Most people have fantasized about learning guitar at one time or another. And the few that beat the confusion of poorly-made YouTube tutorials and keep playing longer than a few weeks usually end up in a rut, playing the same 3 riffs and patterns because they simply don't know how to go any further.
Whether you use free online resources or sign up for lessons with a teacher, understanding a few of these concepts will help you love and understand what you're learning, and give you the tools to actually stick with it! (Unlike most people who start learning guitar).
Stick with us, and you WILL be playing by the end of this article!
FYI - I created a free picture/diagram guide to help you understand each section better visually. It's not required, and you can absolutely learn everything you need from this article without it, but if you'd like that (FOR FREE), just CLICK HERE, enter your email, and we'll send it to you instantly. (References like 1A, 3C, etc. all also refer to diagrams in the PICTURE GUIDE).
www.cominghour.com/GuitarPictureGuide <---Click To Get Picture Guide
People throw around the word technique to sound smart, but most don't have a clue what they're talking about.
Technique simply refers to every detail about your posture and guitar position. It helps you stay relaxed by reducing tension in your muscles (as small as your thumb, as large as your back) that enable you to play guitar with the best tone and speed possible. The goal is to stay relaxed. It'll help you play better, and keep you from straining any muscles.
1A) Your left hand (fretting hand, right hand for lefties) - Picture yourself loosely holding a tennis ball. Keep that shape, and put your thumb behind the guitar neck (1B) without resting your palm against the side of the neck. Make sure you're playing everything with the tip of your finger (1C), so that you don't muffle other strings around it.
Where do you put your guitar? Most people put it on their right leg (1D), but notice the feeling in your shoulder and back. Feel any tension? It won't kill you, but you'll probably feel the strain after playing for some time.
It looks a little dorky, but now try resting your guitar on your left leg (1E), with the bottom sitting between your legs. It probably feels a little formal, but do you also feel how relaxed all your muscles are? Take note, and find a comfortable middle ground that doesn't cause too much stress.
Now the right hand! Grab your pick, but wait, there is actually a correct way! It will feel floppy at first, but once you get used to it, it's more relaxed than anything I've seen anyone else teach. Put your thumb across the top of the pick (1F), perpendicular to the tip. Then place the side of your index finger on the other side of the pick (1G). Resist the temptation to squeeze the pick (1H), because the grip I just explained is as natural as your hand in its relaxed position (1I). And when you play, you simply swing your relaxed arm from the elbow (1J).
Always ask these questions: Am I relaxed while I play? Am I comfortable? Is there unnecessary tension?
And if you do that, you'll play great without every straining muscles!
Music is practically a different language. Too many guitar players struggle to know and describe what they're playing. They only know where to put a finger on the neck, and nothing more. Doesn't it seem logical to talk about what you're playing? Makes sense to me to. So let me give you some help:
The music alphabet is literally the first 7 letters of the standard alphabet. A, B, C, D, E, F, G. They do go in order, but only when you play certain frets. The string names in order from lowest pitch (thickest string) to highest pitch (thinnest string) are E, A, D, G, B, E (2A). The first E is the largest (lowest pitched) string, and the last E, after B, is the thinnest E.
I always teach young kids to remember your strings with the story: Eddy Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddy. It's funny, and you'll never forget it.
MUSIC ALPHABET ON YOUR GUITAR
This is where at least half of all self-taught guitar players bow out, except for you. I'm excited for you to go further than all of them!
Let's start with the thickest string, the E-string (2B). Open is E, 1st fret is F, 3rd fret is G
Next thickest string, A-string (2C). Open is A, 2nd fret is B, 3rd fret is C.
Next: D-string (2D). Open is D, 2nd fret is E, 3rd fret is F.
Next: G-string (2E). Open is G, 2nd fret is A.
Next: B-string (2F). Open is B, 1st fret is C, 3rd fret is D.
Next: E-string (2G). Open is E, 1st fret is F, 3rd fret is G.
THE MISSING FRETS
If you played along with the music alphabet on your guitar, you'd notice we skipped a few frets. Once we fill those in, you'll know every note name for every standard chord you'll play. Crazy!
Just so you know, I'm giving you step 1 here. Music geniuses will say that you're missing facts, and you are. But trust me that this is simply a place to start that gives you the full picture still.
The missing frets are called sharps, and it's always named by the lower letter, but not every letter gets a sharp. In between every F and G is F-sharp (F#, 2H). Between C and D is C# (2I). See how there are no frets between E and F? There isn't an E#. Same idea between B and C, no B#. I'm sure you can fill in the rest.
It's a little confusing at first, but CLICK HERE to get a free picture guide with a killer diagram to speed up the learning.
**Now it's time to play some guitar for real**
You don't need to master guitar to sound great. My advice? Pick one key, one set of chords, and learn to rock those first. This is what I would do: the key of G.
Scroll back up to all those notes above, and play these individually: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G (3A). Play them up, down, skip 2, or any other variation you want. The goal is to get incredibly familiar with where those notes sit on the guitar, because all our chords will use those notes. I wrote (and made videos) out a few bonus patterns that I use a lot in the free Picture Guide (3B-3E).
If you'd like it, just -->CLICK HERE<-- and we'll send it to you for no charge.
3 STARTING CHORDS
These chords work perfectly together! They are slightly simplified for starters, but if you're anything like me you'd rather sound great than be textbook-perfect. Here are the diagrams, but one note first:
The numbers are you finger numbers for your fretting hand (3F). Index is 1, middle is 2, ring is 3, and pinky is 4. On the diagram, the thickest string on the left, which is also the closest string to you when you're holding the guitar. Strings with the green dot above should be played open. Here are the 3 chords.
You've got a few chords, exercises, and knowledge under your fingers now. If you're anything like me, you can do them all separately with only a little struggle, but the pure thought of mushing them all together is a little daunting. So you'll just need to trust me on this one...
Take it slow, but still take it!
If you're committed to understanding and loving guitar for the long-haul, it's important to think about everything you do in 2 ways: the shapes and the music.
Place your fingers in the G Major chord shape above. While holding that, refresh your mind with the notes from section 2. Can you figure out the names of each note you're playing in the G Major chord? Download the PICTURE GUIDE to see if you're right, because there's a great diagram of every single note on the neck of the guitar in there (4A).
If you only think about guitar in shapes, you'll sound great without any understanding to keep driving you forward.
If you only think about guitar with music knowledge, notes, and technique, your playing won't have any soul or emotions, and you'll likely overthink everything.
And in the end, just remember the most important thing...
If you aren't having fun, you're doing it wrong!__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________