How to Play Guitar

By: Sam C

The Basics

The guitar is one of the most common musical instruments for a person to play, and is a very old instrument. Instruments similar to guitars can be found in drawings as early as 1800 B.C. The acoustic guitar has a body, with a saddle and soundhole, a neck with frets, and a headstock with nuts and tuning pegs. Strings start at the headstock and end at the neck of the guitar (See the diagram below for more information). The guitar has 6 strings, which play the open notes E,A,D,G,B, and E.

Parts of an Acoustic Guitar

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An Example of an Acoustic Guitar Playing with a Band

How To Play

There are a number of different ways to play the guitar. The basics are that the player puts their hands on the neck of the guitar, holding it from underneath, and has a hand over the body of the guitar so they can reach the strings over the soundhole. A guitar player may put their hands anywhere up and down the neck. To play notes, you place your finger/fingers close to the fret and pick the corresponding string/strings. A guitar player may play individual notes if they are playing melodies, or play chords to accompany. When playing chords, you place multiple fingers on different frets and strings and strum the notes and strings for that chord.

How you hold a Guitar

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Some Rudimentary Open Chords

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Reading Music

When guitar players play melodies, they may have sheet music to read from. The notes are on a staff. The staff has lines and spaces. There may be notes above or below the staff as well. The spaces, from bottom to top, represent the notes F,A,C, and E, or FACE. The lines, from bottom to top, represent the notes E,G,B,D, and F. Musicians remember the notes on the line by using EGBDF as an acronym. Phrases used include "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge," "Ernie Gave Bert Dead Fish," and "Every Good Boy Does Fine." Melodies can also be put on guitar tablature, which has 6 lines and note numbers to represent which fret and string you play a note.

Example of the Staff and Tableture

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