This is a very basic guide for beginners who want to learn how to play guitar. It is best to get music lessons if you wish to excel and play like a pro, but this simple guide can help you understand the basics of the guitar and may be even learn to play a few songs on your own.
Here are some easy ways to play the guitar in 9 steps:
1. Understand the parts of the guitar
We have explained the parts of the guitar diagrammatically. There are different types of guitars like nylon string, electric or steel string acoustic. However, the basic parts are the same for all types.
2. Invest in guitar tools
To learn how to play the guitar, you must first invest in some basic tools. The guitar pick and electronic tuners are two tools that you will need to purchase. Buy a hard pick having 1mm thickness. Guitar tuners help you tune the guitar easily and most come with a microphone to pick up the sound of the note. You can also get clip on tuners to attach to the headstock of the guitar. Beginners must use electric tuners as it is the easiest way to tune the guitar.
Other miscellaneous accessories for learning the guitar are a foot stool and guitar strap-the latter helps you lay the guitar standing up. You could also invest in a metronome.
3. Understanding musical notes
This is the most important aspect of learning the guitar and pretty much all other musical instruments. Musical alphabets are designated as A B C D E F and G which are repeated starting from A in higher pitch. The 6 guitar strings conform to the 6 musical notes –the 6th being closest to ceiling and thickets while the first being thinnest and closest to the floor. To ease confusion, and to learn the guitar strings easily, we use the following notations:
- Eddy 5. Ate 4. Dynamite 3. Good 2. Bye 1. Eddy
4. Tune the guitar
As already stated, you must use electric tuner as it is the easiest way to tune the guitar. Pluck the string and let the tuner pick the note being played. You will accordingly need to tighten or loosen the string until the needle on the display comes to the central position. Make sure the note and the string is exactly coordinated as it is very easy to mistaken G for G# (which is one note above G) if you are not keeping an eye on the tuner. Once you have practiced long enough, you can also start tuning the guitar by just listening to the notes.
Here is a great tutorial on guitar tuning for beginners.
5. Placing the fingers with guitar tab
The guitar tab is a system used by guitarists to learn the positions where to place the fingers on the Fret board. Guitar Tab is short for tablature. It is a like a music reading system which shows guitarists where to place the fingers to play a chord or melody. You need to learn to use Guitar tab in coordination with standard music notations. (We will not be explaining music notation in this guide, but you can readily learn it here.) It is essential you get the basics of music notation since it will help you advance in your playing and also enhance your knowledge of music.
6. Positioning the guitar and finger numbers
Next, you must learn how to position the guitar:
- Sit in a comfortable chair, upright.
- Raise the guitar neck slightly.
- You can use a footstool to raise your knee a bit and place the guitar body on it.
- In the classical position, place the guitar on the left side of your neck in between the legs and in the contemporary position; place the guitar on the right side of the body.
- You can also play standing up by using a strap to hold the guitar in place. Make sure not to hold the guitar too low as that could make strumming more difficult –a good position is anywhere between the waist and chest.
- The left hand is the fretting hand. Keep the wrist of this hand straight and the thumb pointing upwards. For some chords, the thumb will need to be behind the guitar neck.
- Never point the thumb sideways towards the headstock as this position is very limiting.
- Practice these good habits so as to avoid problems later.
Finger numbers- the left hand fingers (strumming hand) are numbered 1 to 4 starting from the forefinger. So- your little finger is finger No.4. Here is the diagram explaining this.
To hold the guitar pick-Make a fist of your right hand (the picking hand)and place the pick on the first joint of the forefinger. Next lower the thumb on the top of the pick. Use a firm grip.
7. Practice daily
Develop a daily practice and commit to playing every day-morning or evening. The following easy tips can come in handy when learning how to play the guitar:
- Keep a log of your practice
- Do not wait for motivation-just play. You can use online guitar lessons or get a friend to help.
- Learn to read music so you can play by yourself.
- Find a place where no one is disturbed.
- Practice deliberately and especially practice on what you are not good at. Make sure to practice until you become 100% good at that piece.
- Listen to your favorite CDs to understand how the experts play.
- Stay motivated by going to concerts or gigs.
- Be patient. Even if you do not see results.
8. Perform picking exercises
Picking exercises of different types can help you improve your grip and also make you understand the notes. They also improve accuracy of playing and increase speed. These exercises also help you get more comfortable using the pick. Later on, you can master finger picking instead of using the pick.
- Outside picking- Start on the 6th and 5th strings (pick DOWN on 6th and UP on 5th). Then move on to the 5th and 4th strings and so on.
- Inside picking-UP on 6th and DOWN on 5th and so on.
- Double Down picking-DOWN on both 6th and 5th strings.
9. Learn A D and E major
These will help you play many great songs.
Here are chord diagrams for A D and E major.
There are many more techniques and tips needed to play the guitar. We hope these 9 steps help you get started on the basics.