Guitar Lesson - Getting Started

Guitar Lesson - Getting Started
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Guitar Lesson - Getting Started
Sitting Positions
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.
Standing Position
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.
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Hand Positions
It is important that you relax your wrists and hands. Straining them can cause injury.
Front View
Rear View
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.
Fretting
When you play the guitar, you use your left hand fingers to press down the strings on the fret board
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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 below:
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
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.
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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. More
information on effective learning is contained in our Jamorama product at Jamorama – click here
to go there.
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.
Frets
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.
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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/howtotune.pdf . Or if you are already a member of
Jamorama, 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
We will stick to standard E tuning throughout this newsletter, but you can find other tunings to
play with in our member’s area at Jamorama.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 sound.
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 as follows:
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
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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.
Tip: You can download a video or audio example of the above exercise to see and hear it for
yourself. The download links are below (right click on the link and select "save as"):
Dial Up
Broadband
QuickTime - A Major (1.56MB)
QuickTime - A Major (4.00MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - A Major (1.76MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - A Major (5.87MB)
Audio
A Major Mp3 (0.75MB)
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:
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As with the A major chord: try strumming the D major chord in downward strokes with your right
hand.
Tip: You can download a video or audio example of the above exercise to see and hear it for
yourself. The download links are below (right click on the link and select "save as"):
Dial Up
Broadband
QuickTime - D Major (1.51MB)
QuickTime - D Major (3.91MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - D Major (1.97MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - D Major (4.05MB)
Audio
D Major Mp3 (0.73MB)
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.
Hints for Buying a New Guitar
Whether you’re buying your first guitar, upgrading or simply adding to your collection, your first
priority is to do your homework. There are many different resources available and you should
endeavor to use them all. Guitar magazines are a good place to find out prices and specifications
on different models of guitar. You can get similar knowledge from browsing at your local
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