Starting Fresh Everything To Get You Going

author: McMullen20 date: 10/24/2011 category: for beginners
rating: 8.7 / votes: 20 
Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. The Basics of Music a. Notes    b. Accidentals    c. Staff    d. Rhythm 3. The Basics of Guitar    a. Anatomy of the Guitar    b. Strings    c. Fretboard    d. Tablature    e. Tuning the Guitar 4. Beginner Songs, Riffs, and Licks.    a. Smoke on the Water    b. One    c. Iron Man    d. Toxicity    e. Crazy Train    f. Satellite 5. Outro

1. Introduction

You finally managed to scrounge up enough cash to buy your first guitar. It feels good in your hands doesn't it? Every man dreams of being a rockstar. You are already 100% cooler just for owning a guitar, imagine once you can play it! Household names, Metallica, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the lyrics didn't make them famous. You are now wielder of the same tool that has made man immortal. So what are we waiting for? It's time to rock!

2. The Basics of Music

Believe it or not, you don't need to know a thing about music to play guitar. The reason I mention this is so you don't panic. Some music theory is pretty technical and scary. If you don't understand something in this section, take it with a grain of salt. You may never even use it. A lot of guitarists don't even know how to read music! However this is valuable knowledge to possess if you start writing songs and a basic understanding of music theory will help you in the long run. 2a. Notes A B C D E F G. You already know some notes. Did you know in modern music there are actually 12 notes? You already know the 7 natural notes, so what are the other 5? The easiest way to think of them are in-between notes. G#/Ab, A#/Bb, C#/Db, D#/Eb, and F#/Gb. The in-between notes can be called one of two names, hence the backslashes. You can call them either name you like for now. So here is the whole musical alphabet in ascending order:
A     A#/Bb     B     C     C#/Db     D     D#/Eb     E     F     F#/Gb     G     G#/Ab
2b. Accidentals You're probably wondering, what's with the number signs and lower case "b"'s after the letters? In music we call these Accidentals. The number sign is called a Sharp and the lowercase "b" is called a Flat. What do accidentals do? A sharp makes a note one pitch higher. A flat makes a note one pitch lower. For example Ab is one pitch lower than A and C# is one pitch higher than C. I'm sure you noticed that there is no accidental notes between B and C, and E and F. Only rarely will you call C a Bb, F an E#, B a Cb, or E an Fb. B=Cb, B#=C, E=Fb, and E#=F, but we just call them B, C, E, and F. Notes with separate names but the same pitch are called Enharmonic 2c. Staff Chances are you've seen these five lines before:
_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
This is called a staff. The Notes are placed on the lines as well as in the spaces. The pitch of the notes ascend from the bottom line of the staff up. The notes on the lines are as follows.
F---------------
D---------------
B---------------
G---------------
E---------------
The notes that occupy the spaces are as follow
 ___________________
E__________________
C__________________
A__________________
F__________________
As you may have noticed, The notes ascend alphabetically from the bottom line up. A way to remember the notes on the lines; (from the bottom up) Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. The spaces spell out FACE. Accidentals are usually added to the staff by the key signature. Don't even worry about these for now. I will make another lesson of just theory. You won't be reading staff for guitar, though it is handy knowledge in the world of music. 2d. Rhythm Nothing will be more important in learning guitar than understanding rhythm. Rhythm is the most basic element in music. It keeps the band in synch with each other as well as changes the mood of the song. Tempo is the number of beats per minute, usually determining the speed of the song. Expect anywhere between 80 and 180 bpm in rock. Measure- A segment of time defined by a given number of beats Now I'm going to explain the duration of the notes. A whole note gets 4 beats. A half note gets 2 beats, a quarter note gets 1 beat (seeing a pattern here?) An 8th note gets 1/2 a beat and a sixteenth note gets 1/4 a beat. A time signature determines the number of beats in a measure. These carry throughout the song 4/4 is a very common time signature. So what does what 4/4 mean? The first number (the top one on staff) tells how many beats in a measure. So in 4/4 there are 4 beats in a measure. The second number tells what type of note gets the beat. Think of it like a fraction. 4/4=1 So there are 4 quarter notes per measure. The bottom number (the one on the right in this lessons case) will always be even in time signature. Top number= How many notes. Bottom number= what kind of notes they are. The bottom numbers; 2=half notes 4= quarter notes 8=eighth notes 16= sixteenth notes You count 4/4 like so. Lets say there are 60 bpm. That means 1 quarter note per second. Count out loud to 4 with a one second space in-between each number. After you reach 4, you have a new measure. This means you have a new set of beats. Count out 1 2 3 4 again, and so on after each end of a measure. Keep counting to 4 for a minute or so. Focus on an equal spacing between all the numbers. Now count in your head, 1 2 3 4 and tap your foot each time you count a number. This is how most musicians will keep rhythm. This way you can sing and people don't think you're talking to yourself. If you watch your favorite band live, they all are using some form of movement to keep time, whether it be tapping their foot or head banging.

3. The Basics of Guitar

I know this is a lot of information. I hope you don't hate learning. You probably just want to play the freaking guitar already. Good news, we're almost there. Theres just a few more things you should know to get the most out of this lesson. 3a. Anatomy of the Guitar The guitar has 3 basic parts, the Body, Neck, and Headstock. Here is a list of some basic guitar anatomy: On the Headstock: Machine Heads- The tuners On the Neck: Fret Board- The long strip of wood on the top of the guitar with the frets sticking out of it Frets- The metal bands that stretch across the fretboard Inlays- The fret markers, usually imbedded in the fretboard or painted on. On the Body: Pickups- The rectangular boxes under the strings. These are the things that make a guitar "electric". Bridge- The Metal piece that the strings rest on and are often grounded to. Potentiometers- Pots, the knobs. Usually one is volume and one is tone. Toggle Switch- Speaks for its self. Toggles the active pickups 3b. Strings Alright, pick up your guitar. As you've found, the little dip on the side of the body goes on top of your leg. If you're a righty, put that dip over your right leg, if you're a lefty, place it on your left leg. Looking down on the guitar, the thickest string should be closest to your face and the thinnest string should be closest to your leg.
-----------------------------------Highest (thinnest) Closest to your leg
-----------------------------------
-----------------------------------
-----------------------------------
----------------------------------- 
----------------------------------- Lowest (thickest) Closest to your face
In guitar we refer to the strings one of 2 ways:
By Number
1-----------------------------------Highest (thinnest)
2-----------------------------------
3-----------------------------------
4-----------------------------------
5----------------------------------- 
6----------------------------------- Lowest (thickest)
 
Or by Letter (tuning they're in)
E-----------------------------------Highest (thinnest)
B-----------------------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----------------------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E----------------------------------- Lowest (thickest)
Remember this for the sections to come. We'll get you in tune in a moment. 3c. Fretboard Heres a rough (very rough) ascii fretboard I whipped up. I hope your guitar looks a bit better than this. Bear with me. (The headstock is to the left of the fretboard in this diagram)
       _______________________________________________________
      |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |   etc
      |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     | O  |  etc
      |  O |     | O |     | O  |     | O |     | O  |     |     |     |  etc
      |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     | O  |  etc
      |___|___ |___|___|___|___ |__  |___|___|___|___|__  |__etc___
    0   1    2    3    4    5    6     7     8   9   10   11  12
I'm sure you're wondering whats with the dots? Those are fret markers (inlays). They are there to guide you along the fretboard and often mark some important positions on the guitar. There are dots marking all the odd frets up to the 9th fret. The next marker fret marker is on the 12th fret (the 2 dots) signifies an octave of the open string. An octave is the same note note only 12 notes higher or lower. For example, if you pluck the first string open (don't touch it with your fingering hand) and then put your finger on the 12th fret of that string and pluck it again, you'll notice they sound like the same note, but one is higher than the other. Here's a diagram of the notes up to the 12th fret. 0 is usually called "open" on the guitar.
0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9    10    11    12
E     F     F#    G    G#   A    A#    B     C    C#    D     D#    E
B     C    C#    D    D#   E     F     F#    G    G#    A     A#    B
G    G#   A     A#   B     C    C#    D    D#   E      F     F#     G
D    D#   E      F     F#   G    G#    A    A#    B     C     C#    D   
A    A#   B      C    C#   D    D#    E     F     F#    G     G#    A
E     F     F#    G    G#   A    A#    B     C     C#    D    D#    E
Notice at the 12 fret, all the notes are the same as the open strings. 3d. Tablature Time to teach you how to play tab. As mentioned previously in the lesson, most guitarists can't even read music. The answer to your curiosity is simple. You don't need it. Accidentals and ledger lines on that tiny staff get very confusing, especially on such a fast paced instrument. Thats why we have tablature. I'm sure this will look familiar:
E-----------------------------------Highest (thinnest)
B-----------------------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----------------------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E----------------------------------- Lowest (thickest)
Yes, thats right, it wasn't just a diagram, it's the format to tablature. The guitar equivalent of a music staff. To play tab, place your finger on the proper fret listed on the particular string. Before we play anything lets get you in tune. 3e. Tuning The guitar has 6 strings. They can be referred to as 1 2 3 4 5 6 or by the pitch they're tuned in. The standard tuning for guitar is EADGBE. A way to remember this is Elephants And Donkeys Got Big Ears. Here's this diagram again. It's like musical deja vu in here:
E-----------------------------------Highest (thinnest)
B-----------------------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----------------------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E----------------------------------- Lowest (thickest)
Now to teach you how to tune. The easiest way to tune your guitar is with a tuner. You can get one for 10 bucks. I heard the ones that clip on to the headstock are great. For those of you who don't have a tuner and for those times you don't have a tuner handy and some of your strings are off, here is how you tune the guitar with the guitar (you'll understand in a moment) Start on the low E string (The thickest one.) This is the only one you need to get your guitar in tune. You can use a piano or youtube to get the pitch. The proper octave is E2. Fool with the machine head until it sounds identical to the note you're tuning it to. On to the A string. Place your finger on the 5th fret of the E string. Then pluck an open A. Tune the A string to this note. These two notes on the fretboard should sound the same if your guitar is in tune:
E-----------------------------------
B-----------------------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----------------------------------
A-----0-----0-----0----------------- 
E--5-----5-----5--------------------
To tune the D string you do the same thing. Place your finger on the 5th fret of the A, then tune the D string to this note.
E-----------------------------------
B-----------------------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----0-----0-----0-----------------
A--5-----5-----5-------------------- 
E-----------------------------------
G string is tuned the same way as well. Place your finger on the 5th fret of the D, then tune the G string to this note.
E-----------------------------------
B-----------------------------------
G-----0-----0-----0-----------------
D--5-----5-----5--------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E-----------------------------------
Here comes the curve ball. To tune the B string, place your finger on the 4th fret of the G string, tune the B string to this note.
E-----------------------------------
B-----0-----0-----0-----------------
G--4-----4-----4--------------------
D-----------------------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E-----------------------------------
Now finally for the high E string. Place your finger on the 5th fret of the B string and tune the high E to this note.
E-----0-----0-----0-----------------
B--5-----5-----5--------------------
G-----------------------------------
D-----------------------------------
A----------------------------------- 
E-----------------------------------
Now you're in tune. Time to rock!

4. Beginner Songs, Riffs, and Licks

***I hope these tabs come out alright. Hopefully they'll be published in courier font. I don't know how to make them courier on here. Maybe a mod or admin could clean these up for me if they don't? These are just some easy chunks of some popular guitar songs. Some of them are the root notes scrapped from chords, once you master all of these, Ultimate Guitar has a huge data base if you plan on learning any of the following songs in their entirely like the artists really play it. Here's a tip on form, look at the back of the neck. Try and keep your thumb centered in the middle of the curve of the neck and parallel with strings. This will greatly expand your ease to move your fingers as well as your ability to stretch. It will feel strange at first. 4a. Smoke on the Water I'm sure this won't come as a surprise. The first song I'm going to show you is Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. This infamous little riff will quickly become obsolete and probably your worst enemy. (Some day you will understand.) Every guitarist knows how to play this. Time to join the club. Try and play the 3's with your pointer, 5's with your ring, and 6's with your pinky finger.
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|--0-----3-----5--------0--|-----3-----6--5-----------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|--0-----3-----5--------3--|-----0--------------------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
And please note, not all tabs have the rhythm under them. Often times you have to play by ear. If counting is difficult for you, don't worry about it, play what sounds good. Chances are you already have the rhythm in your head anyways. No need to make things more difficult then they are. 4b. One You've all heard this song. One by Metallica. You'd be surprised how awesome a simple intro can sound. You shouldn't have much trouble playing this. Just take it slow. Its great practice for changing strings as well. Just downpick for now (move the pick through the string downward towards your leg.)
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|-----4-----0--------------|-----4-----0--------------|
A|--2-----2-----------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--3-----3-----------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|-----------------0--------|
D|-----4-----0--------------|-----4-----0--------------|
A|--2-----2-----------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--3-----3-----------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|-----4-----0--------------|-----4-----0--------------|
A|--2-----2-----------------|--0-----0-----------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|-----4-----0--------------|--------------------------|
A|--------------------------|-----2-----2--------------|
E|--3-----3-----------------|--0-----2-----------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
4c. Iron Man This one is a classic. Until Robert Downey Jr. stole the screen in the 2008 hit Iron Man, most people thought of Black Sabbath when you said the words. Take this one nice and slow. All of these songs should be tricky at first. Work on accuracy. The ability to play at appropriate speed will come later with practice. The way this is written (the easiest easy way) you will have to slide up. You can play every fret with your pointer finger for now if you would like. Also this one has 16th notes, if you are new to counting, just play what you think sounds good. Its not as hard to play as it is to count. I don't want anyone getting confused this far in the lesson.
E|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------|
A|--2-----------5-----------5-----7-----7-----------|
E|--------------------------------------------------|
    1  e  &  a  2  e  &  a  3  e  &  a  4  e  &  a
 
E|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------|
A|--10-9--10-9-10--9--5-----5-----7-----7-----------|
E|--------------------------------------------------|
    1  e  &  a  2  e  &  a  3  e  &  a  4  e  &  a
The way this is written (the easiest easy way) you will have to slide up. You can play every fret with your pointer finger for now if you would like. Also this one has 16th notes, if you are new to counting, just play what you think sounds good. Its not as hard to play as it is to count. I don't want anyone getting confused this far in the lesson. 4d. Toxicity System of a Down is a great band for getting started. All of their riffs are fairly simple. Be aware now that they use Drop C tuning so if you try learning more of their songs, they're going to sound wrong unless you retune your guitar. This song however, I have tabbed in Standard tuning. This is probably the trickiest yet. I tabbed it on the higher frets so its not as much of a stretch.
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|------12------12------12--|------12------12------12--|
D|--10------10------10------|--10------10------10------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
     1   &   2   &   3   &      1   &   2   &   3   &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|------15------15------15--|------15------15------15--|
D|--13------13------13------|--13------13------13------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
     1   &   2   &   3   &      1   &   2   &   3   &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|------12------12------12--|--13------13--12------12--|
D|--10------10------10------|------10----------10------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
     1   &   2   &   3   &      1   &   2   &   3   &
 
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|------15------17------17--|--15------15--13------13--|
D|--13------13------13------|------13----------13------|
A|--------------------------|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
     1   &   2   &   3   &      1   &   2   &   3   &
4e. Crazy Train This is perhaps the most famous guitar riff of all time, written by one of the greatest guitarists of all time; Randy Rhoads. He didn't just save Ozzy's career, his guitar works kicked off a new era in metal, the 1980's. I wouldn't dabble in his works too much to start off. They'll leave you feeling inferior and amazed. This intro however, isn't too bad.
E|--------------------------|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------------------------|
G|--------------------------|--------------------------|
D|--------------------------|--------------------------|
A|--------4-----5-----4-----|--2-----------2-----------|
E|--2--2-----2-----2-----2--|-----5--4--5-----5--4--0--|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
Chances are it does sound quite right; the notes are too long. This intro is what we like to call Staccato; Italian for detached. After you pick the first 2's, lift your pointer finger, plant your pinky on the 5th fret of the A, pick that, then lift that up your pinky while planting your pointer back on the second fret of the E and picking that, and so on. This is good practice for loosening up your finger movement so they aren't flopping around the fretboard like fish out of water. 4f. Satellite This is one of my favorites by Dave Matthews Band. Its also an incredible workout for your fingers. This will greatly help free up your fingers, strengthen your ring and pinky, and get you familiar with the strings. This is the hardest song in this lesson.
E|--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------|
D|--------8-----6-----5-----------6-----|
A|-----6-----4--------------8--4--------|
E|--4--------------8-----6-----------8--|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &  5  &  6  &
 
E|--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------|
D|--------8-----6-----5-----------6-----|
A|-----6-----4--------------8--4--------|
E|--4--------------8-----6-----------8--|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &  5  &  6  &
 
E|--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------|
D|--------8-----6-----5-----------6-----|
A|-----6-----4--------------8--4--------|
E|--4--------------8-----6-----------8--|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &  5  &  6  &
 
E|--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------|
D|--------8-----6-----5-----------------|
A|-----6-----4--------------------------|
E|--4--------------8--------------------|
    1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &  5  &  6  &

5. Outro

You now know everything you need to know to go off on your own and explore the world of guitar. UG has tabs for virtually any song you can imagine. These are just a few cool guitar songs, go through your music library and listen for songs with guitar parts you like. You'll be surprised to find that many sound harder than they are. Best of luck to you all. I hope this lesson taught you something new. Cheers! -McMullen20
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