Guitar Age Or A Guitarists Illustrated Primer II

An essential coverage of how to tune your axe and read basic tabs.

Ultimate Guitar
Ok, this next lesson touches on my last article a bit. As I mentioned previously, everything is painfully difficult starting out, so I am going to painfully mull over the details. If you already know how to read TAB and tune your guitar, then feel free to skip this lesson. If you are still reading this, then brace yourself for a knowledge bukakki. When I first started out, I remember how frustrating it was to tune my guitar and read tabs, and this was a major reason I got frustrated and put my axe down for 2 years. Epic discipline fail. Step 1 - Determine what type of guitar you own, whether it is an acoustic or electric (or if it has 4 strings, its likely a bass). If you have an electric guitar then plug it in to the tuner and turn up the volume. If you have an acoustic, then you are good to go. Step 2 The guitar is tuned to the following notes: E, a, d, g, b, e. When you are holding the guitar in your lap, the first string is an E (closest to your face, and thickest of the strings), then a, then d, then g, then b, then the other e (closest to the floor, and also the thinnest string). Try to memorize this, as it's kinda important. I recommend that you create a pneumonic device to assist you in memorization. Mine happens to be: Every Anus Does Get Bruised Eventually. Be creative, make one up. Step 3 The old game of get the bouncing needle in the green'. There is no shortcut here. Once you tune your strings and have every one of them in tune, check them again. By the time you go from one E string to another, the first one may be out of tune again. Tune and repeat. Step 4 Play your damn guitar and quit bitching about how the strings leave indentations on your fingers. Congratulations, you finally tightened the belt on your Big Boy Pants. Now that you know the names of the strings, you are ready to read tab. Actually, before I proceed, I am going to cover my ass and go on the record as saying that Sight Reading and learning to actually read musical notation is probably the best approach. But who has time for that. Ok, on to tabs. So this is TAB, and it is a representation of your guitar:
Notice the notes to the left? Yup, those are the names of the strings we just covered. Capital E is the thickest, and the little e is the thinnest. Remember that. Now check this out:
Now we have two notes played one after another. The first note, the 0, is played by merely plucking the thick E string. Your left hand has nothing to do with this note. Now for the note illustrated by the 3. The guitar neck is divided by all of these metal pieces, some of them with dots or other ornamentation in between them. The space between the metal pieces are where you press. The number pertains to the fret you are to press with the fingers of your left hand. Count the frets and press the third one on the thick E string. Bam Shebram! Now for all of the strings, try the following:
Good job champ you are half way to being the next Hendrix. Now observe the following:
For this bad boy you are going to press the third fret with your index finger, and BOTH the fifth fret on the a string and the fifth fret of the d string with your ring finger. Take your time to wrap your head around this one. Index finger one note, ring finger the other two notes. Now strum your guitar mainly focusing on hitting these three strings. You just strummed a Power Chord'. It probably sounds like shit for now, but have faith I know you can get better. Power Chord? You ask. Take it down a notch there turbo and we will cover this later. This is some basic stuff right here. I am not trying to show you the notation for bends, tapping, harp harmonics, or dive bombs. I'm trying to get you started. Now, I don't want to have to hold your hand while you pinch out your first turd, so go forth and learn a song or something. Suggested songs to learn? Try songs from these bands: Nirvana Bush X Queens of the Stone Age Alice in Chains NOFX (most punk for that matter) Black Sabbath Until next time my axe slinging brothers

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    honestly it really doens't take much time to learn how to read sheet music, it took me less time to learn to sight read than it did to learn the scales. but that might only be me... anyways the part I have a problem with is
    For this bad boy you are going to press the third fret with your index finger, and BOTH the fifth fret on the a string and the fifth fret of the d string with your ring finger.
    personally I would teach them to use their ring finger for the A string and their pinky for the D string. it will help with pinky strength which most new guitarists have a problem with already. it also gets them ready for fretting barre chords, at least that's how I teach it.
    I definitely hear what you are saying, and it does get you ready for barre chords, but I just wanted the notion of pressing two strings with one finger established. Thanks for the feedback though!
    I have been trying to do this but when I try to put individual fingers on different strings it feels really awkward, I would be very grateful if you could give me a few tips on how to free up my fingers.
    I would be glad to shine some light on the subject man. Are you talking about the power chord or the other parts?
    I have a problem with my ring finger on two strings. I have some pretty small hands, and very thing fingers, and I just can't seem to get any finger for that matter on both strings, and when I do, the sound is just munted. Any tips would be appreciated
    Sevans91: First off, just because you have small hands doesn't mean that you can't play guitar. I hear it all of the time, but it just aint so. It will take time and practice. Secondly, look where your thumb is. It should be at the back of the neck, almost directly behind the fingers fretting the chord. If you are still having problems, then just focus on fretting the notes on the E and A string. They are the most important part of the Power Chord. Focusing on just these two notes will help your hand used to making the shape, and later on it will be easier to incorporate the note on the D string. Start small and then incorporate the additional notes. Alternatively, you could use your pinky to fret the notes on the A and D strings. I see a lot of players do this. Finally, you could also try using your ring finger for the A string and your pinky for the D string. As per Kryptic's note above. Try all three techniques and se which one is easiest. I personally interchangeably use all three techniques depending on the mood I am in... or how many beers I have... If you have any more questions, fire them to me. I'll gladly help. If there is something specific bothering you, spell it out for me and I will try and address it.