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A beginners Guide To Acoustic Guitar Basics

Updated on July 17, 2011

6 Things To Know About Acoustic Guitar

Getting started learning acoustic guitar can be overwhelming because there is just so much information available. Regardless of what approach you will be taking to learn guitar, there are six acoustic guitar basics you should familiarize yourself with.

They are;
1. Know the parts of an acoustic guitar
2. Learn about the different types of acoustic guitar and what each is best suited for.
3. Learn the proper way to hold a guitar.
4. Know how to tune an acoustic guitar.
5. Be aware that there are different types and gauges of guitar strings.
6. Research the different kinds of lessons that are available so you know what will work best for your situation.

The Parts Of An Acoustic Guitar

The parts of an acoustic guitar
The parts of an acoustic guitar

Knowing Your Acoustic Guitar

These are the terms used for the parts of an acoustic guitar. You will run across these as you learn how to play so it is useful to spend a few minutes to learn them. It is also helpful for learning how to take care of your guitar.

How To Tune An Acoustic Guitar

Being able to tune your guitar is obviously an important skill. It doesn't matter how good someone can play a guitar, if it is out of tune it is going to sound bad.

An acoustic guitar is made of wood which means it will expand and contract with humidity and temperature changes. This will cause the strings to go out of tune. The guitar strings themselves also stretch, causing them to go out of tune. You should tune your guitar every time you sit down to play it.

The easiest way to tune your guitar is to use an electronic tuner. These are fairly inexpensive, easy to use and well worth having.

The other method for tuning a guitar is tuning it to itself by ear. This can take a little practice but it is a good skill to have.

The procedure for tuning a guitar to itself is as follows:

Place your finger on the fifth fret of the sixth string (thickest string) Play the sixth string, now play the fifth string with no fingers on it. Tune the fifth string up or down as needed until it is the same as the sixth string.

Next place your finger on the fifth fret of the fifth string and play it. Play the fourth string with no fingers on it and tune it to match the fifth string.

Next play fourth string at the fifth fret and tune the third string with no fingers on it to match that.

Next play third string at fourth fret, this is the only one that is different, and tune the second string to match that.

Play the second string at the fifth fret and tune the first string to match that.

Tuning a guitar to itself this way does take some practice but it is worthwhile knowing how to do it. Note that tuning your guitar to itself will not mean it is in tune with other instruments or in concert pitch unless you first tune the sixth string to an E

Types Of Acoustic Guitars

There are two main types of acoustic guitar, the nylon string or classical guitar and the steel string folk guitar.

An important thing to consider when shopping for a guitar is the comfort. Acoustic guitars do come in different shapes and sizes. Different guitars are better suited for different types of music and styles of play. As a beginner though you want to make sure the guitar feels comfortable to you. Try holding different guitars when you are shopping for one. Remember, you are hopefully going to be spending a lot of time with your guitar so make sure it feels good.

How To Hold Your Guitar

The way you hold or position your guitar can have an effect on your playing ability. A classical guitar and folk guitar are held differently because of the different playing technique.

For a folk guitar you want to position the guitar so that your left hand is properly positioned on the neck. Your thumb should be on the back side of the neck on the upper side of the neck, but not on top of the neck. Your wrist should be low with some space between your palm and the neck of the guitar.

Acoustic Guitar Strings

There are two types of guitar strings. Nylon strings and steel strings. Nylon strings are used mainly on classical guitars, and steel strings are used on folk guitars.

Guitar strings do come in different gauges, or thicknesses, and what you use will be determined by a few different things. As a beginner I would highly recommend using a light gauge string as they will be easier to play on. Once you have built up calluses on your fingers then you can experiment with different gauge strings to see what sounds best for your style of play and the type music you are playing. It is pretty much a personal preference thing.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons- What To Know

At some point in your guitar learning you will need some sort of instruction. There are quite a few methods of guitar instruction. Knowing the different methods of instruction will help you determine what is best for you.

The traditional method of learning is taking private lessons. This is still arguably the best method of learning. There are however some drawbacks to private lessons. The first being the expense. Private lessons can cost anywhere between $20 and $40 per lesson. You are also committed to a specific time and day for your lessons and this might not always work for you.

Guitar instruction books- It is possible to teach yourself to play guitar with the use of a guitar instruction book. This is the cheapest way to learn. Some drawbacks on learning this way are you do not have anyone to ask questions to when you get stuck or are confused about a lesson. It is also possible to pick up some bad playing habits and not even realize it.

Online guitar video courses- Probably the most popular method of learning guitar nowadays is with online guitar courses. As with anything else there are good ones and not so good ones. Make sure you shop around. The positive side of online guitar courses is that they are very affordable.

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    • theindianblues profile image

      theindianblues 7 years ago from Some where on the Globe

      Very elaborative and useful hub. Thanks for sharing!