This section is for people who feel they need to start with the absolute basics. Much of this information can be found in other sections but it has been grouped together here to make your first experiences playing guitar as rewarding as possible. Unlike other instruments such as the piano where you can get a clear sound straight away, stringed instruments like the guitar require a certain amount of technique to even produce a sound. You also need to be in tune.

The following video deals with hand positioning.

The positioning of your hands will vary depending on style of music you are playing, the type of guitar you are using and whether you are sitting or standing up. Your right arm rests on the body of the guitar which is more noticeable with an acoustic guitar. The position of your right hand on the strings also effects the sound as a more mellow sound is produced the further down the neck you play.

There are basically two different ways to hold the guitar neck with you left hand. The firmest grip which is good for certain chords and bends is where you grip the neck like a club with your thumb over the top of the neck.

The other grip is based on the classical technique where your little finger is used extensively. Because this finger is much shorter than the others you need to bring your left hand around to assist stretching and playing extended chord shapes. Using your left thumb as a pivot gives you access from the 1st to the 7th fret in just one position. You generally use one finger per fret so that at least four frets can be reached without having to move your hand up or down the neck.

The following three examples use some of the most common techniques. As with most notation on enable Guitar, they are written in both standard notation and tablature.

Example 1

Example 1 is played using a pick and also uses the palm muting technique. Hold your pick like in this photo and use downstrokes for every note. Notice that the last four notes of bars 2 and 4 are the same note on different strings. This is to illustrate the fact that stringed instruments offer you choices about which string you play certain notes on.

Example 2

This example is played using the finger picking technique where the thumb stays on the G string, the index finger on the B string and the middle finger on the E string. It could also be played using a pick. It's OK to use just one finger on your left hand for this one if you wish to slide around between the various E string notes.

Example 3

This example basically uses the same notes in three different ways:

1/ Both chords are first played as arpeggios using either a pick or finger picking.

2/ All of the notes are then played together using the chord plucking technique.

3/ The same two chords are then played using various strumming patterns.

Spend some time playing notes all over the fingerboard whilst aiming for a clean sound. Any difficulties in getting notes to sound out clearly will most likely result from a problem with your left-hand technique. Ensure that you hold all notes firmly with your left hand or the strings won't vibrate properly.

It is a good idea to memorize the names of the notes on the fretboard from the following diagram as soon as possible. That way if you are playing with other musicians and someone says to play an E you will know what they are talking about.

Once you have the basics down you can go to any section in the Style Menu that looks interesting to you knowing that relevant links to required techniques and theory are included.