Learning Guitar BasicsEssentials for Guitar Playing

Understanding the guitar basics such as fretboard layout, how to tune a guitar, how to read chord diagrams and tab are the basics you need to learn first.

Don’t let all this learning stuff scare you off. It’s fairly easy and you can learn a little at a time and still be able to start playing.

Scales are easy to learn once you see how they are made and where they come from.

Chords are the same way, they might have some strange names but once you understand the lingo you will see how easy it is to read those chord names.

Buying a Guitar

Buying your 1st guitar can be a little tough today. There are so many different types and brands. Try and take someone who has been playing with you if you can. Check out the page below for more tips it may save you some money.

I think learning on an acoustic guitar is better because without any electronics altering the sound you can hear what the sound is naturally. Acoustic guitars add harmonics that you can’t get from an electric guitar. Play a chord on an acoustic and listen closely to the subtle overtones that come from the sound hole.

Guitar Buying

How to Hold the Guitar

This link is also in the beginner lessons section but I put another link here because this is important info that can help your playing.

If you hold the guitar like you see in music videos you are going to have problems playing. Those videos are for entertainment not a guitar lesson. Most of the time they aren’t playing anything they’re just faking it.

Even guitar players you see in concert playing in odd positions have practiced playing like that for an entertainment effect to look Kool.

How to Hold a Guitar

How to Hold a Pick

This next page tells you the correct way to hold a pick. This way will work for most players but not all of us. Feel free to vary your position as long as it doesn’t hinder your playing in any way. You must have control of the pick at all times.

Holding the Pick

Guitar Picks

Most players use a standard pick but there are a couple other types you should know about. Also you don’t have to use a pick. All Classical guitarists use their fingers and fingernails to play.

You should try out a thumb pick, I find this useful for getting a more pronounced bass line when finger picking.

Guitar Picks

Guitar Tuning

To get the harmonic touch the 12th fret with the tip of your finger very lightly, don’t press down and pick the note.

This note should match the note when you press down and play it, if not you need to adjust the screws at the bottom of your bridge. Many electric guitars have this feature. You don’t normally see this adjustment on an acoustic. I’ve never had this problem on an acoustic guitar even a cheap one.

If you play all the notes one by one you get part of the “Star Trek” theme. This also works on the 7th fret but the harmonics do not match the note below as on the 12th fret.

More on Guitar Tuning

Guitar Tuners

This page will get you up to speed on all the different tuners available today. There are lot of different types and price ranges from a strobe that’s used in many top notch recording studios to simple tuners. I have one in a digital metronome that I use.

Guitar Tuner

Changing Guitar Strings
Guitar Basics

Changing guitar strings can be a problem for beginners and people that have been playing for awhile but never took the time to learn how to string the guitar right.

If you do not string your guitar the right way you will be tuning and retuning until you put the strings on the right way.

Take it Slow

Take your time putting the strings on until you get the technique down pat, it’s worth the effort to learn it right as you will notice when you have to play with another guitarist that never learned how.

It’s very annoying having someone always going out of tune especially if it’s you.

Learn Now or Later

Think of it this way would you rather spend a half hour or an hour changing your strings or hours tuning and retuning until the next time you change your strings. It’s a catch 22 thing, you can’t escape learning how to change your strings.

It will become quicker and easier the more you do it.

Change Guitar Strings Right

Guitar String Types
Guitar Basics

When you go to get strings for your guitar you should know some string basics so you don’t buy the wrong type. If you have pick-ups you need steel strings not just any metal. Here’s a page about guitar string types

You have a very large assortment of strings today. When I started playing guitar the string assortment was very limited.

Today you can get sets with Heavy strings for the 6,5 and 4 strings with light gauge for bending on the 3,2 and one strings or just the opposite if want to play some slide on the the first 3 strings.

Guitar String Types

Guitar Lessons

There are a lot of ways to learn guitar today with the internet and all types of software. However you should start out with a real teacher and not internet videos. A real teacher can answer your questions which you will have when first learning.

After you get down some basics you can learn from other sources. A lot of info on the internet can be wrong, put up by people that don’t know a lot about the subject. So if something doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t.

Sheet music and books can also have mistakes in them too so knowing the basics of music will help you weed them out.

Guitar Lessons

The Guitar Fretboard

Knowing the guitar fretboard makes it easier to play the same thing in different positions. This is important because there are little tricks like pull-offs on open strings you can use in some positions but not in others depending on your key.

You won’t get lost on the fretboard, you’ll know where all the notes are. This makes a big difference when you are trying to learn something from an audio source. A lot of the time you need to play what you are learning in the same position as the guitar player in the audio or you won’t get the right sound.

Open Strings in Higher Positions

Another advantage is using open strings even though you may be playing in the 7th position. Knowing all the strings and all the frets is not that hard. There are only 7 notes, all the other notes are flats(1 fret lower) or sharps(1 fret higher) of the 7 notes.

Guitar Fretboard

Ear Training

Learn how to use those ears to recognize chord progressions, chords and notes.

Some people are born with what they call perfect pitch.

A person with perfect pitch can recognize each music note even if they don’t know what they are called.

To them all the individual notes have something distinct that tells them apart.

What the rest of us do is learn relative pitch. That’s the ability to tell what a note is after the first note is played.

Universities the have Music as a Major usually offer Ear Training for 4 Years along with the other subjects.

Ear Training – Learn More


Metronomes are a very good tool for beginners and professional guitarists. You can work a piece of music, chord progression or guitar solo up to speed with this tool.

You never out grow this basic tool. The more complicated the music you’re learning becomes the more important the metronome is for keeping your timing.

Using Metronomes

Learning Guitar Scales

Learning scales is easier today with all kinds of software to make learning more interesting and fun while you learn.

Learning Scales

Reading Guitar Tablature

Learning how to read guitar tabs is a guitar basics that will increase your learning speed. A lot of learning material for guitar is written in simplified tab, making it easy for beginning guitar players.

Tablature is a good way of showing fingerpicking patterns, it makes it easier to read than normal notation for the beginner. Some players just like it better.

Guitar tablature is a way of writing music that is easy to understand for someone starting out or for people that don’t really want to take the time to learn to read music notation.

How to Read Guitar Tab

Thank You for Visiting Our Guitar Basics Page.

I hope you found this page useful.