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Uncle Bob's Guitar Lessons
Lesson 2 - The Basics
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Guitar 101

Types Of Guitars

Well, honestly speaking - there are way too many types of guitars around the world for me to mention in such a small space, but suffice it to say that there is a guitar for everyone. In western music the guitars that you will see primarily are 6-stringed or 12-stringed acoustic and electric guitars.

Choosing A Guitar

Picking out the right guitar for yourself requires thinking about what you want - good tone, good looks, lower strings, thicker neck, wider fret board, etc. I prefer to walk into a store and try out several guitars before choosing one. I very seldom go into a store with the specific task in mind of finding a guitar; I just make it a habit of trying out a lot of guitars and every once in a while one will say to me, "Please buy me." (I meant that figuratively, of course. Don't worry.)

Guitar Anatomy

In the following illustration I stick to the absolute basics; this is pretty much all you need to know to get started...

Names and Numbers of the Strings

The strings are numbered and named as follows:

  1. E (thinnest string)
  2. B
  3. G
  4. D
  5. A
  6. E (thickest string)

More often than not, however, I have my students memorize the string names as:

E - A - D - G - B - E

When teaching younger students, I would use the following mnemonic acrostic:

  • Every
  • Angel
  • Does
  • Grace
  • Before
  • Eating

Although I have to admit, I sometimes substituted "aardvark" for the "angel" when living in Texas.

Higher and Lower Strings

One strange quirk about guitar strings that tends to confuse some beginning students is references that you will see to "higher" strings and "lower" strings. The higher strings are your thinner strings, and the lower strings are your thickest. So when someone says to play your "Low E String", they mean the sixth string.

This seems to confuse some people when they look at the guitar as they are playing it - the "highest" string is actually lower physically to the ground, and the "lowest" string is actually higher physically from the ground. So the trick is - think about "higher" and "lower" in terms of pitch, not physical location. The higher strings play higher pitches, and the lower strings play lower pitches.

Holding The Guitar And Pick

There are a lot of ways to do both. I could tell you how I hold either, but that may not be comfortable for you, so I'll spare you the agony. Enough said.


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