Posted Nov 23, 2009 12:01 PM
This lesson is for somebody who has picked up a guitar for the first time and wants to play it. I myself use a variety of techniques, with and without a plectrum. Please take the time to read all of the different techniques described.
Holding your guitar:
1) The guitar should fit comfortably under your right elbow, allowing you to strum and pick with your right hand, and able to fret with your left.
If using a plectrum:
1) Hold the plectrum between your thumb and forefinger
2) Practice strumming up and down on the strings
3) You may drop the plectrum. As such, it's always handy to have another one ready, preferably on your lap.
If not using a plectrum:
1) There are many different techniques to playing without a plectrum. Personally, I prefer to strum down with the left side of my thumb, and hit upstrokes with my ring finger. You can however, use the thumb to hit both upstrokes and downstrokes.
2) I generally prefer this method when doing the softer songs, as it produces a quieter, deeper tone.
3) You don't need to worry about dropping anything, but you may get blisters on your hand.
So, you're ready to play guitar! Be warned, the first twenty or so times you play, your fingers will hurt. Therefore, I am going to give you quite a few four-finger chords so as to toughen up your pinky. However, we'll start with something easy.
The first thing you'll need to know how to do is read chords. You may have chord boxes (explained in the books), or you may have something rather confusing like this:
Basically, you're leaving the top string open, fretting the second string with your fore-finger on the second fret, the third string with your middle finger on the second fret, and leaving the bottom three open. This will do for now as we will not be playing any muted chords today.
So, have a quick bash at that E minor. Problems you might encounter:
1) You may mute the bottom strings by accident. Bend your fingers round as much as possible to try and hit the strings.
2) You may get a ringing sound, this is because you're hitting the strings too hard. Top Tip: Brush the strings in a fan like motion.
3) Your fingers will hurt after a while, if so you may want to stop playing for a bit.
Easy? If you are finding this difficult, you may want to take your middle finger off and have a go at the Em7 chord:
See what I mean? When you gather up the confidence, you can try sticking another finger on.
Not really a common chord, but if you nail this then you'll find that the other two are a breeze.
A common problem is changing between chords. People tend to be slow in doing this, and I'll cover that on my next lesson.
1) Practice these three chords as much as you can.
2) Sit with a straight back. You won't encounter back pain.
3) Have a go at changing between these, like this:
Esus4 | Em | Em7
So basically, you're taking one finger off each time. This is a good starting point.
1) Practice constantly (you'll want any family members to yell at you)
2) Spend at least an hour a day practising.
3) Try using both a plectrum without. I favour a plectrum, but using both will widen your possibilities.
After a week of hard practice, this should become second-nature to you. Your fingers will have toughened up a little, and you should now be able to strum down and possibly up without much trouble. Remember, at first, playing guitar is difficult, and the hardest thing for any beginner is to keep it up. If you find you can't do some of these, it doesn't matter. Drop me a comment on my profile and I'll search some easier stuff out for you. Also, strumming up is pretty hard at first, so you may want to just strum down for a little bit until you nail that, then go into the up-strokes.