Many of us fancy guitar sounds but only few know how to produce them. If you want to learn the simple and technical ways of playing an acoustic guitar then you have just landed at a right place. In this article, a proper beginner’s guide on how to play acoustic guitar is provided for all those who are ready to begin their journey as guitarist!
How to Have Perfect Guitar Posture
Where it’s essential to find yourself a nice acoustic guitar, it’s also important to learn about the right posture one must maintain while playing it. Player’s posture plays an important role in improving your guitar performance. Errors in the posture directly affect guitar performance and make it less appealing and powerful. So, in this section, you will be informed about how to have a perfect posture to play guitar.
1) Don’t Slump Down Into a Low Sofa
This posture is strictly forbidden because it doesn’t only make guitar playing difficult but also strains the backbone. Especially, if you are using a model with large body dreadnought, it will become difficult for you to reach them properly.
2) Don’t Sit in a Chair With Arms
Chair with arms might seem comfortable but it’s a terrible choice for guitarists when it comes to playing the instrument. It doesn’t only restrict your body movement but also make it uncomfortable to play the guitar freely. With acoustic guitar, you have to make sure that your left arm is free of all sorts of obstacles.
3) Don’t Perch on a High Stool
The next seating type you should avoid when it comes to playing an acoustic guitar is high stool. Low stools are ideal for guitar players but high stools are strictly forbidden because they make it difficult to handle the guitar while keeping proper balance. When you sit on a high stool, your thighs create a downward slope. Such a posture encourages the guitar to slip away and disturbs your performance.
4) So What’s the Best ‘Thing to Sit On’?
Now you must be thinking that if none of these seating types are recommended for guitarists then what is? Well, you can go for anything offering obstacle free arms and 90 degree angled knees. These two things are all you need to consider when it comes to choosing a right place to sit for guitar playing.
How to Play Acoustic Guitar – Important Guitar Anatomy
Being a beginner, you are not required to gather too much information about guitar anatomy and get confused. Sufficient knowledge about following few most critical parts is more than enough.
This is the part where you fingers lend the magic and produce soothing sounds. Using the fret, you can play different chords and notes as per your desire and mood. Comparing to an electric guitar, acoustic guitar is pretty much easier to play because here you don’t need to worry about amplification settings.
The strings coming from the top of the guitar are finely held in this part called the bridge. In acoustic guitars, small pegs are used on the deck to fix the strings and keep them in the right place.
The ‘Machine Heads’
The next most important part, all beginners should know about is called the Headstock. It’s the top most part of the guitar where strings are finely plugged into different keys. Those keys can be tuned when required to produce desired sounds. These keys are called Machine Heads and play an important role in raising and lowering the pitch of each string. This is the part which helps you keep your acoustic guitar in a perfect condition simply through tuning.
What Are the Note of The Guitar Strings?
What every beginner should know is that an acoustic guitar can never be learned without knowing the notes of strings. You need to learn about the name and number of each string and then get to know about notes.
- There is a string called 6th string, and it’s the thickest one. In standard guitars, this string is tuned to E and offers the lowest guitar tone when played. This is why it’s also referred to as Low E string.
- After this one came the 5th string which is tuned to A and called the A string.
- The next one, 4th string is tuned to D hence called the D string.
- The 3rd one is tuned to G and called the G string.
- The 2nd string is tuned to B and is widely referred to as B string.
- The 1st string is also tuned to E. It is the thinnest of all strings hence offer high notes. It’s usually referred to as high E string.
Knowing about the numbers and tuning of strings makes it easier for players to understand the playing techniques.
How to Remember the String Names/Notes
Remembering the string names and notes might seem difficult but using this mnemonic, you will learn the pattern easily:
This one is pretty interesting:
What’s the Difference Between Chords and Notes?
Many guitarists don’t understand the difference between Chords and Notes and always struggle playing well. A note is basically a solitary pitch that is produced when you struck only one string. On the other hand, when all strings are played together and notes combine, chord is created. In short, notes make chords just like letters make words.
This images shows the G chord,
Whereas this one shows the G note:
Learning notes can be quite overwhelming for beginners because there are a number of notes on a fretboard. Thereby, don’t waste your energy on memorizing the notes and start your journey by learning the chords. They are easy to remember and don’t confuse at all. So focus on chords and you will eventually build an understanding of notes.
What are ‘Chords’?
In a simple definition, a chord is a group of notes that are played simultaneously. To be able to play an acoustic guitar, it is essential for beginners to develop an understanding of chords. When you strum two or more than two notes together, you play music.
‘Should I Focus on Notes or Chords?’
Notes and chords both are important, but for beginners, it’s highly recommended to start with chords because notes can be quite confusing and challenging.
How To Fret Chords Correctly
The basic tip to fret chords rightly is to use the tips of your fingers instead of the fingerprint part. It is because you don’t want to create a messy chord due to the touch of unnecessary fingers. Tips will allow you to strum every string clearly with more space to enjoy a clean sound. You can even try it by yourself and realize the difference right away.
Make sure that every note you play has to be very clear and loud. Also, remember to position your finger in the middle of the frets instead of on the frets. This technique will allow your fingers to create a gap between the strings that will help each played a note to come out very clean.
As far as your thumb is concerned, it is to be placed in the middle of the neck, pointing towards the ceiling. This positioning of thumb is ideal for a large number of chords.
How to Play Acoustic Guitar – 4 Easy Beginner Chords
There are many chords that beginners can start with to begin their guitar learning journey. For now, check out some of these cool chords that will make your learning process easier and faster. Here is a chord called G6 chord and can be replaced with any G chord:
Here are simple steps to follow to play this chord. Firstly, locate the third fret of low E string and place your second finger over it.
Then, put your 1st finger on the second fret of the A string.
Now, strum these all 6 strings simultaneously. It will sound like this:
C Major 7
Here comes an amazing and decent replacement for any C chord. Being a beginner, you will find it pretty easy and fun to play so let’s begin with a few simple steps to play it:
In order to play this chord, the finger placement should go like this:
Locate the A string and put your second finger on its third fret.
Then, Place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.
Now, begin strumming from A string.
When it comes to playing an acoustic guitar, there are a few chords every beginner needs to learn. Among these chords, G and C are quite vital and make learning process faster. That’s why this Cmaj7 and previously described G6 chord are both pretty helpful for every beginner. This is how this Cmaj7 chord will sound:
The E Minor Chord
This is another wonderful acoustic guitar chord that beginners can learn easily and rock their learning process. If you want to impress everyone in your gathering with your guitar performance then this chord is definitely a good one to play.
To play this chord, you are required to place your first finger on the second fret of the A string.
At the same time, place the 2nd finger on the second fret of the D string.
Now, strum all 6 string together to enjoy this magical chord. This is how it would sound:
The Dsus2 Chord
This last chord is also one of the fundamental chords beginners can begin with. It can also be used as a replacement for any D chord.
For this chord, you need to put your first finger on the second fret of the G string.
Then, locate the third fret of the B string and put your third finger on it.
Now, avoiding the 5th and 6th string, start strumming from the D string.
How to Strum a Guitar
There is no doubt that chords play a vital role in making a sound but what adds more volume to the overall performance is strumming. When you strum the strings in right way, you put life into every note. Make sure, you do strumming in a rhythmic manner and with stronger touch to make the sound louder and clearer.
‘Should I use a Pick to Strum?’
It’s true that fingers allow you to play the guitar more strongly, but the pick makes it even easier for beginners. Learning with the pick is faster and more straightforward rather than using finger tips to strum the strings.
It is widely seen that people who choose picks to play an acoustic guitar learn faster than those who prefer finger tips to strum the strings.
Using a pick doesn’t restrict you from using your fingers. You can always strum in both manners but never use your thumb to perform this task. Plucking with thumbs makes the sound so thick and undesirable.
The Correct Way to Hold a Pick
1 – Make a thumbs up sign using your thumb:
2 – Then, place the pick on your folded index finger. Its pointy side should be facing you.
3 – Now, put thumb on the pick
The pick is now in between your thumb and index finger. This is how you are supposed to hold the pick to strum the strings. Such a grip is strong and allows easy strumming.
How to Strum an Acoustic Guitar
You might find strumming a little bit difficult but it’s an essential goal to master this technique in order to play an acoustic guitar. Right strumming put life into every chord and make the overall tone magical.
The critical factor about strumming is that when you strum, 90% of it comes from your elbow. Your wrist moves just a little while your angle makes the first swinging motion to play the desired chord.
Your wrist must be straight in a healthy posture. It doesn’t have to curve inward like a swan.
This is how it should look like when you strum.
Timing also needs to be learned when it comes to playing an acoustic guitar. If you’re unable to keep in time, you won’t be able to play along with the songs or in a band.
Strumming and time planning go hand in hand. Every strum to play a chord requires even gap in between. If the gaps between strums are uneven, you will go out of time. This will negatively affect your overall performance.
Did you realize that each strum has a same amount of time between them?
Feeling the Tempo
The beat is the pulse of the music and this is what we dance to when we hear any song. When we hear a piece of music, we know that it’s whether it’s fast, slow or moderate by its beat. Usually, electronic and metal songs are fast because their beat is faster and romantic songs are slow because of slow beat.
Before you begin working on strumming, you need to create a beat. Once it is created, you can follow up with strumming techniques. The standard time is 4/4 used in a vast number of popular music. 4/4 means that per music bar, four beats are played. Here, you don’t need to understand what it means but only get it right that you will be counting from 1 to 4 repeatedly.
As the beat will go 1,2,3,4, strumming will be done downwardly on each hit.
This sample sound appears pretty good because it is in time. But, it is not as fluid as it can be if we add upstrokes.
With the help of upstrokes, we can make a sound pretty smoother and complete. We will add the upstrokes in between the beats. This means that we will strum in a pattern like 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. ‘And’ is where upstrokes will be added.
This is the most critical part of learning acoustic guitar. But you cannot kip it if you want to become a proper player of an acoustic guitar.
This is the pattern of upstrokes added to a beat.
Let’s Take It To the Next Level
You can double up the speed of pattern mentioned above and enjoy the next level performance. It might seem a little bit harder to play but adds a lot more fluidity and smoothness to the sound, especially in folk and acoustic songs. Check out this song by Amy McDonald and pay excellent attention to the acoustic guitar beat to know what next level is:
This is the strumming you will find full of life and fun. In the beginning, it will be a little challenging to get this much control but you will eventually with practice.
3 Cool Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners
To make learning more fun and exciting, beginners should learn playing songs. It doesn’t only make this process entertaining but also speeds up the learning in an unusual manner. Here are three cool songs we have picked for beginners that are easy and fun to play. Let’s begin with the first one:
1 – ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley
This is one of the top trending songs of its time beautifully composed by Bob Marley. What makes it simple and easy for beginners is that it consists of only three chords, i.e., G, C, and D.
2 – ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King
This is another great choice for acoustic guitar beginners. This song consists of G, E minor, C and D chords that you can easily replace with chords mentioned earlier.
3 – ‘Songbird’ by Oasis
It’s a lovely acoustic track that beginners will find pretty easy to play. This song has only two chords that are quite simple to play on an acoustic guitar. The harmonies are G6 and Em.
Playing an acoustic guitar is not much difficult but only requires proper learning and understanding of techniques. You should understand the importance of right posture and strumming to succeed in playing an acoustic guitar. Learn the fundamental chords and simple songs to speed up the learning process. You just need to focus on right things in order to learn guitar playing in shorter span.