Home Arts Basic Fingerings on a Guitar

Basic Fingerings on a Guitar

by Ryan Cong

Today, you will learn how to hold a guitar, the basic notes on the instrument, and a few jazzy chords to show off to your friends too!

To begin, sit down somewhere, take your guitar, and put it across your lap. there should be a curve where one leg goes. The neck of the guitar should be tilted toward the left, and the strings away from you. Make sure the guitar is upright, and not slanted towards or away from you. Be sure to use a footstool or something higher to step on so you can elevate the guitar and be able to reach the strings easier.

Now that you know how to hold a guitar, you can play a few notes. I will teach you the basic octave of notes (from C to high C). You will play these notes by pressing down a finger of your left hand and plucking a string with your right hand. Now enough introductions, let’s get playing!

By the way, the term “fret” means the rows across the neck of the guitar. They start from fret one, the first row under the top.

Another by the way, strings are numbered from right to left. 


Press down on the third fret of the fifth string, then pluck the fifth string


Just the fourth string, no need to press


Press down on the second fret of the fourth string, then pluck the fourth string


Press down on the third fret of the fourth string, then pluck the fourth string


Just the third string, no need to press


Press down on the second fret of the third string, then pluck the third string


Just the second string, no need to press

High C

Press down on the second fret of the second string, then pluck the second string

Hey, that was EZ. You now know how to play a simple scale! Try going over the notes, as fast as you can, then as clean as you can. They should sound like a scale if you know the slightest bit about music 🙂

Now, play those notes in this order, and you’ll hear the boring-old “mary had a little lamb” tune!

E D C D E E E pause

D D D pause

E G G pause

E D C D E E E pause


Or, if you know how to read notes, they look like this on actual sheet music!

That wasn’t so bad, was it? (besides the song, I personally hate how the song sounds) Now, if you feel like getting jazzy and creative on your guitar, I will teach you a few simple chords you can use to impress your friends! I will teach you the following four chords that you can use to strum along to the chorus of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”!

G Chord

D Chord

Em Chord

C Chord

This chart may seem confusing at first, but upon taking a closer look, you may see that it looks like the neck of a guitar! The top of the chart is the head of the guitar, and the dots are where you are supposed to press. The numbers on the dots are which finger to use to press the string, with 1 being your index finger, 2 being your middle finger, and 3 being your ring finger. To play the chord, slide your finger along the six strings and it will make a pleasant sound!

Here is some hand-typed chord music by yours truly:

  G                      D                  Em             C

Country roads, take me home, to the place, I be-long.

C              G                        D                       C                    G             

West Vir-ginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads

Here is a quick breakdown of the music above: underlined words are when you are supposed to strum. The letters above the text are the chords to use. The reason some words are split with dashes is because sometimes, the chord comes in the middle of a word and you have to strum on the second syllable. An example of this is the word Virginia: you do not play the G chord above it until the second syllable of the word (ginia).

Cool, right? Take it slow at first, get used to the chords and how to switch the position of your hand in between each chord. Then play at full speed and show off to your friends!

That is all for the basics of guitar, oh, and one more thing: make sure your guitar is tuned correctly. There are plenty of tuner apps on the phone, and a few websites as well. Good luck with your playing! 🙂

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