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7 Skills to Master in Your Beginner Guitar Lesson

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Introduction – Beginner Guitar Lesson

In this absolute beginner guitar lesson, I teach you how to hold a guitar, how to hold a pick, how to strum the guitar, how to tune your guitar, string note names, the parts of a guitar, and two chords to get you playing a song fast.

You may be starting over 40 because you finally found the time to begin. Being online means not just starting, but working all the way through it to completion. Taking things one at a time, and getting comfortable with each new activity is the best approach. Another advantage is that using video you can rewind, replay and review as many times as you like.

How to hold a guitar

To hold a guitar, perch it on your right knee. Hold the guitar close to your body, not at an angle. Sit on a firm chair with no arms, not a couch. This is where a smaller body guitar can really come in handy. The smaller size makes it easier to handle.

If your guitar is a jumbo or a dreadnaught, just be aware you’ll need to adjust a little. They are bigger guitars and not quite as easy to handle. Their bigger size usually reflects a richer tone.

How to Hold a Pick – Beginner Guitar Lesson

The pick is small, plastic, and triangular used to strum the strings on a guitar. Picks are inexpensive and are easy to lose. You might want to have several on hand.

Using a pick is helpful to be able to clearly hear the strings. Place the pick between the tip of your first finger and your thumb. Try a few variations until it feels comfortable.

There are different styles of picks ranging from thin to thick. Usually, it’s better to start with a thinner pick as they are much more forgiving for the beginner player.

how to hold a guitar pick
Holding a guitar pick

How to strum a guitar – important for your first guitar lesson

Strumming the guitar should be a natural feeling with a little practice. Here’s a helpful clue. Try waving your wrist like you’ve got a feather stuck on it and you’re trying to remove it. Feel the looseness in your wrist; no tension, just free movement. The idea is to be relaxed, not tense.

How to tune a guitar

There are lots of resources to help with this. Some folks prefer a tuner they can mount onto their guitar neck. Some prefer apps. I’ve listed my favorite apps below to get you started. You will see a green light indicating the string is in tune. A red color indicates the string is not in tune.

If you do prefer a device, click below to purchase one like I use and recommend.

Here are three of the best free apps that can help:

  1. Yousician

  1. Fender Guitar Tuner



How to name the string notes

The thickest string is the sixth string, and the thinnest string is the first string. Frets are steel strips on the fingerboard. Naming the string notes we have E as the sixth string, A as the fifth string, D as the fourth string, G as the third string, B as the second string, and E as the first string.

Knowing the string names is easier if you can see them. The chart below starts with the high E on the top string. The pitch of each string goes lower as you read down the chart. This is commonly referred to as “open” tuning. Open refers to the strings not being closed by any fingers closing off the string, changing pitch, in the fretting hand.

Guitar String Names

How to Identify the parts of a guitar

It’s good to know what the parts of a guitar are called. It helps as you read and study more. Beyond only strings and the neck we have a headstock, including tuners, a sound hole, bridge and nut to keep track of. The headstock includes the tuners. As a result, the tuners are used often since tuning is important and often needed.

beginning guitar lesson

How to play first chords

It’s never too early to practice good hand position. For your left hand, or fretting hand, think of an egg or an apple in between your hand and the back of the guitar neck. Keeping your hand positioned with that space between your hand and the nice of the guitar will help you stay relaxed and able to reach chord positions as they become more difficult. C – Em are chords in the song Eleanor Rigby.


Congratulations if you’ve made it this far! We’ve covered 7 skills to master in your beginner guitar lesson. You now have a good orientation to holding the guitar, holding a pick, and strumming the guitar. You have seen apps that can help you keep your guitar in tune. The graphic of string locations helps you to the names of the notes for each open string, and even play a few chords.

1 thought on “7 Skills to Master in Your Beginner Guitar Lesson”

  1. Pingback: Why Knowing Every Guitar Note Makes You Play Better - Jim Snedeker Music

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