11 Things you must know/learn as a beginner guitarist
1. How to read tabs and chord boxes
Guitar tablature, or "guitar tabs" for short, is a simple way to notate music for the guitar. It consists of lines that represent the strings of the guitar, with numbers written on them to indicate which frets should be played to produce a particular note.
Tabs in a nutshell
In the figure below, there is an example of how the tabs are represented. The top line represents the high E string (the thinnest string) on the guitar. The bottom line represents the low E string (the thickest string). So, from bottom to top, the tablature follows the Mi, La, Re, Sol, Si, Mi. The numbers written on the lines represent the frets that should be played. For example, a "3" on the top line means that you should play the third fret on the high E string. A "0" on any line means that you should play the open string (i.e., the string without pressing down any frets).
This would represent a C major chord. To play the chord, you would strum all of the strings at once while pressing down on the specified frets. Some tabs may include symbols that indicate how to play the notes. For example, an harrow pointing up means that you should bend the string, and an "x" means that you should mute the string by lightly resting your finger on it without pressing down.
If you want to know more click on this article about everything you need to know to read the tabs.
Chord box in a nutshell
A guitar chord box is a visual representation of a chord played on a guitar. It shows the placement of the fingers on the strings of the guitar. Guitar chord boxes in tabs typically include the following information:
- The chord name (name of the chord being played)
- The chord diagram - this is a visual representation of the chord, showing the placement of the fingers on the guitar neck. The vertical lines represent the strings of the guitar (E, A, D, G, B, E from bottom to top) and the dots represent the frets where the fingers are placed. The numbers within the dots indicate which finger to use (1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky)
- Additional symbols - there may also be additional symbols or notation within the chord box, such as an "x" to indicate a string should not be played, a "0" indicate a string should be muted.
2. Basic chords and Barre Chords
There are many different types of chords, but some of the most common ones include major chords and minor chords. Generally speaking Major chords generally have a brighter, happier sound, while minor chords tend to have a sadder, more melancholy sound. Guitar chords are an essential element of learning to play the guitar. They provide the foundation for playing melodies and accompaniment. They consist of two or more notes played together, and they can be played in a variety of different ways to create different chord shapes and voicings.
There are many different chords that you can learn to play on the guitar, and the specific chords you'll need to know will depend on the type of music you want to play. However, there are a few basic chords that every guitarist should know, and these chords will allow you to play a wide variety of music. Here are five basic guitar chords that every beginner should learn:
G Major: The G major chord is one of the most common chords in guitar music and is a great chord to start with. To play a G major chord, place your index finger on the second fret of the A string, your middle finger on the third fret of the E (Low) string, your ring finger on the third fret of the high B string, and your little finger on the third fret of the high E (High) string.
C Major: The C major chord is another common chord and is often played in combination with the G major chord. To play a C major chord, place your index finger on the first fret of the B string, your middle finger on the second fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the third fret of the high A string.
D Major: The D major chord is a bit more challenging to play than the G and C major chords, but it's still a great chord for beginners to learn. To play a D major chord, place your index finger on the second fret of the G string, your middle finger on the second fret of the high E string, and your ring finger on the third fret of the B string.
E Minor: The E minor chord is a common chord that is often played in combination with the G and C major chords. To play an E minor chord, place your index finger on the second fret of the A string and your middle finger on the second fret of the D string.
A Minor: The A minor chord is another common chord that is often played in combination with the G, C, and E minor chords. To play an A minor chord, place your index finger on the first fret of the B string, your middle finger on the second fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the second fret of the G string.
These five chords will allow you to play a wide variety of songs on the guitar, and as you become more comfortable with them, you can start to learn more advanced chords. Practice playing these chords every day and you'll be well on your way to becoming a proficient guitarist.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, understanding and mastering the basic chords is crucial for your musical journey. I recommend that you start learning the major and minor chords first and then continue with more complicated chords. I also advise you not to learn all the chords in one go, but only the ones you need to play a song.
A bar chord, also known as a barre chord, is a type of guitar chord that involves using one finger to press down on multiple strings across the guitar neck. This allows the guitarist to play chords that would otherwise be impossible to play with standard open chords, as it allows for a wider range of notes to be played at the same time. To play a bar chord, the guitarist places their index finger across the guitar neck so that it presses down on all the strings at a specific fret. The other fingers are then used to form the chord shape by pressing down on specific strings at higher frets. One of the key benefits of learning how to play bar chords is that they can be moved up and down the neck of the guitar, allowing the guitarist to play the same chord in multiple keys. This can be particularly useful for playing songs that have complex chord progressions or that require the guitarist to play in different keys.
However, learning how to play bar chords can be challenging for beginners, as it requires a good amount of hand strength and finger dexterity. It's important to start with basic bar chords and gradually work up to more advanced ones, and to practice regularly in order to build up the necessary strength and dexterity.
Overall, bar chords are an essential part of any guitarist's toolkit, and learning how to play them can greatly expand the range of music that can be played on the guitar. Examples of bar chords below:
3. Basic strumming patterns
Once you have learned the chords you have to learn the basic rhythm patterns in order to bring the songs to life. They can be learned by ear, but if you study a little theory the whole process becomes easier. There are many different strumming patterns that you can use on the guitar, and which one you choose will depend on the song you are playing and your personal style. Here are a few basic strumming patterns that you can use as a starting point:
- Down strum: This is the most basic strumming pattern, where you simply play a downstroke (moving the pick or fingers down) on each beat of the music. For example, if you are playing in 4/4 time, you would play a down strum on each of the four beats.
- Alternate down and up strum: This strumming pattern involves alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes (moving the pick or fingers up). For example, in 4/4 time, you would play a down strum on the first beat, an up strum on the second beat, a down strum on the third beat, and an up strum on the fourth beat.
Remember, these are just a few basic strumming patterns to get you started. As you become more comfortable with the guitar, you can experiment with different strumming patterns and develop your own style. Before starting to learn rhythm patterns, you need to make sure you are able to transition from one chord to another without any problems. if you want to dig deeper into rhythm guitar pattersn you can check out this article
4. Correct fretting and thumb position
Correct fretting and thumb position are important for playing the guitar effectively and comfortably. Here are some general guidelines for proper fretting and thumb position:
- Use the pads of your fingertips to press on the strings, rather than the tips of your fingers. This will help you get a clean, clear sound and minimize buzz.
- Place your thumb behind the neck of the guitar, about halfway between the top and bottom of the neck. This will give you a good balance of stability and mobility. However in some cases to have a cleaner sound you may need to place the thumb on the top strings in order to mute them. For example if you are playing a D chord you can use the thumb to mute the 5th and 6th string. the result will be a much cleaner sound.
- Place your fingers on the frets as close to the metal wire as possible, without touching it. This will help you get a more precise and accurate sound.Don't press down too hard on the strings. Just enough pressure is needed to get a clear note.
- Hold the neck of the guitar with your fingers, not your palm. This will allow you to easily reach all of the frets and strings with your fingertips.
It's important to note that there is no one "correct" way to hold the guitar or position your hands. What works best will depend on your individual body and playing style. It may take some time and experimentation to find the most comfortable and effective position for you.
5. Having fun learning
Althought playing guitar isn't the easiest thing to do it's very important enjoying the proces and having fun while learning. It really can be a lot of fun and a great way to express yourself creatively. Whether you're just starting out or have been playing for a while, there are always new techniques and skills to learn and ways to improve your playing. If you're looking for ways to have even more fun with your guitar, here are a few ideas:
- Practice regularly: The more you play, the better you'll get and the more fun you'll have.
- Experiment with different styles: There are so many different musical styles you can try with the guitar. From rock and blues to jazz and classical, there's something for everyone.
- Learn new songs: Challenge yourself by learning new songs and expanding your repertoire.
- Play with other musicians: Playing with others can be a lot of fun and a great way to improve your skills. You can jam with friends or join a band.
- Attend concerts: Seeing live music can be a great source of inspiration and can help you appreciate the guitar in a whole new way.
Remember to always have fun and enjoy the process of learning and improving your guitar skills.
6. Basic Techniques
here is a list of some important guitar techniques for beginner guitarists:
- Hammer-ons and pull-offs: Hammer-ons and pull-offs are techniques that allow you to play notes quickly and smoothly by "hammering" or "pulling" your fingers onto or off of the strings. These techniques are commonly used in fast-paced, virtuosic guitar music.
- Slides: A slide is a technique where you play a note by sliding your finger along the strings to a different fret, rather than picking the string again. Slides can add expression and fluidity to your playing.
- Vibrato: Vibrato is a technique that involves rapidly fluctuating the pitch of a note by slightly bending the string back and forth. It can add depth and emotion to your playing and is often used in solos.
- Bending: Bending is a technique where you use your fingers to push or pull the string, causing the pitch of the note to rise or fall. It's often used to add expression and emotion to solos and can be a challenging technique to master.
- Palm muting: Palm muting is a technique where you use the palm of your picking hand to dampen the strings, creating a muted, percussive sound. It is often used in rock and metal guitar music to create a heavy, rhythmic sound.
I hope this list is helpful! It's important to practice and develop your technique over time, and to always be open to learning new things.
7. Holding the guitar and the guitar the pick
Holding the guitar correctly is important for both comfort and proper technique. Here are some tips for holding the guitar while sitting and standing:
Sitting: There are a few ways to hold the guitar while sitting. It depends on your personal preference, the type of music and the guitar you are playng.
- In most cases sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground
- Place the guitar on your right thigh (if you're right-handed) or your left thigh (if you're left-handed)
- Hold the guitar with your right arm (if you're right-handed) or your left arm (if you're left-handed) and use your hand to adjust the position of the guitar so that the neck is at a comfortable angle
- Place your left hand (if you're right-handed) or your right hand (if you're left-handed) on the neck of the guitar and use your fingers to hold down the strings
Standing: There are many different ways to hold the guitar while standing, and the best way will depend on your personal preference and the type of music you are playing. Here are a few common ways to hold the guitar while playing live:
- Standing with a strap: This is the most common way to hold the guitar while playing live. To do this, attach a strap to your guitar and adjust it to a comfortable length. Hold the guitar against your chest, with the neck of the guitar angled slightly upwards. The strap should be supporting the weight of the guitar, allowing you to hold the guitar with minimal effort.
- Adjust the strap to the desired length. The strap should be long enough to allow you to hold the guitar in a comfortable playing position, but not so long that the guitar hangs too low.
It's important to remember to always hold the guitar securely, especially when standing and playing. If you're using a strap, be sure to hold onto the guitar with your fretting hand to prevent it from falling
Holding a pick, or plectrum, is an important aspect of playing the guitar or other stringed instruments. There are many different ways to hold a pick, and the best technique for you will depend on your personal preference and style of playing.
The most common is the standard grip: Hold the pick between your thumb and index finger, with the pointy end facing down towards the strings.
It's important to experiment with different grips and find the one that feels most comfortable and natural for you. It may take some time to get used to a new grip, so be patient and keep practicing.
8. Be patient
It is important to be patient when learning to play the guitar for a number of reasons. First, learning to play an instrument takes time and practice. It can be frustrating to try to learn a new skill, especially if you are not seeing improvement as quickly as you would like. However, it is important to be patient and understand that it takes time to develop proficiency on the guitar.
Additionally, being patient can help you enjoy the learning process more. If you are able to approach your guitar practice with a sense of patience and relaxation, you may find that you are more able to focus on the task at hand and make progress more quickly.
Finally, being patient can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout. If you try to rush your learning or push yourself too hard, you may become discouraged and lose motivation to continue. By staying patient and setting realistic goals for yourself, you can stay motivated and make steady progress over time.
Guitar practice is an important part of becoming a skilled musician. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your practice sessions:
- Set specific goals for each practice session. This will help you stay focused and make the most of your time.
- Tuning a guitar regularly. An incorrectly tuned guitar can make even the most proficient player sound mediocre, hence it's imperative to invest the time to master the correct tuning method. Check our Ultimate guide to tuning your guitar, from beginner to pro.
- Start with warm-up exercises. This will help you get your muscles and fingers ready for more advanced playing.
- Practice slowly at first. It's important to get the technique right before you try to play at a faster tempo.
- Use a metronome. A metronome can help you keep a steady tempo and improve your timing.
- Vary your practice routine. Mix things up by working on different techniques, styles, and songs.
- Take breaks. It's important to give your body and mind a break to prevent burnout and injury.
- Stay patient. Progress takes time, and it's important to be patient and consistent with your practice.
- Practice consistently. It's important to practice a little bit every day, rather than trying to fit in long practice sessions only on the weekends.
- Focus on the basics. It's important to have a solid foundation in the fundamentals of guitar playing, so make sure you spend some time working on techniques such as alternate picking, legato, and strumming.
By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to becoming a better guitar player. Happy practicing!
10. Slow things down
Slowing things down when learning to play the guitar can be beneficial for a number of reasons:
- It allows you to focus on the individual movements and techniques involved in playing, rather than trying to rush through a piece or exercise. This can help you develop a more refined and accurate playing style.
- It gives you the opportunity to practice good form and posture, which is essential for playing the guitar comfortably and effectively
- It allows you to identify and correct mistakes in your playing more easily, which can help you avoid developing bad habits that are difficult to break later on
- It can help you build muscle memory and coordination, which are important for playing smoothly and fluently
- It can also be a more enjoyable and rewarding way to learn, as you can take the time to fully absorb and understand what you are learning, rather than feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by trying to move too quickly
Overall, slowing things down when learning to play the guitar can help you build a strong foundation for your playing and set you up for success as you progress in your musical journey.
11. Consistency is key
Consistency is key when learning guitar or any new skill. It is important to set aside time for regular practice and to make a consistent effort to improve. Here are a few tips for maintaining consistency when learning guitar:
- Set specific goals for your practice sessions: Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish during each practice session can help you stay focused and motivated
- Make a schedule and stick to it: Set aside a specific time each day or week for practice, and try to be consistent with this schedule
- Start with small achievable goals: It can be overwhelming to try and tackle too much at once, so start with small goals and build up gradually
- Start with short practice sessions. Even just 15-20 minutes of focused practice can be beneficial. As you get more comfortable with your instrument and your practice routine, you can gradually increase the length of your practice sessions
- Be patient and persistent: Learning guitar takes time and effort, and it is important to be patient with yourself and to keep practicing even when it feels difficult
- Find a balance between structured practice and free play. Structured practice, where you work on specific skills or techniques, is important for developing your skills. But it's also important to allow yourself time to just play and have fun with the guitar. This can help keep your practice sessions enjoyable and prevent burnout.
- Leave the guitar outside the case and make easy to grab it and play it. You don't wan't to store your guitar in the case inside the cupboard. You may find tiring even thinking of taking it out of the case
By maintaining consistency in your practice, you will be able to make steady progress and improve your skills over time.