So are we ready to begin? ok. First things first. This tutorial is designed to be fun. If you are having a really difficult time with a certain part, just move on and come back to that part later. The best way (in fact, the only way) to learn how to play a musical instrument is through practice that you enjoy! Please don't slog your way through musical scales until you hate them. Learn a song and then develop the desire to learn the scales so you can then play the melody to that song. What is most important is to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Picking up a musical instrument can be a frustrating experience, but it can also be a very rewarding one. On to the tutorial.
1.2 Guitar Basics
First, we need to take some time to get to know the parts of the guitar. The guitar I will be referring to in the following sections is an acoustic 6-string guitar. If you are right handed, you hold the guitar so your right hand is the strumming hand (it rests on the strings above the hole on the body of the guitar). Your left hand is then the picking hand, which rests on the neck of the guitar.
The large wooden part of the guitar is referred to as the "body" while the thin piece that is connected to the body is called the "neck." The strings run from the "bridge" which is on the body of the guitar (near the hole in the body) and connect to the "tuning pegs" which are on the "head" of the guitar.
The metal pieces that lie along the neck at seemingly random intervals are the "frets" and the neck is sometimes referred to as the "fretboard." The six strings are pressed onto the fretboard by the player's hand, which shortens the part of the string allowed to vibrate when plucked, which changes the pitch of the string. So (again, I speak for a right handed player, just reverse right and left for left handed player) the player's left hand frets combinations of strings against the fretboard, while the right hand plucks or strums the strings to cause them to vibrate.
1.3 Musical Basics
The modern western musical scale consists of 12 tones (the 13th tone is an "octave" of the first tone) These tones are denoted with the letters A through G as well as the symbols "sharp," "flat," and "natural." For example the 12 tones could be written as:
A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#
The next tone in the preceding scale would be "A" again. This second "A" is called an "octave" of the first "A". Mathematically, this means that the second "A" note is vibrating at twice the frequency as the first "A" note. The result of this is that the two notes sound the same except that the second one has a higher pitch. This will make more sense as the tutorial progresses. Music works in a very mathematical fashion. (as strange as that may seem) A "Note" with a "pitch" is simply a sound wave traveling through the air at a certain frequency. The way that these waves interact with each other lead us to what we call music.
The most important thing to understand is the fact that there are 12 tones and they repeat after the 12th tone. (after the G# comes the A). The study of musical theory is a vast and expansive subject matter, the purpose of this is to give you enough background to continue the tutorial. The concept of "musical steps" is important as well. A half step in musical terms refers to one note that follows another note (or one fret difference on the guitar). A and A# are an example of a half step. A whole step in musical terms refers to a difference of two tones (two frets on the guitar). A and B are examples of a whole step. Be careful when figuring whole steps versus half steps. Some musical letter tones do not have these "sharp" tones in between them. For example A and B are a whole step apart, but B and C are only a half step apart (as are E and F). If this seems confusing, it will become clear shortly.
1.4 The strings
There are six strings on most guitars (12 on others), and they are tuned from the lowest string (the string closer to the top of the guitar as it rests in your lap.) to the highest string as: E, A, D, G, B, E Which leads to the following scatter of notes on the fretboard (realize that two notes with the same name may not be the same pitch, but could be "octaves" of each other-- an example is the lowest and highest strings which are two octaves apart.)
1.5 Tuning the Guitar
As you may have realized from the previous picture, the same note can be played on different strings (although the two notes may be octaves). This leads to a relatively simple way of tuning the guitar. Once one of the strings of the guitar is in tune (either with a nearby piano, or by ear) the all other strings can be tuned from this string. To tune the A string from the low E string, for example, the player would fret the low E string on the fifth fret (making it sound as an A note) and compare this tone to the A string. The player would then turn the tuning peg that the A string is connected to until the two pitches sound the same. The same method works for all other strings, except when tuning the B string from the G string. In this case the player would fret the fourth fret. This is illustrated below:
2.1 Chord Basics
This section will introduce some of the major chords and will teach a few simple songs. As mentioned previously, it is very important to keep the practicing of a musical instrument interesting and fun. The way this section should be approached is as follows: learn some of the basic chords and then either create a song from these or try and find a song that uses only a few of these simple chords (this will be much easier than you would imagine, as many popular songs are quite simple musically). A great place to start looking for music is the Ultimate Band List Go to the main site and then click on the letter of the artist to search for (or enter a search text in the search box -- this way is usually much slower) Once an artists "page" has been found look for links to places that advertise "sheet music" or "guitar tabulature." You'll be surprised how much is out there.
A musical chord is just a group of notes that is played at the same time. The intervals between these notes and how the frequencies of these notes react with each other determine what the chord will sound like. Chords are named by the notes in them and the relationships that these notes have to each other. For, instance, a simple G major chord consists of the notes G, B, and D. A major chord consists of a root note, a third, and a fifth. In the previous example, the G would be the root note, the B would be the third and the D would be the fifth. All this means is that the note B is four half steps above the G, and the note D is seven half steps above the G A common chord is a major chord. A major chord is composed of a root, a third, and a fifth
The notation for the chord presentation must now be explained. The following notation:
means "fret the high and low E strings (the top and bottom strings) on the third fret and fret the A string (second from the top in this picture) on the second fret." (incidently, this is a G major chord)
A black circle on a string means "fret this string on the fret shown", a white circle means "play this string without fretting it anywhere." An X on a string means "mute (don't sound) this string." To mute a string, a player can either not play the string at all, or lightly touch the string, in order to keep the string from ringing. I have included numbers next to the black dots. These numbers correspond to the finger that should be used to play the chord. 1 means index finger, 2 means middle finger, 3 means ring finger, and 4 means pinky finger. So in the above example the pinky finger should be used to fret the high E string on the third fret, the ring finger should be used to fret the low E string on the third fret and the middle finger should be used to fret the A string on the second fret.
More will be posted soon as i get back home. Enjoy