Chord charts, scale patterns, and guitar tab will be used exclusively throughout these lessons. It's not that I have anything against sight-reading sheet music; it's just easier to convey my message this way. And most guitar students of mine have ignored sheet music in favor of tab when they had the chance anyway, so I've come to accept tab as a medium.
The following illustration shows the fingering designations that will be used in all of the exercises and illustrations, and most of my descriptions will be as though you were playing the guitar right-handed. The numbering of the left-hand fingers is used in most guitar sheet music and instruction books. The right-hand letter names for the fingers follow standard classical guitar instruction. For nearly all guitar music, only the first four fingers, (P-i-m-a), will be used. Only a few of the great masters of classical guitar really use the smallest finger on the right hand, (c). In keeping with this, the exercises that follow will only be for the first four fingers.
In case you are wondering what the letters actually mean, the letters are abbreviations of Spanish words which are as follows:
- Pulgar = Thumb
- Indice = Index Finger
- Medio = Middle Finger
- Anular = Ring Finger
- Chico = Little Finger
The chord charts and scale patterns that will be used in these lessons are meant to be viewed as though you were looking down at a guitar neck from above. The correct fret positions will be labeled where the left-hand fingers should be placed to complete the chord or scale. The next illustration shows a guitar neck, or at least something that's supposed to look like a guitar neck, beside a blank chord chart or scale pattern.
Chord charts and scale patterns look fairly similar in style, but can be told apart by the simple fact that a scale pattern is typically impossible to play as a chord. Compare the following two diagrams the next illustration to see my point.
The key to reading the charts is that the numbers correspond to the fingers on your left hand, and the lines in the diagram indicate the frets. An "O" represents an open string, and an "x" represents a string that is not played.
As with chord charts and scale patterns, guitar tab is meant to be viewed as though you were looking down at the guitar neck from above, and the correct fret positions will be labeled where the left-hand fingers should be placed. The next illustration shows an example of the C Major scale in both tab and its scale pattern.
I'm not covering anything about the bass guitar in these lessons, but I thought that I'd throw in the bass tab anyway because viewing bass tab is identical to viewing guitar tab. The following illustration shows an example of the C Major scale in both bass tab and its scale pattern.