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Getting started on Guitar


Play What You Enjoy: Passion drives progress. When you enjoy the music you're playing, you're more likely to stay motivated and put in the practice time.

Accept It Takes Time: Learning an instrument is a journey, not a destination. Patience is key. Celebrate small victories along the way.

Set Yourself Goals: Goals provide direction and a sense of accomplishment. Breaking them into smaller milestones makes the process manageable and helps you track progress.

Jam With Friends: Playing with others is not only fun but can also improve your timing, rhythm, and improvisational skills. It's a social and musical win-win.

Invest in Yourself: A quality instrument enhances your playing experience. It can make learning easier and sound better, encouraging you to practice more.

Don’t Keep Your Instrument In Its Case: Keeping your instrument easily accessible encourages you to practice more frequently. It's a visual reminder to play.

Get Some Music Lessons: Lessons from an experienced teacher can provide personalised guidance, helping you overcome challenges and improve faster. If you are very busy or cannot travel, online tutorials can be very helpful too. 


Playing the Guitar


Pick it up and find a comfortable place to sit with it. 


Put the guitar on your right knee about 3-4 inches away from your body and then tilt it back towards your body. Looking down you should see the body and neck of the guitar and most importantly, the strings. 


Ok now drape your arm over the corner of the guitar so that your hand falls over the sound hole or the guitar pickups depending on whether you are playing and acoustic guitar or an electric. 


Between the guitar being under your arm and rested on your knee, that should be all the support it needs. You shouldn’t have to support it from the neck too, leaving your left hand to freely run up and down the strings on the fingerboard (or fretboard as it’s well known), which is the thing with the dots on it. 


Identifying the strings


On the guitar you will notice that (hopefully) it has six strings. The thickest string will be nearest your nose and the thinnest string will be nearest to your knee. 


The thinnest string is the 1st string and the thickest string is the 6th string.


Here is the order of the strings:


1st E

2nd B

3rd G

4th D 

5th A

6th E


So logically it goes E, A, D, G, B, E from the thickest to the thinnest string.


Which can be best remembered as the mnemonic.









Tuning Up


How to tune the guitar to standard tuning.


Place your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string. 


Play that string and then play the 5th string open. Do they sound the same? 


If not, turn the 5th string tuner (or machine head as it’s commonly known), up or down until you hear that they are both the same. You may have to do this several times until you get it right. 


Next - do the same thing with your finger the 5th fret on the 5th string and compare it with the 4th string.


Next - do the same thing with your finger the 5th fret on the 4th string and compare it with the 3rd string


Now it gets different – place your finger on the 4th fret on the third string and compare it with the 2nd string.


Finally, go back to tuning the 1st string from the 2nd string on the 5th fret.


Go through each of the strings again to check that it is all in tune. 


Playing the Guitar


When you play the guitar, it involves two hands  - I know what you’re thinking “like duh!” - But you’d be surprised how many people very play well with their left hand and terribly with their right. 


Strumming Technique – The basics


Pick up the plectrum or “pick” as it’s more commonly known. 


Hold it between the thumb and first finger of your right hand. Your thumb should run across the width of the pick and your index finger should roughly point towards the point of the pick leaving about 3-4mm of room for you to strum.


Strumming the guitar is not as easy as it looks if you are going to do it well.


You should hold your pick approximately in a firm but not too tight fashion and strum through a 90 degree arc. Also when you strum you should strum with approx 1-2mm of the point of the pick. Don’t dig too deeply.






Your arm will move a little bit, but more radially (in a twisting fashion) rather than in a linear (up and down) fashion. When you strum your hand shouldn’t really go much beyond the boundary of the sound hole both up and down even in a vigourous strum.


I liken strumming a guitar to stroking your pussy cats head, nice and gently. Moving your hand in a semi circular motion. 


Try to avoid bashing the strings with the plectrum rather than strumming (another common mistake). Really you should strum the strings as if playing them individually and make them sound like they are ringing together.


On some accompanying pages you will find a list of chord charts.


Chord Charts


How to read a chord chart:

This blank chord chart is a representation of the guitar neck held upright.








The thick horizontal line at the top shows you where the strings start. 


This is called the nut on your guitar

The lines that run across are the frets – the metal strips. 


The six lines running vertically are the strings. 

So What is a Chord Chart?

The sole purpose of chord charts/diagrams is to show Where to place your fingers -

i.e. which finger plays which note: 








Diagram showing the chord of A

The numbered dots represent the notes to be played on the string and with which finger.


The O dots are open strings


 X means you don't play that string. 


Your fingers are numbered like this:


Index finger: 1st

Big Finger: 2nd

Ring Finger: 3rd

Little Finger: 4th


At first you may find that your fingers hurt a bit after playing for a while. This is quite normal. Like the soles of your feet the skin will thicken up in time and eventually it won’t hurt so much and then one day probably not at all. I always advise people to play little and often at first. A good idea is to have a go when the adverts appear during a TV programme


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