In major-thirds (M3) tuning, the chromatic scale is arranged on three consecutive strings in four consecutive frets. This four-fret arrangement facilitates the left-hand technique for classical (Spanish) guitar: For each hand position of four frets, the hand is stationary and the fingers move, each finger being responsible for exactly one fret. Consequently, three hand-positions (covering frets 1–4, 5–8, and 9–12) partition the fingerboard of classical guitar, which has exactly 12 frets.[note 1]
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The black dots found on the chord diagrams tell you which fret to press down, and on which string and with which numbered finger. Additionally, you will sometimes see circles above the nut. These circles tell you to play that open string without pressing any fret. So using what we know so far about strings, finger numbers, and dots, let’s check out that same chord diagram again:
The next step is to figure out what gauge, or thickness of string is best suited to your playing ability and style. Thinner gauges are easier to fret and bend, and may be better suited for beginners, until callouses build up on the fingertips. Heavier strings tend to produce greater volume and fuller tone. Nylon strings are typically categorized as light, medium or heavy tension. Steel strings for both electric and acoustic guitars are categorized by the gauge, or thickness of the lightest string, the high E string, measured in thousandths of an inch, with .09 being a common size for an electric set. A set of electric strings may be labeled .09-.042 - this is the gauge of the lightest and heaviest string in the set. Acoustic sets are a little thicker, so a typical medium-gauge set might be .012-.054.
To play a C chord on a guitar, put your ring finger on the third fret on the A string, your middle finger on the second fret on the D string, leave the G string open, and put your index finger on the first fret of the B string. Before you try to strum the chord, play each note individually until the note sounds clear. When you've mastered the C chord, try moving on to other chords like G or F.
For the second note of the A minor 7 chord, place your second finger on the second fret of the D string. This is the second of the two notes you need to fret to play this chord. Make sure you’re on the tip of your finger and right behind the fret. Now that you have both notes in place, strum the top five strings, remembering to leave the low E string out.
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Electric guitars and bass guitars have to be used with a guitar amplifier and loudspeaker or a bass amplifier and speaker, respectively, in order to make enough sound to be heard by the performer and audience. Electric guitars and bass guitars almost always use magnetic pickups, which generate an electric signal when the musician plucks, strums or otherwise plays the instrument. The amplifier and speaker strengthen this signal using a power amplifier and a loudspeaker. Acoustic guitars that are equipped with a piezoelectric pickup or microphone can also be plugged into an instrument amplifier, acoustic guitar amp or PA system to make them louder. With electric guitar and bass, the amplifier and speaker are not just used to make the instrument louder; by adjusting the equalizer controls, the preamplifier, and any onboard effects units (reverb, distortion/overdrive, etc.) the player can also modify the tone (aka timbre or "colour") and sound of the instrument. Acoustic guitar players can also use the amp to change the sound of their instrument, but in general, acoustic guitar amps are used to make the natural acoustic sound of the instrument louder without changing its sound that much.
Renaissance and Baroque guitars are the ancestors of the modern classical and flamenco guitar. They are substantially smaller, more delicate in construction, and generate less volume. The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six single strings normally used now. They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music performances. (Gaspar Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 contains his whole output for the solo guitar.) Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished, because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.
Unlike many string instruments which use a bow to create a sound, guitars are played by plucking or strumming the strings on the instrument, which vibrate to create a sound. Chords are played when the guitarist holds their fingers down on more than one individual string to change its length, which in turn changes the frequency of the vibration created - in other words, it creates a different note. Performers often use guitar tabs, rather than sheet music, when learning music: this acts as a kind of 'map' to teach guitarists where to put their fingers on the strings.