Electric Guitar Lesson – Step by Step Guide

First Electric Guitar

The First Electric Guitar Lesson

What to do in your first electric guitar lesson is something most students don’t have a clue what to do about. In this article I will go over the starting points and show you a good starting point in your studies. At this point I’m assuming that the student has no prior knowledge with playing the guitar.

As you start to handle the guitar and try to play something on it, you soon realize that the fingers aren’t doing what you want them to do, that is your first problem. With that in mind, I will push you into the right direction and present a lesson that takes aim of the problem.

A good starting point for learning the guitar is playing simple chords. The simplest chords are the ones in open position i.e. notes played with open strings. Many songs can be played with the chords I present in this lesson.

Electric guitar lessons
first electric guitar lesson

The Chord Diagram

The diagram is a cutout representation of the guitar neck. In this case the first five frets of the board. Each vertical line represents a string on the guitar and each horizontal line represent a fret.

1. The numbers in the black dots show you where to put your fingers on the fretboard.
2. The numbers for fingering are represent by 1 = index, 2 middle, 3 ring and 4 little.
3. A x under a chord means not to play that string. A zero means not to finger and play the string open.
4. The letter above the chord represent the name of the chord, C, E, A, D and G.
5. The small m after the name of the last chord represent a minor chord.
6. If a chord only has one letter above it, it is considered to me a Major chord, like C, E, A, D and G.

How to Practice

When staring to play the guitar your finger will not do what you want. You may in some cases have to use your right hand to place a finger or two of your left hand on the board, this is normal. Start by trying to finger each chord, see if you can do the fingerings with out using your right hand. After fingering a chord, strum the whole chord, pick single strings from top to bottom and back.

When you feel fairly confident about fingering a chord, try to change from that chord to another one. Your goal is to be able to change between any chord without any problems from your fingers. This may take some time so if you don’t have it in the first week of two, that is normal. You will also notice after some practice that your fingers will get sore, this is also normal while you are building up finger callus.

The Second Electric Guitar Lesson

For the second guitar lesson we will follow up on the chords you learned in the first guitar lesson. The best way to proceed is to look at what notes you can play with those chords given in the first lesson. For the six chords in the lesson, A major, D major, E major, G major, C major and E minor, there are many scales you can play to them.

For this lesson let’s use the major scale to play with those chords. Take a look at this article about the major scale pattern and you should read introduction to musical scales if you are not familiar with them.

Chords in Scales

Let’s look a little closer at what scales you can use. Here is a list of major scales for a given chord.

A major D major E major G major C majorE minor
Scales A major (I)
D major (I) E major (I) G major (I) C major (I) D major (II)
E major (IV) A major (IV) B major (IV) D major (IV) G major (IV) C major (III)
D major (V) G major (V) A major (V) C major (V) F major (V) G major (VI)
F major (VII)

NOTE! The roman numeral after each scale name tells you in what position a cord can be found in the scale. The poisons are seven as the scale notes, they are I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII. That’s just fancy writing for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

As you can see there are a lot of scales you can play for the six chords. These are not all the scales that can be played with each chord, these are just the basic form of major scale that fit.

Chords in Scales

With this new information you can derive at a new conclusion i.e. you see that chords can be grouped into a single scale or in other words, a scale has many chords. Now we see what chords can be played together while playing the same scale over them. Another table can be made from this information, we can call this table “scale chords.”

A major
E major
D majorG major
B major
C major
F major
A major (I) A major (IV) A major (V) D major (V) E major (IV) G major (IV) C major (V)
D major (IV) E major (I) D major (I) G major (I) E minor (III)
E major (V) G major (IV) C major (IV)
E minor (II) E minor (VI)

NOTE! There are many more chords for each scale than shown in the scale chords table. Those used here are there for demonstration purposes only. If you want to read more about what chords scales do include, you should read the article chord formation from scales.

The Lesson

Record a individual chords progression for each scale of G major, D major and A major. Play them back one by one and play notes from the appropriate scale to the recorded chord progression. Play with the other scales for fun.

The purpose of this lesson is threefold:

1. Learn the scales and play them in to your fingers.
2. Learn what scale to play to what chords.
3. Discover the musical harmony of the scales and chords playing togather.

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