Free Guitar Lesson For Beginners: Part 1 - Fundamentals

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

This series is designed to be a tool for you to start learning how to play the guitar. Going down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos and random websites can be very frustrating and end up being a waste of time as it’s very difficult to know where to start. So I hope you can use this as a path to get started to finally learn how to play the guitar. As a side note, there is no shame in looking at YouTube videos with this as your guide! This book is a map!


This curriculum provides an overview of how to play chords, read tablature, and basic music theory to get you started playing the guitar!


You should go through this series at your own pace, if you can follow it week by week, that's more power to you. You’re hungry for knowledge! However, if you need to take two or three weeks per lesson that is okay as well. We all learn at different tempos.


The last thing I would like to say is that I hope this book brings you joy. Please use this as a resource and finally knock the dust off that old guitar!




Tuning

Tuning can be a difficult task for those who do not know what they are doing, but don’t fret! First thing you will need is a tuner. You can buy one from your local music store (around $10 each) or find a free one from the app store on your phone.

The next step is to follow the string up to the top of the guitar and find the tuning peg that is attached to the string. From there play the string and see what the tuner says.


-Example:

If you play the bottom string - E String - and the tuner tells you that it is F. That means the string is too tight and you will have to turn the tuning peg in the direction that lowers the pitch.

From the bottom to the top - The strings are:

E----

B----

G---

D---

A---

E---


A way to remember is to use ‘Easter Bunny Get’s Donuts At Easter’


If you need extra help look up a YouTube video on how to tune!



Chord Charts

You may be asking yourself, ‘What is a chord chart?’. If so, you are in the right place! A chord chart is a visualization of how to play a chord.



Here we have a simplified C major chord.

-The vertical lines represent the strings. With the far right line being the bottom E string.

-The horizontal lines represent the frets.

-The ‘x’ tells you not to strum from that string.

-For this chord we would put our finger on the 1st fret of the second string. Then we would strum down from the 3rd (G) string.




Here we have a simplified G major chord.

-The vertical lines represent the strings. With the far right line being the bottom E string.

-The horizontal lines represent the frets.

-The ‘x’ tells you not to strum from that string.

-For this chord we would put our finger on the 3rd fret of the third string. Then we would strum down from the 3rd (G) string.







Chord Progressions

What is a chord progression? A chord progression is a series of chords that make up a section of a song. To put it into easier terms, it’s like you leave the house and head to the store, then the gas station, and right back home. For example a chord progression could be the chords: C/G/A minor/C

Except instead of you being the one that does all of this, it’s the music!

Go ahead and try out this chord progression That I wrote for this book. Make sure to give each chord 4 down strums, and do this until there is not a pause switching between chords


Practice Tip: Use a metronome to help you time out how many times to play a chord. If you are struggling with the transitions, play C for 4 beats, then have 4 beats of rest time in between so you can transition to G. Once that is easy go down to 3 beats in between. And so on.






Tablature

Tab is a fast track way to being able to learn songs on your own. Many guitarists use sights like ‘Ultimate-Guitar.com’ and books that solely include tab of their favorite tunes. I like to use tab as a way to get a student learning FAST! After the guitar is not feeling as awkward, then I introduce standard notation.


How to read tab

-To read tabs make sure you are only looking at the bottom measures that say TAB.

-Look at the horizontal lines, these represent the strings.

-The numbers represent the frets. For example: 2 = 2nd fret 0 = open string

-Be mindful that the top line represents the bottom string. And the bottom line represents the bottom string.

----E (bottom string)

----B

---G

---D

---A

---E (top string)






How To practice


Practicing is an art form of it’s own, and it’s generally not taught in public schools, or even private instruction sometimes. I will admit that I didn’t learn how to practice until attending the U.S. Army School of Music.


Step 1) Consistency is Key.


Practicing everyday for 5 minutes is more effective than practicing for 3 hours once a week. It’s all about being efficient with your time.


Step 2) Time spent practicing.


Starting an instrument is hard, it’s like trying to pick up a healthy habit. Such as eating a salad everyday, drinking more water, running, etc. To avoid burnout start with 5-10 minutes a day. As your fingers hurt less, and you start to enjoy playing more then go ahead and bump it up to 15 minutes.


Step 3) Focus.


Try to have this practice time not distracted. Turn off the TV, put the phone away, and really try to hyper focus on your instrument. Get tunnel vision! Additionally, practicing this way makes for a very meditative session. Nice thing to do after a long day!


Step 4) Go slow.

Go as slow as you need to. When you are starting guitar you are building fine motor skills and committing information to muscle memory. By going fast, you will mess up, and then you will learn things wrong/pick up bad habits. Patience!


Step 5)

Have fun! The reason why you are doing this is to have fun right? Music isn’t and should not be serious all the time. Always remember this!


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