It’s Fun to Play Guitar

The Basic

Guitar String’s Position

Strings Position

As you can see over here on the fret board, first string is the one toward ground, and sixth string is the one toward ceiling. The numbers on the head-stock are respective to the string’s numbers. If you’re going to tune first string, then twist tuner number “1” by rotating clockwise or anti-clockwise, this will be loosing or fastening string “1”. If you’re fastening then be very careful that not to over stretch the string else it may be broken off.

Beside numbers, you can also see alphabet “E A D G B E”. These denote musical note of “Mi, La, Re, So, Ti, Mi” in open string position respectively. The E on the sixth string is a Low E and the E on first string is a High E.

Tuning Your Guitar

Nowadays, tuning the pitches of a guitar is no more a pain but quick and easy, with the help of a portable electronic tuner. Here is how an electronic tuner works.

Tuning steps

Refer to the pictures above, this tuner comes with two modes. First mode is using vibration to detect the pitch produced by the string, and second is using normal sound detection produced by the string. Normally I will use the first one as it will have less disturbance from the surrounding environment especially in a noisy public area. (Note, different brands and models may operate differently, so please refer back to its own operating manual or go through and compare their features before you buy one.)

To tune the string, first you have to clamp the tuner on in front of the head-stock as shown above, then use your pick or finger nail gently pluck the 6th string in an open string position as shown on Picture-1, as you can see that the indicator shows a slightly lower pitch for an low “E” Key (reference from Middle C Key) or not even reaching low “E” Key. In this case, you’ll have to further tighten the string until it reaches exactly at low “E” Key as shown in Picture-3 (Note, be very careful not to over tune). If it’s too tight or higher than low “E” Key as shown in picture-2, then you’ll have to loosen the string.

After you have done with low “E”, you may proceed to the next string. The 5th string which is an “A” Key, Picture-4 shows the exact pitch of an “A” Key. Keep going downward until the first string, the high “E” Key.

What if you do not have an electronic tuner and you are in the rush to fine tune your guitar during a band?

Well, what you can do is to get some help from others instrument like piano or flute. For instance you may fine tune your guitar in open strings position respective to the keynotes of a piano. Below show a piano keyboard and the respective guitar’s open strings.

Guitar Open Strings Vs. Piano Keys

There are also two legacy methods that can be used which are called Relative-Tuning and The Fifth-Fret methods. If you’re interested on these two methods, more information can be found from the Internet.

Another modern and latest method is via smartphone apps. There are vast number of Guitar Tuner apps can be found in play-stores, and some are quite good in accuracy. You may need to install a few and find one that work well with your smartphone. I personally use it quite often before I actually purchase an electronic acoustic guitar tuner.

The reason why I bought an electronic guitar tuner is that, Guitar Tuner app only capable of using Sound-Detection tuning, it is hard to use in a noisy environment. Unlike electronic guitar tuner which has more tuning features, more convenience, ease of use, fast and is cheap. 🙂

Way Of Holding The Guitar

Acoustic Guitar Sitting Position

Above shown a standard sitting position of holding a guitar. Most of the time Right hand on top of sound hole ready for strumming and plucking, and Left hand will be moving along the neck.

 

Holding The Pick

Holding the pick
Hold the Pick

Holding the pick with right hand thumb and index fingers as shown above. Use the tip of the pick to strum up and down gently by using wrist’s motion, not arm force.

 

The Left Hand

Left Hand Fingering
Left Hand Fingering

Thumb at the back of the neck, it is used to stabilize your guitar and also used together with the other fingers while depressing a chord or string with finger tips. Normally first finger (Index finger) will use to depress strings on fret “1”, second finger (Middle finger) will use to depress strings on fret “2”, third finger (Ring finger) will use to depress strings on fret “3”, and fourth finger will use to depress strings on fret “4”. When depressing strings, your finger tips should be placed closer to the front fret as shown above, not middle. By doing this will save your energy while performing.

 

Fingering Control

Left and Right Hands Fingering Control
Left and Right Hands Fingering Control

Left Hand Labels

T – Thumb, most of the time at the back of the guitar neck. But some chord need it to depress a string, like for instance D/F#.

Finger 1, 2, 3, 4 use to depress strings according to Tablature (Tab).

Tips: always keep finger nails clean and short.

 

Right Hand Labels

T – Thumb,  use to pluck string 6, 5, 4.

Finger 1, 2, 3 – use to pluck string 3, 2, 1 respectively.

Tips: keep finger nails clean and keep some nails to pluck strings for better tone.

Chord And Chord Diagram

C major Chord Diagram
C major Chord Diagram

A Chord Diagram shows how a Chord is made up by depressing strings with your left hand fingers on different frets simultaneously. Labels 1,2,3 denote depressing these strings with your left hand fingers respective to left hand labels as shown above.

 

The Rhythm Slashes

A four beats measure of a "C" chord
A four beats measure of a “C” chord.

Rhythm slashes is a simplify version of standard musical notation. It uses slash marks that tell you how to play the rhythm. When use together with Chords, it indicates how many strike have to be played. For instance, if you see a “C” chord with a rhythm slashes as shown above, your left hand will depress the “C” chord and your Pick or finger nail on your right hand will strum four times downward in an equally length of interval (Timing is critically important, you may use a Metronome to guide you on this).

 

The Tablature

A Four beats Measure Tab
A Four beats Measure Tab

A Tablature or simply Tab, is a notation that tell you what string to depress and where exactly on the fingerboard to depress that string.

Referring to above picture which show a two measurement Tab. The first measure consists of four opened strings, this require you to pluck four times of 3rd string without having to depress any of the string. Follow by second measure, depress 3rd string on 2nd fret and pluck one time, then depress 2nd string on 1st fret and pluck one time, and last depress 2nd string on 3rd fret and pluck one time.

Well, isn’t it as simple as ABC?

After you have learned all these, your next step is to find some songs and practice.

“Practice Makes Perfect” 

 

10 Replies to “It’s Fun to Play Guitar”

  1. Thanks so much for this very informative and in-depth article. I’m so glad I came across your site as I’m considering taking up the guitar. I play the ukulele now. It only has 4 strings and you strum it, I assume, the same way you would a guitar.

    Do you know how hard it is to switch to guitar from ukulele?

    1. Hi Scott,

      I am very happy that my site is informative and helpful to you. Yes, you may learn both guitar and ukulele like myself.

      The difference between guitar and ukulele is guitar has 6 strings, although the strumming is similar but the Chord patterns are different.

      Don’t worry too much my friend, it isn’t hard to play guitar especially when you already have some basic knowledge on ukulele. The biggest challenge that stopping a beginner is the PAIN that came from the fretting hand’s finger tips. But I can assure you that this can be overcome once you go along your practice. I’m going to share this further on my next post and hope that you would follow.

      If you ever need any help and information or would like to share your experience, please leave your comment here or drop me an email, I’d be more than happy to reply to you.

      Cheers and happy learning!

  2. Hi KK
    Congratulations on a very informative site to learn the basics of guitar, your explanations are simpe but effective, I wish you well going forward and I think your site will grow hughe if you keep this up, just to let you know that there are a few free android apps for guitar tuning as well, available from google playstore, one is “guitar tuna” it is pretty accurate as I tested it against my pro. tuner.
    Regards
    Gary

    1. Hi Gary,
      Thanks a lot for the feedback, that’s really a huge booster to me. I’m planning of putting up a free apps linked page, hope you and others will like it too.
      Cheers,
      Kk

  3. What do you do if you don’t have a guitar tuner? Is it still possible to tune it? Or do you absolutely need a tuner for this?

    I had an idea on how tablature were working but I was not too sure. You made it clear here. Although I don’t think it’s that easy to follow. I have to look it up note by note.

    1. Hi Guy,

      Yes, it is possible to tune a guitar with another musical instrument like a keyboard or flute, but you need to be able to recognize and differentiate the keynote while tuning corresponding to the open strings of the guitar. There are also other methods like Relative Tuning and The Fifth-Fret Method ( I got you a link here, http://www.get-tuned.com/5th-fret-tuning.php) .

      As a beginner you may find it impatient to follow the notes, but you’ll build up your speed when time past. Just don’t give up. The important thing is interval as I mentioned in my webpage. Use a metronome to guide you on this if you have one (start with a Tempo that feel comfortable to you), or you may use chanting 1,2,3,4 for the whole progression while strumming, this will keep your timing inline.

  4. Hi KK, good looking and informative website. My feedback is about word cutting. It was looked strange, for example : pub
    listed. Is it because the theme you choose or what ? Better if you can repair to the proper form. Good luck.

    1. Hi Melani,
      Thanks for the feedback. I don’t see any problem on my browser, would you mind send me a capture image of the problem? By the way, what device and browser are you using?

      Best Regards,
      kk

  5. Hey there! I found your article very informative and fun to read. I just recently bought a guitar. I’m just a beginner so I don’t know a lot of things about playing guitar. After I read your article you gave me the ideas that i needed when playing guitar. The fundamentals such as tuning the guitar, how you hold it and more. Thank you for sharing this information.

    1. Hi John, thanks for giving me such a good reply, it really give me a boost on this. If you need any help please do not hesitate to email me or leave your comment, I’d be more than happy to reply. Happy learning and have fun.

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