So, you picked up your guitar and you want to learn how to play. Great that’s a good start but things can be difficult especially as a beginner when it comes to learning techniques.
The good news is that this article is going to help you aim for the technique you should be working towards next!
In this article we will be going over the top 5 guitar techniques every beginner should know, each of the topics are listed below.
Learning How To Fret The Guitar
One of the most important techniques when it comes to being a beginner on the guitar is to learn how fret the guitar.
It may sound obvious to some but there is a right way and a wrong way to fret the guitar.
This is due to the sound you produce based on where you put your fingers. You should experiment for yourself to see how true this is.
The correct way to fret the fretboard is to firstly not over exert pressure onto the frets, you should press as much as is needed to get a clear sound.
Secondly you should try to get as close as you can behind the fret-wire or the metal dividing line on the fretboard.
This will produce the most resonant sound. Its also ok to make exceptions to this rule when you are making chords or multiple fingers close to each other on the same fret.
The principle of getting as close as you can still applies.
Learning How To Hold The Guitar
Holding the guitar properly can be really important for posture reasons.
Those reasons being that if you have the right posture it allows for your shoulders to relax freeing up your tendons and other ligaments in your hands to be able to play in a relaxed manner.
I also stress the importance of setting yourself up to practice in a way that you would In both sitting down and standing up.
Which is why I have the strap taught enough on me so it’s the same height in both positions.
I also use a stand to practice and practice in the classical position as it allows for you to reach the higher frets with a relaxed posture.
Here is a photo to demonstrate what I mean:
Now we have the posture correct let’s look into how to place your hands on the guitar
Firstly, you have your fretting hand that we need to set.
Depending on where your fretting hand is on the guitar you may have to adapt and change to the situation.
For example, if you bend notes your hand position will be different from when you are fretting chords.
As this is a beginner lesson, we will focus on how we hold chords.
Holding chords at the open frets i.e the first 1 to 4 frets will be different to holding them at the middle.
Ill demonstrate them with the photos below.
At the open frets.
And in the middle frets.
You will want to have the thumb to trace the top part of the backside of the neck but don’t exceed going further than the middle for supporting any stretches as it can be not as comfortable.
What you want to aim for is a bent wrist at all times as this allows for relaxed tendons in your fingers.
As show in the photo above
After getting your hand positions and practice positions correct, we shall now go onto how to hold the pick:
Holding The Pick
Another important aspect especially to modern guitar playing, is holding the pick.
There are many different ways to hold the pick and the main answer is to do what’s most comfortable for you.
I will teach a generic way to hold the pick and you can customise it from there to suit your needs.
First of all, place it in your hand on your index finger on the knuckle facing with the pointed edge outward towards the strings.
Like so in this picture:
Then place your thumb over it, but don’t clamp down just allow enough movement so the pick edge can move but the whole pick can’t fall out of your hand like in this photo.
Then apply this grip to the pick onto the strings as shown in this photo.
Hopefully this has given you a good foundation as to how to hold your pick.
Now that you have learnt how to hold your pick lets choose a chord and learn how to strum.
Technique Tips on Strumming
When you are first learning to strum its important for both wrists and hand ligaments to be relaxed.
If at any point your picking hand is too tense it can lead to not being able to produce the rhythm you want in an organic sounding way.
If everything is too stiff it can sound jarring to the listener.
As for the fretting hand the same principle applies gripping the notes too hard can make the notes sound sharp, you only need to apply the correct amount of pressure to make the notes sing and no more.
Once you have the note singing then you have the correct amount of pressure.
One more tip is that it really helps to have a thin pick size.
This is due to the fact that a thinner pick glides over the strings a lot easier giving off more of a strummed sound.
This has been true for many decades of studio recordings.
Most likely your favourite artists who strum have done so with a thinner pick creating that sound.
You can do it with thicker pick sizes but you have to learn a different technique and it doesn’t quite sound the same or as expected as a thinner pick when you strum.
Learning To Pick Individual Notes In A Chord
One skill I highly recommend picking up (pun intended) is the ability to single out notes when playing chords. Let’s take two chords C and D and try to pick through them in the tab below.
The first time you do it one by one you might be trying to alternate downs and ups on each string.
This isn’t necessary try to pick on the way up the high strings with one downward motion and then on the return come back up the lower strings with another fluid motion.
This should make picking notes individually a lot easier.
I hope this was a good primer into learning top 5 techniques for beginners.