Beginner Lesson I: The Basics

author: ancientson date: 06/27/2011 category: for beginners
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The very first thing I want a beginner to keep in mind is that when learning guitar please keep two very important things in mind: 1) You will get what you put into it 2) Be patient Believe me, with some practice and some patience, you will persevere. Now with a student that has been doodling around or needs some direction, I would start simple and go from there. Some students pick up faster than others, so depending on progress I would move forward and challenge them. I) Strings and Frets Can you name them? In my first article I did talk a little about this, however for the sake of this lesson, I will go into this a little more. (If you know this, please skip ahead). Your strings are labeled one thru six. The thinnest being one and the thickest being six. Now, one is your top string and six is your bottom. Simple, right? Let us put a name to the strings. Starting with first string or string one if you will:
1 = E (Thinnest)
2 = B
3 = G
4 = D
5 = A
6 = E (Thickest)
Here is my little acronym starting from bottom to top: Elephants (6) - Always (5) - Do (4) - Good (3) - Before(2) - Eating (1) As I said before, adults will laugh at it because it sounds silly and children will laugh because it is silly. Say it out loud! Remember, guitar is fun and learning should be fun as well. On the neck of guitar you will notice the metal strips that divide the guitar neck into blocks. These blocks are frets. Starting from the first just count up: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.... II) Tab and chord charts You must know how to read tabs and chord charts at the very least. I do teach notation as well, however I will save that for a later lesson. (Again, if you know this part, skip ahead). I am a bit limited as far as graphics go, however, if you google a chord chart or if you have one, you will notice it is a grid. The vertical lines are the strings and the horizontal lines are the frets. Usually a chord chart will just have circles and X's. The circles show what to play and X show you what NOT to play. Tablature or tab is a collection or horizontal lines that signify your strings from high to low. Example 1:
Now, when you see numbers on these lines that signifies the frets. If you see a 0 (zero), that just means you play the string open. Example 2:
A|-----------2-------------------------------------------<--play the 2nd fret, A string
E|-----0------------------------------------------------- <--play the low E string
Make sense so far? In the next example you will notice two chords. Actually, it is the same chord, but played differently. On the left you would play all the notes together and on the right you would play each note separately. Example 3:
III) Simple Chords The first chord I would like to start with is E minor. Why? Because the fingering is so simple. Start by placing your middle finger on the A string, second fret and your ring finger, second fret. Play each string individually. You must be able to hear each string. Example 4:
E |------------0--------------
B |----------0----------------
G |--------0------------------
D |------2--------------------
A |-----2----------------------
E |---0------------------------
Some tips: Play on your finger tips, not the pads. Sometimes your fingers will touch the other strings. That is useful on some occasion, but not for this chord. Make sure your finger nails are cut short. I have had student not able to do anything because their finger nails are so long that they touch the fretboard instead of their fingers. Take it slow. Now, this is the hardest to do...relax. Remember, you are new and you do not have calluses built up on your fingers tips. That will happen over time and your grip will loosen up. Let us try another. This is A major. Same concept as before; place your middle finger on the D string, second fret; ring finger on the G string, second fret; and your pinky on the B string, second fret. With this chord however, you will NOT play the low E string. What I want you to do is place your thumb over the neck, just touching the low E. This will mute that string so when playing the A major chord you will not hear the low E. Example 5:
IV)Practice Play each chord until you have each note sounding correctly. Once you have mastered each chord, try switching between them. E minor to A major back to E minor. Remember practice slowly. V) Conclusion Today we talked about: I) Strings and frets II) Chord and tab charts III) E minor and A major chords I know that this lesson is very generic, however it is very difficult to gauge everyone that is not in front of you. Each student I teach is always different; 6 years old or 20, big hands, small hands, but the concepts are the same. One thing I would like to say and this is advice I give all my students. Have fun with your instrument. Take time out to explore and experiment. If you play electric guitar, turn it up and make noise! Most great ideas come from such moments. Remember: Take your time, slow down and have fun! Any questions or comments? Contact me. I would be more than happy to answer your questions. peace -ancientson
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