Basic guitar lesson, everyone had to start somewhere, including Jimi Hendrix.
Ever thought of playing guitar? It’s not as hard as you may think, of course like everything else that you intend to learn you have to start at the beginning with the boring basics, so you are not going to be Jimi Hendrix or Joe Satriani overnight. Apparently Jimi Hendrix was bought an old worn out acoustic guitar by his father and he didn’t even know how to tune it in!
So, here’s my little lesson which will hopefully put you on your way, I play quite comfortably, rhythm and lead on electric guitar and played for a few years in a band where we did the holiday season circuit, all good fun and new friends on the way. You can obviously pay for a tutor and most people do so, but I find that with a tutor you can pick up their bad habits (if they have any) but more importantly, it can inhibit your own style of playing, I think most of the great guitarist’s became what they were by having their own style.
I have taught a few friends to play and found that two main things inhibit learners, firstly they want to be an expert in the first week and start a band, and secondly, they concentrate on playing the first 20 seconds of their favourite song and never get around to learning the rest of the song and not know what chords they are playing.
The following is my way of a starter pack and as in every article I write, I do not profess to be an expert and this is just my expression but you will be jamming to your first song after a few days if you follow it. There are other sources of learning, and Utube is a great resource for free basic guitar lessons, although the people I have taught are still playing and are now far better than me and I’m quite envious of their talent, in a good way of course.
I would recommend buying a relatively low budget guitar or a used guitar to start, as if you find it’s not for you then you haven’t had a lot of expense. The other point to buying low budget is that if and when you become proficient at your trade you will have a better idea on what type of guitar will suit you best and also find it a breeze to play compared to your old starter guitar.
Firstly tune your guitar, check out the video link above here for the sound each string should sound like, the first sound is an E the thickest of the strings, the next one down an A and so on. When your guitar is in tune your ready to go, but where do you start? Most people think that the hand that you use on the frets is the most important thing to master, but the strumming hand is just as important if not more as is the handling of the plectrum.
Sit down with your guitar and hold it on your crossed knee with the guitar body vertical, place the left hand on the frets (other hand if you are left handed) and make sure your hand is lightly touching all the strings, try to strum the guitar and you will find that it doesn’t sound nice at all, in fact it sounds dead you have “damped” the strings and therefore when you strum the guitar wont make a racket, we are not bothered about the sound it makes at the moment. With your right hand hold the plectrum between the thumb and the forefinger and curl the other fingers in to support the base of the thumb, now try strumming down slowly and get a feel for it, improve the speed and try strumming the strings on the return so that you are strumming down and back. Keep up this exercise to the point where you have got that feel and you are comfortable to a point with strumming.
Hold the guitar neck with your left hand and place the thumb under the neck with the tip of the thumb placed at the centre, your fingers will now hover over the strings ready to be placed on them. You will find this very uncomfortable but trust me it gets easier to the point that you do this with ease.
All songs are made with various chords, simply to begin with, by learning three chord types you can jam along with a song, lets say a blues song in the chord of A Major, don’t worry about terms like Majors or minors at this point, these can be learned later.
So, the first chord to learn is the chord of A major, then D Major and finally E Major, these will be called OPEN chords. Below are the three chords where the diagram shows the top of the guitar neck (near the keys) and the ladder lines represent the frets (place your fingers between the frets). The numbers on the dots tell you which finger to use and the vertical lines represent the strings, place your fingers as the diagram and strum, you should make a nice sound if you press hard enough between the frets. Have a go at the A first then the D and then the E. Spend about half an hour on each one then try moving from A to D to E and see how fast you can move from one to the other. This will seem difficult at first but again trust me, this will become so easy you won’t even have to think about it!
At this point you can either give up and sell your guitar or persevere, if you get through this stage then everything gets easier from now on and it will all be worthwhile. If your fingers become a little sore or your wrist aches then have a break, again this will go the more you practice.
Below are the diagrams, these chords in the diagrams are portrayed as tablature or Tab for short, you can search any chord on the internet, just type in chords tab on your search engine.
EXAMPLE CHORD :-
1 = Index Finger
2 = Middle Finger
3 = Ring Finger
4 = Little Finger (Pinky)
When you have mastered these three chords search for a blues song in A Major and play along with it! You can hear your three chords being played. Just work out when to change to another. When you have had some fun then the next three chords to learn are G Major, C Major and F Major. Notice the F Major uses the forefinger to lay across the frets. This will seem uncomfortable at first but as all the above, it becomes second nature after a while. I have left the F Major the last chord to learn as it is a good stepping stone when you start to learn Bar Chords.
Now that you have at least six chords, your thirst will continue and you can search the internet for any chord you like, I suggest learning the Majors then the minors and after that it’s your preference depending what kind of player you want to be. Start a band with your friends or play along with your favourite tracks, it’s also fun to record yourself and there are magazines out there that give you a CD with backing tracks where you can be the guitarist in a virtual band. You can also find simple backing tracks on Utube such as the one below,
slow blues in A
Of course you’r not going to have a hit playing this, but it’s simply a basic learner backing, then again the guy in the next video started just as you did!
Whatever you decide to do, have fun and don’t forget as in any venture it can be difficult at first but second nature if you persevere.
See you soon, Jimi.