Beginning Guitar. Part 1: Learning The Ropes Or Strings

Just picked up a guitar, strumming around, not sure what to do? This guide will teach you the fundamentals of guitar, and in no time, you'll be the loud one at all the parties.

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0. Introduction

Hey, so I know my last article didn't go all that great, but I don't feel like taking it down. Instead, I have decided to make a much better article, that should explain everything you need to know about the fundamentals of guitar. This guide is for beginning players only. More intermediate players, and advanced players, I'd definitely go looking for some other guides. Now let's begin.

1. Learning The Ropes (or strings)

So, you just started guitar, and are wondering to yourself "Man, how do I make sound with this thing?" Well, it is simple. strum or pick the strings with the pick, or fingers. We are going to have to learn what strings are called, and what their names are. The Guitar counts the strings from thinnest to fattest. So, that said, the string farthest from you is the first string. Counting up to the closest one, the strings go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Remember that, they count up heading towards you. Got it? Good. Those strings can be called those for now, but really those strings are notes. Those notes are as follows. String 1 is E, String 2 is B, String 3 is G, String 4 is D, String 5 is A, and string 6 is E. These notes don't makes any specific chord, but they make it easier to make chords. So let's see if you have it down. The strings going toward you go as follows. String 1, or E String 2, or B String 3, or G String 4, or D String 5, or A String 6, or E Remeber those now, memorise them, as this will help you learn how to play scales and chords later.

2. The Definition Of A Chord

Any time you hear guitar in a song, it is using a chord or notes in a scale that are part of a certain chord. Chords are usually used in what is called a progression, or the way the chords are used in a song. Learning chords is a crucial part of learning how to play lead, or rhythm guitar later on. So, the definition of a chord is 3 or more notes that combine to make a desired sound. For example, you can use your finger to pick the 1st, 2nd, and 6th strings in unison. This makes an E5 chord, as you have the root note (E) and the 5th note (B). The way you can tell what a note is for 5ths and 4ths and all that, is to check which natural note comes next. For E, it would go E, F, G, A, B see. or you could say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. that 5th note, or B, is what combines with the E note to make the 5th chord. Now, you may notice "But wait, You said 3 notes, but two of those notes are E. How does that work." So, what is going on here is that there are more than one of each note on a guitar. There are what you call multiple "octaves" on the guitar. An octave is when you have a note, and the same note, but a higher or lower version. The E5 chord I was talking about is E3, or that 6th string, playing together with B4 (2nd string) and E5 (1st string) So, that means there are several ways to make an E5 Chord. All you need is to find those E and B notes, and have 3 different notes E, B, and E again. That brings me to part 3 of this lesson.

3. Finding Notes And Playing 5th Chords

So, we just went over how to play a natural 5th chord. Now we get to the fun part of this lesson, playing the guitar. Playing Guitar isn't all as hard as it is cracked up to be, or at least being able to play chords. Basic chords are the 3 following things. - Easy to Learn - Easy to Play - Fun to Play. Once you learn chords, you don't have to learn more to play some songs, whereas some songs take much, much more to learn how to play them. But lets learn how to find a note first. So on the guitar, there are 11 different notes, all spread out across the frets in the different octaves. I will show you what note is which on the Low E String. The low E string, or E3, is your 6th string. E|-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-| Those notes, in order are E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, D, D#, and back to E. Notice how there are notes with a numerical sign after them. That is the sign used to determine a "sharp" note. A sharp note is between two natural notes. For finding the 5th of a sharp, you find the next 5th natural note, then turn it into a sharp. For a point of reference, E# and B# are not notes. They are simply F, and C, respectively, so when you are talking about the notes above E, and B... Don't say E#, and B#. Say F, and C. On every string this is how things work. On A string, they go up Alphabetically until you reach that A octave note on the 12th Fret. Another point of reference, 12 frets difference in a note is an octave. So now, how do we fiind those 5th chords again, you find the natural 5th note counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in the Musical alphabet of A, B, C, D, E, F, G until you get the 5th one. An octave note is necessary for it to be called a chord, but not necessary to get the right sound. All you really need is the 5th and the root. Here are power chords on the E, and A, or (6th) and (5th) strings.
E (1)|--------------------------------
B (2)|--------------------------------
G (3)|--------------------------------
D (4)|--------------------------------
A (5)|-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-
E (6)|-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8--9--10-11-12-
Now you don't call those notes, you call them power chords. Power chords are some of the easiest to form chords. They are good to learn, and fun to use but don't always produce the desired sound. Power chords generally provide the best sound used on the E, A, D, and G strings. Up higher on the fret board, in octaves, they can provide some cool sounds if you slide down the neck with them. But they don't always produce the desired sound, which brings me to the final part of this lesson.

4. Open Major And Minor Chords

There are two ways to play Major and Minor variants on chords. Open, and Barred. I am going to be showing you the easier of the two ways in this lesson, the open way. But don't worry, I'll go over Barre chords in my next lesson. Open chords provide an easy place for a beginner to start. First I'll show you the tablature for Most of the common open chord positions, then I will tell you the notes, and how you can combine them into a song.
   Em   E   Am   A    G    G    C     D    Dm  
E|-0----0---0----0----3-OR-3----0-----2----1----------------------
B|-0----0---1----2----0-OR-3----1-----3----3----------------------
G|-0----1---2----2----0-OR-0----0-----2----2----------------------
D|-2----2---2----2----0-OR-0----2-----0----0----------------------
A|-2----2---0----0----2-OR-2----3---------------------------------
E|-0----0-------------3-OR-3--------------------------------------
Those in the tablature above are basic open chord positions. Those can be used in happy, or sad songs. Many times, a common theme for new guitarists is that Major chords, (Chords WITHOUT the m at the end) tend to be used in more happy melodies and progressions, where as Minor chords (Chords WITH the m on the end) tend to be used in sadder songs and progressions. For future reference, I showed you two different ways to play the open G chord. The first one in the tablature is often considered easier to play, but learning both is good, the second one provides closer to the Barre chord sound, while remaining an open chord, good to learn both for song riffs. A progression is how the Chords are layed out in the song. Many progressions are fairly easy, and invole The 1st, 4th, and 5th Notes of the Key you are in, but also can use 2nd in some other common ways. Remember what I told you earlier about finding those 5th notes for 5th (power) chords. While, you do the exact same thing to find the chords that are 2, 4, and 5. Don't be afraid to throw a minor chord in there also. Here are a few ways to play progressions to get you started, then I will show you the tablature of them in certain keys.
1, 4, 5.
1, 5, 4. (The "Common" progression"
5, 1, 2. (The "Punk" progression)
1, 2, 4.
1, 2, 5.
So. Those are easy ways to play progressions. They can be easier for you to play in 5ths, Here are ways to play them in open Chord positions. Play 5ths if they are easier. Remember, find the root note, then find the 5th note and play them at the same time for fifths. 1, 4, 5. In the Key of G (Chords G, C, and D)
E|-3--0--2------------------------
B|-0--1--3------------------------
G|-0--0--2------------------------
D|-0--2--0------------------------
A|-2--3---------------------------
E|-3------------------------------
1, 5, 4 In the Key of A (Chords A, D, and E)
E|-0--2--0------------------------
B|-2--3--0------------------------
G|-2--2--1------------------------
D|-2--0--2------------------------
A|-0-----2------------------------
E|-------0------------------------
5, 1, 2 In the Key of D (Chords G, D, and E)
E|-3--2--0------------------------
B|-0--3--0------------------------
G|-0--2--1------------------------
D|-0--0--2------------------------
A|-2-----2------------------------
E|-3-----0------------------------
1, 2, 4 In the Key of G (Chords G, A, and C) (If you want, play Am for a more depressing or dark sound.)
E|-3--0--0------------------------
B|-0--2--1------------------------
G|-0--2--0------------------------
D|-0--2--2------------------------
A|-2--0--3------------------------
E|-3------------------------------
1, 2, 5 In the Key of D (Chords D, E, and G) (If you want, play Em for a more depressing or dark sound.)
E|-2--0--3------------------------
B|-3--0--0------------------------
G|-2--1--0------------------------
D|-0--2--0------------------------
A|----2--2------------------------
E|----0--3------------------------
So, I know this might not be the best guide, and I am not a very organized person. But I am trying hard to help beginning guitarists learn to like the instrument. If you like this lesson, or hate this lesson, Rate it, and leave a comment. I always accept criticism. I hope this lesson is much more helpful than my previous really bad lesson. If you like it, then subscribe, as (Pt. 2: Barre Chords, and Scales) is coming soon. Hopefully you enjoyed this lesson. Thanks, Comment and Rate.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    drying out
    pigeonmafia wrote: Wrong. Sometimes in a scale you have E# and B#, because the scale already has an F# or a C#. You can only use each letter once.
    hahaha gimme a break! says who? your 86 year old music teacher?
    pigeonmafia
    I did. I can use notes in a row that are not from a certain chord. You can make a melody that uses notes from a certain chord, you can make a melody that is literaly just the notes from a chord in a sequence (1-3-5-1-3-5 etc etc), but you can also make a melody that is neither of these. Notes used do not have to come from a chord, which is why I was pointing out that section as incorrect
    sfaune92
    pigeonmafia wrote: 'Any time you hear guitar in a song, it is using a chord or notes in a scale that are part of a certain chord' No, lead lines do not have to form a chord with the notes used. They can, then they are called arpegios. 'For a point of reference, E# and B# are not notes. They are simply F, and C, respectively, so when you are talking about the notes above E, and B... Don't say E#, and B#. Say F, and C.' Wrong. Sometimes in a scale you have E# and B#, because the scale already has an F# or a C#. You can only use each letter once.
    Read before you rant
    DeanRedneck
    drying out wrote: pigeonmafia wrote: Wrong. Sometimes in a scale you have E# and B#, because the scale already has an F# or a C#. You can only use each letter once. hahaha gimme a break! says who? your 86 year old music teacher?
    says everyone who knows music theory. try to write a key signature for F#. you have to use the E# because you can't notate both f and f# at the same time, but i'm assuming you can't read sheet music
    gbubguitar107
    Guys, Guys... Stop arguing. The reason I said that was for beginners who are learining guitar, It is usually easier for them to remember just F, and C... not E#, and B#. Seeing as how most beginners are usually not playing barre chords at first anyways, and they are playing fifths, It is usually easier for people to say F5, instead of E#5, or Fbb5... or whatever else you could say... Thanks for comments though. I appreciate that you guys know what you know about music theory.
    satovey
    Maybe those who are arguing over what notes are in a scale need to look at a piano. It's keys runs as follows: Beginning with C: C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B and back to C to complete the octave. Regardless of what key you play in, the names of those keys remain the same; they do not change. Those note names apply to every instrument that is made today. If you wish to change it, then build yourself a time machine, go back in history and change it. Until you do so, stop saying things that have not benefit but to confuse those people who are beginning to learn music.
    pigeonmafia
    I havent done any music courses. Now that's out the way, it is what it is. It doesn't matter what you want it to be, or even if it's easier for you to say: the rules are the rules for naming notes. Yes, it may only be used for writing sheet music, but if you're going to go far enough that you talk about eharmonics, you have still have to teach what's correct.
    hunta7989
    blah blah blah diatonic motion blah blah blah... just because they make you say e# and c# and double sharps and double flats and all that in college doesn't mean its the easiest way, or the best way. The only time it really really honestly matters is when you are writing music, like sheet music. Because they use key signatures and the circle of fifths and all that jazz. But i mean honestly if you as a musician have to say e# when you are in the key of d# major and then revert it back to f when your in the key of Eb major then your freakin nuts man lol
    gbubguitar107
    Thank you guys for the comments, I honestly can't tell whether they are rants, or constructive criticism, but I hope this lesson offers what I intended it to, an easy music lesson for beginners... Again, Thanks for the comments, really appreciate it.
    pigeonmafia
    Well obviously double flats/sharps etc are a bit much lol, but making them aware that C is the same as a B# is better than saying a B# doesn't exist, and then saying later on actualy that's a lie here's what it actualy is. Everyone I've taught, I've presented the chromatic scale as A - A#/Bb - B/Cb - B#/C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E/Fb - E#/F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab and they've accepted it fine. Gets them ready for using eharmonics in theory later on.
    hunta7989
    you have a point, it is what it is. but i feel as though learning a C as a C as a beginner is better then telling them that this fret on this string is a C, Dbb,or a B# and such.
    pigeonmafia
    'Any time you hear guitar in a song, it is using a chord or notes in a scale that are part of a certain chord' No, lead lines do not have to form a chord with the notes used. They can, then they are called arpegios. 'For a point of reference, E# and B# are not notes. They are simply F, and C, respectively, so when you are talking about the notes above E, and B... Don't say E#, and B#. Say F, and C.' Wrong. Sometimes in a scale you have E# and B#, because the scale already has an F# or a C#. You can only use each letter once.