Guitar Lesson Overview: What you'll learnBy the end of this guitar lesson, you will have learned: the names of many parts of the guitar, the names of the open strings, the process of tuning the guitar, how to hold and use a pick, how to play a chromatic scale, and how to play a simple song using Gmajor, Cmajor, and Dmajor chords.
The Parts Of A GuitarAlthough there are many different types of guitars (acoustic, electric, classical, electric-acoustic, etc.), they all have many things in common. The diagram to the left illustrates the various parts of a guitar. At the top of the guitar in the illustration is the "headstock", a general term which describes the part of the guitar attached to the slimmer neck of the instrument. On the headstock are "tuners", which you will use to adjust the pitch of each of the strings on the guitar. At the point in which the headstock meets the neck of the guitar, you'll find the "nut". A nut is simply a small piece of material (plastic, bone, etc.), in which small grooves are carved out to guide the strings up to the tuners. The neck of the guitar is the area of the instrument you'll concentrate a great deal on: you'll put your fingers on various places on the neck, in order to create different notes. The neck of the guitar adjoins the "body" of the instrument. The body of the guitar will vary greatly from guitar to guitar. Most acoustic and classical guitars have a hollowed out body, and a "sound hole", designed to project the sound of the guitar. Most electric guitars have a solid body, and thus will not have a sound hole. Electric guitars will instead have "pick-ups" where the soundhole is located. These "pick-ups" are essentially small microphones, which allow the capture the sound of the ringing strings, allowing them to be amplified. The strings of the guitar run from the tuning pegs, over the nut, down the neck, over the body, over the sound hole (or pick-ups), and are anchored at a piece of hardware attached to the body of the guitar, called a "bridge". Examine the neck of your guitar. You'll notice there are metal strips running across it's entire surface. These pieces of metal are referred to as "frets" on a guitar. Now, here's what you'll need to keep in mind: the word "fret" has two different meanings when used by guitarists. It can be used to describe:
Using A PickHopefully, you've found, bought or borrowed a guitar pick. If not, you'll need to buy yourself some. Don't be stingy, go and pick up at least 10 of them - guitar picks are easy to lose (they often don't cost more than 30 or 40 cents each). You can experiment with different shapes and brands, but I highly recommend medium gauge picks to start; ones that aren't too flimsy, or too hard. The following documentation explains how to hold, and use a pick. When reading, keep in mind that your "picking hand" is the hand which is nearest to the bridge of the guitar, when sitting in the correct position.
Tips:Holding the pick in this manner will invariably feel awkward at first. You will initially have to pay special attention to your picking hand whenever you play guitar. Try and create fluidity in your alternate picking. Your downstrokes should sound virtually identical to your upstrokes. Unfortunately, before you begin playing, you'll really need to tune your guitar. The problem is, it is, at first, a relatively difficult task, one that becomes much easier over time. If you know of anyone who plays guitar, who could do the job for you, it is advised that you get them to tune your instrument. Alternately, you could invest in a "guitar tuner", a relatively inexpensive device which listens to the sound of each string, and advises you (via a few blinking lights) on what you need to do in order to get the note in tune.
Playin ScalesNow we're getting somewhere! In order to become skillful on the guitar, we'll need to build the muscles in our hands, and learn to stretch our fingers. Scales are a good, albeit a not very exciting way to do this. Before we start, look at the diagram above to understand how fingers on the "fretting hand" (the hand that plays notes on the neck) are commonly identified. The thumb is labelled as "T", the index finger is the "first finger", the middle finger is the "second finger", and so on.
The above diagram may look confusing... fear not, it's one of the most common methods of explaining notes on the guitar, and is actually quite easy to read. The above represents the neck of the guitar, when looked at head on. The first vertical line on the left of the diagram is the sixth string. The line to the right of that is the fifth string. And so on. The horizontal lines in the diagram represent the frets on the guitar... the space between the top horizontal line, and the one below it is the first fret. The space between that second horizontal line from the top and the one below it is the second fret. And so on. The "0" above the diagram represents the open string for the string it is positioned above. Finally, the black dots are indicators that these notes should be played. Start by using your pick to play the open sixth string. Next, take the first finger on your fretting hand (remembering to curl it), and place it on the first fret of the sixth string. Apply a significant amount of downward pressure to the string, and strike the string with your pick. Now, take your second finger, place it on the second fret of the guitar (you can take your first finger off), and again strike the sixth string with the pick. Now, repeat the same process on the third fret, using your third finger. And lastly, on the fourth fret, using your fourth finger. There! You've played all the notes on the sixth string. Now, move to the fifth string... start by playing the open string, then play frets one, two, three and four. Repeat this process for each string, altering it only on the third string. On this third string, play only up to the third fret. When you've played all the way up to the first string, fourth fret, you've completed the exercise.
0|--1--/--2--/--3--/--4--/ 0|--1--/--2--/--3--/--4--/ 0|--1--/--2--/--3--/--4--/ 0|--1--/--2--/--3--/ 0|--1--/--2--/--3--/--4--/ 0|--1--/--2--/--3--/--4--/
Playing Basic Chords(Remember these are open chords so for now practise playing thm on the first four frets!) Although practicing the previous chromatic scale will certainly provide you with great benefits (like limbering up your fingers), it is admittedly not a whole lot of fun. Most people love to play "chords" on the guitar. Playing a chord involves using your pick to strike at least two notes (often more) on the guitar simultaneously. The following are three of the most common, and easy to play chords on the guitar. Playing a G major chord
This diagram illustrates the first chord we are going to play, a G major chord (often simply called a "G chord"). Take your second finger, and put it on the third fret of the sixth string. Next, take your first finger, and put it on the second fret of the fifth string. Lastly, put your third finger on the third fret of the first string. Make sure all of your fingers are curled, and are not touching any strings they're not supposed to. Now, using your pick, strike all six strings in one fluid motion. Notes should ring all together, not one at a time (this could take some practice). Voila! Your first chord. Now, check to see how you did. While still holding down the chord with your fretting hand, play each string (starting with the sixth) one at a time, listening to be sure each note rings out clearly. If not, study your hand to determine why it doesn't. Are you pressing hard enough? Is one of your other fingers touching that string, which is preventing it from sounding properly? These are the most common reasons why a note does not sound. If you're have trouble. Playing a C major chord
----/----/--2--/----/ ----/--1--/----/----/ 0|----/----/----/----/ 0|----/----/----/----/ 0|----/----/----/----/ ----/----/--3--/----/
The second chord we'll learn, the C major chord (often called a "C chord"), is no more difficult than the first G major chord. Place your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string. Now, put your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Finally, put your first finger on the first fret of the second string. Here's where you have to be slightly careful. When playing a C major chord, you do not want to strum the sixth string. Watch your pick to make sure you only strum the bottom five strings when you are first learning the C major chord. Test this chord as you did with the G major chord, to make sure all notes are ringing clearly. Playing a D major chord
x----/----/----/----/ ----/----/--3--/----/ ----/--2--/----/----/ ----/----/----/----/ --1--/----/----/----/ ----/----/----/----/
Some beginners have slightly more difficulty playing a D major chord (often called a "D chord"), since your fingers have to cram into a fairly small area. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, if you can comfortably play the other two chords. Place your first finger on the second fret of the third string. Then, put your third finger on the third fret of the second string. Lastly, place your second finger on the second fret of the first string. Strum only the bottom 4 strings when playing a D major chord. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with these three chords... you will use them for the rest of your guitar-playing career. Make sure you can play each of the chords without looking at the diagrams. Know what the name of each chord is, where each finger goes, and which strings you strum or do not strum.
x----/----/----/----/ x----/----/----/----/ ----/----/----/----/ ----/--1--/----/----/ ----/----/--3--/----/ ----/--2--/----/----/