------------------1-2-3-4-|
    B|----------------------------1-2-3-4--------|
    G|---------------------1-2-3-4---------------|
    D|--------------1-2-3-4----------------------|
    A|-------1-2-3-4-----------------------------|
    E|1-2-3-4------------------------------------|
    
    (NOTE: use the "Alternate picking" technique here too, it is a great exercise. You must use some variations, like 1-3-2-4 or 1-4-2-3, etc., they are great too. Strengthen the pinky.) Okay so this is the end of my first lesson, thanks for taking the time to read it, be sure to let me know if you have problems/suggestions. Comment to let me know what you think about the lesson.
  • More NRG_sama_ lessons:
    + Let's Strengthen That Pinky Correct Practice 04/05/2013
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