This is a guide to help beginners learn guitar. I'm slightly above beginner, but still pretty green. Experience wise I've had 2 years of practice which has helped me a bit. If there is something specific you are looking for look for key words that are bolded. It should help speed up the search. Every section will begin with a bolded area.
First off we have buying the guitar and accessories. There are many types of guitars some are better suited for certain types of music than others. Ask around as to what works best with what you want to play. Guitars can be kind of expensive easily costing hundreds of dollars. That doesn't necessarily mean the expensive one will be the best. The staff at the music store tend to be helpful, but you don't always know if they are sincere or if they just want you to buy something expensive. If you have a friend who has a lot of experience with guitars bring them along for a second opinion. Many people like to say that one brand or another is the best. It's a good idea to keep an open mind. Many brands make very good guitars. Decide whether you want Acoustic, Electric, or Acoustic/Electric. Acoustic just uses the vibration of the strings to make the music. Electrics have pickups which pick up the vibrations of the strings then send a signal from the guitar to the amp like a microphone. Acoustic electrics are a combination of the two. Decide what type then choose a guitar that fits nicely. Different styles have different feelings in your hands. If you buy an Acoustic/Electric check to make sure it comes with a tuner built in. Most of them do, but I don't know if some don't. If there is no built in tuner make sure to buy a tuner with it. If you get an electric or acoustic/electric make sure to get an amp. You may also want to get some nylon strings. Starting guitar will hurt the fingertips, but the nylon strings will make it easier. If you get an electric or acoustic/electric might not work. Admittedly I have no experience with electrics. I heard something about the metal strings vibrating making a magnetic pulse or something. I'm not certain on this though so check to make sure. You might also want to get an instruction book. Other things you might want to consider are a music stand, a guitar stand, a neck strap, and a case. These are all optional accessories so it's up to you what to take. If you get a case there is soft and hard. A hard case is better for traveling, but also costs more.
Now that we've covered the purchase let's talk a little about use and storage. First off don't leave your guitar in a car on a hot sunny day. Those conditions can crack and warp the body. Obviously you may want clean hands when you play so your strings don't get greasy. That's common sense, but I might as well mention it.
So now lets get to learning. The first thing you should learn is how to hold the guitar. First off don't sit in a chair with arms. A stool works or a folding metal chair. Use whatever feels right to you. I just recommend you don't use a chair with arms because the arms can get in the way. If you are right handed place the body on your right thigh holding the neck with your left hand. If you are left handed then it's the opposite. Now the strings should be thickest at the top getting thinner as it works its way down.
Let's get to tuning the guitar. I hope you got a tuner or a keyboard you can use to tune by ear. Standard tuning from top to bottom is E, A, D, G, B, E. The thick string on the top is called the low E while the thin string on the bottom is the high E. It's based on pitch rather than position. It can be confusing if you don't already know. Now then each string is attached to a tuning peg. If you have a tuner that has various frequencies choose 440hz. Pluck the string and the tuner should tell you the note you are on as well as if it is flat or sharp or just a little under or over where the note is. If you turn the peg one way it will tighten the string. The other way loosens the string. Turn the knob in slight twists while plucking the string. If you tighten it too much a string could break. There are other tunings that some songs call for, but this covers most of it.
Now let's get to learning some music! If you got an instructional book chances are it teaches sheet music. It might cover tabs instead. I will briefly explain both.
The cons and pros of tabs and staffs are listed in this paragraph. Staffs have the benefits of being more descriptive, but have the problem of being more confusing. Tabs are easier to understand, but don't give much detail such as to how long a note should be held.
Starting off we have staff music which uses the five line staff. It's a group of lines. The real trick is knowing what spot means what note. That is often the more difficult part. The diagram below shows what the five line staff looks like.
Each line and space is a letter. If you don't already know about the musical alphabet the notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G then it goes back to A. An octave is a group of 8 notes such as spanning from A to A. There are also flats and sharps. A note that is sharp is pretty much the same as the next note flat. A sharp and B flat are the same thing. Sharps are marked with a # symbol next to the note. A flat is marked with a b symbol next to the note. The spaces from bottom to top spell FACE. That's easy to remember. The lines are EGBDF. The best way to remember that is with an acronym. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is what I learned. Use whatever works for you though.
Your book should teach you what notes are on what areas of the guitar have what notes. You can find a diagram of the frets and the notes right here. It might be a bit complex and confusing for you though. You should also keep in mind this diagram only applies to standard tuning. Any other tuning will have different results depending on the tuning. The shape of the note shows how long the note is held. I'm going to try and keep this simple. Music is counted in beats.
A quarter note is 1 beat, a half note is 2 beats, and a whole note is 4 beats. There are many other symbols that can explain many things, but this should be enough. It can be very confusing. Just remember to take it easy at a pace you can do good at. If you are going by the book it will want to teach you one string at a time. I suggest you go with that. The picture below is an example of a little tune written in staff form. It works on two different strings.
Guitar Tabs are a simpler way to learn. There are six lines and numbers. If the number is a 0 you pluck that string without holding down the string. If there is a number you hold the string down at that fret number and pluck it. If there is a dash ----- you do not pluck the string at all. This might be a bit confusing but the top line of the tab is the bottom string of your guitar which has the highest pitch. Below is the exact same tune I showed on a staff, but in staff form.
Chords are a group of notes shown all at once. It takes a lot of practice to learn the chords and learn how to transition from one chord to another. There are thousands of chords. The two most common ways to show them are a fret diagram and tab style. I don't know if that's how they are described, but thats the best name I can think of.
The diagram on the left shows where on the fretboard your fingers go. Sometimes strings will have an X in the diagram. If it has an X you do not play that string. The diagram on the right is pretty much a guitar tab version of the same chord.
I think this covers all the important parts. If I'm forgetting anything let me know and I will add it.
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