This article explains the first 5 guitar basics we teach our beginner guitar students. These are essentials that every guitarist must know.
1. How to Tune the Guitar
I truly recommend all beginners get a guitar tuner. Tuners are inexpensive and will make your practicing more enjoyable. Alternatively, purchase a guitar tuner app for your phone. If you do not have a tuner or phone, use the 5th string technique or the harmonics technique to tune.
Most guitar tuners work in a similar way. The concept is to tune each string so that the needle/led light in the tuner points to the middle. Tune the strings as follows:
6th string – E (thickest string)
5th string – A
4th string – D
3rd string – G
2nd string – B
1st string – E (thinnest string)
The indicator (led light/needle) will be to the left if the string is flat. A red light will illuminate to the left of the middle green light in most tuners. This indicates the string needs to be tuned up.
If the string is sharp, the indicator (led light/needle) will be to the right. A red light will illuminate to the right of the middle green light in most tuners. This indicates the string needs to be tuned down.
2. Left hand notation
The left hand fingers are numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. The index finger is finger 1. The middle finger is finger 2. Finally, the ring finger is finger 3 and the little finger is finger 4. The thumb does not have a number as it is behind the neck. Place it roughly behind the second fret.
3. Right hand position
Rest your forearm on the guitar so it can swing freely.
4. Holding the pick
Hold the pick between the thumb and index finger of your strumming hand. There are many types of picks to choose from. Their main difference is thickness. Try out different size picks. This is the only way to find out which one you are comfortable with. Hold the pick securely and don’t have too much of it protruding from your fingers.
For more information on choosing a guitar pick, click the following link:
5. Chord charts
Strumming chords is a guitar basics skill that allows a student to quickly play along to a song. Chord charts are diagrams of the guitar neck viewed head upwards, face on, as illustrated in the drawing below. The vertical lines are the strings. These start from E or 6th string on the left to E or 1st string on the right. The dots on the strings indicate where to place the fingers on the fretboard. The numbers in the dots indicate the fingers to use. Below is an illustration of the the chord C chart . The 1st finger is on the 2nd string, 1st fret. The 2nd finger is on the 4th string, 2nd fret. Finally, the 3rd finger is on the 5th string, 3rd fret.
The “o” above the strings indicates open strings. Open strings are strings you strum/play but do not place any fingers on them. In the example below, notice that you play open strings on the 1st and 3rd strings. An “x” above a string indicates that you do not strum that string. In chord C below, you do not strum the 6th string. Chord C below is one of the many open chords every beginner must learn.