I made my 5th guitar for my daughter-in-law and as such I also need to teach her how to play the guitar. I have devised a method of learning the guitar that should get you playing in as short a time as possible.
This tutorial is aimed at people who have tried to learn but given up, probably deciding that playing the guitar is too difficult.
I believe that one thing that stops people learning the guitar is trying to learn a few basic chords like C, Am, F and G. These chords are not easy to play for a beginner and after a week or so of effort and painful finger tips the guitar gets tossed into a corner and forgotten about.
With this tutorial I have taken a completely different approach. The purpose is to get you playing a song on the guitar within a few hours and because you can play a song after just a few hours it gives you the confidence and a boost to go even further.
You do NOT need to learn the names of the chords right away. You don’t need to know the name of a colour to be able to use a crayon, here also knowing the name of a chord is not required to be able to use the chord. So don’t worry about what the chords are called, you will learn them just by using them, just concentrate on how they sound. How a chord is played can make all the difference, you will be learning how to strum a guitar. The strumming hand is much more important than the fretting hand as you will hear. The fretting hand just selects the notes to be played but the strumming hand determines how the chord sounds. There are many ways of strumming and you can easily use 4 or 5 different types in a single song.
You can use a steel string or a classical guitar. The classical guitar in my opinion is easier to learn on because it does not hurt you fingers so much, this is because the classical guitar has nylon strings and they are softer on the fingers.
You WILL need a good tuner to make sure your guitar is in tune before you start learning each day. If the guitar is not in tune correctly then the chords you will be playing will not sound correct. You should be able to get a good digital tuner for less than £10.00 and eBay is as good a place as any to buy one. My one looks like the one in the picture below, and it works really well.
In my younger days I could just tune by ear but nowadays I have to use the tuner.
Lets get started, first of all you are going to learn to play as many of the following chords as you can and play for as long as you can, try to aim for at least 20 minute lessons each time. Play for one or two days and then leave it for a whole day. The days off are important, this is when your brain is mapping how the finger muscles are set for each chord. How the fingers need to be for each chord will eventually be second nature and you will just do it without thinking.
Pictured below are the chords you are going to learn to play. I am going to write some very simple short songs that you will learn to play. You shouldn’t just play these songs in the same manner as I have, add something of yourself to the song, try varying the way it is strummed and how it sounds in general, try adding a verse of your own, I know you have some artistic abilities, if you didn’t then you would not be wanting to learn to play the guitar.
The songs I am writing for this tutorial are very basic and simple, they are just a means of helping you learn a few simple chords. I will record each song so you can listen to how I play them.
So let’s get started, first here are the chords.
The first song is a lullaby, it uses the chords Dmaj7, A, Esus4. (note:- maj=major, sus=suspended). I am not going into any detail at all about the chords. For those that have not seen guitar chords displayed as above here is a quick explanation. There are six vertical lines for each chord, these represent the 6 strings on the guitar. The string on the left is the 6th string on the guitar and they count down in order to the 1st string on the right. The four thin horizontal lines are the frets on the guitar. The 1st fret is at the top counting down to the 4th fret at the bottom. The thick horizontal line is the ‘nut’ (The nut is the item that the strings are guided through at the start of the fret board).
There are over a thousand possible chords on a guitar but most people get by with less than 15 and some people get by with less than 10.
The chords above have been chosen for simplicity in use. Normally a guitar tutorial will start you off with three or four more complicated and harder to learn chords. The reason for this is because it allows you to play a number of popular songs. I have turned this on its head by using easy chords and writing simple songs to play. If you master the chords shown above then the rest will be easy.
I have deliberately not indicated what fingers to use on what strings, I want you to use whatever you are more comfortable with. Look at all the chords and think about how to easily you want to be able to slip from one chord to another, you will automatically fathom out what is best.
Remember the sole purpose of this tutorial is to get you playing at least one song, that should allow you to move onto more standard tutorials.
I cannot teach you how to strum a guitar, you need to play and see what works best for you, what sounds you need to suit different songs. Try listening to lots of popular folk and country songs to give you an idea of what can be done, it can take quite a long time to perfect various styles.
Here is the song and the chords that are played at each point in the song.
Note: You MUST use a fixed font to display songs in plain text, otherwise you will not have the chords at the correct places in the song.
Dmaj7 A Esus4 A
The sun has set it's off to bed, the moon is on the rise.
Dmaj7 A Esus4 A
You've played all day and worn us out now close your sleepy eyes.
Dmaj7 A Esus4 A
When the night is over, we start a brand new day.
Dmaj7 A Esus4 A
All your toys will come alive and you'll begin to play.
Dmaj7 A Esus4
Click the link below to hear how I played this simple lullaby. You can also right click the link to download the mp3 and play it in your own mp3 player.
I have found this tutorial about strumming that is well worth taking note of. Just remember that you are not looking for perfection, we are just trying to get the ball rolling.
I will add new songs for you to practice with later on. They will be on this blog between the guitar making posts.