Let's Have A Partita!

Get the respite you deserve another time.

Location: Cantonment, Florida, United States

Well, uh, hmm...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Guitar Lesson 1

It's now time for that guitar lesson I promised. Let's start with the essentials. You will need:
1. Your guitar. For today's lesson, let's assume you have an electric or steel string acoustic. Nylon string classicals are a different metter, and I'll deal with them in a separate lesson.
2. A comfy chair. Find one with a back to it, you'll want to use that back.
3. If you don't own a metronome or a tuner, buy them as soon as you can.

First, let's deal with proper sitting position. Sit with you're butt in the crevace in the back of the chair. Don't waste any seat. Put your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Now, place the guitar on your right leg (left if you're a lefty) with the bend in the middle of the guitar body resting around your thigh. That's important, and needs stating, because I've seen people try to balance their guitar on the large round part near the bottom of the body. Now, place your right bicep on the top of the guitar (again, left for lefties) so the front edge of the guitar is placed in your elbow pit. You should be able to swing your arm freely over the face of the guitar. Now, to hold the pick, make a "thumbs up" sign with your picking hand. Place the pick point out (or side out if you like, but the point of the pick must be aimed down) and secure the pick with your index and middle fingertips. Grip the pick hard enough that it doesn't fly out of your hand, but not so hard that the pick can't move.

As for your fretting hand, let your arm droop by your side and release all muscle tension. Look at your hand, it will appear to be gently grabbing a palm sized ball. Keep your hand like this as you place it on the neck. Put the pad of your thumb on the back of the neck and keep your fingers rounded as they go to press on the strings. Keep your hand looking like this, don't grip the neck like a baseball bat. Your wrist should be straight, if your hand moves from this relaxed position, your wrist will bend more than it should. To play on the strings closest to your head, move your entire arm up the bring your fingers to the string. Then, to reach the strings closest to the floor, float your arm down, keeping your fingers in the same rounded shape. The rule is, keep the arm looking like it's hanging my your side: straight wrist, thumb opposing the fingers, fingers staying round and relaxed. I say "rule," but some peoples' hands do funny things. If you are incabable of having a perfect looking hand, don't sweat it. Lots of people have "improper" hands yet play well.

Now we're ready to play. Practice playing on any given string. Match which string you fret with which string you pick. Fret the string as close behind the fret as possible. This will ensure that you don't get any buzzing. Such placement isn't always possible, but we'll shoot for it as much as we can. Make sure you press on the string with the tip of your finger, and not the pad. Using the flat part of the finger is a differenct technique which we'll discuss later. As for your picking hand, strike the string in a circular fashion. Make a small O with your picking motion. You want to hit one string and not the strings around it. Once you've gotten the hang of that, try alternate picking, where you strike the string with upstrokes and downstrokes. When doing alternate picking, the motion is more like a V. You need to come down on the string like a fighter pilot descending on a target, only to come away once you've struck your goal. Then, do the same thing with your upstroke, and your motion will resemble that V mentioned earlier.

Once you've gotten comfortable with how your hands are moving around on the guitar, it's time to start playing some real music. Take your fretting hand and place it on the neck. Put your first finger (index) on string one (the closest to the floor), fret one (the farthest one from the body, next to the tuners). This is the note, F. Now, put finger 3 (ring) on fret 3 , same string. This note is G. Now, play the open string. That's E. We call it the high E becaues the open 6th string (closest one to your head) is also an E, but is a much lower pitch. Now that you know E, F, and G, you can perform the following little exercise:

Try to keep all the notes on a constant beat, the point is to switch between notes smoothly and in rhythm.

Ok, that's enough for today, next time we'll work a bit on some new strings and find some sheetmusic we can look at, ok? Have a blessed day!


Post a Comment

<< Home