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Teach Yourself Guitar

Written by Adam Summers

Introduction

Welcome to Teach Yourself Guitar, an action-oriented course to get


you playing guitar as fast as possible. Were going to start off by
covering some essential advice on choosing the right guitar for you.
From there we will work our way through:
Learning the Fret Board
Basic Guitar Chords
How to Read Guitar Tablature
Musical Scales on the Guitar
Strumming and Finger Picking
How to Tune your Guitar
More Guitar Chords
Putting it all together into a 15-minute Practice Session
By the end of this book youll be familiar with the notes along the
guitar neck, you will have learned how to play all the open major
and minor chords. Youll be able to find guitar tablature for your
favorite songs, knowing how to read and play them.
Not only that, youll also be able to play basic chord progressions,

either using a strumming pattern or finger picking technique.

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To get you started playing lead guitar and understanding the


composition of solos you will have knowledge of Major, Minor and
Pentatonic scales and...
Finally youll have a rock solid practice schedule to get you playing

guitar faster than you believed possible.

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Choosing a Guitar
Which type of guitar is right for you?
Obviously the first step to learning guitar is choosing your
instrument. To a large extent, your choice of guitar should be based
on the type of music you want to play. If you like to play rock or
metal, you'll want to buy an electric guitar. If you prefer bluegrass
or folk music, you'll probably want an acoustic guitar. If you're a
mainly a singer, or singer-songwriter who wants to accompany
yourself when you sing, then an acoustic guitar is the one for you. If
you prefer acoustic but plan on playing for an audience, you'll want
an acoustic which has pickups installed so that the sound can be
amplified.
Acoustic guitars, on the other hand have the advantage of requiring
less set up time and if you're willing to deal with a slightly steeper
learning curve, once you learn the acoustic, playing an electric
guitar will seem much easier.
It's important to shop around when you go looking for a new guitar.
The prices can vary a lot from one store to the next. Also, keep in
mind that most list prices for guitars are inflated, with a bit of
bargaining, you can often get a discount on your guitar or at least
have the salesperson throw in some accessories such as extra
strings, picks, patch cords or perhaps some sheet music or
instructional books.
If you can, bring a friend who is an experienced guitar player with
you when you go to choose an instrument. They can advise you on
the quality of the guitar and help you avoid some common pitfalls.
It's best not to buy extremely low cost instruments, often they are
not well built and may be difficult to tune or have a poor sound

quality.
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Make sure to play each instrument before you consider buying it.
Don't be afraid to play it at your usual volume, you need to hear
what the instrument sounds like when you play it normally. Often
flaws in the sound aren't apparent when you play a guitar softly, as
you'll probably be tempted to do in a store environment. Keep in
mind that a guitar is a major purchase and you'll want to be sure
that any guitar you buy will suit your needs. Don't feel pressured
into buying anything you're not 100% happy with.
Play the guitar at all positions on the neck and check for any fret
buzz or irregularities in the sound. Find out how easy or difficult it is
to tune the instrument.
Stick to the major guitar manufacturers if you're at all uncertain.
Most of the major brands produce decent guitars at all price ranges.
You can even get a beginner's kit that comes with a guitar, an amp
and the basic accessories you need to get started. These are usually
available for a reasonable price, and are a good option if you're just
starting out and don't have a lot of money to invest.
Whichever guitar you buy, make sure it's an instrument you're
completely comfortable with and one that suits your personality.
Your guitar is the medium for expressing your art, don't settle for

second best!

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Tuning Your Guitar


The foundation of good playing
Before you get started playing, you need to tune your guitar. Tuning
your guitar properly not only makes your guitar sound better, it
helps develop your sense of pitch which is especially important if
you sing as well as play guitar or if you plan to try to learn songs by
ear. You can buy a guitar tuner relatively cheaply, and it will help
get you on pitch, but it's also important to develop your ear to be
able to hear when your guitar is in tune and when it's not.
To tune your guitar, you need to find a pitch to start from. You can
use a tuner, or a keyboard if you have one, or you can find an online
guitar tuner such as the one here: http://www.gieson.com/Library/
projects/utilities/tuner/
Let's start with the low E string. Play the low E string without
pressing down any strings and try to match it to the sound on the
online guitar tuner or to the E below middle C if you're tuning to a
piano. If you have a hand held tuner, you want to adjust the pitch
so that it lines up perfectly with the E on the tuner. To adjust the
pitch, turn the tuning knob for the low E string (usually the one
closest to the neck of the guitar, pluck the string as you turn the
knob to make sure you're adjusting the correct string. Tightening
the string raises the pitch of the note, loosening the string lowers it.
Now that you've found the correct pitch for your low E string, you
can tune the other strings based on that reference note. To tune the
5th or A string, hold down the 5th fret on the low E string and play
the 5th string open ( ie. not fretted ). These two notes should sound
exactly the same. Adjust the pitch of the 5th string so that the two
notes sound identical. Often you'll hear an oscillating sound when
you play the two notes, as if it's wavering back and forth, this is an

indication that you're not in tune yet.


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Once the 5th string is done, tune the 4th string by pressing down
the 5th fret of the 5th string and matching the sound of the 4th
string to this pitch. To tune the third string, you hold down the 5th
fret of the 4th string and match it to the sound of the 3rd string. The
second string should match the sound of the 4th fret of the third
string and the 1st or high E string should match the sound of the
fifth fret of the second string. Here's a chart to make it a little more
clear:
6th string - find the correct pitch from a tuner or piano.
5th string - the 5th string should match the sound made when
holding down the 5th fret of the 6th string.
4th string - the 4th string should match the sound made when
holding down the 5th fret of the 5th string.
3rd string - the 3rd string should match the sound made when
holding down the 5th fret of the 4th string.
2nd string - the 2nd string should match the sound made when
holding down the 4th fret of the 3rd string.
1st string - the 1st string should match the sound made when
holding down the 5th fret of the 2nd string.
Once you've tuned all the strings, play through a couple of chords to
make sure everything sounds the way it should. At first, you may
have to go back and make some adjustments to get it to sound
right. This takes some time and can be a bit frustrating at first, but
with practice, you'll develop a better sense of when a string is in
tune and the process of tuning will get much faster. You should tune
your guitar each time you play it, the strings can get out of tune
fairly quickly, and tuning it each time ensures you're on pitch and

helps ingrain the correct sound in your memory.

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Guitar Tablature
How to read all that guitar tab you found online.
Guitar tablature is the most simple and direct method of reading
music for the guitar. This ease of use makes tablature the most
popular method for writing out music for the guitar. To learn how to
read tablature ( usually referred to as "tab" ), simply visualize the
strings of your guitar as written on a piece of paper. Each line of
tablature represents a string on your guitar. The bottom line
represents the low "E" string, that is, the sixth string or lowest
sounding string on the guitar. The next line up represents the 5th or
"A" string, and so on.
The next thing you'll notice is the numbers placed on the lines.
These numbers indicate the fret that your left hand needs to hold
down in order to play the note. So, if you have a bar of tab with a
number "2" on the "G" or third string, that means you hold the
second fret down with your left hand while your right hand plays the
third string. Here's the example:

e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|-----2--------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------|
A|--------------------------------------------------|

E|--------------------------------------------------|

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When you see two or more numbers directly above or below each
other, play all those notes at the same time. For example, here's a
G chord written in tab:

e|-----3---------------------------------------------|
B|-----3---------------------------------------------|
G|-----0---------------------------------------------|
D|-----0---------------------------------------------|
A|-----2---------------------------------------------|
E|-----3---------------------------------------------|

Depending on the publication, sometimes you will see note values


such as quarter notes or eighth notes attached to the numbers. This
shows you the length of time that you need to hold the note. You
read these the same as you would standard music notation, a
quarter note equals one beat, an eighth note a half of a beat, a half
note is two beats etc.
In many examples, such as the ones you will see here, just the
numbers are given. In that case, you will need to listen to the songs
presented to get a feel for the tempo of the passage and the
duration of the notes. In the scale exercises presented in this book,
simply play the all the notes as quarter notes at a comfortable speed

until it feels easy and then you can speed it up as you go along.

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Here's a simple C scale and chord written in tab to get you used to
reading music this way:

e|------------------------------------0----------------|
B|----------------------------0---1---1----------------|
G|--------------------0---2-----------0----------------|
D|--------0---2---3-------------------2----------------|
A|----3-------------------------------3----------------|

E|-----------------------------------------------------|

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Learning the Fretboard


Move quickly between notes, create killer solos

Learning the fretboard can be one of the most daunting tasks facing
any aspiring guitarist. But the payoffs are huge. Knowledge of the
fretboard allows you to play lead lines, solos, and improvise like a
pro. Fortunately, it's not as hard as it looks, though it does require
some practice and repetition.

The Musical Alphabet


First of all, the natural notes in each octave are named for the first 7
letters of the alphabet, A through G. After G, the next higher note
goes back to A and the cycle repeats. In most cases, each note is 2
half steps or two frets apart on any given string. The two exceptions
are from B to C and from E to F. These notes are 1 half step or 1
fret apart on the fretboard. So, to sum it up:
A to B - 2 frets
B to C - 1 fret
C to D - 2 frets
D to E - 2 frets
E to F - 1 fret
F to G - 2 frets

G to A - 2 frets

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Here it is in tab to make it easier to visualize. We'll use the 5th


string to illustrate:

e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------|
A|--0---2---3---5---7---8---10---12-----------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------|

Notice that the 12th fret is the same note, one octave higher than
the open note (the note sounded without holding down any frets) on
the same string. You can find any natural note on the fretboard by
starting with the open note on each string and counting up the
fretboard using the above pattern.

Sharps and Flats


Depending on the key of the music you're playing, you may need to
find notes with either a sharp or a flat designation. A sharp note will
be one fret higher than the corresponding natural note. For
example, F# will always be one fret higher than F. In our example,
F# is played on the fifth string, 9th fret. A flat note, on the other
hand, is one fret lower than the natural note. So Eb can be played

on the 5th string, 6th fret.

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This may sound a little confusing, but with time and practice, it will
become second nature. Concentrate on learning the natural notes
first, from there you will have a solid point of reference from which
to figure out the sharps and flats.

Beyond the 12th Fret


Once you get beyond the 12th fret, you're starting all over again,
one octave higher. So, on the 5th string, you can play a B on the
2nd fret and B one octave above on the 14th fret. The C on the 5th
string can be played on the 3rd fret and an octave higher the 15th.
This is particularly useful to know for electric guitar players who play
lead lines and solos where those higher notes are often used.
It helps to practice finding the notes on the fretboard a little every
day, possibly as a part of your warm up routine. Pick a note, let's
say A to begin with, and try to find all the A notes on your fretboard.
Say the note name out loud each time you play it. This will help
burn it into your memory much more quickly. Here's the tab for all
the A natural notes on the fretboard to get you started:

e|-----------------------------------5--------------|
B|------------------------------10------------------|
G|---------------------2---14-----------------------|
D|-----------------7--------------------------------|
A|--------0---12------------------------------------|
E|----5---------------------------------------------|

Once you know how to play an A on any string, move on to B and


carry on from there. In time, you'll work your way through all the

notes on the fretboard.


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With a little time and patience, you'll know the fretboard like the
back of your hand and be on your way to learning and creating killer

guitar solos.

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Scales for Guitar


Groups of notes that sound great together

The key to creating first rate guitar solos and lead lines is to
familiarize yourself with the various types of scales and learn to play
them anywhere on the neck of the guitar. First we'll start with a
quick overview of 4 of the most common scale types, major, minor,
and major and minor pentatonic. I'll give you a sample exercise for
each one to get you started and get your left hand used to the
notes. By the end of this article, I'll have you jamming with Eric
Clapton!
When you're learning to play scales, it easiest to use a pick and
remember to use alternate picking, that is, use a downstroke for the
first note, an upstroke for the second and continue to alternate up
and down strokes as you play.
Use a metronome if you can to get used to playing with even and
consistent timing, and always start slowly, (more slowly than you
think is necessary). Gradually increase the speed as you get
comfortable. The reason I always emphasize this is that your fingers
will get used to playing whatever patterns you repeat, whether they
are the correct patterns or not. This is called motor learning and
comes from your brain recognizing and repeating consistent patterns
of movement. So the point is, if you try to go too fast and keep
making mistakes, your brain will learn the mistaken patterns and
you will develop bad habits that can be very hard to break.
People say practice makes perfect, but it's not exactly true. In
reality, PERFECT practice makes perfect. So, go slowly, practice

correctly, and learn good habits.

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Major Scales
First let's take a look at major scales. Major scales can start from
any root note and follow the same tonal pattern no matter which
note they start on. I'll use the C major scale as an example:
C to D : tone
D to E : tone
E to F : semi-tone
F to G : tone
G to A : tone
A to B : tone
B to C : semi-tone
Here's a C major exercise for you to try:

e|-------------------------------------------------------------------------------8--0|
B|----------------------------3-----------------------------------------------------1|
G|-------------------2--4--5-----4--2-----------------------------------------5-----0|
D|----------2--3--5--------------------5--3--2--------------------------------------2|
A|----3--5--------------------------------------5--3--2--3--2-----------------------3|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------5--3--5--7--8---------|

Minor Scales
Minor scales in any given key are based on the 6th note of the major
scale for that key. This is called the relative minor scale for the key
in which you're playing. In the key of C, the relative minor scale is A
minor and is constructed like this:
A to B : tone

B to C : semi-tone
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C to D : tone
D to E : tone
E to F : semi-tone
F to G : tone
G to A : semi-tone
Here's an exercise in A minor that's based on intervals:

e|---0-----------------------------------------------------------------------1-----3----5---------|
B|---1-----------------------------------------------------------3-----5--------------------------|
G|---2-----------------------------------------2--2--4--2--5--2-----2-----2-----2-----2----2------|
D|---2-----------------------2-----3-----5--------------------------------------------------------|
A|---0--0--2--0--3--0--5--0-----0-----0-----0-------------------------------------------------0---|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Major Pentatonic Scales


Pentatonic scales are scales which contain only 5 notes. Pentatonic
scales are easy to learn and come in very handing when you're
playing solos and lead lines. A major pentatonic scale contains the
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of the major scale for the key in
which you're playing. So, a C major pentatonic scale contains the

notes C, D, E, G, and A.

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Play through the major pentatonic like this:

e|----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------------1--------------------------------------|
G|----------------2-----2--------------------5--5-----------|
D|----------2--5-----------2--5--2--5--------5--5-----------|
A|----3--5-----------------------------5--3--3--3-----------|
E|----------------------------------------------------------|

Minor Pentatonic Scales


Minor pentatonic scales also contain 5 notes and are based on the
relative minor of the key in which you're playing. So, as with the
regular ( or diatonic, as it's called ) minor scale, the minor
pentatonic scale in the key of C will be the A minor pentatonic scale.
It contains the following notes; A, C, D, E, and G.
For the minor pentatonic scale, your practice assignment is a bit
different. Go to http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/e/
eric_clapton/layla_acoustic_ver2_tab.htm for the tab of the acoustic
version of Eric Clapton's Layla. Listen to the song on youtube at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj8xjLQ9ofI
Don't worry, I'm not asking you to play this. What I want you to do
is to jam along with Clapton on the solo ( and on the chorus if you
like, which contains the same chord pattern as the solo ). The solo is
based on a D minor pentatonic scale which contains the notes D, F,

G, A and C. It looks like this:

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e|----------------------------5--8--10------------------|
B|----------------------6--8----------------------------|
G|----------0--2--5--7----------------------------------|
D|----0--3----------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------|

Any of these notes will work with the notes Clapton and the band
are playing. Have fun, improvise, and experiment with different
sounds and note combinations. And if Eric Clapton invites you on

tour to play with him, I want a backstage pass!

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Basic Guitar Chords


The building blocks of songs

For the majority of songs youll play (Id say all of them unless
youre a lead guitarist,) youll need to learn how to play guitar
chords. Im going to guide you through the most common guitar
chords youll come across, which is a selection of the Open Major,
Minor, Seventh, and Barre chords.
If youve never picked up a guitar before, and have no idea where to
start, check out my guide on Easy guitar chords for beginners. Then
come back here and learn all the major, minor, 7ths, and Barre
chords, equip yourself with all the tools youll need to play those
guitar songs.
If youre not quite sure how to read the chord diagrams check out
the beginner guitar chord lesson for a quick guide.

How to Play the Major Guitar Chords


The open major guitar chords available to you are the A, C, D, E, F
and G chords.
Hey! What happened to the B Chord!?
Im getting to that... well kind of. Its an interesting subject and you
may want to sidetrack and quickly check out my blog post on the B
Chord Guitar.
Anyway- Major chords are made up of 3 notes, specifically the 1st,
3rd and 5th notes from the major scale. For example the A Major
Chord has the A note at the 1st position in the A Major Scale. A C#

(C-Sharp) at the 3rd position and an E at the 5th position.

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We say the A Major Chord is made up of A, C# and E notes.


Now we want to find a way to play these notes easily on the guitar.
It turns out the second string on the guitar is the A string, so when
you play it as an open string youre creating an A note.
So thats the first piece of the puzzle, now for the C# and E.
The next string down is the D, if you place your first finger on the
second fret youll be playing an E note, the next string down again is
the G, and on the second fret youll find another A note, then comes
the B string, the second fret will produce a C# and the bottom string
can be played open because its an E... which fits nicely into the
notes for our A major chord.
Pretty simple, huh?

A Major
The A Guitar Chord is relatively easy to play,
but quite hard to switch to from other chords
for the beginner guitarist.
The A and Asus4 are used as the primary
chords for April Sun in Cuba, by Dragon. A
fantastic track with an easy but distinctive
strumming pattern.
And as we discovered its made up from the

A, C# and E notes.

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C Major
Remember were looking for the 1st, 3rd and
5th notes in the Major scale for the Key, in
this case C, which gives us the C, D and E
notes in the chord.

D Major
The D Major chord has the notes D, E, and
F# in it.
Probably most famously used on Stairway to
Heaven by Led Zeppelin, flitting between
the D Major and Dsus4 just before the solo.

Magic!

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E Major
E Major is made up of the notes E, F#, and
G#

Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix used the E Major


chord as the anchoring point after the intro,
the same shape is then used 4 frets up, then
3 before returning to the Open position, then
another little lick and into the C, G, D, A chord
progression.

F Major
The notes in the F Major Chord are F, G, and
A
This is probably the hardest chord for new
guitarist. It leads on to the idea of using one
finger to barre more than one string, so
your other fingers are free to play a selection
of other notes.

Its called the F chord for a reason.

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G Major
The G Major chord is made up of the notes:
G, A#, and C.
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd uses the
notes from the G chord during the intro to
great effect.

Minor Chords
The three minor chords youll use most often are E minor (Em), D
minor (Dm) and A minor (Am).

A Minor Chord is created by taking the 3rd note of the Major Scale
and taking it down a semi-tone, this is called the flat note.

For example in the E minor we take the 1st note, which is the E, the
third note (G#) is taken down a semi-tone to G and we complete it
with the B. So E, G and B.

Heres the chord diagrams for the three minor chords you should

learn how to play.

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A minor (Am)

D minor

(Dm)

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E minor (Em)

These are the basic chords that will get you through a surprisingly
large number of songs. Later on in Chapter 9 we'll talk about some
more advanced chords that will help you cover just about any song

you can find!

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Basic Strumming Patterns


Starting to develop your rhythm.
Learning how to strum your guitar properly is a basic technique that
all guitarists need to learn. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to
master.

First of all, start by holding your guitar pick between the thumb and
forefinger of your strumming hand. Hold the pick firmly, but don't
grip it so hard that it restricts your movements and wrist action. Be
sure to strum only the strings you want to play in each chord. For
example, in a D chord the fifth and sixth string should remain silent.
If you accidentally hit those strings as you strum, the chord won't
sound right.

For all of my examples, I'm going to ask you to strum a standard G


chord, which is fretted like this:

e|--------3-----------|
B|--------3-----------|
G|--------0-----------|
D|--------0-----------|
A|--------2-----------|

E|--------3-----------|

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The first pattern to master is the quarter note pattern. We'll start by
strumming four quarter notes ( 1 bar ) of the G chord. Use all down
strokes to begin with, in other words strum from the 6th string to
the 1st string. When you strum, most of the action should come
from your wrist. Strum firmly, but not too hard. You want to make it
sound as musical as possible.

The next step is to practice alternating up and down strokes. For


this I want you to play the G chord for a bar of eight notes. This
time I want you to alternate up and down strokes with the pick. Try
to maintain a steady, even rhythm and volume. Playing with a
metronome can help you get used to playing with the correct timing.

Count in your head or out loud to keep time with the music, "1 and
2 and 3 and 4 and" The down strokes should always be on the beat,
that is they should be in time with the 1,2,3 or 4. The upstrokes
should always be on the offbeats, that is, in time with the "and"

when you're counting.

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So, pretty easy right? The next step is to add a bit of syncopation.
The next pattern to learn also contains a bar of eighth notes, but I'm
going to add a tie on the 4th and 5th eighth notes in the bar.

As you can see in this example, you don't strum the 5th note since it
is tied to the 4th. You should, however maintain your regular
strumming motion. When you come to the 5th note ( the 3 as you're
counting ) lift your pick slightly above the strings so that you don't
strike them. Resume your picking with the up stroke on the sixth
note. You can perform any strumming pattern in the same way.
Make sure that any notes on the beat are played as downstrokes
and the offbeats should be played as upstrokes. Keep in mind that
you want to maintain that eighth note strumming motion, lifting
your pick just high enough off the strings so that they don't sound
while the tied note is still ringing. If you have a sixteenth note
pattern, treat it the same as you would an eighth note pattern,
alternating downstrokes and upstrokes with each note.

This type of pattern works very well when strumming the chords to

a song in standard 4/4 time.

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The final pattern I want to show you is one that is very commonly
found on rhythm guitar in rock and pop music. This pattern works
best with power chords, so here is the tab for a G power chord:

e|--------------------|
B|--------------------|
G|--------------------|
D|--------5-----------|
A|--------5-----------|
E|--------3-----------|

In this pattern you deliberately repeat downstrokes for each eighth


note. Using downstrokes repeatedly, especially while playing power
chords, gives the music a driving, repetitive feel that adds emphasis
and provides a great background for a lead solo or vocalist.

Ok, now for the fun part, we're going to learn the strumming pattern
for a great song from the Jacob Dylan led Wallflowers, Three
Marelenas. This is a great song to work on your strumming pattern,
because the chord pattern is fairly easy and repeats throughout the

song. This allows you to concentrate on the strumming pattern,


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which is a bit complicated, but if you stick to the principles I


mentioned above, you should be able to get the hang of it quickly.

First of all, listen to the song here on youtube to get a sense of how
it goes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RloXtzcCAf8

Here's the tab from Ultimate Guitar :

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/w/wallflowers/
three_marlenas_ver2_crd.htm

The strumming pattern remains exactly the same throughout the


song and the chord progression repeats itself D, Dsus9, G and Am7.
The strumming pattern goes like this :
Down, up, up, up, down, up down, up, down,up. Listen to the song
for the timing. The nicely syncopated rhythm gives the song a
catchy foundation, giving the vocals and keyboards something to

build on. Have fun with it!

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Finger Picking
Add a new dimension to your rhythm playing.
Many beginning guitarists struggle with the idea of learning how to
finger pick. It can be a little intimidating to hear a master finger
picker such as Leo Kottke play for the first time, but the truth is that
basic finger picking patterns are easy to learn and with a little
practice, you can add a new dimension to your playing and
composing. At the end of the lesson, I'll show you how to play the
tune Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

The general rule of finger picking is that your thumb controls the
notes on the bottom three strings of the guitar, the low E, A and D
strings. Most often these will be the root notes of the chord that you
are playing. Your index finger plays the notes that occur on the third
or G string, the middle finger plays notes on the second string, and
your ring finger plays the notes on the high E string.

When you pick each note, you want to pluck the string between your
finger nail and the end of the fleshy part of your finger. This gives
you the best control and tone. Your finger nails don't need to be too
long to accomplish this, 1/8 of an inch or about 0.3cm beyond the
end of your finger is a good guide, although you may want to
experiment a little to find the nail length that works best for you. If
your nails are too long, you lose a bit of control and speed, if they're
too short, you may have trouble getting a consistent tone.

To find the correct right hand position for finger picking, start by

placing your right hand (assuming of course that you're right


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handed, if you're left handed use your left hand to pluck the strings)
parallel to the strings of your guitar. Anchor your thumb on the low
E string and tilt your hand slightly downward. You'll play the lower
notes in a downward motion with the outside of your thumb and
nail. With your other three fingers, use the middle of your nail and
finger and pluck the note with an upward motion.

In instructional books you'll often see the letters p, i, m and a beside


the notes. These letters refer to the fingers on your right hand used
to play each note. P is for the thumb, i for the index finger m for the
middle finger and a is used to designate your ring finger.

To get you started I'm going to give you a basic chord pattern. Play
it through slowly in quarter notes, making sure to use the correct
finger for each note.

Am

e|------------0-------------0-------------2-------------3-----|
B|---------1-------------1-------------3-------------3--------|
G|------0-------------2-------------2-------------0-----------|
D|-------------------------------0----------------------------|
A|---3-------------0------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------3--------------|

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Notice that your index, middle and ring finger stay on the same
string throughout. Your thumb is the only digit that moves from
string to string. This keeps things simple and allows you to play
some very fast passages on the top three strings, once you get used
to the pattern. It also allows you to keep your right hand in a
relatively stable position on the guitar, which helps you to maintain
a consistent tone.

One of the biggest challenges in finger picking is to get your thumb


moving freely and easily between strings. As always, putting in the
practice time is the key to improving your technique. Here's a simple
exercise to help you get you used to playing different strings with
your thumb. In this example, we're going to play the top three notes
as a solid chord rather than playing the notes individually. Again,
play it through slowly as quarter notes and gradually increase the
tempo as you feel comfortable.

e|------0-----0-----0-----0-----2-----2-----2-----------0--0---|
B|------1-----1-----1-----1-----3-----3-----3-----------1--1---|
G|------0-----0-----0-----0-----2-----2-----2-----------0--0---|
D|---------------2------------0----------0---------------------|
A|---3-----------------3-----------0-----------0--2--3-----3---|
E|---------3---------------------------------------------------|

As you can see, I added a brief run leading up to the final C chord,
playing A, B and C on the fifth string before ending on the C chord.

Each of the notes should be played with your thumb. This is a very
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effective way to lead into a new chord and you can hear countless
examples of it in bluegrass and country music. Feel free to
experiment with different chord changes and design your own bass
line runs leading into the chords. With time you'll be able to play
some pretty complex and interesting bass lines using just your
thumb while incorporating melodies with your other fingers on the
top three strings.

Ok, are you ready to learn a song? First go to youtube and check
out R.E.M.'s classic song, Everybody Hurts. http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pudOFG5X6uA

The tab is here: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/r/rem/


everybody_hurts_ver3_tab.htm

As you can see, the intro and verses simply alternate D and G
chords in the following pattern:

e|-------2-----------2-----|-------3-----------3-----|
B|-----3---3-------3---3---|---------3-----------3---|
G|---2-------2---2-------2-|-----0-----0-----0-----0-|

(x3)

D|-0-----------0-----------|---0-----------0---------|
A|-------------------------|-------------------------|
E|-------------------------|-3-----------3-----------|

The chorus follows the same pattern, but alternates the Em and A

chords like this:


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e|-------0-----------0-----|-------0-----------0-----|
B|---------0-----------0---|---------2---------------|
G|-----------0-----------0-|-----2-----2-----2-------|

(X2)

D|-----2-----------2-------|---2-----------2---------|
A|---2-----------2---------|-0-----------0-----------|
E|-0-----------0-----------|---------------------3-2-|

Notice the short bass run at the end of the A chord that leads back

to the Em chord.

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The bridge alternates F# minor and Bm chords three times before


moving to a C, G, C, Am progression like this:

e|-------2-----------2-----|-------2-----------2-----|
B|---------2-----------3---|---------3-----------3---|
G|-----------2-----------3-|-----4-----4-----4-----4-|
D|-----4-----------4-------|---4-----------4---------|

(x3)

A|---4-----------4---------|-2-----------2-----------|
E|-2-----------2-----------|-------------------------|

e|-------0-----------0-----|-------3-----------3-----|
B|---------1-----------1---|---------3-----------3---|
G|-----0-----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-----0-|
D|---2-----------2---------|---0-----------0---------|
A|-3-----------3-----------|-------------------------|
E|-------------------------|-3-----------3-----------|

C/B

Am

e|-------------------|-------|-------0---------------|
B|-------------------|-------|---------1-------------|
G|-----0-----0-----0-|-----0-|-----2-----2-----------|
D|---2-----2-----2---|---0---|---2-------------------|
A|-3-----3-----3-----|-2-----|-0-----------0--(stop)-|

E|-------------------|-------|-----------------------|

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The song then cycles through the verse and chorus again, before
fading out on the D and G progression of the final verse.

With a little bit of practice, you'll be able to play this song

confidently in no time at all. Good luck with your playing!

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More Guitar Chords


Expanding your musical vocabulary.
In this chapter, we're going to look at some more advanced chords
that will allow you to play more advanced and sophisticated songs.
The first type of chord we'll discuss is called a power chord.
Power chords are one of the most popular chord forms used in music
today. The use of power chords originated with the blues and is now
most commonly heard in rock,pop and and heavy metal music.
Power chords are an essential element in the tool box of any
aspiring guitarist. Fortunately, they are very easy to learn and can
be played anywhere on the guitar neck.

How to construct a power chord


A power chord is comprised of only two notes, the root and the fifth
of the chord you're using. A "G" power chord, for instance is made
of the root of the G major scale, which is G and the 5th of the G
major scale, which is D. Playing the G and D together gives you a
two note power chord. Most often, you'll also see the root of the
chord repeated an octave higher, which gives you a fuller and more
complete sound. A power chord is written in music as the root of the
chord and the number 5. In this example, a G power chord is written

G5. A G5 chord looks like this:

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Two note G5 chord

e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------|
A|------5-------------------------------------------|
E|------3-------------------------------------------|

Three note G5 chord

e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|------5-------------------------------------------|
A|------5-------------------------------------------|
E|------3-------------------------------------------|

When playing power chords, the first finger of your fretting hand
plays the root note on the bottom string, your third finger plays the
5th and if necessary, your 4th finger plays the octave. Some players
prefer to fret both the 5th and octave with their third finger.

Experiment with both and do whatever feels most comfortable.

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Take care to play only the strings indicated when playing a power
chord, if you mistakenly strum extra strings, you'll be playing notes
that are not part of the chord and you won't get the sound you're
looking for. As you can see, the root of the chord ( G ) is played on
the sixth string while the 5th ( D ) is played on the fifth string. The
additional G note in the three string example is played on the 4th
string and is exactly one octave higher than the root. You can also
play power chords with the root note on the fifth string. For
example, a D5 chord starting on the fifth string looks like this:

Two note D5 chord

e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|------7-------------------------------------------|
A|------5-------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------|

Three note D5 chord


e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|------7-------------------------------------------|
D|------7-------------------------------------------|
A|------5-------------------------------------------|

E|--------------------------------------------------|

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Moving Power Chords Around the Neck


One of the most useful features of power chords is that you can play
them in the same shape at any position on the neck of the guitar. To
play an F# power chord, for example, start with your fingers in
position to play the G5 chord and simply move each of your fingers
down 1 fret so that the root note is on the sixth string, second fret.
The 5th would be on the 5th string, 4th fret ( C# ) and the octave
on the 4 string, 4th fret ( F# ).

You can use the same chord shape starting with the root note on the
fifth string, the 5th on string 4 and the octave, if desired on the third
string. In this way you can play a power chord from any root note
that you wish.

Keep in mind that you can play an E5 chord with the sixth string
open and the 5th and octave played at the second fret on the fifth
and fourth string. The same shape starting on the fifth string gives
you an A5 chord.

E5
e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|------2-------------------------------------------|
A|------2-------------------------------------------|

E|------0-------------------------------------------|

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A5
e|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|------2-------------------------------------------|
D|------2-------------------------------------------|
A|------0-------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------|

Since power chords do not contain the third note of the scale, they
are neither minor nor major chords. The third note of each scale
( for example, B in the key of G ) is the note which determines
whether a chord is major or minor. A major third gives you a major
chord and a minor third ( Bb in the key of G ) gives you a minor
chord. What this means for you as a guitarist is that a G5 chord will
work well when the rest of your band is playing either a G major, G
minor or virtually any other type of G chord.

Power chords are fairly easy to learn and can add punch and an
edgy feel to your playing. They're indispensable for the aspiring rock
and blues guitarist and can also be used with great effect in most
other forms of music. Play around with a variety of power chords at
all positions on the neck to get comfortable with them.

Open 7th Guitar Chords


7th chords are creating by bringing in the note in the 7th position of
the scale, and bringing it down a semi-tone. The Major Scale ends
with a half-semitone so its easy to work out the 7th note, just go

one step below the Key youre in.


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For example in the key of A youd come down to a G#, then take
that down to G, add in the other 2 notes (3rd and 5th position) to
get A, C, E and G.

Oh, and by the way these are called Dominant 7ths, not that you
really wanted to know... anyway, heres the chord diagrams for the
7th chords you should learn how to play.
A7

B7

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C7

D7

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E7

G7

How to Play Barre Chords on Guitar


Barre chords are almost like the cheats way to play any chord on
the guitar without having to remember all those different fingerings
in the open position. The hard part however is getting used to using

your index finger to press down on all the strings... forming a bar...

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Trust me, once you learn this you will have opened up a whole field
of guitar playing you never knew existed.

You can play barre chords using either the 6th string, or 5th string
as the root note. They each have different shapes so Ill run through
the 6th string barre shapes and then the 5th.

The chord youre playing is determined by the root note (where your
index finger is on the 5th or 6th string) and the shape of the chord
youre forming with the rest of your fingers.

Here we go...
The 6th string barre chords use the E shape, so you remember the E
Major, E Minor, E7 from above?

You now want to learn how to play all of those using your 2nd, 3rd
and 4th fingers, see below for some diagrams, and remember if
youre barring the 3rd fret at the 6th string, youre at G.

So youll play a G Major by using the E Major chord shape, a G Minor


by using the E Minor chord shape, etc...

The same theory applies to the 5th string barre chords, however

they use the A shape chords.

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6th String Barre Chords


Major Shape

Minor Shape

Dominant 7th

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6th String Barre Chords


Major Shape

Minor Shape

Dominant 7th

Page 48

With these barre chords, you'll be able to play a huge variety of


chords, all up and down the guitar neck. Mastering barre chords will
allow you to play a tremendous variety of songs and also give you
some choice in the various chord voicings you can use. You're well

on your way to becoming a killer guitarist.

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Your 15 Minute Practice


The ONLY way to master guitar is through well designed practice sessions.
We've thrown a lot of information at you with this book, and it will
take some time to digest. No worries, take your time and follow
each stage step by step and gradually it will become second nature
to you. The material from each chapter builds on the information in
the previous chapter, so make sure you understand the first
chapters before moving on to the later ones.

In this final chapter, I want to talk a little bit about practicing and
give you some ideas for how to structure your practice time.
Learning the guitar is like anything else, the more you practice, the
better you'll be. Take care, however, not to do so much that you get
frustrated or overwhelmed by it all. Playing guitar is supposed to be
FUN. If it feels too much like work, you're probably overdoing it.

I find it easiest to practice for short periods of time. That way, you
avoid boredom and a loss of concentration, which can lead to sloppy
technique. Practicing for as little as 15 minutes at a time can bring
great benefits as long as you practice regularly. Try to practice
every day if you can, sometimes I try to fit in a couple of short
practice sessions per day if I have time.

When you put together a practice session, it's best to start with a
warm up. Play through some scales a few times, slowly at first and
then faster as you go along.This helps get your fingers limbered up

and helps focus your concentration. Try to play through different

Page 50

scales each time for variety and so that you can learn them all in
time.

Once you feel like you've got your fingers moving, play through
some easy songs to continue the warm up process and to keep
yourself in used to playing these tunes.

The next segment is where you do the hard work. Once you really
feel like you're really ready to go, pick out a difficult song or
passage and focus on making it the best you can. Don't be afraid to
repeat a single bar 5, 10 or more times if that's what you need to
get it just right. Sometimes I have to repeat the same bar 15 or 20
times a day for a week or more to get it right. This is the difficult
part and will take some discipline. Once you sense that you're losing
your concentration or getting frustrated, set the song aside for
another day when you can give it your full energy again.

Finally, you want to end off on a fun note and reward yourself for
the hard work you've put in. End of your practice session by playing
through your favorite songs, the ones you play well and love to play.
This gives you something to look forward to throughout your
practice session and allows you to end off on a fun and enjoyable
note. The more you enjoy your guitar playing, the more you'll want
to play and the better guitarist you'll be.

Best of luck in your guitar playing and if you get stuck or need some
more information, check back with instantguitarist.com for more info
and tips.

Rock on!
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