You may find it frustrating when attempting to play chords and notes for the first time. When you are not accustomed to using your hands and fingers in this way, it will of course, take a while to adjust, and to build up the correct muscles and increase the suppleness in your hands and fingers. It is possible for your hands and fingers to feel a little stiff after your first practice session, especially if your first session was rather lengthy. However, it is imperative that you do not allow this to prevent you from continuing. Your fingers will become strong and agile in no time at all to enable you to tackle the most difficult riffs and licks.
Notes are very different to chords. When striking a note, only one single tone is produced from one string. When playing chords, then three or more notes are generally used in order to produce the tone. When a piano is played, only one key is pressed to produce a note. When a guitar is being played, then you need to push down one string onto the fret. Assuming that your guitar is tuned correctly, you can pick the low E-string without fretting, which will result in your playing the E note.
The frets of your guitar produce different notes, such as:
- Using the first fret with the E-string, will produce an F note,
- An F# (#means sharp) is produced when using the second fret,
- When using the third fret on the E-string, you will produce a G note, and
- By using the fourth fret you will produce a G#.
This is continued right up to the B note. It is important to note that there is no B# or E#.
Each specific note can be produced on a guitar in many different ways. It is always advised to learn how to read the tablature format, or guitar tab. The strings of the guitar are resembled in the tablature format, making it easier to learn and read. The guitar tab will point out to you which fingers should be used on which frets.
It is essential to begin with your thumb in order to hold your fretting hand in the correct position for playing notes. You should place the ball of your thumb flatly on the back of the guitar neck, as if you were attempting to create a thumbprint on it. Your other four fingers should then be curled around up and over the strings, ensuring that you are touching the top string lightly, which is the thickest string. Position them comfortably without allowing them to brush against the bottom string, which is the thinnest string. The position of your thumb can now be changed to make it more comfortable.
It is important that you do not place your fingers directly onto the fret when you are fretting. In order to push the string against the fret, you need to use your fingertip. However, ensure that you keep your finger slightly to the topside of the fret. This can be practiced by holding all four fingers on the topside and above the first four frets on the top string, otherwise known as the sixth string. The sixth string should then be picked, then your index finger should be lowered onto the fret, remembering to keep your finger just above it. Pick the string again and you will notice a clear difference in the sound that is produced. The other fingers should be used in a similar manner. You may find it difficult initially, but remember that with time, it will become easier.
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.