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Play Guitar - Easy Lesson

Updated on March 8, 2021
Jon Green profile image

For many years I taught guitar and worked out some strategies for beginners that saved a lot of time.

What to learn first

Hi. This article is designed to get you started on guitar, very quickly. The chords we are going to learn are on the guitar neck pictures shown on the chart below. Just follow these steps:

  1. Play Em ( called E minor) It's a chord, you play all six strings together. Use your first and second fingers, keep them as upright as possible.You only need to press down hard when you are strumming the strings with your right hand. The six vertical lines are the strings, the horizontal lines are the frets.
  2. Now practice moving to A - you move the pattern you've already learned, and just add one more finger on the end. Before you do anything else, just practice changing between these two chords for ten minutes or so.
  3. Now try G. Practice moving from Em to G and back again.
  4. Now try C - avoid hitting string 6, the lowest string in pitch.
  5. Now try B7, avoid string 6 again - reason- at the bottom of each chord, the lowest sounding note should be the same as the name of the chord.
  • Now we're ready to play the song. Or not. Count 123456 for every bar, very slowly at first.
  • Most songs are played in 4/4 time, that is four strums for each bar, or eight strums at twice the speed, but this is in a different and unusual rhythm.
  • Tip: you can learn the chord shapes without a guitar. Just trying to visualise them while travelling or watching TV will really help you learn faster.

House Of the Rising Sun chords

A very easy scale

The Em scale at the end can be played for solos - if you don't have a friend to play the chords with you, you could record them and play along. The easy way is to play fret 3, then open string on string 1 (the thinnest string) and then follow the pattern shown.

Pick/plectrum advice

It helps if you strum these chords with a pick, as long as you are playing steel string guitar anyway. Try a 73mm pick, and count as you go. Also, just experiment with playing these chords in a different order.

Practice for 10 - 15 mins, then have a break. Go for a stroll on the beach, or have your butler make some tea.

Be positive, and do not give yourself a hard time. You could be playing in a few hours to a week!

Next steps

Now you can play simple chords, check out my hub Guitar Chords 101 to learn the other vital easy chords.

You should now learn guitar tab , which is so easy. There are six lines, which each represent one string, with the lowest sounding, string 6, at the bottom, and the highest sounding and thinnest string 1 at the top. The numbers tell you which fret to play in - and that's it!

This is a quick way of learning tunes and riffs.

Here is an example, using a tune you should be familiar with, Frere Jacques. We're using just string 1, so in guitar tab this would equate to the top line of six (each string has a line, remember) 0= open string.

0 2 4 0 0 2 4 0

4 5 7 4 5 7

7 9 7 5 4 0 7 9 7 5 4 0

then open string 1, open string 2, open string 1 and repeat last three notes.

You can play a major scale like this: 12 11 9 7 5 4 2 0

Let's say you play this sequence of notes on string 1 - string 6 is the same, so now we have two ways of playing an E major scale. With no more effort you can transfer the pattern to all the other strings.

String 2 is B, so this is the B major scale, actually not that useful.

String 3 is G

String 4 is D

String 5 is A.

Look at my other hub on GUITAR TAB.

12 Bar Blues

This is an essential area to cover for all blues and rock guitarists, as it is used in hundreds of songs. Play each chord 4 times for each bar - you can also substitute the riff ideas that are in the guitar tab at the bottom of the page. This applies to the major blues only!

The Blues scale is very similar to the one you have already played, just adding the Bb note to the scale makes a lot of difference.

12 Bar Blues chords

What Guitar?

Many people give up on guitar because they are using a rubbish instrument that is almost impossible to play - don't make this mistake!

Generally small - body acoustics and electrics are the best bet for the beginner. If children want to start, get them a 3/4 size acoustic or electric - or be prepared to blow their chances of developing musically. Fender Squier electrics are available in this mini size.

Buying a guitar such as a Baby Taylor (especially for kids) or a Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster might make all the difference, and you should try some of these in a shop if you are inclined to give up. See my hub on buying a guitar for more info.

I'll just reiterate that point: don't give up on playing because of a lousy instrument, I've seen this happen so many times!


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