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Joined: 14 Feb 2008
United States
Lessons: 3
Licks: 2
Karma: 11

Total Beginner

by les_paul

11 Jun 2008
Views: 9308

First off let me say this is a lesson for a total beginner with no idea were to start. So I will go over some basics like how to read Tablature, how to strum and play chords, and some simple beginner finger exercises.

I will start with Tablature:

Tablature or "Tab" is a form of written music that shows you where to put your fingers on the fret board. For example:



E-----3------||
B-----0------||
G-----0------||
D-----0------||
A-----2------||
E-----3------||


As you can see each line has a letter to the left of it that represents a string. The bottom line being the low E or the "fat" string, and each line above it represents a different string up to the high E string. My biggest problem with tab when I first started was I always tried to read it upside down. Just remember the bottom line represents the "Low E" or "fat" string.

Notice the numbers, they represent the fret that is to be played on that string. For example this is a tab of a G major chord. To play this tab you would put tour middle finger on the 3rd fret of the "Low E" or "fat" string, your pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the "A" string, and your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the "High E" string. ( Note: The numbers on the tab have nothing to do with what fingers you use, they just represent the fret that is to be played. I was only giving the correct fingering for the "G major" chord simply because that is what is shown in the example)

Now that you understand how to read tab I will move on to chords.


Here are the major chords:



E-----0-----||-----2-----||-----0-----||-----2-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||
B-----2-----||-----4-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----0-----||
G-----2-----||-----4-----||-----0-----||-----2-----||-----1-----||-----2-----||-----0-----||
D-----2-----||-----4-----||-----2-----||-----0-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----0-----||
A-----0-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----X-----||-----2-----||-----X-----||-----2-----||
E-----X-----||-----X-----||-----X-----||-----X-----||-----0-----||-----X-----||-----3-----||
A B C D E F G


Notice that some of the lines have an "X" on them. This tells you not to play that string when you are strumming the chord. I recommend starting out with a couple of chords, like "G" "C" and "D". Start with a "G" chord, make sure that your fingers are not muting any of the other strings and strum with a smooth up down up down rhythm. Then change to a "C" chord. Again making sure your fingering is correct and all the notes are clear.

You can pick each note out separately at first if you have trouble with muting the strings. Next move to the "D" chord, same thing again focus on getting every note to ring out clear and keeping a smooth steady rhythm, don't worry about speed that will come later. After you get those three down and you can change them smoothly, try to ad an "A" chord or an "E" chord and work on getting them smooth and clear.

The "B" and the "F" chords are what you call "Bar chords" and they can be a little tricky when you are starting out, so I recommend you stay away from "B" and "F" for now.

When you get comfortable with "major" chords move on to "minor" chords. Use the same method that you used with the major chords. Start off by just adding an "Em" when you are practicing your major chords making sure to keep all the notes clean and clear and your rhythm smooth and even. For example start with "G" then go to "C" but next throw in an "Em" before you change to "D". Then work an "Am" in when you are comfortable. Just have fun with it.

Here are the minor chords:



E-----0-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----1-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||
B-----1-----||-----3-----||-----4-----||-----3-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||
G-----2-----||-----4-----||-----5-----||-----2-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||
D-----2-----||-----4-----||-----5-----||-----0-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----5-----||
A-----0-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----X-----||-----2-----||-----3-----||-----5-----||
E-----X-----||-----X-----||-----X-----||-----X-----||-----0-----||-----1-----||-----3-----||
Am Bm Cm Dm Em Fm Gm


I should probably mention that this is going to take some time and practice. Don't get down on yourself if you don't get this in a week or even a month. Every guitarist out there (even the famous ones) started where you are now. Just practice for at least 30 minutes a day (more if you can without hurting yourself) and it will come.

It is normal for your fingertips to hurt at first especially if you are playing an acoustic guitar. You will form calluses on your finger tips after a while and it won't bother you any more. If you have pain in your wrist or hand then maybe you should take a break every 10 or 15 minutes. Warming up before you start is always a good idea, it loosens up your hands and it's just a good habit to get into.


Here is a good beginner exercise and worm up:




(Tab A)
E--------------------------------------------------------------1--2--3--4---||
B--------------------------------------------------1--2--3--4---------------||
G--------------------------------------1--2--3--4---------------------------||
D--------------------------1--2--3--4---------------------------------------||
A--------------1--2--3--4---------------------------------------------------||
E--1--2--3--4---------------------------------------------------------------||
D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U
(Tab B)
E--4--3--2--1---------------------------------------------------------------||
B--------------4--3--2--1---------------------------------------------------||
G--------------------------4--3--2--1---------------------------------------||
D--------------------------------------4--3--2--1---------------------------||
A--------------------------------------------------4--3--2--1---------------||
E--------------------------------------------------------------4--3--2--1---||
D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U



This is a little different than before. You aren't strumming chords you are picking single notes. First off let me say that this is all one exercise. I split it up into "Tab A" and "Tab B" so it would be easier for you to understand and and me to explain. For this exercise you need to use all of your fingers and also this is a good chance for you to start alternate picking (picking in an up and down pattern). Notice the "D"s and the "U"s under the tab above. On the "D"s pick down and on the "U"s pick upward on the string.

So let's start with with "Tab A". Starting with the "Low E" or "Fat" string use your pointer finger to play the first fret, then your middle finger to play the second fret, then your ring finger to play the third fret, and finally your pinkie to play the fourth fret. Remember you are playing one note at a time and using the alternate or down up picking pattern. Try to keep a steady rhythm and continue this pattern on the rest of the strings up to the "High E" string.

After you are done with "Tab A" go to "Tab B". It is the same as "Tab A" only backwards. So you will use the same fingering and the same up down picking. This time start on the "High E" string and use your pinkie to play the fourth fret, then your ring finger to play the third fret, then your middle finger to play the second fret, and then your pointer to play the first fret and so on all the way to the "Low E".

I really recommend you use a metronome for this exercise, if you don't have one there is one on this site at the top of the page just click on metronome. Set it at about 60 bpm to start off then go faster as you can. This exercise will help with pick accuracy and speed also. Spend about five minutes a day on this exercise and you will see results soon.


That's it. I know this lesson is extremely basic but it is supposed to be so total beginners only. lol


Later,


Request:

Guitar-begginer

by MadaleneT

i dont know anything about guitar





Comments:

01
06.21.2008
  Ibanez

Nice looks good. Maybe put in a nice little beginner song. lol like oh canada! :p

02
07.09.2008
  TK

Thank you

03
07.18.2008
  calvin.peeler

thanks

04
09.04.2008
  ZulphuR

Thank you ^.^

05
03.06.2009
  musiceyes

Thank you, it looks hard but I really want to learn how to play a guitar.

06
03.06.2009
  Afro_Raven

Great lesson, only thing I would say is break those massive chunks of text up into more manageable paragraphs. Then you'll have a mighty fine lesson sir!

07
02.13.2010
  flmusik

Where do I find out what the tab pictures in your lesson mean for my finger positions.

I have had 3 lessons. I just got a guitar that is not a toy. My wrist hurts when I try to go from C to G7 and I cannot keep my hand on the same area of the neck during the change. I am in an adult class and we were all in pain trying this a few days ago.

08
02.14.2010
  les_paul

for the chords I would say what ever is the easiest. It's almost physically impossible to fret these chords wrong.

Some people use their pointer, middle, ring fingers and some use middle, ring, pinkie.

On the warm up use all four fingers.

09
04.21.2011
  wobbles

This is exactly what I was looking for to start to learn to play the guitar! Thank you, Les Paul!

10
11.09.2012
  klobchar

YAY! for guitarists that understand what beginner really means :)

11
12.31.2012
  kero

a lot of this would have come in handy when I was barely starting, but i took a class so it was similar.

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