Beginning Guitar Lessons:
Upper-Half, Tuning the Guitar and Strings

Welcome to the introduction to beginning guitar lessons, this series of lesson is designed to be step by step, in other words what you learn in each lesson will be the building block for the next lesson. This introduction will cover some basics about your guitar, tuning your guitar and a brief explanation about guitar strings. The next few lessons will cover some exercises to do on each string, I recommend this over attempting chords first and these exercises will help acquaint your fingers to the guitar.

The Guitar Upper Half

To the right is a generic design of the guitar. The Head of the guitar is where your tuning knobs are located. You'll see several variations of guitar heads. Usually the look like the one to the right or many electrics will have all the tuning knobs on one side.

The neck of the guitar is where all the frets are located. "Frets" is a key guitar term, frets are the little bars, usually silver, that are located all along the neck of the guitar. The area just before the fret is where you will place your fingers. Throughout the lessons you will see references to X fret (X being a number). For example the arrow next to the word Frets is pointing to the 5th fret.

The dots in between frets are for reference when you are playing. Some guitars will use other shapes in place of dots.

Guitar Neck


Tuning your guitar is essential to learning. Nothing sounds worse than poorly tuned guitar. So pick yourself up a tuner and learn how to use it! I highly recommend the Sabine STX-1100, it's a bit more expensive but makes tuning easy, especially when you want to tune to different keys.

From top to bottom your strings go 6,5,4,3,2,1. 6 being the fat string and 1 being the thin string. Remember the following:
-The 6th string is E
-The 5th string is A
-The 4th string is D
-The 3rd string is G
-The 2nd string is B
-The 1st string is E

Tune each string to the notes listed above. Be patient when tuning and slowly twist the tuning knobs to the correct pitch. Tightening (Sharp) the string increases the pitch and loosening the string (Flat) decreases pitch. Also note: when strings break they have a lot of force and can be dangerous if it were to whip your eyes. So don't hold the guitar where that could happen!

To tune a string: pluck one string at a time and make a small adjustment with the knob for that string. Pluck the string again and make another adjustment. Repeat this procedure till your tuner says it's in tune.

A couple of tips:
-Try not to over tighten strings, this can cause premature wear. Tightening strings way beyond necessary will cause them to break and places an unneeded stress upon the neck and head of the guitar.
-Don't adjust the knobs back and forth for "fun" this will ruin the string.
-Change one string at a time.
Strings will flatten over time and when you play your guitar. Once you start to notice your strings are dull you should change them.

Guitar Strings

Every so often you should change your guitar strings. How often? We'll that's for you to decide. New strings we'll sound much "brighter" than old strings which will sound "duller".

I don't plan on explaining how to change strings because it's a little difficult to explain. Your local dealer will change your strings for a small fee. Most will charge you a few bucks plus the cost of strings. Don't be a sucker, I went to a music store and they tried to charge my friend 20 dollars to put new strings on!

The best way to learn is to ask a local dealer to explain it to you so you can learn how to do yourself. Most should be happy to show you, if not, shop somewhere else.

There are several brands and types of strings to choose from. Electric and acoustic strings are different. Strings come in several gauges. String gauge is thickness of the string. The thicker they are the harder they are to play. If you plan to play mainly rhythm guitar you may something above a light string gauge. If you like to solo then you might like lighter strings. If you are beginner start with some lighter strings then experiment if you want. It is a good idea though to find what you like in string gauge and stick with it. So, what else does string gauge mean? The thicker the string the longer it can sustain a note. Therefore, heavier gauges can hold notes longer. Lighter strings tend to lose there tuning much easier than heavier strings. If you get lighter strings you'll find you have to constantly keep them in tune.

Take note that new strings will lose there tuning very quickly, especially when they are first put on. After a couple of days they get stretched out and start to hold tunings better.

Personally, I like lighter strings; they bend easier and play easier. My recommendations:
For my Electric guitars I like to use Ernie Ball Super Slinkies. Don't worry just the packages come in Lime or Pink not the strings...Ernies are inexpensive and good quality strings. The pink package is the 9 gauge set and the lime green packages are the 10 gauge set.

For my Acoustic Guitars I like D'Addario strings. Like Ernie's, D'Addario are inexpensive and good quality strings as well. Acoustic guitars generally don't play as easily as electrics. The strings are usually harder to bend so that's why I use lighter strings.

Move on to Guitar Lesson 1

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