Guitar Beginner: Week #1
Parts of The Guitar
We won’t be testing this knowledge and you don't need to know every intricate detail of how things work together, but we will be referring to the parts of the guitar by name in class, so it will be helpful to know what these parts are in order to move forward quickly. I've attached a diagram of the parts of the acoustic guitar to this email.
Having a solid pick hold will go a long way in allowing you to have a clear and solid tone. Curl the fingers of your right hand hand around as if you were getting ready for a thumb wresting match. Place the pick on the top of your index finger between the first knuckle and the finger tip. The point of the pick should be facing away from your palm. Find the point of balance where the pick rests comfortably without gripping with your thumb. Finally, place the thumb down on top of the other side of the pick, lightly pinching it between both fingers. Keep all of your fingers together for better control of the pick.
Their are 6 strings on the guitar. What is slightly counter intuitive about the instrument is that each string is that the highest pitched strings are lowest physically (i.e. closest to your knee) and the lower pitched strings are higher physically (i.e. closer to your face). I've put the strings in the physical order the appear on the guitar below and attached a diagram for your reference.
E (lowest pitch)
E (highest pitch)
The picking motion comes mostly from an up and down motion of the wrist (for the time being we are focusing on the down half of that motion). Place your upper arm on the top of the guitar; remember that feeling the edge of the guitar on the inside of your elbow is a good place to start. Curl your arm around so that the point of the pick comes close to the strings (the back of your hand should face away from the guitar).
Left Hand Basics
Setting up the left hand correctly is really important in allowing you to keep your hand relaxed and get clear pitches on the guitar. Start by placing your thumb on the back of the neck of the guitar by the 5th fret about 2/3s of the way from the top of the neck (a photo of the left hand position from the back is attached). Curl the rest of your fingers around the bottom of the neck so that they sit in front of the strings- try to keep them curved as that will give you the most flexibility and dexterity. When fretting a note, press your finger down on the corner of the finger tip as close to the fret as possible without actually pressing your finger down on the fret (a photo of the left hand position from the front is also attached).
With your left hand position set up as described above, place your 1st (index) finger on the 5th fret on the high E string. Pressing the E string lightly but firmly down to the fingerboard with your left index finger, pluck the E string 4 times with your pick using downstrokes. Once you get a clear sound on with the 1st finger, place the 2nd finger (middle finger) on the 6th fret and repeat the process (keeping the first finger down). Repeat this process with the 3rd and 4th fingers on the 7th and 8th frets respectively. A recording of this exercise is attached. Again take this one slowly and put a lot of space in between each note so that the muscles of your hand can really get used to the process of fretting. Repeat this exercise 4 times each day.
Last part of this week’s assignment: be sure to buy a Snark tuner for next week’s tuning demo!