Beginner Guitar. Lesson 1

For people picking up a guitar for the first time, good aid. Includes a basic key, chord progression, fretboard map.

Ultimate Guitar
This is my first beginner lesson, I've been playing guitar for almost 3 years, with half of that actually serious. I hope I will have more lessons up soon, this is lesson 1. In this lesson I will teach you the basics: -Fretboard -chords -1 key -and more If you are just starting, you might not understand the theory at first, that's okay, just learn the playing part, and you will eventually learn the theory.


The fretboard is on the neck of the guitar, on most guitars, acoustics (without a cutaway) go up to 20 or 21 frets, but you can generally play up to 13th or 15th comfortably. Anyway each fret on each string is a different note. The notes start on the open string, and go up to 12, where they start again. Here is a fretboard map:
E|F    |F#/Gb|G    |G#/Ab|A    |A#/Bb|B    |C    |C#/Db|D    |D#/Eb|E    |
B|C    |C#/Db|D    |D#/Eb|E    |F    |F#/Gb|G    |G#/Ab|A    |A#/Bb|B    |
G|G#/Ab|A    |A#/Bb|B    |C    |C#/Db|D    |D#/Eb|E    |F    |F#/Gb|G    |
D|D#/Eb|E    |F    |F#/Gb|G    |G#/Ab|A    |A#/Bb|B    |C    |C#/Db|D    |
A|A#/Bb|B    |C    |C#/Db|D    |D#/Eb|E    |F    |F#/Gb|G    |G#/Ab|A    |
E|F    |F#/Gb|G    |G#/Ab|A    |A#/Bb|B    |C    |C#/Db|D    |D#/Eb|E    |
0  1      2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9    10    11     12

A sharp raise the note, and the flat lowers a note. Pause for a moment and look at the example below: Ex. 1: Take the 6th string, low E, and place your finger on the 5th fret, A, pluck the string. That's A, now, if you move it one fret to the 6th fret, that is A#, move it one fret down, and it is Ab.
     A     A#     Ab
I would suggest memorizing the fretboard. Knowing your fretboard is very important, it helps you with chords and scales. Now lets move onto chords.


A chord is a group of notes played at the same time. Some of the most common in music, mainly rock, pop, etc., are the major, minor, and power chord. (we won't be playing powerchords today) Now, here comes some theory, don't worry will be playing soon but were just making a stop on the way. A chord is composed of notes in a key, in this case I will teach the key of E, this is know as the guitar players key. It consists of:
E F# G# A B C# D#
1 2  3  4 5 6  7
It might be confusing to see the sharps, but it isn't. Just trust me. (remeber if you have any questions, ask)

Chord Construction

This is what is in the chord, very helpful after awhile. Major- 1-3-5, this means the 1 3 and 5 notes in a key. Minor- 1-b3-5, same as above, what makes it minor is the 3, its lowered Ex2 major chord- for this I will show you and E chord. It is made of the 1 3 5, or E-G#-B. Who's asking "how do you play it" well I'll show you. This is a root position chord, it is closet to the head of the guitar and easiest to play. E |-0-| |-0-| |-1-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-| now strum all the strings, and you made your first E chord. Ex3 minor chord- for simplicity I will show and Em chord. (just so you can see the difference). It is made of the 1 b3 5, or E-G-B. The third note is lowered. This is how you play it in root position. Em |-0-| |-0-| |-0-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-|strum all the strings. Do you hear a difference? The E chord sounds happy and the Em sounds sad. Now, I'm going to move to chord progressions. A chord progression, is the order you play the chords in a key. A common progression in most rock music, is 1-4-5, this means the 1 4 and 5 chord of the key. I will use the E key again for this.
E F# G# A B  C# D#
1 2  3  4 5  6  7
M m  m  M M7 m  dim
As you can see, I put M,m, and dim, under the numbers, this simpily means, the chords are going to be M-Major ( 7 means it is typically a 7th chord) m-minor dim-Diminshed. For now we won't worry about those. We will be focusing on the 1 4 5 of the key, which is E A and B. In this case, for ease, I will show you the B7 chord, the fifth chords are generally seventh chords, I will go into depth with these later. All these chords are played like this: E |-0-| |-0-| |-1-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-| A |-0-| |-2-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-| |-0-| B7 |-2-| |-0-| |-2-| |-1-| |-2-| |-X-|(X means do not pluck) Now this excerize is to show you shifting, do this until your comfortable with these chords. |E E E E| E E A A| A A A A| B7 B7 E E| now repeat. A Song: This is an easy strum pattern, for those of you who do not have the song, go to and search for it. The Eagles-Peaceful, Easy, Feeling Now note, my friend and I transposed it so we could sing it and play in our voice, so the recording and this version will sound differnet in key, but you will note the strumming pattern thats important.
Verse:E A B7 E
        E A B7
        E A B7 E
        E A 

Chorus: A E
        A B7
        E A 
       B7 E
Now I know this lesson is a little fuzzy, but if you get confused, have question just ask me and I'll clear it up for you. My next lessons will be better.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TDG Tabs
    this is was a really good lesson, just keep going in-depth more and more. but dont say too much in one lesson because some beginners begin to get bored. nice lesson, ill vote 5 stars.
    On your fretboard your top line is the #1 string that is at the bottom of the guitar the thinnest string right? On your fretboard your bottom line is the #6 string that is at the top of the guitar the thickest string right? and the string look like this, looking down at the guitar as you play: ?
    great lesson. ive been playing a while just never got into theory now im trying to learn that. you cleared a lot up for me thanks
    sorry about the 7th fret deal, i when i made it i had been awake for 27 hours and little mistakes. and yes the 0 is open, dont press on it, 2 means second fret.
    Please could you explain Ex 3 further about the Em chord. There are only 2 notes played and not 3?? Where do you get E-G-B from
    lou 77, an em chord is made of E-G-B the first note, open thick string is E, also the thinnest sting and the d strings second fret, the g string is open, and the a string second fret is b and also the open b string, that is what it is
    The top line in your fretboard is the #1 string the bottom thinnest string right? and the bottom line in your fretboard is the #6 string at the top the thickest string right? is this the string numbers ?
    Great work metalcore 16 !!! I want to correct example #1 though. The proper sequence of notes are : Ab-4th fret; A-5th fret; A#-6th fret. All these notes are on the Low E (thickest) or 6th string as well as the high E string (thinnest),1st,or bottom string.Metalcore 16 is absolutely correct in saying,"memorize the notes on the fretboard" ! ! !
    Maybe this sound better: (E) first finger, third string, first fret and second finger, fifth string, second fret and third finger, 4 string, second fret??? for E we will be playing the 3, 4, 5, strings??
    I'm really glad you put the whole fret board up, that's something I've never seen and I've been hunting for a good place to start for a while. But, when you put up the chords for the song, do you only do the chord once, how do we know how many times to strum it, before going to the next?
    Whenever I try to play a chord they alwas sound the same to me, I try pressing diff frets, open strings, and is the same ****ing sound, what am I doing wrong?
    could u please tell me that if in the major its the 1,3 and 5 notes and like u have given an example with the E major chord, the notes were do u actually know which strings and which notes we hav to play in the guitar...simarly for the minor too???
    Guitaradele, you are correct. The note on the 7th fret is a B note
    |-0-| |-0-| |-0-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-| i havnt played for long but Joeyrose the top 0 is the bottom string and the bottom one is the thicker top string. 0 means and open string so you dont press your finger on the string u just strum it. 2 means to press that string on the second fret
    Was really good but hard for a beginner to get the entire rhythm from youtube. Also it was hard to figure out how to put your fingers to make a B7 chord with having to go to another site. Very good though.
    I'm the author, if anyone has any questions just put it on the comment section, and if anyone has a better song, I was in a rush and this is all I could think of, please tell me and i'll check it out
    thanks for this great lesson. im a newbie in playing guitar and it helps me most of it for knowing the theories and as well the position of the note. but if possible, i need u to teach me on the strumming pattern as well. well what i mean here is the basic strumming pattern. im having problem with it. anyways, im looking forward through ur lesson. great job and thanks! cheers!
    Okay, I forgot to mention something important, since i'm so used to, it I ignored it. A sharp is # and a flat is b.
    Thou, I'm not a guitar newbie, I read this. Only one thing. The most common pattern doesn't necessarily include sept-accord. Like, it can be easily E A B... I can play most of the rock(&roll) based songs just by these (well, maybe transposed). Good work, anyway!
    Xx Riley xX
    im also new kind of, lol this reli helped, i was taught by my friend who reli dint no wot he was going on bout so i have to start from scratch. thanks
    Oh and on the fretboard map, which end is which? Like which is the top and the bottom?
    I've been playing for about 3-4 years and was never taught thoery, and this is helping alot.
    good lesson, im a noobie to the guitar. and i feel like im progressing already.
    sorry about the strumming pattern, i will be editing it soon and giving new details, be patient please
    Im a Beginer and took your advise it's really helping me so i thank you ever so much. I looked on you tube to find the song to practice on and found this 1
    ed it's the most helpful, most clear, easiest for a strumming pattern and has full notes to play along, and with your little help on Fret board etc i can now play the full song! im proud so thanks Metalcore16 brilliant help! Still working on getting frets and strumming patterns right etc but im getting used to how the guitar works and understanding it more!
    Hi, thank you so much for posting this I was just wondering something which might sound stupid, but when you post this |-0-| |-0-| |-0-| |-2-| |-2-| |-0-| Is each |-0-| one of the strings? And is the number the fret? I don't quite understand
    how come in some chords, like the C chord you're not using note nr 1,3,5 from the key of C but nr 1,1,3 and dont use the low e string at all? or is there som other lesson that explain it?