Guitar For Beginners – The Basics
Starting to learn guitar can be fun although it can seem quite a daunting task to begin with. I decided I wanted to learn guitar when I was about 13. That was many, many years ago now and it was a wonderful feeling.
I couldn’t get much out of it but it was still fun. Since then I have taught many people to learn how to play guitar and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The last person I taught was my son. He was an outstanding student and his band eventually played the Arena, at the NEC in Birmingham, Uk in the National Youth Rock Band Festival.
Firstly we should consider the type of guitar and particularly the neck width and the strings.The most challenging part of learning to play guitar is being able to get enough pressure with your fingers on the fretboard to hold the strings down enough to get a clear note, rather than a buzzing, twanging sound.
So often I see a person trying to learn on a guitar with quite a broad neck and with heavy gauge strings. In that case you need very strong fingers and a broad grip with long fingers. Get yourself a guitar that you can comfortanly get your hand around.
Don’t worry about trying out several in a guitar shop. It is expected and in fact, it is part of the culture of buying a guitar. Also, don’t worry about price. An expensive guitar is no guarantee that it will be the right one for you. When you first learn how to play the guitar, you don’t really appreciate the subtle differences between a $100 guitar or a $1000 gibson guitar.
I have found Yamaha to be a good accoustic manufacturer. They have a lovely, strong, mellow sound and a good action (the way in which the strings press against the fretboard). Also, the strings should be as close to the fretboard as possible, which is usually the case with Yamaha. This one factor alone will make it easier to play guitar than almost any other.
The lightweight, soft feel of nylon strings on a classical guitar are often good for a beginner, especially girls or people with short fingers and it is much easier to learn guitar if the strings are easy to hold down!
Next, you have to learn to get a few notes out of your guitar. At this stage, don’t worry about musical competence. Just keep trying until you get clear notes from your guitar and keep working hard to learn guitar skills. After all, no one said that to guitar for beginners would be a piece of cake!
Chords should be simple. Start with G, E, C and D. Then go on to Em and Am and then you will have the chords that you need for most things you want to play. Once you have got the hang of the basic chord positions you will have taken the biggest step forward if you are to successfully master guitar for beginners.
If you are going to learn guitar it would be a good idea for you to keep all the above points in mind:
And then there are all the questions that need answering:
Guitar For Beginners: FAQ
Q. How do you tune a guitar?
A. There are several methods when you learn how to play guitar. The traditional method which is still the most common with those who play guitar regularly is by playing the first string (E) at the 5th fret and tuning the second string (A) to that note. You then do the same with the 2nd and 3rd strings, then with the 3rd and 4th strings. (So far you have tuned E, A, D, G). On the 4th string you hold down at the 4th fret and tune the 5th string (B) to this and finally you hold the 5th string down at the 5th fret again and tune the last string to this note. Now you have learned the basic method of tuning as part of the essential guitar for beginners.
Q. What about other methods?
A. You can buy pitch pipes. These are either metal or the less expensive plastic type. There are 6 little pipes in a block and each one plays a different note: E, A, D, G, B, E. They are a great portable way to tune for anyone who wants to learn guitar. Also,you can buy a range of electronic tuning devices or if you have another instrument, such as a keyboard or piano, you can play the note and tune your guitar to it.
Q. Once I have mastered the chord positions, what techniques should I use to play the chords?
A. You have 2 basic methods. Strumming or picking. Strumming is where you ‘stroke’ the strings upwards and downwards and picking is where you play each note individually with the middle 3 fingers, while the thumb plays a sort of baseline. Picking is very similar to scratching yourself, except that our fingers are ‘scratching the strings’! When you first learn how to play the guitar the tendency is to strum downwards only, which is fine at first, but as you develop and learn how to play the guitar more competently, you should work hard to develop the upstroke also, meaning that you strum down AND up.
You have to remember though, if you are going to be successful at learning how to play guitar, that ou don’t always play ALL the strings. For G and E you play all 6 strings. For C you play just the bottom 5 strings and for D you just play the bottom 4 strings. This is important if you are going to learn how to play the guitar successfully. If you don’t play the correct strings, the chords won’t sound right
Q. Why do the notes sound dull and make a sort of buzzing sound when I play them?
A. Because you aren’t holding the string down correctly. Either you are not putting enough pressure on the string which could mean your grip on the neck isn’t right (try shifting your hand round more) or you are not pressing the string down in the middle of the fret and are too near to the fret bar. When you learn to play guitar, this part is a matter of practise. Once you have practised enough you will be able to play guitar more successfully.
Q. Are there any accessories I can buy to help me add variety?
A. Well, with guitar for beginners, the first thing is to get to grips with the basics. However, there are one or two extras that might interest the person who is learning to play guitar. Firstly there is the plectrum. A plectrum can be quite a helpful item for the person who wants to play guitar. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours as well as materials. The most common are made from nylon or plastic and some are sort of tear shaped whilst others are more triangular. When you are learning how to play guitar, though, a plectrum gives you the option of making the sound that you get from your guitar quite different.
Also, the plectrum takes some of the strain from the strumming fingers and makes it easier in the early days when you first learn how to play the guitar. Getting the right hand action and using the finger nails and thumb nail is a technique that can be tricky, at first, so a plectrum makes strumming easier when you first learn guitar. Besides, they look really cool, too!
A Capo is another device favoured by many guitarists, new or not so new. A Capo is a D shaped clip that fits around the neck and shortens the length of the strings and so, the chords you play are higher. For the person who is learning how to play the guitar and sing at the same time, a Capo helps you to play chords in the jey that you prefer. When you learn to play guitar, you generally want to focus on how to play guitar and not have to worry about changing the chords you are using in order to find the right key. So A Capo can be invaluable when you first learn guitar.