Looking for Financing? Select Shop Pay during Checkout to view options!

Absolute Basic: Beginners First Steps

Hey everybody!

Bill Uhler here from The Music Gallery. I've been a guitar teacher for 25+ years and I've had beginner students who have never picked up a guitar before to intermediate and advanced students. I've taught all levels and I was thinking I would do a video for someone who is considering purchasing a guitar or maybe you just bought your first guitar and you're wondering how to get started.

I'm going to go through some of the basic things that I would show a student for their first time playing a guitar. Some of the things we would talk about in a lesson would be firstly going over the parts of the guitar.

The Strings

The funny thing about the guitar is that it's the opposite of the way it looks. The thickest string (closest to your nose) looks like the high string and the thinnest string (closest to your toes) looks like the low string.

In terms of pitch and the way the strings sound, the thinnest string (closest to your toes) will be called your highest string and the thickest string (closest to your nose) will be called your lowest string. The strings are numbered 1st-6th from highest to lowest for quick reference.

The Frets

The little pieces of metal all along the guitar's neck are called the fret wire. Normally we call the space behind the fret wire the fret. The frets are also numbered from 1 closest to the nut all the way up the neck closest to the body. Most guitars have around 20 frets. 

The Nut, Headstock, and Tuners

The nut is usually a white plastic or bone piece with slots for the strings to sit in between the headstock and the first fret.

The headstock is the piece at the top of guitar that houses the tuners and nut

Tuners are the machines that adjust the tension on the strings


When you're starting out I would recommend using a pick. There are many different sizes and shapes. I would recommend going with the standard teardrop shape guitar pick and probably a medium gauge. They come in different thicknesses. You probably don't want to go too heavy at first. There are also smaller picks. I like smaller jazz picks for myself. I'm sure you'll experiment with different picks and find the one that suits you.

Whatever pick you decide on, I recommend placing it between you thumb and index finger. It's almost like making a fist. A lot of students want to hold the pick between the pads of the fingers, which is probably not the ideal way. I'd say to make an X with the pad of your thumb and the first knuckle of the index finger.

Try holding your pick and strumming each string a few times. Try not to use too much extra motion in your pick stroke.

Fretted Notes

Sometimes students have a hard time producing a good clear note. Remember the difference between the fret and the fret wire. You have to push the strings down so it solidly connects with the fret wire to get a clear note that rings. You might get a buzzy or dead sounding note if you don't push down hard enough or push down too far away from the fret wire. You don't want to be right one top of the fret wire, but you want to be right up next to it.


Make sure you check out the video for more goodies :)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published