Are you also one of those who get mesmerized when you listen to the rhythmic melodies of the guitar and wonder how this magic happens?
Guitar – a musical instrument with six or twelve strings. Playing a Guitar is surely an art, but you can master it if you are willing to.
To play a guitar you need to hold it against your body. That means you keep it close to your heart and so you feel it vibrate in your chest and abdomen while wrapping it in your arms. It is played by sweeping the thumb or a plectrum in an up or down motion across the strings. This process is Guitar strumming.
Learning how to play guitar is a different kind of experience. It’s because all your senses take part in it. Here, you must be wondering how. While playing the guitar your fingers learn new tricks, your ears listen to new sounds, your mind engages with a new language and above all your hands get a six-stringed device that has no instruction manual.
The two main reasons for the worldwide popularity of the guitar are that it is portable and it is capable of operating independently as a band-in-a-box.
Well, beginners can easily get their hands on a few chords and come up with the end number of songs. There are people who continue to play guitar at this beginner level for their entire life. Besides, for those who have the learning drive, the guitar will unravel many shades and twists.
In this regard, Bill Purse has rightly said, ‘Guitar is easy to learn, difficult to master’.
What is Tablature?
Tablature is a tactic that represents the position of notes on the fretboard. Nowadays much of the guitar music is written in tablature. In totality, there are six tab lines each one reflecting six strings on the guitar.
- The Hammer On
- The Pull Off
- The Slide
- The Bend
- The Release Bend
How to Hold the Guitar?
- This position is by far the best when you’re learning to play guitar.
- Sit straight at the front of the chair.
- Put your right leg by crossing it over your left one. You could also place a stool under your right foot to raise it to a certain level. After that keep the guitar on the right leg.
- The guitar has to be close to your body in an upright position and the neck pointing a little bit upwards.
The objective is to remain comfortable while having easy access to the guitar fretboard.
- This position is appropriate for playing electric guitar. However, it can also be used with acoustic guitar. It is considered necessary when you play in a band. As you get comfortable with this position, you can try moving as the music plays.
- If you are standing, you can use a guitar strap and adjust it accordingly. Let the strap to bear the guitar’s weight. Hence, your hands will remain free to play the guitar instead of staying involved in supporting the instrument all the time.
- Here you must balance your weight evenly between both feet.
- The guitar should rest with ease against your body in an upright position, while the neck slightly inclined upwards.
Right Arm Position
Place your forearm on the upper edge of the guitar, just below the elbow. Make sure that the elbow is not hanging over the face of the guitar. Also, avoid moving your strumming hand too far towards the fretboard.
When strumming an acoustic guitar, it’s ideal to pluck the strings above the sound hole for optimal sound quality. When playing individual notes, you can stabilize your right hand by resting your ring finger and pinky finger on the guitar’s body.
However, if you are strumming an electric guitar, pick the strings between the pickups. Some players prefer a closed-hand position rather than supporting the hand by placing the fingers on the guitar.
When strumming a chord, refrain from supporting your right hand with your fingers on the body of the guitar. However, ensure that your forearm is resting on the upper edge of the guitar.
Using the Pick
Pick is a piece of triangle-shaped plastic. The guitarist uses his right hand to play the strings by plucking them with a pick. There is a simple way to hold it. The guitarist is suggested to hold the pick lightly between the thumb and the index finger. After that use the tip of the pick for playing string.
To play the G-chord, you should use a pick to play all six strings simultaneously in a downward motion. This action is called “strumming.” For this pick has to be held lightly and strumming action should be performed through the wrist. Hence, you must keep it relaxed.
The Strumming Hand
Now we will learn how to hold a plectrum (pick). The method of holding a plectrum for strumming is similar to the way we hold it when playing single-note melodies. So, we will curl the first finger around and position the pick between the side of the first finger and the thumb’s pad. In this way, the direction in which the pick points closely aligns with the direction that the palm faces.
For beginners, it may feel like you’re pushing the remaining fingers together, just like a fist, for better control and hold everything. This results in the hand becoming slightly too rigid for the smooth motions required for strumming.
Strumming becomes better when the other fingers are not tightly pressed together, even if they remain close to one another. Another option is to spread the fingers apart further. Either of these two hand positions or anywhere in between, will help in a smoother movement for the strumming hand.
How tightly plectrum should be held?
Well, we must maintain a secure grip on the plectrum so that it does not slip or loosen the grip. But, excessive pressure should be avoided to ensure smooth strumming over the strings.
Beginners often make this mistake, they hold the plectrum too tightly. they do so out of the fear that it will slip off if they do not hold it firmly. This leads to a harsher sound as the plectrum exerts pressure on the strings. In fact, occasionally the plectrum gets stuck for a while.
Further, if we loosen our grip on the plectrum, then strumming can become easier. However, this change may lead to the rotation of the plectrum within our grasp after a few strums. Hence, it no longer points in the same direction as the palm faces.
Beginners often pause for a while to reposition the plectrum with the help of the other hand, before starting the strumming again.
Certainly, achieving the right balance between maintaining the position of the plectrum and strumming smoothly requires some practice.
Pro Tip: Beginners can use a thinner plectrum, for easier and smoother strumming. A thinner plectrum is more forgiving as it gives way, bending slightly to compensate for a lack of fluidity in the hand.
This is because a thinner plectrum offers more forgiveness by bending slightly to offset any lack of fluidity in the hand.
Experienced strummers may not notice it but during strumming the grip on the plectrum is not the same all the time. Meaning that it changes subtly.
During downward strums, the thumb exerts greater pressure to push the plectrum down, while the index finger applies enough pressure to secure the plectrum within your grip.
During upward strums, the index finger exerts more pressure to push the plectrum upward, while the thumb applies enough pressure, to maintain the grip of the plectrum.
Beginners often lack control of such subtleties. That is why a lot of practice is required.