Guitar Lesson 1 Basic Chords
So you have just unwrapped your guitar and have it sitting on your lap but now it seems like becoming a rock star may be a bit further away than you thought! Don’t worry – it’s a fact that it feels difficult for everyone to play even a simple song for the first time – this is because it requires you stretch and twist all sorts of muscles in unnatural directions. These will quickly get used to the extra work and with practice holding the guitar becomes second nature with no conscious effort needed!
Ok –first of
all you need to get the guitar in tune and the quickest way to do this is using
an electronic tuner. Starting from the lowest (fattest) string and working up,
tune the strings to E, A, D, G, B and E respectively. One way of remembering
this is the acronym Every Alsatian Dog Got Big Ears. It may sound ridiculous but
that’s the point – you will remember it!
to play a song it is necessary to understand some simple chord diagrams and how
they relate to the guitar’s fretboard. This way you won’t have to read
descriptions of where to put your fingers each time- it is all laid out in
picture form. After a bit of practice this simple diagram reading becomes a
quick and easy way to play songs. The following is an example of an E major
Chord Laid out in a chord box diagram.
Now try this for the other fingers but keep
each finger in place whilst you position them. You may find that it is a bit of
a squeeze to get the 2nd and 3rd fingers in position but
it can be done!
With all fingers in position slowly strum
the strings with your other hand and listen carefully to each note and how it
sounds. It is likely that some notes will buzz or be muted by your fingers –
especially the high B by your first finger. With practice you should be able to
strum the chord so that each strings ring out without being muted.
In the chord of E major the strings not held
down by your fingers should also be played. (E and B are both notes in the scale
of E major so playing these open strings adds to the powerful feel of this
chord- the notes played by your 2nd and 3rd fingers are
also B and E).
With even more practice your fingers will
begin to ‘know’ whereabouts to go without any conscious thought – they
will just snap into position and you hit the perfect chord every time!
Now try the same technique chords A and D
taking care not to pluck the strings with an ‘X’
above them as these notes will not fit in with the chord
With these three chords under your belt you
have the basis for playing many well-known songs and as they all go well
together you can make up some tunes of your own. The more you practice changing
from one chord to the other, the faster and more accurate your finger switches
will become, leaving you to concentrate on the rhythm of your strumming hand.
Try the chord progression below in the style of ‘Candle in the Wind’ by
Elton John and Bernie Taupin, try experimenting with down and up strums to
create the rhythm for the words.