Beginner Lesson III: The Basics

This is part III in my series Beginner Lesson, The Basics. I will talk about chords, more chords and strumming. Once again, please keep in mind, this is the very beginning. There will be no theory, no fretboard work, or ridiculous fingering going on. If you have mastered the first two lessons of this series, then it should go smoothly. Enjoy!

Ultimate Guitar
Hello everyone! Today I will introduce more chords and talk about some of the most difficult ones; G major and C major. First I would like to address some concerns you might be having. The first most common one is boredom. All and I mean every single beginner student I have taught has had the same concern: When am I going to learn a song?. Well that is really up to you. When I start with basics, like I have been, I want the student to get this down. I am not looking for perfection, just an understanding of the concepts. Let's say you can play some chords well and some not so well, but you understand how to get there, then I will move on into something familiar. That is not to say Don't try this on your own.. I always encourage my students to learn from everyone, learn a song, I am not the only instructor in this world. Another concern is time. I don't have time to practice. I understand that everyone is busy; jobs, school, social life. I only ask 30 minutes a day. Imagine this if you will; some of us practiced at least 12 hours a day! Even now, I will take one day a week, usually Sunday, and practice all day long. I'm such a geek! Now with that being said, I would hate to make you practice when you do not want to. Not because you want to hit the beach, but because you are not feeling it. In instances like this, I turn to my DVD's of my favorite guitarist. 30 minutes of that makes me want to work! I love guitar, music, learning, teaching, talking about it! Playing this long has become a life style and if I had to stop today, I really would not know what to do with myself. Anyhoo. . . on with the show! Tune your guitar and sit up straight... Let's go into some review. - Name all your strings from high to low - Pick a chord and say out loud what you are playing I) Chords, chords and more chords Previously you have learned E major, E minor, A major and D major.The following is going to be a chord chart. If you have read my previous lessons, then there should be easy to follow. Fingering: x = do not play, o = open string, i = index finger, m = middle, r = ring, = p = little finger Example 1:
A minor
E |---0-----o
B |---1-----i
G |---2-----r
D |---2-----m
A |---0-----o
E |---------x
D minor
E |--1------i
B |--3------r
G |--2------m
D |--0------o
A |--0------o
E |---------x
Notice that you now have six chords: E major and minor, A major and minor, and D major and minor. Play each one now starting with E major, then E minor. Can you hear how one is more upbeat and humble as the other is sad? Now play the others like you just did starting with the major first and then minor. I want you to really listen to them. Strum them from the low to high strings and then high to low strings while really listening to the chord. Can you hear the notes clearly? If the answer is no, then why? Remember, use your finger tips not the pads of your fingers. Sometime you might have a finger touching a string. For instance, maybe your index finger is touching the high E string. II) G and C major I saved these chords for last and for good reason; they take a little time and effort. For a beginner, they might be frustrating, but please be patient. Like I have said throughout this series, take it slow and you will persevere. What makes these chords more difficult than others? If you look at the first six chords I have gone over, you will notice that your fingers are in a tight group. However, with G and C, these chords are spread out. Let's take a look at an example. Example II:
G Major
E |----------3- i or p
B |--------0--- o
G |------0----- o
D |----0------- o
A |---2--------- i
E |-3---------- m
Notice that you have two fingers on the bottom strings and one on the top, not to mention two fingers on the same fret! I would recommend starting with the bottom strings; E and A. Place your middle finger on the 3rd fret on the low E sting and your index finger on the 2nd fret A string while angling your hand a little to the left. Tips: Make sure your middle finger is not touching the A string and that your index finger is not touching the D string. Now let's add your ring finger on the 3rd fret high E string. I did remark on Example II that you can use your little finger as well. Most people with smaller hands might prefer this, however it is totally up to you. I have super giant hands, but I use my little finger. Let's look at C major now
Example III:
E |--------0-- o
B |------1---- i
G |----0------o
D |--2--------m
A |-3--------- r
E |----------  x
Just like G major start slow placing your ring finger on the 3rd fret A string and your middle finger on the 2nd fret D sting. The one big thing I want to explain here is, have your ring finger barely touch the low E string. Why???? I will get to that. . . Now add your index finger. You can also try it the other way too. Start on the first fret and build up the chord from there. Tips: Why are you touching the low E string??? Well, have you ever noticed players jumping around like they are crazy but they somehow can hit the correct notes on the guitar? Placing your fingers in the correct spot is very important. Just like when I explained about your thumb going over the fretboard on the other chords. . .same concept. You are muting that string so that when you are strumming, you do not have to worry about that awful low E rattling around. Since these chords take a little more effort, take it slow,slow, slow! III) Practice OK, so now you know eight basic open chords. Go through each one slowly, playing each note in the chord and then strumming that chord until they are smooth and clear. IV) Strumming This subject a little difficult to explain without the student being in front of me, but I will try my best. First off, I prefer to use a thin pick when I play acoustic guitar. It is just preference, that's all. To me there is less resistance, easier to manage and it sounds cool! On the other hand, when I play electric, I use a heavy pick. Again, preference. Start off by placing your left hand, (If you are a lefty, right hand if you are a righty), around the neck dampening the strings. (I want to concentrate on strumming). Let the pick glide across the strings from low to high, then high to low. Try it hard and aggressive backing off and getting softer. Keep the speed the same throughout. Here is a great exercise! Now, I am going to assume that you tap your hand to music or you like to beat on the table if there is a song on. I know I do all the time. I am the ultimate air drummer, just ask my wife. Take your strumming hand and create some sort of beat or rhythm on the strings. Take the techniques I just explained and add the chords you have learned. Start with a chord like E major or minor or even G. The reason I say this is because they cover all the strings. Tips: One good thing to mention is that your strumming hand is your rhythm hand. This hand will turn all the chords you learned into songs. Just do it! All my beginner student start the same way; shy. Time to break out of that and make some noise. Bug your parents, bug your friends, bug your neighbors! EXPERIMENT!!!!!! V) Conclusion So we learned: - A minor, D minor, G and C major - Some strumming techniques - Finger placement Remember, guitar is fun! Next chapter will be on more strumming and the dreaded barre chord. Once again, any question, please shoot me a message. Peace -ancientson

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    thank u so much ancientson, hope you accept me as your student coz i found your lessons very helpfull and you have a good methode of teatchin hope u continue postin your lessonz lookin forward for whats next and i'll be practicin this
    Glad that you got it up and thank you for your work these simple and well explained lessons are exactly what I needed. Again thank you.
    Thank you everyone! I will be submitting two more of this series next week.
    Absolutely lovin ur teaching method, wanted to play guitar for a long time but never been able to find an instructor that makes me so relaxed. Can I just say thank you so much for making the first three lessons as enjoyable and easy to understand. Hope it's not long for part 4. Thanks again
    I find these lessons amazing! They help so much. I had a question, I feel more comfortable strumming with my hand and not a pick, is that fine, or do you suggest using a pick?