Learning to play guitar is loads of fun, though playing chords may seem a little intimidating at first. Fear not, it is not much different than playing single notes: you're just playing them all at once! This article will walk you through the process of working out the fingering, and show you how to play some common chords. Pull out your axe, and rock on!
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.
The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings. On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body. There are many varied bridge designs. There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge saddles to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument. Some are spring-loaded and feature a "whammy bar", a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by changing the tension on the strings. The whammy bar is sometimes also called a "tremolo bar". (The effect of rapidly changing pitch is properly called "vibrato". See Tremolo for further discussion of this term.) Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.
A "guitar pick" or "plectrum" is a small piece of hard material generally held between the thumb and first finger of the picking hand and is used to "pick" the strings. Though most classical players pick with a combination of fingernails and fleshy fingertips, the pick is most often used for electric and steel-string acoustic guitars. Though today they are mainly plastic, variations do exist, such as bone, wood, steel or tortoise shell. Tortoise shell was the most commonly used material in the early days of pick-making, but as tortoises and turtles became endangered, the practice of using their shells for picks or anything else was banned. Tortoise-shell picks made before the ban are often coveted for a supposedly superior tone and ease of use, and their scarcity has made them valuable.
Almost all guitars have frets, which are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula. The exceptions include fretless bass guitars and very rare fretless guitars. Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale. Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 and 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets. Frets are laid out to accomplish an equal tempered division of the octave. Each set of twelve frets represents an octave. The twelfth fret divides the scale length exactly into two halves, and the 24th fret position divides one of those halves in half again.
The Guitar Program at Musicians Institute is designed to develop professional level technique and musicianship through performance-intensive and immersive experiences. Guitar classes are taught by leading professionals and students will get trained in the basics of guitar playing, including performance, ear training, melodic soloing along a huge variety of contemporary styles.
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