Different Basics Lessions of a Guitar

Now, that we know about the basic parts of a guitar, it's time to get our hands dirty, and start learning to play it. Get yourself an armless chair, and take a seat. You should be sitting comfortably, with your back against the back of the chair. Slouching significantly is a no-no; you'll not only end up with a sore back, you'll develop bad habits on the guitar.
Now, pick up your guitar, and hold it so the back of the body of the instrument comes in contact with your stomach/chest, and the bottom of the neck runs parallel to the floor. The thickest string on the guitar should be the closest to your face, while the thinnest should be closest to the floor. If this isn't the case, turn the guitar the in other direction. Typically, a right-handed person will hold the guitar so the headstock points to the left, whereas a left-handed person will hold the guitar so the headstock points to the right. (NOTE: to play the guitar as a lefty would, you will need a left-handed guitar.)
When playing the guitar sitting down, the body of the guitar will rest on one of your legs. In most styles of guitar playing, the guitar will rest on the leg farthest away from the headstock. This means, a person playing the guitar in a right-handed fashion will typically rest the guitar on his/her right leg, while someone playing the guitar in a lefty manner will rest it on their left leg. (NOTE: proper classical guitarist technique dictates the exact OPPOSITE of the above, but for this lesson, let's stick to our initial explanation)

Next, concentrate on your "fretting hand" (the hand closest to the neck of the guitar, when sitting in proper position). The thumb of your fretting hand should rest behind the neck of the guitar, with your fingers in a slightly curled position, poised above the strings. It is extremely important to keep these fingers curled at the knuckles, except when specifically instructed not to do so.

Holding a Pick

Hopefully, you've found, bought or borrowed a guitar pick. If not, you'll need to buy yourself some. Don't be stingy, go and pick up at least 10 of them - guitar picks are easy to lose (they often don't cost more than 30 or 40 cents each). You can experiment with different shapes and brands, but I highly recommend medium gauge picks to start; ones that aren't too flimsy, or too hard.
The following documentation explains how to hold, and use a pick. When reading, keep in mind that your "picking hand" is the hand which is nearest to the bridge of the guitar, when sitting in the correct position.

  1. Open your picking hand, and turn the palm to face you.
  2. Close your hand to make a very loose fist. Your thumb should remain beside your index finger.
  3. Rotate your hand until you are looking at it's profile, with your thumb's knuckle facing you.

  • With your other hand, slide your guitar pick between your thumb and index finger. The pick should be approximately located behind the knuckle of the thumb.
  • Be sure the pointed end of the pick is pointing directly away from your fist, and is protruding by about a half an inch. Hold the pick firmly.
  • Position your picking hand over the soundhole of your acoustic guitar, or over the body of your electric guitar. Your picking hand, with thumb knuckle still facing you, should hover over the strings.
  • Do not rest your picking hand on the strings or body of the guitar.
  • Using your wrist for motion (rather than your entire arm), strike the sixth (lowest) string of your guitar in a downward motion. If the string rattles excessively, try striking the string a bit softer, or with less of the pick surface.
  • Now, pick the sixth string in an upwards motion.
  • Repeat the process several times. Try and minimize motion in your picking hand: one short picking stroke downwards, then one short picking stroke upwards. This process is referred to as "alternate picking"
  • Try the same exercise on the fifth, fourth, third, second, and first strings. Tips:
  1. Holding the pick in this manner will invariably feel awkward at first. You will initially have to pay special attention to your picking hand whenever you play guitar.
  2. Try and create fluidity in your alternate picking. Your downstrokes should sound virtually identical to your upstrokes.      

Unfortunately, before you begin playing, you'll really need to tune your guitar. The problem is, it is, at first, a relatively difficult task, one that becomes much easier over time. If you know of anyone who plays guitar, who could do the job for you, it is advised that you get them to tune your instrument. Alternately, you could invest in a "guitar tuner", a relatively inexpensive device which listens to the sound of each string, and advises you (via a few blinking lights) on what you need to do in order to get the note in tune.
If neither of these options are realistic for you, however, don't fear. You can learn to tune your instrument, and with some patience and a bit of practice, you'll become a pro at doing it.

 erhaps the most frustrating aspect of learning guitar is that it initially seems impossible to play anything that actually sounds good. While it is true that it takes some time to learn the techniques needed to play songs well, the real reason most new guitarists sound bad is because their instrument isn't in tune. Here is a guitar tuning tutorial that, with a little practice, should allow you to keep your instrument in tune.
How Often Should I Tune my Guitar?
You should tune your guitar every single time you pick it up. Guitars (particularly cheaper ones) tend to go out of tune quickly. Make sure your guitar is in tune when you begin to play it, and check the tuning frequently while you're practicing, as the act of playing the guitar can cause it to go out of tune.
How Long Does Tuning the Guitar Take?
At first, it may take you five minutes or more to get your guitar in tune, but the more familiar you are with tuning, the more quickly you'll be able to do it. Many guitarists can get their instrument roughly in tune in about 30 seconds.
Let's move on to learning the process of tuning the instrument.

In order to begin tuning the guitar, you'll need a "reference pitch" from another source. Once you've found a source for this initial pitch (it could be a piano, a tuning fork, another guitar, or any number of other options), you'll be able to tune the rest of your instrument by using that one note.

NOTE: Without a reference pitch, you can tune your guitar, and it will sound fine on it's own. When you try and play with another instrument, however, you will probably sound out-of-tune. In order to interact with other instruments, being in tune with yourself isn't enough. You'll need to make sure that your E note sounds the same as theirs. Thus the need for a standard reference pitch.
STEP 1: Listen to this MP3 of a low E string in tune.
Tune your low E string to this note. Repeat the audio track as many times as you need to, in order to try and match the note perfectly.
Tuning to a Piano
If you have access to a piano, you can alternately tune your low E to the same note on the piano.
Look at the black keys on the keyboard of the image above, and notice that there is a set of two black keys, then an extra white key, then a set of three black keys, then a white key. This pattern is repeated for the length of the keyboard. The white note directly to the right of the set of two black keys is the note E. Play that note, and tune your low E string to it. Note that the E you play on the piano may not be in the same octave as the low E string on your guitar. If the E you play on the piano sounds much higher, or lower than your low E string, try playing a different E on the piano, until you find the one closer to your open sixth string.
Now that we've got our sixth string in tune, let's move on to learning how to tune the rest of the strings.
How to Tune a Guitar
Now that we have our sixth string in tune, we need to get our other five strings tuned to that note. Using just a little bit of very basic music theory, we can see how we'll do that.
We know, from lesson two, that the names of the six open strings are E A D G B and E. We also know, from lesson four, how to count up a string, and find the names of the notes on that string. Using this knowledge, we can count up the low E string (which is in tune), until we reach the note A, on the fifth fret. Knowing this note is in tune, we can use it as a reference pitch, and tune the open fifth string until it sounds the same as the sixth string, fifth fret.
Because this string is in tune, we can assume that this note, A, on the fifth fret, is also in tune. So, we can play the open fifth string, also an A, and check to see if it sounds the same as the note on the sixth string. We'll use this concept to tune the rest of the strings. Observe the graphic above, and follow these rules to fully tune your guitar.
Steps to Tuning Your Guitar
  1. Make sure your sixth string is in tune ( use reference pitch)
  2. Play the sixth string, fifth fret (A), then tune your open fifth string (A) until it they sound the same.
  3. Play the fifth string, fifth fret (D), then tune your open fourth string (D) until they sound the same.
  4. Play the fourth string, fifth fret (G), then tune your open third string (G) until they sound the same.
  5. Play the third string, fourthfret (B), then tune your open second string (B) until they sound the same.
  6. Play the second string, fifth fret (E), then tune your open first string (E) until they sound the same.
After you've tuned your guitar, check it against this MP3 of a fully tuned guitar, and fine tune it if necessary.

Often, new guitarists have a very hard time tuning their guitar. Learning to listen to pitches very closely, then fine-tune them, is a skill that takes practice. In teaching situations, I've found some students can't easily listen to two notes, and identify which is higher, or which is lower - they only know they don't sound the same. If you're having a similar problem, try this:
Listen to, and play the first note. While the note is still ringing, try humming that note. Continue to play the note, until you've managed to match the pitch with your voice. Next, play the second note, and again, hum that note. Repeat this - playing and humming the first note, then follow that by playing and humming the second note. Now, try humming the first note, and without stopping, moving to the second note. Did your voice go down, or up? If it went down, then the second note is lower. If it went up, the second note is higher. Now, make the adjustment to the second note, until they both sound the same.
This may seem like a silly exercise, but it does often help. Soon, you'll be able to recognize the difference in pitches without humming them.
I hope this has helped. As previously mentioned, it's extremely important to tune your guitar every time you pick it up to play it. Not only will it make your playing sound a whole lot better, but the repetition will allow you to conquer tuning your guitar quickly. Good luck!