Hello YGT students!
Lets get this series of guitar lessons started, get you playing quickly and most importantly having fun.
During this lesson you will be choosing a practise routine to suit you based on how much time you want to put in. You will learn basics such as choosing a guitar, tuning your guitar, holding the guitar and posture, holding your pick and finally playing some notes.
We all want to be guitar Gods when we start but we have to get the basics sorted otherwise we will soon get confused and put the guitar in the corner.
Choosing Your Guitar
So you want to start playing and you want what you play to sound good right? I played my first few notes on a very cheap guitar with nylon string and I had no clue how to tune it or how to get any good sounds out of it at all. Youtube had not launched back then and you would have to buy a guitar book from a music shop or get a tutor if you wanted to get playing.
I soon realised that I wanted a new guitar and it was an Epiphone Les Paul that I chose, and it was this guitar that I put many hours of practise in to. I was bought this brand new for around £120 in 2004 but you can still pick one up for that price today.
When you are choosing a guitar you need to see them for real instead of looking at online catalogues, so first find your local music store. Make sure to pick one you like the look of and have a maximum price in mind as I have seen many beginners splash out on high priced guitars to discover they don’t want to continue playing 3 weeks later!
Ask the guitar shop owner or assistant to demo the guitar for you so you can see what sounds you will be able to get out of the instrument once you start learning guitar.
It is never fun getting a guitar that is poorly setup to start with, so ask him about the action and his honest opinion of the quality of the guitar. The action of a guitar is basically how high or low the strings are above the fretboard. If they are too high you will find it harder to learn at first as it will take more strength to press the strings down. However, if the strings are too low they will buzz and make you sound like you are always playing a badly fretted note. So the guitar needs to be somewhere in the middle and you will be able to hear this by playing all the notes up and down the fretboard on each string. Once again, if you are a complete beginner guitarist you could ask the shop assistant to do this for you.
Once you get more confident with your guitar you will probably want to adjust the action depending on what you are learning at the time. When I started I was particularly into fast paced ‘shred’ guitar which meant a low action was a good thing as it allowed me to execute scale runs easier than strings that were high and took more force to press down. Some music is more suited to a higher action and you will notice as you start learning guitar that chord based music is more suited to medium/ high action. After you have developed as a player the action often doesn’t both you too much unless it is extremely low or high but it makes all the difference when you start.
Always ask for extras when making a purchase as you will be surprised how generous guitar shops will be these days. Ideally you want a soft case and a few picks (plectrums) free with your guitar and if you are spending over £200 I would ask for a guitar tuner and guitar lead too but you may have to pay for those extras.
Holding Your Guitar
So you have got your guitar home and you are excited to get started but lets very quickly look at holding your guitar and posture. My tip is to first get a chair with no arm rests on it but a back support. Arm rests just get in the way and make you sit on the very edge of the seat and sofas and beds make you slouch. Try and keep your back fairly straight so you are not stooping over the guitar and place the guitars underside on your right leg close to your body so you can see the fretboard/ strings from this position without bending forwards. If you are using a left- handed guitar then you should take the same steps but place the guitar on your left leg instead.
Holding Your Pick
Sounds silly to even mention holding a pick right? It is actually really important as it controls how you sound and how you will continue to play from that point on. So lets get it right from the start. With your right hand I would like you to bend your first finger (Finger next to thumb) in half and turn your hand so your looking at it side on. Now place your plectrum on the first finger that is bent in half and put your right hand thumb on top of the pick. To start with you should have about half a finger nails worth of pick showing from under the thumb. Now slightly relax the first finger but maintain most of the bend.
This approach to holding the pick will make sure that you will be able to do strumming and fast picking easier than the ‘holding the pencil’ approach I often see with beginners.
Choosing A Practise Routine
My practise routines are included in ‘The Ultimate Practise- Planner’ that you can find on the ‘Home’ page and these routines are designed to get you playing quicker and not wasting time being confused at what to practise on your guitar.
There are three different durations of practise routine with two different routines for each duration. So you have a 30 minute routine 1 and 30 minute routine 2 that target different activities and exercises for a different day of the week. My students use the routines in rotation throughout their week so they don’t get bored of the same structure everyday. The same idea is used with both the 1 hour routine and the 2 hour routine. Choosing one of the routines is something you have to decide on but from my student feedback I have noticed most students start with the 30 minute routine and move to the 1 hour routine after a month or so. Currently ‘The Ultimate Practise- Planner’ is free when you purchase ‘Be The Guitarist’ so it may be worth buying it now if you are interested in choosing a practise routine to suit you.
As you will see on my Youtube channel your first exercise is designed to get you picking single notes with the ‘one finger per a fret’ approach. A very important part of this exercise is making sure your right hand (picking hand) is moving in an ‘up down up down’ motion known as Alternate Picking as this allows you to increase speed over time and have a cleanly executed picking technique. Watch the soon to be videos on my Youtube and have full TAB exercises by purchasing ‘Be The Guitarist’ today and getting ‘The Ultimate Practise- Planner’ completely free.
I hope you have enjoyed your guitar lesson and visit very soon for beginner guitar lesson 2.