THE ULTIMATE GUITAR COURSE
Getting in tune
Before playing any music, the most important thing is to get your guitar in tune. Track 1 on the CD willgive you notes you can tune to, but it is far easier to use a modern electronic tuner. Some you plugyour electric guitar into, or you can use the sort that clips to the headstock of the instrument and picksup its vibrations. Or, if you have a smartphone, you can probably download a free guitar tuner app; Ihave one on my Android phone and I use it all the time.With the guitar plugged in, turn your tuner on and play each string, one at a time. Makeadjustments at the tuning peg (follow the string back to the peg to make sure you are turning the rightone) until the tuner indicates that the pitch is correct, usually with a needle pointing to the centre orwith a display that changes color. Check that the tuner displays the letter name of the string you aretuning; if the guitar is new the strings may well be below their correct pitch and need several turnsbefore they are in tune. If you begin to get erratic readings from your tuner, it may be that the batteryneeds changing.
Sitting, standing, and which hand goes where
Most performing on the electric guitar is done standing up, but to put in the hours necessary toachieve guitar-god status it will probably be best to practice sitting down. In either case it is best foryour hands if you keep the guitar neck pointing upwards; somewhere around 45 degrees is best.Whatever you do, don’t let it drop below horizontal. You will need a guitar strap that can be adjustedto the correct length. Imagine that the weight of the guitar is being carried by the whole of your back,rather than just your shoulder.For most guitarists, the left hand holds down the strings on the fingerboard and the right handplays the strings down near the bridge with a pick. Left-handed people often opt to do this theopposite way around, using a purpose-built or converted left-handed guitar. But there is no reasonwhy any one hand should be better at fretting than picking, so if you are a left-handed beginner youmight as well learn to play right-handed. The advantage is that when you go to your local guitar storeyou will find plenty of right-handed guitars, but very few left-handed instruments. Also, if you need toborrow a guitar at a friend’s house or a jam session, and you’ve learned to play left-handed, you’llprobably find all the guitars are right-handed.
On the left is a tuner with a jack for you to plug your guitar into. It also has a built-in microphone. The string is recognized automatically, and the guitar is in tune whenthe green light in thecenter is lit, or whenthe electronic needle points directly upwards. On the right is a clip-ontuner that senses thevibration of the guitar strings. The display changes color whenthe guitar is in tune.Follow the string you are picking back upthe neck and acrossthe nut (the block of bone or plastic that keeps the strings in position) to make sure you are turning the right tuning peg.