Thursday, April 24, 2014

Any retard can play the guitar. Welcome complete beginner!


I have always wanted to play the guitar due to all the exposure I had from good old MTV back in the days when the channel actually served its true purpose. I was literally in love with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Led Zeppelin without mentioning tons of awesome bands from the 70-80-90 era.

 During Christmas 2013, as I was doing my holiday shopping, I was wondering what kind of gift a grown man with a job would expect to get. By the time you reach adulthood, you realize that gifts are often symbolic and don't carry on that childhood magic as they once used to. Nowadays, at least in my family, we tend to choose gifts for each other before actually putting them under the tree. This saves us lots of money, and is aimed to fit in our lives perfectly rather than to have the probability of having gifts end up in an attic or a dusty closet.

As I was scrolling through online shopping sites, I thought to myself what kind of gift could I buy myself to celebrate the holidays? Suddenly it hit me; "I am going to buy a guitar". For a moment there, my childhood flashed before my eyes and I had a new goal set in stone. The moment I received my guitar, I called up a few friends of mine who had a reputation for being emogothicmetal heads wearing black rock band t-shirts who never seemed to trim their beards properly.

They gave me a couple of chords which I wrote down and I started playing some basic songs. In the beginning, I couldn't strum at all, and my fingers went from beige to red in a matter of minutes. I kept pushing on, and eventually I had an epiphany. After months of struggling, my mind suddenly figured it out. It somehow got better and now people think I have been playing for years when it actually took me over a year to get it done. Don't misunderstand me when I say "done"! With guitar, you are never truly done!

I took me a year and a half; and I am proud to say that I finally did it. I wouldn't call myself great, but let’s say that I can easily play led Zepelling - Stairway to Heaven + the solo without struggling much.

Today I want to share my experience from a "beginner to intermediate" point of view; explain music theory and the road ahead like I would to a 6 year old child.

First of all some basic music theory concepts broken down at the kinder garden level:
It isn't very accurate, but if I was a beginner without former musical education, this is the explanation I would have liked to hear.

Octaves & The Major Scale:

If you take a piano and hit notes from left to write, you get this kind of (ABCDEFG or Do Re Mi Fa So La Si sound). Every time you complete this "ABCDEFG" (7 white notes) you have played an octave. On a piano if you multiply all the "7 notes "ABCDEFG's" by the total amount of notes from left to right on your piano you should get 7 octaves(7x7= 49 notes). If you are ever bored and have a piano at your disposal, try to hit all the white notes from left to right or from right to left. You will quickly notice those basics I have just mentioned.

So if we imagine that all the "A, B, C, D..."are white notes; this is what a piano looks.

It goes from left to right (lowest to highest notes). So you will find 7 different ABCDEFG that share a similarity but are of a different pitch.

Every time you start on a Letter from left to right and you finish on the same letter, you get a Major Scale.

C B D E F G A B C = this is a scale called "Major Scale".

Flats and Sharps:

Those black keys on a piano represent flats (-1) and sharp notes (+1). It just literally means that you play something lower th
an a normal note or something higher than a normal note. Those notes are used to lower a highten a note.

A piano Vs. Guitar:

If you take a guitar, cut all the strings and arrange them from left to right, you technically get a piano. So instead of playing chords from left to right, you play them from top to bottom, since the overlapping strings appear below. The only difference is that , more "Octaves" can fit on a piano than on a Guitar

On a piano: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G
On a Guitar: 

E F G A 

A guitar is a piano that goes vertically.

So instead of playing horizontally (piano), you play vertically (guitar) in order to fit more notes into one space, since you need to strum manually to produce sound. On a piano, you don't need to strum, the pressing is sufficient. Therefore, you can move your hands from left to right in order to find the matching notes. Matching notes that go well together are called "chords".


If you take a "Major Scale" like this one for example which starts on C:  C B D E F G A B C and you take the first note C, the 3rd note D and the 5th note F you get a C Major Chord (simply C), because you started on C and choose a mathematical formula to make a "C MAJOR Chord:. All those crazy chord names you will see (C9, Em7 and so on) are just note taken in a certain order from a major scale.

Basicly once you have a major scale, you learn different patterns of which notes go together in order to make a chord.
A C Chord as mentioned in the article. 
A strange chord, but the logic is the same.

Other Scales (Not the Major Scale):

If you can have a major scale, then by removing or adding notes from our basic ABCDEFG we can make other types of scales.

Certain notes have been arranged in order to play certain types of sounds. When you put certain logical order of notes you get scales such as “the minor pentatonic scale" used for soloing. When you play those notes in a certain arrangement you will always sound "rock-like". Don't worry! There are many more scales, but you will only learn those which will match the kind of music you will be playing.

take your A B C D E F G, take the 1st, b3(the note before the 3rd) ,4th , 5th and (the note before the 7th) b7 , starting from A, that's A C D E G  (A , because it repeats right?) and you just made something called a "Pentatonic Scale".

This is what pentatonic looks like. Notes arranged with spaces in between played on your guitar.

How to practice:

- Buy a cheap and popular classical brand guitar (A Yamaha for 100$). Buy a classical one because the strings are nylon which should make it easier on your fingers.

- Practice 15min every day, but seriously every day. Knowing music theory and having your fingers do the job are 2 different things. Just because I know the alphabet, doesn't mean I can type 60 words per minute on a keyboard without looking. It’s all "Muscle Memory' in the end.

- Watch YouTube videos in order to learn theory. Watch many different teachers and read from different sources. The moment you understand, a light bulb lights in your head and your path becomes narrower.

- Practice songs you know and songs you like in order to consolidate theory with something practical. Use songs as a vehicle to remember. Don't bother learning theory without practicing songs. For every new thing you learn, you should have a couple of songs to back it up.

- is a good online tool for beginners to get some practice (only practice, no theory).

What you should learn and how you should learn it:

Before asking a question such as "What do I do now?” Ask yourself this! Do I know the following?

PS: Don't worry if you don't understand it now, use my article as a reference and a map.

1- ABCDEFG (Major/Minor Chords)
2- ABCDEFG (Major/Minor 7th, 9th, 11th, sus2, sus4 Chords)
3- My Major Scale everywhere on the guitar.
4- Pentatonic Major/Minor/Blues Scale
5- Can I play at least 15 songs?
6- Can I do basic finger style?
7- Do I know how to build chords?
8- Can I do at least 5 full-length guitar solos from my favorite songs?
9- Can I use guitar technics (muting strings, palm hitting, bends, hammerons, pulls, slides?)

If you have completed the following, you will instinctually know where to go from then on.

It took me 1, 5 years 
from complete beginner. I followed my own advice. Good luck!

Now go to Youtube and type: Guitar Basics! or Beginner Guitar! Don't waste money on teachers, they are too expensive!The list i mentioned above will make sense when you get there!

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LetsNotBullShit Blog by Peter Masalski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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