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HOW TO PLAY

GUITAR
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO LEARNING GUITAR
By Matthew Christey

Table of Contents
Introduction
Parts of the guitar ............................................................................................................ 5
Knowing your guitar......................................................................................................... 6
Visualizing the fretboard .................................................................................................. 7
Hand position .................................................................................................................. 8
Reading tablature ....................................................................................................... 9-12

Part one
Notes on the E & B strings ............................................................................................ 13
Notes on the G string .................................................................................................... 14
Playing thirds & fourths ................................................................................................. 15
Jingle Bells .................................................................................................................... 16
Ode to Joy ..................................................................................................................... 17
Alternate picking ............................................................................................................ 18
Introducing a new note ............................................................................................. 19-20
Greensleeves ........................................................................................................... 21-22

Part two
Basic open chords .................................................................................................... 23-24
Chord changes with basic open chords......................................................................... 25
Full open chords ............................................................................................................ 26
Chord changes with open chords .................................................................................. 27
Minor open chords......................................................................................................... 28
Chord changes with minor open chords ........................................................................ 29
Chord progressions with major and minor chords ......................................................... 30

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Part three
Introducing new notes ................................................................................................... 31
Exercises with new notes ............................................................................................. 32
Waltzing Matilda ....................................................................................................... 33-34
Power chords ................................................................................................................ 35
Power chord progressions............................................................................................. 36
12 bar blues rock ........................................................................................................... 37
Arpeggios ................................................................................................................. 38-39

Part four
Major barre chords ........................................................................................................ 40
Minor barre chords ........................................................................................................ 41
Barre chord progressions ............................................................................................. 42
7th chords ................................................................................................................ 43-44
12 bar blues ................................................................................................................. 45
Chord charts 1 & 2 ................................................................................................... 46-50
Free Ebook.................................................................................................................... 51

Copyright 2016 Matthew Christey. All rights reserved.

Please direct questions and comments at MatthewChristey@yahoo.com

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Foreword,

Hello and thank you for purchasing this book, I have written this book for
the beginning guitarist in mind. If you want to learn to play guitar and dont
know where to start, then this book will be able to guide you in your
learning process, it provides you with the information of how to read
tablature instead of standard notation, which results in a shortening of the
learning process.

In the intro section of this book we will go over the different parts of the
guitar and what their purpose is, then comes an area devoted to learning
how to read the tablature, this section of the book is important, because
once you learn how to read tablature, it will give you the ability to look up
the tabs of your favorite songs. After you get accustomed to reading tabs,
then comes the time to start playing guitar! It is important to really take your
time in this section, holding down the strings when first starting out can feel
uncomfortable, but dont worry because your fingers will start to develop
calluses within the first few days of playing guitar. Lets get started!

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Introduction

Parts of the guitar

Electric guitar Acoustic guitar

Headstock

Tuning keys

Nut

Neck and
Fretboard

Pickup
selector
Soundhole

Pickguard
Pickups

Volume and
tone
controls

Bridge

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Knowing your guitar

The headstock is the part of the guitar where your six tuning keys are located,
turning them will raise or lower the pitch of each string.

The nut is located just below the headstock and is where each string lays in a
slot.

The neck is where you hold the guitar with your left hand.

The fretboard is located on the neck, it is where you place the fingers of your left
hand while plucking a string with your right hand.

The soundhole is where the sound comes out of the instrument and is only
found on acoustic guitars (some electric guitars have what are called F holes,
these guitars are classified as semi-hollow body and hollow body guitars)

On an electric guitar the pickup is what picks up the signal of the string vibrating
to produce a sound (an acoustic guitar may also come with a pickup installed)

The pickup selector has two or more options, you can play with one pickup
turned on, both, or a combination if your guitar has more than two pickups.

The Volume and tone knobs adjust the VOLUME and tone

The pickguard is what protects the guitars finish from scratches by the pick,
most acoustics and some electrics have pickguards.

The bridge is where the other end of the strings make contact with the guitar.

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Visualizing the fretboard
In the diagram Below the black dot shows a C note, the letters on the left side are the
string names, and the numbers on the bottom are the frets, your guitar should have
white or black dots at the 3,5,7,9, and 12th fret.

The black circle is a note


being played on the 1st fret
of the B string.

The strings are named


E,B,G,D,A, & E. They are
also numbered 1-6.

The higher pitched strings


are referred to as the
treble strings.

The lower pitched strings


are referred to as the
bass strings.

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hand positions

left hand

Place your thumb in the middle Try using your fingertips to hold
of the neck, avoid gripping the down notes with your left hand.
back of the neck with your palm.

Right hand

Grip the pick firmly with your Place the guitar pick close to
thumb and index finger, avoid the strings.
gripping with too much force.

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Reading Tablature
When reading tabs, the horizontal lines represent the guitar strings and the numbers on
those lines show what fret is being played. The first number in the tab below is being
played on the first fret of the E string, the second number is being played on the first fret
of the B string.

1st fret E 1st fret B


string string

E
B
G
D
A
E

When there are two numbers stacked vertically, they are played at the same time.

E
B
G
D
A
E

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Bar: In both tablature and notation, the piece of music is divided into several sections by
bar lines.
Bar Bar

E
B
G
D
A
E

Measure: Measures are the spaces between the bars and are segments of time
corresponding to a specific number of beats, each beat is represented by a particular
note value.
Measure

E
B
G
D
A
E

Final Bar line: The double bar at the end signifies the end of a song.
Final Bar

E
B
G
D
A
E

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Time signatures:

The top number tells you how many beats are in a measure in this case it is four.
The bottom number tells you what kind of note gets one beat. (Quarter note= 1 beat)

E
B
G
D
A
E

In the Time signature each measure recieves 3 beats which gives the music a
different rythem.

Note values:

Whole note = 4 beats

Half note = 2 beats

Quarter note= 1 beat

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Whole note: The note below will have 4 beats. In 4/4 time there can be only one whole
note in a measure.

E
B
G
D
A
E

Count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Half note: The notes below will have 2 beats each, play the first note and count to 2,
play the second note and count to 4. In a 4/4 Time signature there can be a total of two
half notes in a measure.

E
B
G
D
A
E

Count 1 - 2 3 - 4

Quarter notes: The notes below will have 1 beat each, count once every time you play
a note. In a 4/4 Time signature, there can be a total of 4 quarter notes in a measure

E
B
G
D
A
E
Count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

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Part one
Listed below are exercises to get you started playing and getting your fingers used to
the feel of the strings. All of the notes are played with down strokes (a down stroke is
when you use your right hand to pluck downwards on the string). Remember to count
out loud with when you play each measure.

Notes on the E string


Ascending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Descending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Notes on the B string

Count: 12 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

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Now that youve learned to play on both strings separately, try combining them.

Ascending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Descending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Notes on the G string

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

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Playing Thirds and Fourths
Thirds
A Third is when you play 3 notes in succession, return to the 2nd note and play another
3 notes, and continue the pattern. Thirds add variety to a melody or solo.
Ascending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Descending

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Fourths
A fourth is just like a third but with a fourth you play four notes and return to the second,
and continue the pattern.
Ascending

Descending

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Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells uses quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes and is played on the E and
B strings.

Jin - gle bells Jin - gle bells Jin - gle all the way.

Oh what fun it is to ride In a one-horse op - en sleigh

Jin - gle bells Jin - gle bells Jin - gle all the way

Oh what fun it is to ride In a one-horse op - en sleigh

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Ode to Joy- Beethoven
Play the below song slowly until you can play it all the way through without making a
mistake.

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 - 4

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 - 4

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 - 4

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 - 4

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Alternate picking
So far you have played all down strokes, when you pluck the string down and then up
again, it is called alternate picking.

Play the notes below with all down strokes

Play the notes below with alternate picking

*Alternate picking takes less effort than playing all down strokes.

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Introducing a new note
The note in the fretboard diagram below is the F#, Use your middle finger to play the
second fret.

The tab below incorporates the F# note.

1)

2)

3)

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Rests: Rests are counted just like notes, when you see a rest you dont play anything,
you just count without hitting any notes, for a whole rest you count 4 beats, half rest you
count 2 beats, and a quarter rest you only count 1 beat.

Whole rest = 4 beats Half rest = 2 beats Quarter rest = 1 beat

The exercise below ends with a quarter rest, it lasts the same duration as the rest of the
quarter notes.

1 2 3 rest
The last measure in the exercise below shows a half rest (2 beats), which means the
note before it must be a half note (2 beats).
*There has to be 4 beats in a measure (indicated by the 4/4 Time signature).

Half note Half rest

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 rest 1 2 3 4 1 -2 3 - 4

Whole rest Whole note

Count: 1 2 3 4 1-2 34 1 -2 3-4 1 2 3 rest 1 -2- 3 -4

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Greensleeves
The song Greensleeves introduces the dotted note, when a note has a dot after it, it adds half
of the notes value, a half note is 2 beats, a dotted half note is 3 beats.

Count: 1 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 2 3

1 - 2 3 1 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 - 2 3

1 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 - 2 3

1 - 2 3 1 -2 -3 1 -2 -3 1 2 3 1 - 2 3

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1 2 3 1 -2 -3 1 - 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 -2 -3

1 -2 -3 1 2 3 1 - 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

1 - 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

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Part two
Basic open chords

Until now you have played music one note at a time, a chord is two or more notes
that are played together. Chord charts show you how a chord is played, the vertical
lines represent strings, the black circles are your fingers on the strings, and the
horizontal lines are the frets. The (X) symbol means that string is not played, and the
(O) symbol means it is played open or without any finger pressing down that string.
Each of the fingers of the left hand are numbered 1-4. Knowing the numbers of the left
hand is useful for reading the numbers on the bottom of chord charts.

The diagram below is a C major chord

The X shows you that this


string is not played.

The white circle means


that you play this string
open.

The black circle shows that


the B string is held down
on the 1st fret.

The number at the bottom


tells you which finger to
use to hold the note down.

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Lets start with a C chord. Place your Next is the G chord, place your third
first finger on the second string first fret finger on the first string third fret

The F chord is more difficult, you need


to place your first finger on the first and
second string, this is called a barre, your
second finger goes on the third string.
Take your time on this one.

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Chord changes with basic open chords
A chord progression is a series of chord changes that when played together sound
pleasing to the ear, play the below chord changes.
1)

2) 1 2 3 4

3) 1 2 3 rest

4)

*Once you have these chords memorized, all you need to look for when playing a song is the
chord names listed above the tabs/staff.

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Full open chords
The chords below are the same ones that you learned earlier but with added notes.

The C chord, notice that in its full The G chord, in addition to your third
version the second finger is added to finger on the first string, place your
the fourth string while the third finger second finger on the sixth string and
goes on the fifth string. your first finger on the fifth string.

The F chord, the only addition to the


previous F chord is the third finger on
the fourth string.

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Chord changes with open chords
1)

2)

3)

4)

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Minor open chords

Now that you are familiar with major chords, its time to learn the minor chords.

The A minor chord is played with the The D minor chord is played with the
first finger on the second string, the first finger on the first string, the third
second finger on the fourth string, and finger on the second string, and the
the third finger on the third string. second finger on the third string.

The E minor chord is played with the


second finger on the fifth string, and the
third finger on the fourth string, the rest
of the strings are played open (O).

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Chord changes with minor open chords

1)

2)

3)

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Progressions with major & minor chords

The chord changes below include all the full chords you have learned, try playing them
with down-strokes, then try alternate strumming.
1)

2)

3)

4)

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Part three
Introducing New notes
So far you have learned how to play notes on the first, second and third strings, now
you will learn notes on the fourth, fifth, and sixth strings.
Notes on the 4th string

Notes on the 5th string

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Notes on the 6th string

Exercises with new notes


1)

2)

3)

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Eighth notes

1 Quarter note = 2 Eighth notes


If a Quarter note receives 1 beat, then an Eighth note gets half a beat. Eighth notes are
connected together with a bracket
The song below includes some of the new notes you learned on previous pages.

Waltzing Matilda

Count: 1 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4 1 2 3 4 1 & 2-3-4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4 1 2 3 4 1 & 2 -3-4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

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(Waltzing Matilda continued)

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 - 4 1 2 3 4 1 & 2-3-4

1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1 - 2 3 4 1-2-3-4

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Power chords
Power chords are movable chords that can be played across the fretboard, they are
also known as 5th chords because they consist of a root note (like all chords) and a 5th
interval, they dont have a 3rd interval like major or minor chords do, so power chords
only have 2 notes, and are played on two strings. The rest of the strings are muted(x).

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Power chords progressions
1)

2)

3)

Count: 1 2 3 4 1- 2 - 3 - 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
4)

Count: 1 2 3 rest 1 2 3 rest 1 2 3 rest 1 2 3 rest

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12 Bar Blues Rock

The 12-bar blues is one of the most popular chord progressions in blues music. There are
many variations to this progression including playing all of the chords as 7th chords. Below is
one variation using power chords.

Measure: 1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8

9 10 11 12

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Arpeggios

An arpeggio is just a chord that is played one note at a time, either ascending or
descending. Try playing the below arpeggio progressions with open chord shapes.

1)

2)

3)

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4)

5)

6)

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Part four
Major barre chords
Barre chords are similar to power chords and are movable, but barre chords require
more notes to be played. Barre chords are some of the most difficult chords to play
when first starting out, you need to hold down most of the strings with one finger which
will take significant force but will become much easier with practice.
Below are two forms of two major barre chords.

Play C with the root note on the 5th Play C with the root note on the 6th
string string

Play G with the root note on the 6th


Play G with the root note on the 5th string
string

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Minor barre chords
Minor barre chords are similar in shape to major, but like all minor chords they tend to
sound sad because the third note from the root is lower in pitch.

Play D minor with the root note on the Play D minor with the root note on the
5th string 6th string

Play E minor with the root note on the Play E minor with the root note on the
5th string 6th string

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Barre chord progressions

Now that you know the forms, try playing the below progressions.
1)

2)

For the last two progressions, try alternate strumming.


3)

4)

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7th chords
Most pop and rock music will use a mix of major and minor chords, they will also tend to
use what is called a 7th chord or Dominant 7th chord, these are chords that are
commonly used as the fifth chord in a key of music. In the key of E, going in order we
have E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#. The fifth note or dominant note is B, so in the key of E,
the dominant 7th chord will be a B7th.
When it comes to blues music, there can be a mix of 7th chords, but often the case is
that every chord used is a 7th chord.

Play E7 with the root note on the 6th Play A7 with the root note on the 5th
string string

Play B7 with the root


note on the 5th string

43
Play C#7 with the root note on the 5th Play G#7th with the root note on the 6th
string string

Play the F#7th with the root note on the


6th string

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12 Bar blues
The End Repeat sign is often placed at the end of a song or song section, when
You see it you go back to the start repeat sign and play through the song until the
end of the song. If there is no start repeat sign, then you simply play the song again.

The song below utilizes some of the 7th chord shapes you just learned on the previous
page, play measures 1-12, then when you see the repeat sign go back to the beginning
and play through the song a second time, stop when you see the standard double bar
line in measure 13.

Measure: 1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8
Turnaround

9 10 11 12 13

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Chord chart 1 (major, minor, 7th, major 7th, minor 7th chords)

46
(Continued from previous page)

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Chord chart 2 (more advanced chords)

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