The Fundamentals You Need To Know About Guitar Before You Play A Single Note
Written by Taylor Dean Barnett September 2nd, 2019
Anatomy of the Guitar: 

When you’re just starting out, it’s very important to understand the different parts of the guitar. There are two basic types of guitar, electric and acoustic. The images depicted below display and label the different parts of the electric and acoustic guitar. Be sure to understand and know this information or learning anything else will be very difficult! 

Now we can take a look at the order of the frets so that we know which fret is which when we’re learning our songs and chords! As you can see, the frets are the metal brackets going along the neck, and they are simply referred to in their order (1st fret, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, etc). 

Additionally, it’s important to understand which string is which on the guitar, not only in terms of our tuning, (E, A, D, G, B, e) but also in their order. Many guitarists will refer to the strings by number, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. The high e string (or the thinnest string) is commonly referred to as the 1st string, and the low E string (the thickest string) is the 6th string as depicted below.

How To Tune Your Guitar:

One of the most important things you can do as a beginner is to learn how to properly tune your guitar. Tuning correctly makes the difference between a sweet-sounding melody and the sound of a cat screaming in agony, regardless of what you play. Below you’ll see a layout of what we like to call our “Musical Alphabet”.
These are all the notes that we can play in music, and any song you’ve ever heard is in some way comprised of these 12 different notes. You don’t have to master all these notes right away, or even know where they are located on the guitar yet, but you do need to know what note to tune each of your six strings to. Below you’ll see the open string notes and a couple acronyms for remembering which string is which. These acronyms are to be said from the top down, meaning you’ll start with your low sounding string, or your thickest string, and move up to your high sounding string, or thinnest string.

Open String Tuning: 

E – Eddie (Eat) – Thickest String  
A – Ate (A)
D – Dynamite (Darn)
G – Good (Good)
B – Bye (Breakfast) e 
e - Eddie (Everyday) – Thinnest String

You can say - Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie - to remember that the string names are E, A, D, G, B, and e. Or, you can use the more wholesome acronym, Eat A Darn Good Breakfast Everyday. It’s extremely important to memorize each string name, not only so you can properly tune your guitar to these notes, but also because the strings are often referred to by their letter name. You might hear people say “The D string” or “The A string” so it’s important to know which string is which.

To properly tune your guitar, you’ll need to have a guitar tuner. Guitar tuners come in all shapes and sizes but they all do essentially the same thing. They listen to your guitar strings when you play them and tell you what note the string is tuned to. You need to be sure that you tune each string to the appropriate letter described in our acronym above, or nothing you play will sound any good! Once the tuner hears your string, it will also display some kind of meter - letting you know if the sound of the string is too high or too low. In order for the string to be perfectly in tune, this meter must land right in the center. Use your tuning pegs to tighten or loosen the strings to get your tuner reading right in the center. Repeat the process for each string. (HINT: download the free app Guitar Tuna on your smartphone for easy tuning). 

EXTRA PRACTICE: For those of you who are ready to learn the notes of the fretboard here is a diagram to help guide you. In this diagram, the dots represent the dots along the neck of your guitar which are markers for the odd numbered frets - 3,5,7, and 9 (some guitars may not have a dot marker on the 3rd fret). The double dot represents your 12th fret, the only even numbered dot marker. This is a special fret because it’s where the notes of the guitar start over. As you’re counting through your notes here are a couple things to remember:

1. You must follow the order of the musical alphabet referenced above.

2. The tuning of the string dictates where you begin in the musical alphabet. (i.e. if you’re counting through notes on the E-string, playing the string open will be an E note. Ever y time you move up a fret, up you move up one note. The first fret then would be F, the second fret F#, the third fret G, and so on.

3. Once we reach the last note of our musical alphabet (G#) the pattern simple continues to cycle by going back to A, but you’ll keep moving up the neck.

4. The 12th fret note of your guitar should be the same as the open string! That’s how you’ll know you counted correctly : ).

5. Sharp and flat notes are the same notes, you can simply call them sharp or call them flat. Don’t count them twice!

Taylor Dean Barnett

Taylor Dean Barnett helps people achieve their dream of playing guitar.  He is an expert instructor who has taught private and online lessons for over a decade with over 10,000 private lessons under his belt.  If you're struggling to learn guitar or if you've hit a plateau, Taylor's straightforward teaching method can help you get fast results. CLICK HERE for a free lesson to get you started! 
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