I’ll be adding some free lesson materials over the next few days. Please download them. Print them. Whatever you want to do with them. Lets use this period of isolation and inevitable Lock Down to do something positive.
1. The Guitar Strings
About as basic as it gets this one. Each String is tuned to a note. That note becomes the ‘name’ of the string. The thickest string is called The Bottom E String or 6th String. We then go through A String – 5th String, D String – 4th String, G String (chuckle) – 3rd String, B String – 2nd String and finally The Top e String – 1st String. I always try and write my top e string in lowercase. The thinnest string/lowercase e.
2. Anatomy of The Guitar
Another very simple subject. What all the parts on the guitar are called. You don’t need to sit and memorise these like we used to do with times tables. It’s just useful to have sitting around for reference. There’s an Electric and an Acoustic version.
3. Knowing your Fretboard
By now you should have become familiar with the String names. You can now start to learn where the notes occur along the fretboard. This isn’t essential for learning how to play guitar. It is however good practise and you should just do it! The musical ‘alphabet’ runs from A through to G. We also have Sharps and Flats – these are the black keys on a piano/keyboard. On this sheet we are just concentrating on where the main notes are. So we are talking A, B, C, D, E, F & G. For now…
Ok. We’ve gone through some really basic stuff now. If I’m being honest, which I am, you don’t really need those first 3 sections to get playing. What you really need are some chords!
I’m not even going to bore you with a ‘text book’ definition of what Chords are. All you need to know is when you listen to music the chords form the basis of the song. Typically you would have a guitar, piano or keyboard playing chords. You might then have some drums adding a rhythm and a bass adding some notes to beef up the rhythm section. The vocals then go over the top and voila, you’ve got music. So Chords are fundamental to learning guitar. Unless all you want to do is play guitar solo’s?
I think what I will probably do is record a short video clip on playing chords but for now I’ll just explain the First Chords Sheet.
Playing The Chords
Each box on the sheet is known as a Chord Diagram. There are 12 in total. Think of each Chord Diagram as a little map. The 6 vertical lines are the guitar strings. The 4 horizontal lines are The Nut(thick black at the top) and then 3 frets. The grey circles are where you will place your fingers. The numbers are which fingers you should use. Numbered 1 through 4 starting with your index/pointing/nose picking finger which is number 1 to your little/pinky finger which is 4.
Above each chord is the name of that particular chord. Basically Majors sound bright/happy, minors sound sad and grey and the dominant 7’s to me sound bluesy. However they sound to you is how you will recognise them. Playing guitar can be quite difficult. Getting chords sounding right is the first major hurdle you face as a guitarist. Stick at them! Try and place your fingers in to position. Try not to catch any strings you shouldn’t be touching. Strum the chord and also play down each string individually – this will help you to identify any duff notes!
One final piece of information on the chords sheet. Above the thick black horizontal line (The Nut) you will see some O’s and some X’s. These tell us which strings to play and which ones to miss. Taking E Major as an example we have 3 O’s. One on the Bottom E or 6th String, one on the B or 2nd String and finally one on the Top E or 1st String. These are telling us that we are playing those strings Open. We are playing those strings without pressing down on a fret. So for the 3 E chords (E Major, E minor & E dominant 7) we are playing all 6 strings. Now when we get an X that simply means Do Not Play That String.