Acoustic Guitar for Beginners – Your easy ‘start here’ guide
By Adam Kirk
So, you are set on learning to play the guitar, and you’re wondering where to start?
Whether you are using someone else’s guitar or your very first beginner acoustic guitar, you need to observe the basic guitar playing guidelines.
We will breeze through the basic things that you need to know if you are an absolute beginner. These so called ‘rules’ are not really set in stone, and you could modify anything based on what is most comfortable for you.
Needless to say, I’ll be outlining the most essential things that you should at least learn as a beginner.
Basic Guitar Terminology
Acoustic guitar for beginners is not just all about playing with the instrument straight away (sorry!). You need to be familiar with the basic terminology for the beginner acoustic guitar first, or the rest just won’t make sense.
Fortunately, it is really easy but all the same, learning this is a must.
We will start off with the numbering system with your fingers. For playing the guitar, the number 1 is associated with the index finger, 2, 3 and 4 indicates the middle, ring finger and pinky, respectively. This knowledge is handy since you need to know the finger to use when reading cords and such.
Next would be the frets. Along the fretboards, you can find metal strips and this designate the frets. The fret nearest to the headstock of the guitar is fret #1 and so on.
Lastly, we will talk about strings. The thinnest string, the one closest to the floor when you are holding your guitar properly is string #1 while the thickest string, the one closest to you is # 6.
How to Hold the Guitar
When a guitar is handed over to you, you will have an instinct on how it is supposed to be positioned.
I think you should be the one to determine the ideal position of the instrument for you, but there are basically, three styles for you to choose from, which are:
This is the most popular method of holding the guitar while sitting. Presuming you are right handed, you should set the guitar on your right leg.
In this method, you place the guitar on both legs but allow it to rest mainly on your left leg assuming that you are right-handed. This allows you to greater access to the fretboard.
This is a method where you play the guitar while standing and you would need a shoulder strap for this one. You could play without the strap but it is hard to do and for beginners it’s not advisable.
For methods that require sitting down, namely, the casual and the classical method, investing on a footstool is a great idea since it will allow you to elevate your foot. This is especially useful when you play for long periods.
Among the three, the casual method is the most popular.
Irrespective of the method of holding the guitar, it is important to keep the guitar in an upright position and maintain a good posture to prevent fatigue. Many beginners commit the mistake of tilting the guitar so they could see their hands properly but doing this will not only cause back pain, but also make you tire easily.
The area of your arm below the elbow should be resting on the guitar’s top corner and the arm that you use for strumming should be positioned tightly around the guitar. This keeps the instrument upright and prevents you from slouching.
Check out the video below to see these postures in use and read more about them here.?
How to Use a Guitar Pick
The pick or plectrum is the small teardrop-shaped material used for playing the guitar. Often this is placed between the index finger and the thumb. But as a rule, you should not use more than 2 fingers when you are holding the pick.
How to Strum
Strumming is the single most important thing in playing a guitar. Every person who aspires to gain great guitar playing skills should have the ability to produce a good rhythm. This comes with the ability to strum the guitar string properly.
For starters, you should familiarize yourself with strumming. Try to strum the area near the sound hole touching all of the six guitar strings. While strumming, be sure to get your force from your elbow not from your wrist. This will put less pressure on your wrist and allow you to produce a clear rhythm. Strum in an up, down motion and continue doing this until you become comfortable.
Ideally, the part of the arm that you need to use is the part from the elbow down. While strumming, avoid the error of putting in too much effort, the resulting sound should not be forced. Also, the sound should be smooth and all strings should sound as one, not as if each string is being strummed one after the other. Your hands should be as loose as a dishcloth and if you find your hands going stiff, try to stop and do it again.
For the sake of balance, you should make sure that the your strumming is not too soft, as this also produces an unpleasant sound from your guitar.
One Final Note
Acoustic guitar for beginners has such a wide coverage that I can only touch upon the basics here.
Learning how to play the acoustic guitar requires patience and practice (and more practice) and yes, hard work.
But don’t forget that playing guitar is meant to be fun, even at that difficult beginner stage where everything feels a little difficult and awkward. Keep focussed on the joy this instrument will bring to push through these early novice stages. There is no need to worry though. There is much room for improvement! In fact, even those of us who are expert guitarists still have our own struggles in playing this instrument.
At the end of the day, mastering more guitar skills will give you a sense of satisfaction and, who knows, you might just be the next big thing in acoustic guitar music!
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