Entering The Office I

Column number one. This lesson is for absolute beginners and goes over some basic chords, how to read tabs, and how to play Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".

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Ok. My name is Dalton and today my co-guitarist Chris is not with me to help write this. He will be helping me in the future. So today, I thought I'd start off with some stuff for beginners. We'll probably start doing regular columns that I hope will be monthly. Our goal is to help beginners become better players and also challenge some intermediate players and teach new skills to help you in your playing and writing. We're in a band called "Enter My Office". Hence the title "Entering The Office". We'll be going over some basic chords and skills at first for the beginners. Then we'll progress into teaching you a lot of the techniques that we integrate into our playing when we write songs. So let's get started. First off, I'll explain how to read a chord diagram for those who don't know how to or are a little confused.

         D        
e|---|-x-|---|---|2
b|---|---|-x-|---|3          This is a "D" chord. Each horizontal line 
g|---|-x-|---|---|1      represents a string and the note each string
d|---|---|---|---|o      makes while picked open is to the left. The 
a|---|---|---|---|x      "X" between the vertical lines represents where
e|---|---|---|---|x      to place your fingers between the indicated frets.
The numbers to the right tells you which finger to use.(1 being index, 2 middle, and so on.) The "O" to the right means to strum the string unfretted, or open. The "X" means to not strum that particular string. If there is a number on the top or bottom of the diagram, for instance we'll say 5, the fret drawn out to the left would be the fifth fret. If no number is shown such as in the diagram above, then the fret to the far left would be the first fret. So the diagram above means to put you index finger on the second fret of the "G" string, you ring finger on the third fret of the "B" string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the little "E" string. Strum the fretted notes in addition to the open "D" string and that is the full "D" chord.

Our next topic is how to read tablature. Once again, each horizontal line represents a string on the guitar. The numbers on each line tell which fret to hold each string at. If there is a "0" it means to leave it open when hitting the string. Numbers lined up evenly vertically means to hit all the strings at he same time.

e|---------------------0-3---
b|-----------------0-3-------
g|-------------0-2-----------
d|---------0-2---------------
a|-----0-2-------------------
e|-0-3-----------------------
Above is the tab for the "E minor Pentatonic Scale". This means to hit the big "E" string open then fretted at the third fret. Then the "A" string open and then at the second fret and so on. On some tabs, numbers under the tab will indicate which finger to use just like on a chord diagram. We will be doing this in each column so as to help you learn everything properly. But not all tabs are written like this. Some guitar magazines write tabs and lessons with numbers to help you know what finger goes where.

Below is the "D" chord written in tab form. Followed by both the "G" and "C" chords. These are the chords that will be used in this lesson. Practice changing chords slowly at first then try to do them progressively faster. Practice until they flow smoothly. For beginners, this may be hard at first. So don't try to make it perfect, just get to where you can change chords without messing up.

   D     G     C
|--2-----3-----0-----
|--3-----0-----1-----
|--2-----0-----0-----
|--0-----0-----2-----
|--------2-----3-----
|--------3-----0-----

I will be teaching you how to play Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" which some of you may know because Guns N' Roses covered it. The main chord progression is "G-D-C". If you've heard the song before, you will have a much easier time learning this song. If you haven't heard it before, it is recommended you listen to it before attempting to play it.

While playing, it is key to get a good rhythm going in your strumming hand. Don't move too much while playing. Just let your wrist swing up and down and avoid moving your whole arm because it is sloppy and you will most likely hit strings you did not mean to hit. Start by strumming the "G" chord a few times then switching over to "D". Next comes "C". The tab is below for reference. By the way, the Bar with the two circles at the end of the staff means to repeat for those who don't know already. Anyway, that's the main rhythm to the song.

   G               D               C
|--3----3---3-3----2----2---2-2----0----0---0-0----0---0-0---|
|--0----0---0-0----3----3---3-3----1----1---1-1----1---1-1-o-|
|--0----0---0-0----2----2---2-2----0----0---0-0----0---0-0---|
|--0----0---0-0----0----0---0-0----2----2---2-2----2---2-2---|
|--2----2---2-2--------------------3----3---3-3----3---3-3-o-|
|--3----3---3-3--------------------0----0---0-0----0---0-0---|

The next part, which many will recognize from the GNR version in the chorus, is the power chords that are played with a lot of distortion on the elctric guitar.

|----------------------------------------------|-------------|
|--------------------------------------------o-|-------------|
|------------------7---------------5-----------|--5----------|
|--5---------------7---------------5-----------|--5----------|
|--5---------------5---------------3---------o-|--3----------|
|--3-------------------------------------------|-------------|

Let's take a look at the first chord played. It is the "G" power chord. Every power chord consists of a root note, which in this case is the "G" note at the third fret of the big "E" string, and a fifth which would be the "D" note at the fifth fret on the "A" string. These power chords also contain an octave, which is the same as the root note only higher. so the root note is "G", the fifth is the "D" note, and then a higher "G" note as an octave. Mostly all power chords played in standard tuning are shaped this way. Power chord are the basic of electric guitar. Full chords, as explained above, are the basics of acoustic guitar. Of course, you could do whatever you want because music is about freedom and expressing yourself.

Ok, so I hope this column helped a lot of you beginners. Please comment and tell me what I should improve more on or if you thought I didn't explain a certain topic well. I'll be sure to review it in the next column. Practice these chords so you won't forget them because they will help you next time. Next time, we'll go over another chord, a scale, and see how that scale and some basic chords known to the average beginner can create one of the most popular songs in history by a great band. See you next time and thanks for reading.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MoroneSaxatilis
    A very good start- well written and thought out. A bit basic for a lot of folks, but would certainly be something I would have read when I first started, good work.