Useful Guitar Techniques, Chords, Scales, And General Advice. Part 1

author: thechaostheory date: 01/06/2012 category: the basics
rating: 7.4 / votes: 8 
Introduction: All right. I am going to try to help explain several beginner techniques for the guitar (Major and Minor Chords, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and the Blues and Pentatonic scales), as well as give general advice for the starting player (Ie: my suggestions for tone, holding the pick and several warm up exercises). This will be a 3-part lesson. One for Beginners, the Amateur, and finally, Advanced. Warm Up: First off, there are many excellent lessons on warm up strategies, but this is just to get you started. My favourite is this one. I suggest that every time you play, you massage your hands for a minute or two. This will let your fingers warm up to playing faster. So as a beginner, you are probably new to tab, so check this lesson out for a quick brief. Here is a small run in Am pentatonic (short for A Minor. If it is major then there is nothing behind it).
e|-----------------------------------8-5---------------------|
B|--------------------------------5------85-----------------|
G|--------------------------5--7-------------75-------------|
D|------------------------5----------------------75---------|
A|-------5--7-----------5----------------------------75-----|
E|-5--8--------8---8-8-----------------------------------85-|
Play this a few times at whatever tempo (speed) you wish. Then try this:
e|--------------------|
B|-1--1----------1-1-|
G|-2----2---2---2---2-|
D|-2------2---2-----2-|
A|-0----------------0-|
E|--------------------|
That was and Am arpeggio. We'll talk about that in the amateur techniques. Now we'll try his last exercise, which is tougher than the rest, and start the main lesson.
e|----------------------------------------5--5--2-----------------|
B|-2--2------------------5-5-----2-2-----5--------2--5---------2-|
G|-2--2----------------4-------4-------2-----------------4------2-|
D|-2--2----------4-----4---------------------------------4------2-|
A|-0--0-------4-----2--------------------------------------2----0-|
E|------2--5-------------------------------------------------2----|
This was an A Major run starting and ending on an A chord. Tougher than the last 2, but by the end of this lesson, you should be ready for it. Chords: I will start by showing you the major and minor chords, and show what fingers to use. I = index M = middle R = ring P = pinkie T = thumb (rarely will you every have to use your thumb) O = open (no fingers on the fret) A Major
e|------------------|
B|-2-----------2-2-|
G|-2--------2-----2-|
D|-2-----2--------2-|
A|-0--0-----------0-|
E|------------------|
      O  I  I  I   
Or    O  I  M  R
(I only use the second option if I plan of using seventh chords. See Amateur lessons for that)
A Minor
 
e|------------------|
B|-1-----------1-1-|
G|-2--------2-----2-|
D|-2-----2--------2-|
A|-0--0-----------0-|
E|------------------|
      O  M  R  I
 
B Major
 
e|-2-----------2--2-|
B|-4--------4----4-|
G|-4-----4--------4-|
D|-4--4-----------4-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      M  R  P  I
 
B Minor
 
e|-2-----------2--2-|
B|-3--------3----3-|
G|-4-----4--------4-|
D|-4--4-----------4-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      R  P  M  I
C Major
 
e|------------------|
B|-1-----------1-1-|
G|-0--------0-----0-|
D|-2-----2--------2-|
A|-3--3-----------3-|
E|------------------|
      R  M  O  I
 
C Minor
 
e|-3-----------3--3-|
B|-4--------4----4-|
G|-5-----5--------5-|
D|-5--5-----------5-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      R  P  M  I
 
D Major
 
e|-2-----------2--2-|
B|-3--------3----3-|
G|-2-----2--------2-|
D|-O--0-----------0-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      O  I  R  M
 
D Minor
 
e|-1-----------1--1-|
B|-3--------3----3-|
G|-2-----2--------2-|
D|-0--0-----------0-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      O  M  R  I
 
E Major
 
e|------------------|
B|-----------------|
G|-1-----------1--1-|
D|-2--------2-----2-|
A|-2-----2--------2-|
E|-0--0-----------0-|
      O  M  R  I
 
E Minor
 
e|------------------|
B|-----------------|
G|-0-----------0--0-|
D|-2--------2-----2-|
A|-2-----2--------2-|
E|-0--0-----------0-|
      O  I  M  O
 
F Major
 
e|-1-----------1--1-|
B|-1--------1----1-|
G|-2-----2--------2-|
D|-3--3-----------3-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      R  M  I  I
 
F Minor
 
e|-1-----------1--1-|
B|-1--------1----1-|
G|-1-----1--------1-|
D|-3--3-----------3-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      R  I  I  I
 
G Major
 
e|-3-----------------3-3-|
B|-0-------------0-----0-|
G|-0-----------0--------0-|
D|-0--------0-----------0-|
A|-2-----2--------------2-|
E|-3--3-----------------3-|
      M  R  O  O  O  
 
G Minor
 
e|-3-----------3--3-|
B|-3--------3----3-|
G|-3-----3--------3-|
D|-0--0-----------0-|
A|------------------|
E|------------------|
      O  I  I  I
And those are pretty much all of the chords that you'll need as a beginner. Hammer-Ons, Pull-Offs, and Slides: O.K. Now that we can play some chords, we should learn some basic lead skills (rhythm uses these a lot too). First, a bit of notation to be explained here. h = hammer-on p = pull-off / = slide up the neck (to the higher frets) \ = slide down the neck (to the lower frets) NOTE: Many tabbers will just use one of the slide symbols and have it count as a slide for both directions. Hammer-Ons: To hammer-on, you simply pick the first note, and then strike your finger onto the specified fret. Use enough force to make it sound like it was picked. In tab, a hammer-on looks like this:
e|-5h8-|
B|-----|
The first note is picked, but the second is played by fretting it with your fretting hand. Here is a small exercise for hammer-ons: This is the Am pentatonic scale
e|---------------------5h8-5h8---------------------|
B|----------------5h8---------5h8-----------------|
G|-------------5h7-----------------5h7-------------|
D|---------5h7-------------------------5h7---------|
A|-----5h7---------------------------------5h7-----|
E|-5h8-----------------------------------------5h8-|
Pull-Offs: To pull-off, you simply pick the first note, and then pull your finger of the first marked fret, while another finger is planted on the specified fret that is behind it. Pull the string slightly downward to make it sound like it was picked. In tab, a Pull-Off looks like this:
e|-8p5-|
B|-----|
The first note is picked, but the second is played by pulling the string downward and releasing it to produce the sound. Here is a small exercise for Pull-Offs: This is the Am pentatonic scale
e|---------------------8p5-8p5---------------------|
B|----------------8p5---------8p5-----------------|
G|-------------7p5-----------------7p5-------------|
D|---------7p5-------------------------7p5---------|
A|-----7p5---------------------------------7p5-----|
E|-8p5-----------------------------------------8p5-|
Slides: To slide, you simply pick the first note, and then slide your finger onto the specified fret. Use enough force to make it sound like it was picked. In tab, a slide looks like this:
e|-5/8-|
B|-----|
The first note is picked, but the second is played by sliding you finger to that fret. Here is a small exercise for slides: This is the Am pentatonic scale
e|---------------------5/8-8\5---------------------|
B|----------------5/8---------8\5-----------------|
G|-------------5/7-----------------7\5-------------|
D|---------5/7-------------------------7\5---------|
A|-----5/7---------------------------------7\5-----|
E|-5/8-----------------------------------------8\5-|
I will make a small solo for you to play around with to get the hang of these techniques. Feel free to use this solo. It is in the Am pentatonic scale. You could even get a friend to play the chord progression and take turns switching. Go whatever tempo is comfortable, and experiment with the strumming patterns.
   Am               Dm                    Am       C 
e|----------------------------------------5--------5h8----------------|
B|----------------------------------------5------------5h8-------5h8p5|
G|------------------7p5-----------7\5/7p5------------------5h7p5------|
D|----------7\5-5h7-----7---7p5---------------------------------------|
A|-------7--------------7---7p5---------------------------------------|
E|-5--5-------------------5-------------------------------------------|
 
  Am                C           Dm                    E       Am
e|5h8p5-------------------------------------------------------5h8p5-5-|
B|------5/8p5-----------------------------------------------5-------5-|
G|------------5-----------------7p5-----------------------5---------5-|
D|--------------5-----------7p5-----7-----7---7---5-----5-------------|
A|----------------5-----7p5-----------7p5---5---5---5-7---------------|
E|------------------5h8-----------------------------------------------|
Major and Minor Pentatonic scales: First, I feel that these are easier to learn and play than the regular major and minor scales (I'm saying this because lots of people will try to teach the major and minor first, and then some people get discouraged, so I like to start simpler). The major and minor pentatonic scales have only 5 notes each. I will also give you the formulas to make them, but I suggest that you check out this lesson for them as well.
Blues Formula: 1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1
In A         : A C  D Eb E G  A
 
Minor Formula: 1 b3 4 5 b7 1
In A         : A C  D E G  A
 
Major Formula: 1 2 3  5 6  1
In A         : A B C# E F# A
As you can see, the Blues scale is the same as the Minor Pentatonic, but also has that one extra note (the b5), so I'm putting the two scales together. If you want to play just the minor pentatonic, then don't include the Blues note when playing the scale. Most people will just use the box patterns, however, instead of using a formula. R = Root Note O = Regular Note B = Blues Note Here are the patterns for the Blues and Minor Pentatonic Scale:
E|-|-R-|---|---|-O-|---|
B|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
G|-|-O-|---|-O-|-B-|---|
D|-|-O-|---|-R-|---|---|
A|-|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|---|
E|-|-R-|---|---|-O-|---|
 
E|-|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|
G|-|-R-|---|---|-O-|---|
D|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
A|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
E|-|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|
 
E|-|---|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|
G|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
D|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
A|-|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|
E|-|---|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|
 
E|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|-B-|
G|-|-O-|---|-R-|---|---|
D|-|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|---|
A|-|-R-|---|---|-O-|---|
E|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
 
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|-B-|
B|-|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|
G|-|-O-|-B-|-O-|---|---|
D|-|-R-|---|---|-O-|---|
A|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
Here are the patterns for the Major Pentatonic scale:
E|-|-O-|---|---|-R-|---|
B|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
G|-|-R-|---|-O-|---|---|
D|-|-O-|---|-O-|---|---|
A|-|-O-|---|-O-|---|---|
E|-|-O-|---|---|-R-|---|
 
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
G|-|-O-|---|---|-R-|---|
D|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
A|-|---|-R-|---|-O-|---|
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
 
E|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-R-|---|-O-|---|
G|-|-O-|---|-O-|---|---|
D|-|-O-|---|-O-|---|---|
A|-|-O-|---|---|-R-|---|
E|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
 
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|---|---|-R-|
G|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
D|-|---|-R-|---|-O-|---|
A|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
E|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
 
E|-|---|-R-|---|-O-|---|
B|-|---|-O-|---|-O-|---|
G|-|-O-|---|-O-|---|---|
D|-|-O-|---|---|-R-|---|
A|-|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|
E|-|---|-R-|---|-O-|---|
General Advice: Tone Suggestions for electric guitars: I suggest that the mids are highest, and that the treble and bass are even. Set the gain to of the way, and have the gain volume, and eq volume at max. This gives and all around rock tone. Also, turn the tone down and select the neck pickup for warmer sounds. Here are my settings for this suggestion: Hi Input Gain 7 to 8 Gain Volume 10 Eq Volume 10 Bass 7 Mids 10 Treble 7 Master 1 to 2 for practicing (no need to go deaf when you're not melting faces) Pedals: I suggest a compressor for single coil guitars Good quality distortion Chorus pedal Wah-Wah (I suggest the 535Q) Eq pedal I won't give settings for these, but I suggest all Jim Dunlop effect pedals. Strings and picks: I suggest extra light gauge strings and light picks to start, for both acoustic and electric guitars. Once you get good, I suggest Medium Gauge strings and Medium to heavy picks. D'darrio makes great acoustic strings, and Dunlop or Elixir electric strings. Pick Holding: I suggest that you start holding the pick in the middle, so that there is maybe 2-3 mm of pick under your fingers and thumb. That will make it easier to start learning pinch harmonics and speed picking later on. Wrap-Up: Well, I hope that this was a good lesson for all of you beginners out there. I suggest that you read the rest of my series of these lessons, as they will hopefully all be good (I'll post the other lessons if this one is received well). In the meantime, here are some good songs to start out with learning: Chords: Knocking On Heaven Door Keep On Rocking In The Free World Lead: Sunshine of your love (I don't suggest attempting the solo until you read the next instalment. It also features power chords, or 5 chords, but they are simple to play. That is also in the next lesson). Smells Like Teen Spirit (Also features bends and 5 chords, but the solo is much easier than the one in Sunshine of your love) Enjoy and keep your eyes out for the next lesson. Keep on rocking!!!
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