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Hopefully, 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. Open your picking hand, and turn the palm to face you.Close your hand to make a very loose fist. Your thumb should remain beside your index finger.
Rotate your hand until you are looking at it’s profile, with your thumb’s knuckle facing you.With your other hand, slide your guitar pick between your thumb and index finger. The pick should be approximately located behind the knuckle of the thumb. Be sure the pointed end of the pick is pointing directly away from your fist, and is protruding by about a half an inch. Hold the pick firmly. Position your picking hand over the soundhole of your acoustic guitar, or over the body of your electric guitar. Your picking hand, with thumb knuckle still facing you, should hover over the strings. Do not rest your picking hand on the strings or body of the guitar.
Using your wrist for motion (rather than your entire arm), strike the sixth (lowest) string of your guitar in a downward motion. If the string rattles excessively, try striking the string a bit softer, or with less of the pick surface. Now, pick the sixth string in an upwards motion. Repeat the process several times. Try and minimize motion in your picking hand: one short picking stroke downwards, then one short picking stroke upwards. This process is referred to as “alternate picking”. Try the same exercise on the fifth, fourth, third, second, and first strings.
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.
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Now 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 labeled as “T”, the index finger is the “first finger”, the middle finger is the “second finger”, and so on.
The Chromatic scale
Hear the chromatic scale (mp3 format)
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.
When playing a note, place your finger at the “top of fret” (the area of the fret farthest away from the headstock). This will produce a clearer sound.Try to use alternate picking while attempting this exercise. If this is overwhelming, try using only downstrokes with your pick, but learn properly once you’ve gotten used to the scale.Once you’ve finished the scale, try playing the scale backwards, by starting at the first string, fourth fret, and playing all notes in exactly the reverse order.
One question I often get asked is, where do I get guitar lessons?
When I started out to learn to play the guitar I had to primarily teach myself how to play and figure out where I could get guitar lessons.
However I was lucky in the fact that my dad could play and he taught me some of the basic chords to get me started and I went from there.
So what I did was listen to records of some of the guitar players and bands that I wanted to play like, and I would try to imitate what they were playing on their guitars.
Now this is not an easy way to learn to play the guitar, you can’t see what they are playing or what chords they are using. When i started you could go the music store and buy some guitar lesson books to get you started, however they were hard to understand and slow to work with.
So when I’m asked where do I get guitar lessons? Here are some of your options. You can get books from the music store, or you can take lessons at your music store,or you can hire a private teacher. However I feel one of the best ways to get started today is to learn from video lessons.
With video you will not only learn your guitar lessons but you will be able to see what your teacher is playing and how they are doing it so you can play along.
Here are some benefits of using video to learn to play the guitar.
1. Learn from home
2. Learn at you own pace
3. Actually see whats being played
4. See the finger positions of the chords
5. Hear whats being played
6. Pause the lesson
7. Replay your lessons as often as you want
8. You will become a better guitar player
9. You will learn in less time
10.You will be able to jam along with some of your favourite tunes faster than you think.
So, were do I get guitar lessons?
Well you can search the Internet for a good video training course just beware their are lot’s of poor courses that only teach the basics and are hard to learn.
Here is one high quality course that I highly recommend, they use pro guitar players and teachers,they offer free lessons, and you will learn to play the guitar the proper way form the beginning. Take a few minutes and read all about this course.
David has been playing guitar in a professional band for over 30 years, He owns his own home recording studio and recently released a new C.D. and is currently working on his next C.D. release for next year. He also spent a few years teaching guitar at his local music store.
You are invited to practice these exercises in parallel to the other lessons, practicing on average one exercise per week.
DEFINITION: To “bar” means to press several strings, on a single fret, with only one finger. In these exercises, barre chords will always be indicated by the letter C followed by a Roman numeral to indicate the fret where the “bar” occurs (example: C III represents a bar on the 3rd fret). Please note that all “bars” will be done by the forefinger of the left hand.
If after your first attempts, the sonority of your barre chord is not clear, or is even non-existent, try to correct it as follows:
play as close as possible to the fret use other fingers of the left hand to strengthen your thumb-forefinger grip (for instance, by pressing the middle finger on top of the forefinger)move your forefinger, from top to bottom, in the fret where you press it to obtain a clearer sound.
These exercises are graded by order of difficulty. Start with the first exercise and do not pass onto the next one until you play it correctly (sound, rhythm, etc.). The mastering of the barre chord requires a little perseverance: practice well, but don’t give up!
EXERCISE: Link the barre chord on the 2nd fret with the open string arpeggio. The sequence must be played in a steady beat! This exercise, like the others, must be practiced for one week. It is only at the end of this period that it will start to yield results.
THEORY:The eighth notes (straight by definition) divide time into two equal parts, i.e. you play two notes, of EQUAL duration, per beat.The shuffle eighth notes divide time into three equal parts. The first note occupies the first two thirds and the second note occupies the last third. See figure I.
Here are two popular songs. One uses straight eighth notes (Are you sleeping brother John?), wheras the other uses shuffle eighth notes (My Bonnie is over the ocean.). See figure II.
Before you start playing your guitar, you have to tune it. After all, it’s quite impossible to make music with an untuned instrument. In addition, do not hesitate to check the tuning of your guitar if what you play sounds strange.
Tuning your guitar is extremely important. It is rather depressing to play with an untuned guitar. For in this case, even the most beautiful pieces are unpleasant to hear. On the contrary, it is a real pleasure to play on a well tuned instrument. There are several ways to tune your guitar, we will study three of them.
For a beginner it is the best method by far, for the two others require a little practice. It is thus, the one I recommend most, especially since a tuner is not expensive… On the tuner, choose the string you want to tune (note that some tuners make the selection themselves). Then, check on the tuner if the note is too low (the indicator moves to the left) or too high (the indicator moves to the right). The perfect tuning is reached when the indicator stays in the middle, on the zero (see figure I).
Tune the A string using the tuning fork, then check the other strings by comparing them two by two (play the frets indicated on figure II).NOTE: you can hold the tuning fork between your teeth, at the point indicated by the arrow, then strike its branches by flicking it. The vibration will be transmitted to your ears via the jaw bones, and you will hear the sound in your head!
Pick up your phone, using the dialing tone tune the A string, then check the other strings by comparing them two by two (see figure III).
Playing with the fingers of the right hand supplements the pick technique. It gives the song a softer sound and makes it possible to chain chord progressions more easily using arpeggios. This technique will eventually allow you to play the melody and bass simultaneously (not approached in this volume, see volumes II and III of this guitar course).
NOTE: Playing with the thumb, forefinger, middle and third fingers may seem easier to you or, on the contrary, more difficult than with a pick. This is actually quite normal, certain people feel more comfortable with one technique than with the other.
Exercises # 2 & 3: the arpeggio is identical except that the thumb of the right hand plays either on the second low string (A) or on the third string (D). The playing instructions are identical to those in exercise 1.
Exercises # 4, 5 & 6 are played with only three fingers (the thumb, forefinger and middle finger of the right hand), the left hand still does not play. They will prepare you for the “Anatole” with arpeggios in the following lesson of “How to play the guitar – Volume I”.
Here’s where we take the next big step in our progress as a guitarist… learning about a shape of chord referred to as a “barre chord”. The technique of playing barre chords is one which we have utilized when playing the F major chord – using one finger to hold down more than one note.
The B minor shape We’re going to put your first finger to work on this chord. Your first finger has the job of covering the second fret, from the fifth to first strings (we don’t play the sixth string). Next, put your third finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string. Then, add your fourth pinky finger to the fourth fret of the third string. Lastly, place your second finger on the third fret of the second string. Got it? Now, strum the chord, and try not to get upset when most of the notes don’t ring clearly.
This is a tough chord at first, no doubt about it! You’re going to have to have patience, it WILL sound good soon, but it’s going to take some work. Here are some tips that will help you: Very slightly bend your first finger. A straight and rigid finger is not what we’re looking for. Roll the finger back slightly, so that more of the side of the index finger closest to the thumb is in contact with the strings. Try slightly pulling the body of the guitar towards your body, using the arm of your picking hand. Also gently pull the neck towards you with your fretting hand. This makes fretting barre chords somewhat easier.
One of the greatest things about the B minor chord shape is that it is a “movable chord”. This means that, unlike the chords we’ve learned so far, we can slide the same shape around to different frets to create different minor chords. The note we’re interested in is the note on the fifth string. Whatever note your finger is playing on the fifth string is the type of minor chord it is. If you were to slide the chord up the neck, so that your first finger was at the fifth fret, you’d be playing a D minor chord, since the note on the fifth fret of the fifth string is D. THIS is why learning the note names on the sixth and fifth strings are so important. We’ll be getting into different movable chords in the next lesson.
Hold the shape of the B minor chord, and play strings one at a time. Correct any notes that aren’t ringing clearly. Try moving from other chords to a B minor chord, then back to other chords. This will be a slow and difficult process at first. Keep trying! Try playing different minor chords by moving the B minor shape around to different frets (eg. try playing C# minor, F minor, G minor, Bb minor, etc.) Do NOT play the sixth string when playing a B minor chord. Pay careful attention to this.
Knowing most of the basics about a guitar will make learning how to play the guitar easier; the basic parts are the headstock, the nut, the neck, the body, the sound hole, the bridge, the strings and the keys. Most of these parts are pretty self explanatory; the strings run from the bridge over the sound hole, up the neck, are secured by the nut, and attached to the tuning keys to achieve the desired sounds.
The next difference is between the types of guitar, there are several, however most novice guitar players would only be concerned with the two very basic types, the acoustic and electric. Which someone would decide to learn guitar songs on, would depend on which type of music that person wanted to play; if the kind of music a person likes is played with mainly an electric guitar, the logical choice would be an electric guitar, or the same would be true with an acoustic.
Learning Guitar Songs: Pieces of a Song
Just like the guitars themselves, learning guitar songs, requires one to learn at least the very basic parts of a song; there are two ways to read music from a song, in the form of sheet music and in the form of tablature. Something a beginning guitar player can expect to learn is the three chords G, C, and D first. These are some of the most frequently used chords in learning guitar songs; and in formal lessons these are usually the first chords taught.
Trying Out a Few Songs
When someone is first learning chords and their way around a guitar, learning guitar songs can seem impossible; but once a player has mastered the three basic chords mentioned above there are actually several songs that exclusively use these chords, especially from the 1960′s or 1970′s. Trying to play songs can keep a new player interested in the instrument, although beginners likely won’t be able to change chords fast enough to make it sound quite right, just being able to get down the general idea can instill confidence in a student.
The old saying practice makes perfect holds true with any instrument; for the guitar, besides remembering the position of the chords, one must also practice strumming, rhythm, changing chords, and how to recognize the correct sounds the guitars are supposed to make. Achieving a strumming rhythm is just as important as learning the chords, when learning to play guitar songs.
Choosing a Method of Instruction
A person makes the best teacher, they would be experienced and able to give constructive criticism, and be an active participant in the guitar song learning process. A close second for learning guitar songs are DVD instructional programs, these allow the student to watch and listen as if there were an actual instructor present. Also the DVD systems, allow the person learn at their own pace.
The next best method of learning is through a CD system; these systems may not have video instruction, but will often have good illustrations that are simple to follow. The least constructive, yet still somewhat effective method of learning is over the internet; learning over the internet is virtually the same as CDs, with the exception of an online teacher may have a forum, and some music or video clips, as a point of reference. The major downfall to learning guitar songs over the internet is that one must practice in front of their computer.