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DAVID HILLMAN: Free Guitar Lesson

First, you should tune your guitar. Below is a very good guitar tuner application. Each button on the application will give you the tone each string should sound like.

Remember to always tighten up to your target note. Never loosen the string down to the intended note. If the string in question is sharp, or higher than the target note, loosen the string so the tone is below the target note, and then tighten back up to the target note. You should tune your guitar every time you pick it up to play.

Now that your guitar is in tune, let's take a look at the charts below. These charts represent your guitar neck. The top darker black line represents the nut of the guitar, in which the strings sit, and continue on to the tuners. The horizontal lines represent the frets and the vertical lines represent the strings. On the chart, the thickest string, the low E is on the far left, the smallest string, the high E, is on the far right. Sitting down playing, the low E should be closest to you, the high E, closest to the floor.

Try "The Exercise." It's a warm-up exercise which is a very good place to start every time you pick up your guitar. "The Exercise" develops quite a few fundamental skills that you will use your whole life.

Beg Chart

The top two charts are to be played as scales or each note independently. On "The Exercise" you start with the lowest note, the open low E string, and then play the low E on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th frets, using the corresponding finger. Index (or 1 finger) on the 1st fret, middle (or 2 finger) on the 2nd fret, etc. After the 4th fret of the low E string is played, it's on to the next note, the open A string. Repeat all strings this way: open, 1st fret, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, 4th fret, until you end up on the 4th fret of the high E string. 30 notes in all.

This chart illustrates the concept of "one finger per fret" which is a good guideline to use when playing scale forms.

The C major scale chart gives you the names of all the strings and the note names of some of the frets. Since you now know the "one finger per fret" rule from above, you know which fingers to use to play each of these notes. First, play the open low E string, then the F note with your 1 finger, the G note with your 3 finger, etc...

The bottom two charts are chords. All the notes of a chord should be played at the same time, as in a strum. An "O" or zero above the nut on a string means to play the string open. An "X" means to not play the string at all. Put the corresponding finger on the neck like it shows in the chart, and strum. Observe that the E major chord and the A minor chord, have the same shape. The formation is moved one string towards the floor on the Am chord. Practice going back and forth, strumming these two chords.

As mentioned above, this is a great place to start and the skills developed here are very important to playing the guitar well, no matter what style of music you intend to play. For more information on guitar lessons with David Hillman please send him an email at: david @ or visit: