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  1. #1
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Default Basic Guitar Playing

    [Before beginning this article, you should read the article I have on basic music theory, if you donít already understand that material.]

    In this article, Iíll go over the basics of playing and understanding the guitar. This method works for both the electric and acoustic guitar, and can also be applied to bass guitar.

    1. The basics
    First of all, Iíll go over proper holding of the guitar. Iím sure youíve seen people sitting or standing with a guitar, and copying that metal image shouldnít be too difficult. Some guitar players, particularly classical ones, sit with the guitar resting on their left, instead of their right one.

    The right hand can strum the strings in many different ways. The most prominent is using a pick. Hold the pick between your thumb and index finger so that itís perpendicular to the strings. You can also use your thump to strum, or use your index finger, by pressing your thumb against the back of your index finger, and strumming with your fingernail. You can also play with a finger picking style, in which different fingers are responsible for different strings. Your ring finger should rest on the highest and thinnest string, your middle on the one below that, and your index on the one below that. Your thumb will play the other three strings. The final technique for strumming the guitar that Iíll cover is using your index and middle finger alternatingly, like a bass player. These arenít all the ways that you can strum the guitar; there are many more methods, but these are the most prominent. The important thing is to find what youíre comfortable with, and do that.

    Your left hand should hold down the strings at the fret you want to play to generate a certain note as close as possible to the fret without overlapping it. Depending on which fret you're holding the string to, you change the string's note and pitch. To minimize hand movement, it's important to be able to use all four fingers. Assigning your fingers to certain frets, one fret per finger, makes it easier and faster to play without having to move your arm around which helps you play faster and more accurately.


    2. Scales
    I touched on this earlier in my music theory article, but Iíll go over it again from a guitar perspective.

    There are many different scales, each with different feels and capabilities. The first is the major scale. Iíll be demonstrating the scales in tab, which is very easy to read. From left to right represents time, and the numbers represent the frets, while the lines represent strings. The guitar is tuned, starting at the thickest string E A D G B e. Iíll start the major scale on G.


    el------------------l
    Bl------------------l
    Gl------------------l
    Dl------------2-4-5-l
    Al------2-3-5-------l
    El--3-5-------------l

    Thatís one octave. You can play it in higher octaves by starting the pattern again at the fifth fret of the G string.

    The next scale is the minor scale. This sounds slightly more dissident, cool, and dark.

    el-------------------l
    Bl-------------------l
    Gl-------------------l
    Dl---------------3-5-l
    Al--------3-5-6------l
    El--3-5-6------------l

    As mentioned before in my music theory article, each note on the scale has a degree. The first is the root, or first, the second is the second, third is the third, all the way up to the eighth, or octave. The guitar is tuned in fourths, meaning that if you play the fifth fret of the E string, itíll be the same note at the open A string. There is an exception to this, though. The interval between the G and B string is a third, meaning that the open B string is the same note as the fourth fret of the G string. This effectively means that any patterns you play between the G string and the B string will have to be shifted one fret up from where they would be normally played on lower strings.

    The next scales Iíll show you are derived from the ones that I already showed you. Most scales have seven notes, but some scales have more or less. The pentatonic scale has five notes, the first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh of the scale. These scales are primarily used for soloing and improvisation, and the notes on the scale, while allowing you less variety, are easier to use.

    The minor pentatonic:
    el----------------l
    Bl----------------l
    Gl----------------l
    Dl---------3-5----l
    Al-----3-5--------l
    El-3-6------------l

    The major pentatonic:
    el----------------l
    Bl----------------l
    Gl----------------l
    Dl---------4-5----l
    Al---2-3-5--------l
    El-3--------------l


    3. Chords
    Chords are defined as two or notes played in unison. Any two notes at all. The simplest form of a chord on the guitar is known as a power chord, and is very widely used in rock music. The chord is as follows.

    el---l
    Bl---l
    Gl---l
    Dl---l
    Al-5-l
    El-3-l


    Or
    el---l
    Bl---l
    Gl---l
    Dl-5-l
    Al-5-l
    El-3-l

    The G is our root, or first, and the D is our fifth. The fifth carries a sound that is highly complementary to the root of a chord. The high G is the octave, and acts as a higher version of the same tone.

    A chord is usually made up of the root, third, fifth, and octave of a chord (note that the third is flatted in a minor chord), but in some chords, there are other scale degrees. For instance, in the Gsus4 chord, the fourth scale degree, the C is also included. There are many fantastic online sources that can show you any chord you could think of. Simply Google search any chord (Even the crazy ones like C#add9/F#m), and youíll be able to find lots of great resources.

    An open chord is a chord that has at least one string played without the fret being held down. A barre chord is when you use your index finger to barre across the frets to make a higher sound. Iíll show you the basic major and minor chord positions, and show you how to use them as barre chords.


    First Iíll show you all of the commonly used open chords, then Iíll teach you a bit more about barreing.

    (Note that an ďxĒ in the tab means that you donít play, or mute the string by lightly pressing on it to dull the sound.)

    E major:
    el-0-l
    Bl-0-l
    Gl-1-l
    Dl-2-l
    Al-2-l
    El-0-l

    E minor
    el-0-l
    Bl-0-l
    Gl-0-l
    Dl-2-l
    Al-2-l
    El-0-l

    G major:
    el-3-l
    Bl-3-l
    Gl-0-l
    Dl-0-l
    Al-2-l
    El-3-l

    Or

    el-3-l
    Bl-0-l
    Gl-0-l
    Dl-0-l
    Al-2-l
    El-3-l

    A major:
    el-0-l
    Bl-2-l
    Gl-2-l
    Dl-2-l
    Al-0-l
    El-x-l

    A minor:
    el-0-l
    Bl-1-l
    Gl-2-l
    Dl-2-l
    Al-0-l
    El-x-l

    C major:
    el-0-l
    Bl-1-l
    Gl-0-l
    Dl-2-l
    Al-3-l
    El-x-l

    D major:
    el-2-l
    Bl-3-l
    Gl-2-l
    Dl-0-l
    Al-x-l
    El-x-l

    D minor:
    el-1-l
    Bl-3-l
    Gl-2-l
    Dl-0-l
    Al-x-l
    El-x-l



    Youíll notice that most chords arenít on this list, like F#m or B. Iíll show you four barre positions that are commonly used by musicians, but any chord can be barred up, it just may require more hand strength and flexibility.

    The four shapes are E major, E minor, A major, and A minor.

    For example, Iíll show you how to play a G minor, and then a B major.

    G minor:
    el-3-l
    Bl-3-l
    Gl-3-l
    Dl-5-l
    Al-5-l
    El-3-l

    B major:
    el-2-l
    Bl-4-l
    Gl-4-l
    Dl-4-l
    Al-2-l
    El-x-l

    These might be confusing to understand by just looking at the tab, but if you attempt to finger them on a guitar, it should become a bit clearer.


    4. Exercises

    The best exercises to do on the guitar are your scales. This accomplishes two things: It increases your familiarity with the fretboard, and the scale, and it increases your speed and accuracy.


    G major scale, all the way up the fretboard:
    el--------------------------------7-8-10-l
    Bl------------------------5-7-8-10-------l
    Gl------------------4-5-7----------------l
    Dl----------2-4-5-7----------------------l
    Al----2-3-5------------------------------l
    El-3-5-----------------------------------l

    G major Pentatonic, all the way up the fretboard:
    el---------------------2-3---------l
    Bl------------------3--------------l
    Gl--------------4-5----------------l
    Dl----------4-5--------------------l
    Al----2-3-5------------------------l
    El-3-------------------------------l

    G minor scale, all the way up the fretboard:
    el------------------------------------8-10-11-l
    Bl---------------------------6-8-10-11--------l
    Gl---------------------5-7-8------------------l
    Dl-------------3-5-7-8------------------------l
    Al-------3-5-6--------------------------------l
    El-3-5-6--------------------------------------l

    G minor pentatonic, all the way up the fretboard:
    el---------------------3-6---------l
    Bl-----------------3-6-------------l
    Gl-------------3-5-----------------l
    Dl---------3-5---------------------l
    Al-----3-5-------------------------l
    El-3-6-----------------------------l


    Well, thatís it. I congratulate you for making it this far, even if you did just scan it. Two things: 1. Thereís a great website called ultimate-guitar.com with tabs and lessons which youíll find very useful. The second is that you better damn well learn your minor pentatonic, because thatís all you need to be famous.


    Feel free to ask my question on the thread!

  2. #2
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    Nice article. Added.

  3. #3
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks Net! Feel free to ask any questions in this thread, guys!

  4. #4
    DQ 1337 Member Damian's Avatar
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    Wow. I was actually thinking about trying again to learn to play guitar, and I imagine this will be a big help, what with me being dead broke and all. Thanks.

  5. #5
    DQ Senior Member Deadbrain's Avatar
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    My brother started playing on the guitar recently (Though he wants to play bass), I need to show it to him!
    Kill one and they will call you a murder. Kill many and they will call you a champion. Kill all of them and you'll be a god

  6. #6
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Default

    I may post an article on playing bass, too. That's my primary.

  7. #7
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    I had to quit playing guitar, because on my left hand my ring-finger can't move sideways, so I had lots of trouble moving that finger around to hit the fret's n stuff. I am going back to keyboard/piano/synthesizers.

    The test is if you can do the spock peace hand sign.


    I can do this in my right hand, but not with my left (the ring finger doesn't move). The sad thing is I'm double jointed in my thumbs and can place them behind my hands too.

    Now I'm going offtopic

    Oh yeah, you should also write up about picking the right pick for your song. Most beginners will go with whatever feels best and not what will give them the best sound. I made that mistake

  8. #8
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    I dunno, I always use a plain old heavy or medium pick. Lights are too flimsy, and X-heavies are too thick.

  9. #9
    Formerly Big Boom Avver's Avatar
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    It was really interesting and informative to read even if I dont play guitar, Good job!
    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough.

  10. #10
    No Prospekts. Thunder's Avatar
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    I'd just like to endorse www.ultimate-guitar.com , it's a fantastic resource (s).

  11. #11
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silence;254959[FONT=Arial
    ][/FONT]Well, thatís it. I congratulate you for making it this far, even if you did just scan it. Two things: 1. Thereís a great website called ultimate-guitar.com with tabs and lessons which youíll find very useful. The second is that you better damn well learn your minor pentatonic, because thatís all you need to be famous.
    Already done.

  12. #12
    No Prospekts. Thunder's Avatar
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    I know, I'm just repeating it for the people who tend to miss it on their first read through.

    Aka, me =D

  13. #13
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Ah, it's cool. Yeah, it's a fantastic resource for everyone to use. I use it a lot myself, but I've been trying to play by ear more.

  14. #14
    DQ 1337 Member Sirrin Nacht's Avatar
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    Nicely written Silence. There were a couple of spelling errors here and there, but they were pretty negligible. I certainly wish I could play the guitar. The only instruments I know how to play are the ocarina and the harmonica.

  15. #15
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Thanks! Sorry about the spelling errors.

  16. #16
    DQ Senior Member KingOfKong's Avatar
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    This is great Silence, I'll start practising right away!
    "I know that human beings and fish can coexist peacefully" - George Bush

  17. #17
    /jAʞE/ Silence's Avatar
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    Awesome! Happy to have inspired someone

  18. #18
    DQ Member Cyanrain's Avatar
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    I will show it to my brother, it'll be usefull to him, because he hardly played the guitar since we changed schools (guitar classes in old school).
    *is out of signatures*

  19. #19
    DQ Senior Member HAWKEYE44's Avatar
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    That's a great article, very informative. I once tried to learn how to play the guitar, but eventually quit.
    "When drawn and talk of peace. I hate the word as I hate Hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee coward!" Tybalt, Romeo and Juliet act 1 scene 1

  20. #20
    ADF-01F Razgriz's Avatar
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    Hm, I can always look through this when I'm out of touch with basics.

    Read through it, very useful.

  21. #21

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    thats very excellent and learning article posted on guitars ever i have seen not only its informative and learning but it is pulling me to play a guitar
    Last edited by Brent; March 17th, 2010 at 06:35 AM.
    Brent

  22. #22
    Administrator Oscar's Avatar
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    Added this to the articles section as well.

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