LEARNING THE BASICS
How to Fret Properly, Pick Properly, and Hold Your Guitar Properly.
(Your First Encounter With the Guitar)
Learning the BASICS of guitar playing is no doubt the very first thing you should do. This includes:
How to Fret The Guitar Properly
How to Hold a Guitar Properly
How to Pick the Guitar Correctly
Learn Proper Wrist, Hands, And Fingers Movement and Positioning
Learn to Relax While Playing
Learning all these things and how to implement them properly, is essential and considered basic guitar knowledge, and it is part of having a STRONG guitar-playing foundation that will ensure a successful learning process.
Many beginners who are new to the guitar, or even to the whole process of musical instrument playing, tend to forget or doesn't even know the importance of getting the basics first and foremost, and getting it right.
So my obligation here is to remind you or inform you just how important it is to have a strong foundation and learning the basics of guitar playing, show you how to start, and the best places to continue learning from here.
Even if you are an intermediate guitar player, it doesn't harm to go over this material again, just to ensure that you are on the right path of learning the guitar. It won't take you long and it'll be fun. So if you are ready, let's START!
The Correct Posture
It starts from here. Learn how to properly hold your guitar and position your hands and fingers along the body of the guitar and the strings.
- Do NOT stress your body. Maintain a relaxed body position and state of mind.
- Do NOT choke the neck of the guitar. Your fretting hand should be relaxed and fluid, ready to move easily and quickly along the fretboard, and your fingers should fret the strings with an angle (45-90 degree). If your fretting fingers were too flat on the strings, you will risk fretting or muting other strings unintentionally. This is IMPORTANT!
- Always keep your back in a steady and a straight position, whether you're playing in a standing position or while sitting down.
- As a beginner, you are allowed to look at your fretting and picking hands, because your muscle memory isn't developed enough yet to work on their own.
However, as you become more advanced, you need to start memorizing the locations of the notes on the fretboard, the spacing between the strings and teach yourself how to play naturally without the need to continuously peek at your playing hands to guide yourself to the right notes and strings.
Just look at the pros, they rarely look at their hands while playing.
This is how a bad fretting hand position looks like. The hand is taking a bad angle and it looks like it's pulling the fretboard backward. The fingers are too flat and if you attempt to play the G Chord in that position, for example, you will surely mute the strings in the middle.
The palm of the fretboard hand should not “fully” touch the neck of the guitar. Rather, it should be relaxed and physically free to move easily. Only two contact points on your fretboard hand's palm touch the neck. Your palm should look like this, with the contact points highlighted.
It's almost like opening a drawer. Imagine you are going to open a drawer, and you open your hand and stretch out your fingers with the tips facing up, like in the image.
Your fretboard hand's fingers should be able to press down on the desired string without touching the other strings (unless you intentionally want to, for example for muting them or pressing multiple strings at once like a barre chord). As mentioned earlier, your fingers should come down on the strings from above, in a 45-90 angle.
If you are playing fingerstyle picking, like on a classical guitar or acoustic guitar, your picking hand and fingers should look like the photo on the side for maximum efficiency (more accurate picking, better tone, faster play).
Depending on your technique and playing style, sometimes your fingers should start from below the strings and then pick UP (like when playing classical music on a classical guitar), or if you are playing flamenco, you want to use the “Picado” technique, which is a fingerstyle picking technique using only two fingers alternately to play notes quickly or to play solo notes. Then you would be picking DOWN. Check the post about playing Flamenco on the guitar to learn more.
It's a little hard at the beginning to get used to all of this. Your hands and fingers will deviate unintentionally and assume wrong positions and posture while you play, so it's very important to stay aware of this and be enough disciplined to correct yourself, and assure on maintaining a correct posture and playing technique.
Again, very hard at first, but it's essential for the long term, and for your learning process in order to achieve progress. Playing the guitar on a flawed basic technique, as essential as the posture, will only get you as far as intermediate-advanced level with lots of playing mistakes, and will make playing guitar super hard. It's similar to building a house on a weak, shaky foundation, it will either crash or support a minimum load.
Different picking styles if you are using a pick (or a plectrum), the most common way of playing on the electric guitar, is acceptable.
It should be comfortable enough to hold the pick and be able to pick down or up effectively without wearing down your wrist.
However, the basic by-the-book way of using a pick is similar to this image.
Note that: only the wrist should move when playing with a pick, not your whole arm. This is a common mistake done by many beginners, they intentionally move their whole arm and shoulders when trying to pick, especially when they first learn the alternate picking technique – picking down and up – and start playing with increased speed, you can easily notice the arm is shaking and exerting too much effort and energy, which will wear down the player quickly, and slow him down eventually.
Congratulations! You have learned the basics of guitar playing, and passed the first step of mastering the instrument.
If you want to continue learning, and really master the guitar and become a great guitar player, I can show you the best and fastest way to do so. All you have to do is clear your mind, visit the page below and follow my recommendations:
In the meantime, you can check the following tips and advises to help you on your journey of learning the guitar, whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, you will surely find them useful:
Do NOT Skip
Do NOT try skipping the early beginner exercises and songs, and go for the more difficult ones thinking you are going to progress faster this way. Remember, every learning process should be done slowly and gradually, including learning to play the guitar.
Give Yourself a Break
If you feel like you've hit the ceiling, and can't progress any further, don't be frustrated, this is normal. This means that you're on the edge of moving one skill level higher!
Take a break, and relax, then get back to practicing. Skipping a day or two is also acceptable in that situation.
Sometimes your muscle memory needs a break to absorb all the information and exercises given to it.
Watch Professional Guitarists in Action
It's considered wise and even recommended to watch other professional guitar players, such as your guitar idols and influences, and try to learn (not imitate!) from them as much as possible.
Try to focus on their techniques and technical playing capabilities, rather than their style.
Don't Be a Robot
Play with passion, nobody likes to listen to robot-like performances even if it's fast and accurate.
Also, be wise with your implementation of the various guitar techniques such as bending and vibrato, slides, hammer-on's and pull-off's, and so on.
It will make you sound much more fun and professional, and many will love listening to you.
Get a Tuner
Never go out of tune! Stay tuned at all times to keep sounding great and beautiful.
Check these Tuners
Get a Metronome
This device is essential for developing speed and accuracy on the guitar, as well as fixing your tempo if you've been having issues with it.
I recommend using the Soundbrenner Pulse Metronome.
It's clicks-free, pulsating, wearable, and uses Bluetooth to connect to your mobile devices to be programmed the way you want it.
Practice, Practice, and More Practice
Remember, music is like sports, the more you practice, the better you become.
Practice hard, and practice smart. Use the search engine here to find all our posts and articles about practicing effectively and correctly.
You Are Unique
Remember, you are unique. Don't compare yourself with other guitar players, each individual has his own progress and learning curve.
Some others will progress faster than you, others will be slower. Concentrate on working on yourself and don't mind others.
If you're really dedicated to the instrument and you've set the right goals for yourself, you will definitely find success. Be patient, and stay motivated.