As a guitar instructor, I figured my first article should be on the very basics of guitar. Meaning, this is for the absolute beginner. That individual who just picked up their first guitar and needs a little direction; a starting place if you will. Please keep in mind, this is a general topic. I will go more in depth later. With that being said, enough chit chat, here we go!
When a potential student asks me about lessons, my first question is: What is your experience?. 9 times out of 10 it is none. Remember, always be honest with your instructor. It helps them a great deal in finding a good starting place. They were once beginners too!
Regardless of the type of music you listen to or want to play, here is a short list of things you MUST know and practice.
Can you name the strings? Top to bottom or bottom to top? When I show new students strings, I start bottom to top. (E-A-D-G-B-E) I also use word association to help with this:
Elephants - Always - Do - Good - Before - Eating
That might sound silly, but children love it and adults think its so silly that they can't stop laughing. Try it yourself and say it out loud!
2) Tuner! Tuner! Tuner!
This is an absolute must!!! Regardless if it is on your iPhone, Android or some $20.00 job, you must have one! Now, I might sound a little callus about this, but there is nothing worse than hearing a guitarist out of tune.
Once your guitar is in tune, you will be able to develop your ear. You will hear things how they should or should not be. This should be the first thing you do when you pick up your guitar.
3) Chords and calluses
I put these two together because both develop over time. The human hand is an amazing thing and your fingers are delicate. When a beginner plays their first chord it is usually the same for everyone: You apply the death grip and your finger tips hurt. Well, honestly there is no way to get around it except practice, practice, practice. Believe me, it will get easier.
I recommend starting with some easy chords. For instance, E minor or A major. These are simple chords that are easy to play. Never start with C major or B minor 7!
As an instructor I know that learning and practicing two chords is really boring. However, keep in mind, you need to get your fingers to do something they have never done before. Challenge yourself: Can you play the chords correctly? If you had your hand on your lap and I said, Play G!, could you play it?
The important thing to remember here is, just because you can play a chord or a scale, does not mean you can apply it. Master what you learn, then move on.
One important thing I would like to mention about practicing. If you are not in the mood or have no ambition, do not force it. Even I sometimes get that way where I would rather do something else. If you force something, you will not enjoy it.
There is plenty of material on the Internet or your local book store to help you out. Use it all! Hang out with guitarist above your level. Believe me, we all like to talk and show others what we know.
Listen to your body. If it hurts, stop playing. Lastly, sit up straight!
Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me anytime!