Was it Bryan Adams, Kurt Cobain, the ending sequence of Hotel California, or, I know, it must have been Deep Purple’s Smoke on the water, right, that made you want to learn Western guitar? When did you first think to yourself, ‘I wish I could play like that’? At 8, 18, or 28? If you haven’t had a chance to pursue this interest since then, no time like the present to explore it with online guitar classes.
Here, we will discuss all you wanted to know about the guitar right from what music you can play with the guitar to what accessories you need with it to what lessons you will learn when you start your online guitar course.
What genre of music can you play with the guitar?
Blues, jazz, rock classical, Bollywood – the beautiful aspect of the guitar is that it suits all genres. So, it is a good idea to listen to different genres to get a solid all-round foundation in the guitar.
Type of guitar to buy
When we say guitars, what guitar are we talking about? Well, there are different types of guitars:
1. Acoustic guitar
2. Classical guitar
3. Electric guitar
4. Bass guitar
Acoustic and electric guitars use steel strings that are brass or bronze-plated, while classical guitars use nylon strings that produce a soft sound, which is better for folk and classical songs. Bass guitars have 4 or 6 strings. They are usually 4-stringed instruments tuned similar to the 4 lowest pitched strings of the acoustic guitar – E, A, D, and G, but they are an octave lower in pitch. For the purpose of this blog, when we say guitar, we refer to the acoustic guitar.
Parts of the Western acoustic guitar
Let’s start by getting familiar with the names of the different parts of a guitar:
Strings of the guitar
There are six strings on a guitar of varying thickness. The open strings are E (lower octave), A, D, G, B, and E (higher octave) from thickest to thinnest. When you hold the guitar to play, the thinnest string (higher octave E) is at the bottom and is called the first string. By extension, the lower octave E is the sixth string. To help you remember, you can try memorising this:
Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
Easier to remember now? There’s one more that tickles the funny bone:
Eddie Ate Some Dynamite Good Bye Eddie!
You can also make your own personal expansions to help it stick!
Size of guitar
You may find these reference guitar sizes useful when you are on the lookout for guitars. Remember that while these are approximate sizes, they may vary for students depending on their height.
|Age (years)*||Scale length of guitar in inches (cm)**||Total length of guitar ininches (cm)*|
|7-8||19 (48)||31 (78.7)|
|9-10||23 (58)||34 (86)|
|11-12||23 (58.4)||36 (91)|
|Above 12||25.6 (65)||41 (104)|
* The right size will depend on the height of the child as well. So, if your child’s height is different from the average height of that age category, consider a category lower or higher as the case may be.
** Scale length means the length of the guitar from the bridge to the nut. These are approximate measurements as the length of the guitar will vary from maker to maker.
Equipment required to learn the acoustic guitar
When you buy a guitar, you should also consider some of these accessories to go along with it.
This can be in the form of a hard case or a bag depending on your requirements and convenience. It not only helps you carry your guitar around but also protects it from scratches and nicks. Fortunately, this normally comes with the guitar.
Take your pick!
Also called the plectrum, this is a triangular tool that you use to pluck the strings of the guitar. It helps increase the sound your guitar produces and also helps you play songs fast. You need to use this when playing the acoustic or electric guitar as the strings are made of steel and can make your fingers sore. Classical guitars made of softer nylon strings can be played without picks also.
These are made of nylon or metal or steel alloys. It is always a good idea to keep an extra set of strings in case your string wears away or breaks. Some people even have a string winder handy in case this happens. As a beginner, it would be a good idea to ask your teacher or check at a music shop for assistance in stringing.
This helps you get the right sounds to start playing by tuning your guitar correctly especially for a beginner. Choose your guitar tuner from a select list based on your budget.
This enables you to hold the guitar without dropping it – especially when standing and performing. It is normally not required if you are sitting and playing.
As a beginner, you might start off learning as you sit and play. Sitting posture is important and for that, it is important to use a chair or stool without arms or a backrest.
To ensure that your guitar has a safe place it can call its own, students buy stands. However, you can also hang it up on the wall – a cool way to display that you are a guitarist! Just ensure that the nail is a strong one.
How can you benefit from online guitar lessons?
Interested in learning the guitar but wondering how effective online music classes are? Judging by the way music classes have sprung up all over in the online mode, these classes have a lot of value, especially in these times. Today, almost anything can be learnt from the comfort and safety of your home. So, also with the guitar. So, try playing the guitar at home with SaPa’s LIVE online guitar course.
How to learn the guitar at home for beginners
It might seem like an uphill task and you might be wondering how to learn the guitar from home. There is a little give and take involved for sure. You need to ensure that you have a laptop, desktop, or tablet with a good internet connection and a quiet place to attend class. And ensure you have whatever guitar equipment your educator suggests.
Your educator will take over from here – teach you the basics of guitar – theory and practice, show you how to play and correct your fingering and strumming movements. Small or one-on-one classes are best for this purpose.
If you’d like to get going with LIVE classes with performers as your educators, SaPa’s Western guitar classes are what you are looking for!
Basics for beginners learning Acoustic Guitar
So, if you have glanced through some of the online guitar courses, you might have noticed that there are quite a few technical jargons that might have you questioning your ability to learn the guitar. Don’t worry! Here, we will clarify what they mean. See if you feel more guitar literate at the end of it!
1. Familiarising yourself with the fretboard
Frets are on the neck of the guitar, perpendicular to the strings. There are 22 frets on the guitar. Your left hand (if you’re right-handed) will have to get acquainted with the fretboard when you are fingering. This is where you press or ‘stop’ the strings to play different notes. Starting from the headstock of the guitar, you have 0 (zero) fret or the open string.
2. Guitar Tablature
Beginners should learn how to read guitar tabs or tablature. This is the musical notation that tells you what string to play on and what frets to finger – similar to the musical notations staff which tells you what notes to play. The number of a tab represents the fret that you should play in. If the numbers are in the same vertical line, they have to be played together.
The highest line in a tab is the high E while the lowest line is the low E.
3. Reading Western music notation
As a beginner, reading Western notation can appear daunting. However, once you use a few simple tricks, you might be surprised with how musically literate you feel! For instance, if the notes are on the lines (called staff lines), they are E, G, B, D, and F from the lowermost line to the topmost line. A good way to remember is with this sentence – Every Good Boy Does Fine!
And if the notes are in the space, they are F, A, C, and E from the lowest space to the topmost space between the lines. Read it as FACE, or Face is in the Space!
4. Treble Clef (𝄞)
This tells you what pitch the instrument should be played in. You will find it at the beginning of the notes of the music
5. Key Signature
This tells you the notes that have to be played sharp (#) or flat (♭), or natural (𝄮). It is mentioned immediately after the treble clef. If nothing is mentioned, it means that all the notes are natural.
6. Time Signature
How do you get a sense of how fast or slow a song is? That is what time signature is all about. You can look for it after the treble clef and the key signature.
Basically, the time signature tells you how many beats there are in a bar or measure. It helps divide a song into phrases, breaking it up to make it easier to memorise. The most commonly used time signature is 4/4. Here, the upper 4 indicates that there are 4 beats in a measure and the lower 4 refers to the note value that indicates a beat. Here, 4 represents a quarter beat. So 4/4 means that there are 4 beats in a measure and a quarter note is the beat unit. 4/4 is also called C or Common Time. This is mentioned after the key signature if any.
Guitar classes for beginners: What you will learn
A. Tuning the guitar
The first thing to do before you start playing the guitar is to tune it. The standard tuning is E (lower octave), A, D, G, B, and E (higher octave). Unless your guitar’s strings are tuned, none of the songs are going to sound the way they should. But how can you tune the guitar? There are many ways to tune a guitar:
- With a tuner – For a beginner, this is the ideal way to tune a guitar. When you produce a sound on the string, the tuner will help you by naming the note. This is an easy way to tune the guitar.
- By hearing – This requires a certain expertise. As a beginner, this might not be the best way for you to tune. But it is something you should train your ear to do by and by.
- Relative tuning – Once one of the strings is in tune, you can tune the others based on your sense of the sound of the open string in relation to the tuned string. This is called relative tuning. It also requires a little bit of experience and practice to understand how to tune it this way.
B. Fingering exercises
Among the first lessons are fingering exercises that help you develop good motor skills as well as coordination between your left and right hands. The objective of these exercises is to develop a good sense of control over the finger placements.
This is a set of notes that are played in ascending and descending order to help you get a sense of melody. Scales help you in perfecting finger patterns and hand synchronisation. Some of the scales beginners start learning are the major and minor scales.
D. Basic chords
Chords are a bunch of notes played together. They significantly add to the melody of a song. Chords are entirely dependent on the scale so it is very important to master scales first. You can understand why you play a certain chord when you know the scales and the tune that is produced by them.
E. Chords for beginners
Some chords that you can start learning include –
- C Major
- G Major
- E Major
- D Major
- A Minor
- E Minor
When you learn these chords you can play simple songs.
F. Left hand technique
The main lessons for beginners revolve around how to place your fingers on the strings of the guitar. So, the left-hand technique is most important to practise and perfect.
Your thumb should be placed on the back of the fingerboard on the top part of the neck. Your four fingers should be equidistant from each other. The first and fourth are slightly curved while the middle two are placed straight on the fretboard. In case you are a lefty, this would be the right-hand technique for you.
G. Right hand technique
This involves holding the pick and strumming on the guitar. In case you are a lefty, this would be the left-hand technique for you.
How to hold the pick
You should hold the pick with your thumb and index finger forming a 90-degree angle with each other. The pick should stick out a little bit from under the thumb to enable you to strum the guitar.
This is a technique where you play the guitar by alternately strumming downwards and upwards in turns. It is an important skill to learn because just down picking can make you slow; you will not be able to play fast songs. Exercises include continuous up-down or down-up picking.
Daily practice routine
So, finally, the question on your mind – how many hours of practice is enough? At first, 30 minutes to one hour should be good enough. As you progress in your guitar lessons and start playing songs, you will have to force yourself to part from it as it will feel like a natural extension of your body! 1 hour will be too soon!
Also, ensure that you practise every day – a daily practice routine of scales, technical and fingering exercises can help beginners improve their left and right-hand technique.
There is so much you can do with a guitar – play solo, collaborate with other musicians or play and sing. And you know, you just can’t help looking and feeling cool when you have this stringed instrument in your arms! So, explore the numerous genres and experience the thrill of learning the guitar as your adrenaline levels are bound to rocket sky-high! Explore more stringed instruments with this beginner’s guide on playing the Western violin.