Guitar Lesson One - Getting Started
There are two sitting positions for holding
the guitar; classical and casual.
1. Pick up the guitar and make sure that
the guitar body is supported by your leg.
2. Position yourself at the edge of your chair.
3. Ensure that your back is relaxed but straight.
4. Lean the guitar back towards you slightly.
1. Pick up the guitar and place the strap over your shoulder.
Adjust the strap so that the guitar is positioned mid-body.
2. Use your left hand to support the neck of the guitar.
3. Rest your right hand over the bridge of the guitar.
It is important that you relax your wrists
and hands. Straining them can cause injury.
Warning! Make sure that you never
position your hand like this:
Your thumb should never be placed this
low on the neck of the guitar as it puts
unneccessary strain on your wrist and thumb.
When you play the guitar, you use your left hand fingers to press
down the strings on the fret board of the guitar and use your right
hand to pluck or strum the stings at the bridge end of the guitar.
Using your left hand to press the strings on the fret board is called
fretting. Here are some tips you will need to know:
1. Short fingernails are essential.
2. Use only the tips of your fingers to press the strings.
3. When making a chord, be sure that each fingertip is placed directly
behind the fret.
We will cover chords in lesson one.
4. Check each string that it rings clearly and is not muted or buzzing.
As a beginner guitarist, it may hurt your fingers to play. This
is normal. Every guitarist starts this way for the first couple
of weeks. With practice, you will develop guitar fingers (hard skin
on your fingertips).
Holding the Pick
Position the pick between thumb and index fingers like in the diagram
Time to take a break. Well done, you've just completed the first
part of this newsletter. Next you are about to learn about chords
and by the end of this lesson you'll have learnt the A Major chord.
Don't forget, for the ultimate guitar learning kit which includes
step-by-step written lessons, video lessons, audio lessons and sophisticated
software games, visit Jamorama.com
Now you are ready to start your first lesson.
Your aim in this lesson is to learn the A and D major chords and
to introduce yourself to reading guitar tablature. This lesson is
very important, so I want you to really focus.
Remember! It is more beneficial for you to practice
multiple times during a week than to practice for one long session.
This is because your brain processes information in chunks at a
time and it can only hold a certain amount in short term storage.
For example, with phone numbers, it is very difficult to remember
any more than 7 digits at a time. Yet if you give yourself time
between practicing, even if it is just 10 minutes, you’ll
find that your brain is much more efficient at turning your short
term practice into long term knowledge.
Ok. That aside, let’s get started on the lesson. To start
with, I want you to have a look at the guitar neck diagram below
and make note of all the relevant pieces of information.
The guitar neck is divided into what we call frets, making a
fret board. Most guitars have around 20 frets. In this first
book, we will focus on the first four, also known as the first
position. In book 2, we will move beyond that. Notice that we
number each fret starting at 1 at the head of the guitar.
Note: Each string on the guitar is numbered. When
you hold your guitar as you would when using the casual playing
position, the 1st string is at the bottom and the 6th string is
at the top.
Notice also the term, ‘Tuning’ at the bottom of the
above diagram. Tuning refers to the notes that the guitar strings
are tuned to. In the above diagram, I have given a very common tuning
called standard E tuning that consists of the notes E, A, D, G and
B. Strings 1 and 6 are both tuned to the note E. The open 6th string
is called low E. The open 1st string is called high E as it is two
octaves higher than the 6th string open E. I will explain notes
and octaves to you in a later newsletter, but for now, you only
need to know the names of the notes in standard open E tuning.
Now make sure that your guitar is tuned to open E tuning (the
most common tuning). If you don't know how to tune your guitar,
then download my free guide to tuning your guitar from: http://www.jamorama.com/tuning/tuning.pdf.
Or if you are already a member of Jamorama.com, you can use
our guitar tuning software to help you tune your guitar.
**Note: To open the above tuning.pdf file
you'll need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download
a free copy of this from: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
Introduction to Chords
Now we are going to look at guitar chords. Guitarists use many
different chords to make progressions or riffs that can then be
used to create songs. If you are not familiar with some of these
terms, it’s ok. We will cover everything that I am talking
about in good time.
A chord is defined as a combination of 3 or more notes played together.
To examine this, I want to take a look at chord diagrams. Chord
diagrams are used to illustrate how a chord is played. They are
very easy to use because they look very much like the neck of the
guitar, in fact, the Jamorama chord diagram is a guitar neck.
As stated above the Jamorama chord diagrams are going to be pictures
of an ‘actual’ guitar neck so it’s easy to make
the connection between strings and fingering. There is also a picture
of the type of chord diagram that appears in most other Guitar learning
guides. I want you to be aware of that form of ‘standard’
chord diagram because you may want to use it when writing up chords
on paper at home.
So, now that you know what a chord diagram looks like and how it
matches with the neck of your guitar, it’s time to come back
to what I said earlier about a chord being a combination of 3 or
more notes played together. Finger placing symbols are added to
the chord diagram so we know which notes to play. To start with,
let’s look at your fingers.
||We give each playing finger a number that we
can then match up on the chord diagram (see below).
And now, let’s look at a full chord diagram. We will use
the example of the A major chord:
Chord Diagram - A Major Chord
In the chord diagram below you can see that the A major chord uses
fingers 1, 2, and 3. Take note of how this chord diagram looks -
we will use this style from now on.
||The A major chord is constructed of the notes
A, C# and E. We will cover notes a little later. For now, we
will make chords without knowledge of individual notes.
Note that there is a red dot marking the 6th string on the above
chord diagram. The red dot tells you that you are not to play that
string. The sixth string of the A major chord is not played, but
you play the rest.
Throughout this newsletter series, every chord diagram will be
accompanied by a picture of the chord being held on the fret board
and video and audio of the chord being played for you to check with.
Pictured below is the A major chord being played.
Exercise: Playing the A Major Chord
Position each finger with care, according to the above diagram.
Make sure that each fingertip is placed directly behind the fret.
Firstly, pluck across the strings one by one with your right hand,
checking that each string rings clearly and is not muted or buzzing.
Play the first Audio or video example to hear how the chord should
Now that we’ve looked at chord diagrams, I want to move
on to strumming.
Introduction to Strumming
In a strum there are two types of guitar stroke. They are up stroke
and down stroke. Throughout this book these strokes will be notated
When you play a stroke, you strum across the strings just in front
of the bridge of the guitar with the pick in your left hand. When
strumming a chord, make sure that you play all of the necessary
strings in the chord. The stroke direction will depend on which
stroke is indicated; up or down as shown above.
Exercise: Strumming the A Major Chord
Position each finger with care, according to the A Major chord diagram
(above). Make sure that each fingertip is placed directly behind
the fret. Firstly, pluck across the strings one by one with your
right hand, checking that each string rings clearly and is not muted
or buzzing. Once you are sure that you are holding the A major chord
correctly, practice strumming the chord in single downward strokes
as indicated below:
While you play this, see if you can say out loud an even 4 count.
Another option if you are a Jamorama.com member is to use the jamorama
metronome - it will help you to stay in time.
Try your best to start your strum from the fifth string each time
you strum. A major, doesn’t sound bad if you accidentally
hit the top string, although if you want your music to sound professional,
you’ll want to play this chord properly. Remember to stay
relaxed. Your fingers may hurt a little but they will get stronger.
Now that you are playing the A major chord properly, let’s
take a look at strumming another chord...
The D Major Chord
The D Major Chord is constructed of the notes D, F# (F sharp) and
A and is played using fingers 1, 2 and 3:
As with the A major chord: try strumming
the D major chord in downward strokes with your right hand.
Note: The top two, or fifth and sixth, strings
are not played in the D major chord. Make sure that you start your
stroke from the third string each time you strum D major, it doesn’t
sound bad if you accidentally hit the fifth string, although as
with A major above, if you want your music to sound professional,
you need to play this chord properly.