Practice fretting the strings. The frets are the metal strips that run perpendicular to the strings that mark each note. To play a note, press your finger down between the metal strips, not on them. To say that you're playing the third fret means that you place your finger on the string in the gap between the second and third fret. If you hear buzzing, move your finger away from the lowest fret and closer to the higher fret. Hold the string down firmly so that it only vibrates between your finger and your strumming hand, with the tip of your finger doing the pressing.
Position your fingers on the neck. The dots on the chords represent where you should hold down your fingers on the neck. For instance, an A major is played by holding down the string on the second fret on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string. An E minor is played by holding down the second fret on the 5th and 4th string. Hold the strings down until they are pressed against the neck of your guitar.
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Alright, are you ready to learn your first guitar chord? It's called an E minor. There are two basic types of chords you'll come across, major and minor. Major chords don't have anything after them, ie we just call them G, or C, or E etc. For minor chords however, we abbreviate the minor into just 'm' and add that onto the end of the chord. So, Em.
YES! It is possible for you to learn to play guitar, regardless of your age. The oldest student of mine that I’ve heard from was 93… just starting to learn how to play guitar, and LOVING IT! The biggest hindrance to learning how to play guitar, at any age, is the belief that you’re not able to do it. So, if that thought has ever crossed your mind, toss it in the garbage can right now, and let’s move on.
Using the same claw-like finger positioning on the second fret, you can play an F# chord. Move to the third fret, and it becomes a G chord. It's a difficult finger positioning to learn, but you can start playing the chords to any rock or pop song relatively quickly when you learn to strum and play barre chords. The Ramones, for example, used nothing but barre chords to great effect.
C-chord: Place your ring finger on the third fret of the fifth string. Place your middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string, and your index finger on the first fret of the second string. Strum all but the sixth string. Then, go back and play each string individually, while still playing the chord. Make sure each string rings out clearly.
Justin, first off I just wanted to say thanks for all the advice and instruction. You make playing guitar easy and understandable and fun. You explain very well the hows and whys when presenting a new song to learn and walk it through so that anyone can learn. I have played guitar for 20 years now and have learned more from you in the last five years than the previous 15 by myself. You have also been a tremendous help to both my son and my daughter in learning to play as well by making playing fun and interesting. I have a couple of pictures of me and my children all doing what we love. Many Thanks to you Justin
I've started off a new series with the awesome Ariel Posen, The Captains Privates series is popular as ever and I've also been filling in some beginner lessons of things I get asked about all the time... I'm about to re-kindle the Blues Lead 3 series which fell off the wagon somewhere and also get the gear videos rocking again... so lots in the works, lots going on and still loving it!
Wow! This post really seems to have helped a lot of folks get started with the guitar. It has been read by – I kid you not – millions of aspiring guitarists. Thank you! As many of you have noted in the comments below, no, I’m not selling anything here related to playing the guitar. My motivation to write this post was that musicians, and especially guitar teachers, can often make learning the guitar sound way too hard. It’s actually easy.
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