If you want to know how to play guitar but don’t know where to start, here are a few things to help you out. With this lesson, we will give you tips to help you avoid getting into some trouble areas that most new players experience. This will save you from the frustrating part of starting to learn to play guitar and help you have a stable foundation for future guitar lessons.
There are three things you need to learn first before you start playing your first song – that is how to hold the guitar, the three basic numbering systems for the guitar, and basic strumming.
How To Hold The Guitar
There are a lot of ways to hold a guitar, but we will just cover the most common one. The casual method is the most common and easiest way to hold a guitar. It is when you simply place the guitar on your right leg (if you are right-handed), and pull it close to your body. Usually, the beginners let the guitar slide down their leg because it is easier to see what’s going on on the guitar, but we need to avoid this to reduce the risk of injuries and bad posture.
The 3 Numbering Systems
The first numbering system you need to know is the frets. The frets are the metal strips that go across the neck of the guitar. The one farthest to your left (if you are right-handed) is the first fret and the next one to it is the second and so on.
So now on to the numbering system for the fingers. It is very simple, but very important to understand as a beginner. So basically your index finger is your first finger, your middle is your second, your ring is your third and your pinky is your fourth.
The third numbering system is the strings – the thinnest string is the first, and the thickest string is the last.
For beginners, it’s not usually the main concern what type of pick they use. As a beginner, start with a standard shaped medium thickness. From there, you can try thicker or thinner. If you don’t want to use a pick, you don’t have to. You can simply make the strumming motions with your thumb or thumb and index finger.
Now how do you hold the pick? You can start with a pretty generic pick grip and then find out where you are comfortable. Put the pick on the pad of your thumb and then come down on it with your index finger. Many newer guitarists have trouble holding on to the pick when strumming. Experiment with different pick grips and see what works for you.
Now on strumming the guitar, upstroke strumming is quite challenging at first. First of, when you do an upstroke you don’t have to strum through all six strings even if the chord you are playing uses all six strings. Most people generally only hit the top 3-5 strings with their upstrokes. Use as much of the pick as you need to strum at the appropriate volume you need for the song you are playing. If you dig too much of the pick into the strings you will probably have trouble getting it through all the strings. Try some relaxed upstrokes and be sure to keep the previous two tips in mind.
Let’s talk about counting now. Most songs are in four-four time. It means that there are four beats for each measure of music. Think about when you hear a drummer count in a song “1 2 3 4”. Now try counting out loud “1 2 3 4” and strumming with downstrokes on the “1” of each cycle as you count. Now try strumming on every number as you count using downstrokes or alternating down and upstrokes. If you strum on every number you will be strumming quarter notes.