Guitar Basics: 10 Essential Tips For Beginners

Looking to learn your guitar basics? You’re in the right place!

guitar basics

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • The fundamentals of guitar basics; learn the anatomy of the guitar, guitar string names, how to tune a guitar & the secrets of guitar posture.
  • 2 strumming tips that will enhance your rhythm & musicality.
  • Essential guitar scales, chords & songs.
  • The no1 secret to learning guitar quickly.

Let’s get started!

30,000+ guitar learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

Guitar basics #1 The anatomy of the guitar

A guitar, like anything else has various bits to it, and those different bits have different names.

It’s important to know what these are otherwise it can be very confusing when your guitar teacher tells you to play the 5th string at the 3rd fret or something similar.

Here’s a nice clear diagram of the anatomy of the guitar:

guitar basicsIf you’re ever unsure as to which bit of the guitar is which or if you forget, you can refer back to this diagram. Electric guitars don’t have a sound hole, they have pick-ups instead.

For more information on electric guitars, check out this article: How To Play Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

Guitar basics #2 String names

So, we can see from the guitar anatomy diagram that a guitar has six strings, but those strings aren’t all the same.

Going from the thickest to the thinnest, the guitar strings are named:

guitar basics

 

A good way of remembering this is:

  • Eddie.
  • Ate.
  • Dynamite.
  • Good.
  • Bye.
  • Eddie.

Guitar strings are also numbered 1 to 6, going from the thinnest to the thickest (not the other way around!)

For more information on guitar strings and what they’re called, check out this article: Guitar String Notes – The Ultimate Guide

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

Guitar basics #3 How to tune a guitar

If you want anything you play on guitar to sound good, your guitar needs to be in tune.

The best way to get in tune is to use a guitar tuner.

There’s a few different tuners available. If you have an iPhone for example, there’s a free app you can install called GuitarTuna.

guitar tuna

This is why you need to know the names of guitar strings, so you know what notes you’re tuning the strings to.

For more information on how to tune your guitar, check out this article: How To Tune A Guitar

Guitar basics #4 How to hold a guitar

Holding your guitar correctly is perhaps the most important thing you need to know if you want to be a guitarist.

If you don’t hold your guitar correctly, you’ll be uncomfortable and everything will be difficult to play.

Let’s start as we mean to go on.

If you’re right-handed, you want the body of the guitar resting on your right knee with the neck of the guitar pointing off to your left so you can strum and pick the strings with your right hand and press the strings down against the frets with your left hand.

guitar basics

If you’re left-handed, it’s the other way around: body on left knee, neck pointing to the right. Left hand for strumming, right hand for fretting.

guitar basics

For more information on how to hold a guitar correctly, check out this article: How To Hold A Guitar

Learning the guitar is good for you, it’s scientifically proven. Find out how in this article by Guitar World: 10 Scientifically Proven Reasons You Should Learn Guitar

Guitar basics #5 How to hold a guitar pick

If you don’t hold your guitar pick correctly, you’re going to have one hell of a time trying to strum and pick your guitar.

Again, let’s start as we mean to go on.

To hold your pick correctly, first…

Make a thumbs up sign

guitar basics

Then, place the pick on top of your clenched fingers, like this:

guitar basics

Lastly, clamp your thumb down on top of the pick:

guitar basics

For more information on guitar picks and how to hold them correctly, check out this article: How To Hold A Guitar Pick

Guitar basics #6 Basic chords

Once you’ve got your guitar in tune and you’re holding it correctly, it’s time to have a go at some chords.

You want to start with easy chords to begin with. The easier the better.

guitar basics

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

.

Don’t go stretching your fingers into all sorts of uncomfortable shapes trying advanced chords (or even intermediate chords).

Get to grips with the easy stuff first.

Ideally, you want to know your easy chords inside and out before you start trying anything tougher.

For some awesome beginner guitar chords, check out this article: Guitar Chords For Beginners

Guitar basics #7 How to strum

Once we’ve got our first chords learnt, we need to know how to strum them.

Strumming, for those who don’t know, is when you hit the strings of the guitar using the pick.

Like this:

guitar basics

There’s only really two ways to strum a guitar: downwards and upwards.

We use different combinations of down and up strumming to create different strumming patterns.

For a more in-depth look at how to strum the guitar, check out this article: How To Strum A Guitar

Download a free beginner chord guide and learn easy versions of every chord

 Say goodbye to frustration and twisted fingers. Say hello to MAKING MUSIC.

  Learn beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is one of our most popular guides and will improve your chord ability quickly. Click here to download the guide.

 

Guitar basics #8 Learn easy songs

There’s a reason we learn to tune our guitars, hold them correctly, strum chords etc.

It’s so we can play songs.

guitar basics

It should go without saying, but you want to be learning easy songs to begin with. Songs that use the sort of easy chords we mentioned earlier.

You don’t want to move onto anything more challenging until you’re totally happy you can play easy songs.

If you want some ideas for easy songs to get you started, check out this article: Guitar Songs For Beginners

Guitar basics #9 Learn guitar scales

The guitar isn’t just an instrument you strum chords on.

You can also, pick out melodies, riffs and solos. To do that, you need scales.

guitar basics

A scale is a pattern of notes that work with each other.

The best scales for beginners to start off with are scales that use open strings.

To get started learning scales on the guitar, check out this article: Beginner Guitar Scales: 5 Essential Scales

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.

Guitar basics #10 Learn how to practice effectively

Obviously if you’re learning guitar, you need to practice.

But how should you go about practicing?

guitar basics

The best approach is: little and often.

Don’t try and cram all your practicing into one day of the week.

For one, you’ll be giving yourself a huge workload.

On top of that, if you’re only practicing once a week, you’ll probably forget everything between practices.

Also, what if something comes up on the day you set aside for practice? You won’t get to practice that week.

Set aside a few minutes each day where you pick up your guitar and work through your basic chords, your easy songs, your scales or whatever it is you’re supposed to be practicing that week.

It’s also a good idea to invest in your learning.

Think about picking up a good guitar book online and seek out a good guitar teacher in your local area who will guide you on your journey!

For some top tips on practice, check out this article: Guitar Practice: 10 Essential Tips

 

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

 

More Cool Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Thanks for stopping by, speak soon! 🙂

00. Mike Kennedy Profile Pic (Circle)

Mike Kennedy - National Guitar Academy Founder

Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!