1 - Tuning and Notes

Learn The Guitar Lessons Part 1 – Tuning and Notes

Welcome to part 1 of our learn guitar lessons. We are excited to be kicking it all off today with the first of many free guitar lessons. Over time this will develop into a 40 part series of Beginners Guitar Lessons, all for free!

If you are keen on mastering the fretboard and becoming a proficient guitarist, you’re about to embark on a very exciting journey, joining millions of other guitar players from all walks of life.

Learning the guitar is easier than you think, but like anything, it does take work, and plenty of practice! It is very important that you understand the learning process, and understand that the progress you make is directly relative to the action you take and the effort you put into it.

You won’t learn guitar overnight, and learning will not be entirely incremental. You’ll reach highs, lows, and mid-points in your learning, and all of a sudden, you’ll reach the next level! Don’t give up, and know that you’re never too young, or too old, to learn the guitar. For the first in our series of Beginners Guitar Lessons, we’ll talk about guitar tuning and basic notes.

Learn Guitar – Lesson 1 Guitar Tuning
Guitar Tuning is perhaps the single most frustrating element when you are beginning to learn guitar, and of course, is also among the most important. Even electronic guitar tuners, which are quite helpful, will not be reliable if your guitar is drastically out of tune. Since electronic tuners are only worthwhile if the guitar is semi in-tune – a pitch pipe, or an electronic tuner with audible note tones, is the best starting point.
Starting from the thickest string, proceeding to the thinnest, are the string number and note names as follows: 6E, 5A, 4D, 3G, 2B, 1E (as seen below). Remember EADGBE is also a good start in learning the note names.

The basic method of guitar tuning, is to get a reference low “E” note. You may get a reference “E” note from a pitch pipe, electronic tuner with audible tone, or from another instrument such as a piano or keyboard. If using a keyboard, the “E” you’re looking for is the “E” below middle “C”…don’t worry, keyboard players will know what you’re asking! When the low “E” string is brought up to pitch, it’s time to tune the other strings:
Press down on the 5th fret of the low “E” string, which results in an “A” note. Match up this note with the open 5th (A) string, and bring up to pitch.
When the “A” string is in tune, press on the 5th fret of the “A” string, resulting on a “D” note. Tune the next open string (the 4th or “D”) to this note.
Proceed by fretting the “D” string on the 5th fret, producing a “G” note, and tune the 3rd (G) string to pitch.
This is where things change a bit…
When the “G” string is in tune, press on the 4th fret of the “G” string, producing a “B” note. Bring the 2nd (B) string up to pitch. Now we’re back to the 5th fret again.
On the 2nd (B) string, press the 5th fret, producing an “E” note. Bring the 6th (E) string up to pitch and you’re done! You may now use the electronic guitar tuner to tweak and double check the tuning.

Basic Guitar Notes For Beginners

We’ve already learned that the open strings on the guitar, from thickest to thinnest (low to high) are E,A,D,G,B,E. We’ll be using those note names as a reference for learning more notes.
The guitar is a “chromatic” instrument, meaning that each fret represents one-half step of the chromatic musical scale.
The basic musical scale includes seven notes, placed in alphabetical order: A,B,C,D,E,F,G. Sharps (#) and flats (b) are added to each note except between B and C, and between E and F, resulting in the 12 notes of the chromatic musical scale.
The chromatic scale contains every possible musical note, arranged in half-steps. Incidentally, a whole-step equals two frets on the guitar, and jumps one note in the scale:
A, A# or Bb, B, C, C# or Db, D, D# or Db, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab, and back to A again.
The difference between sharps and flats can cause some confusion for beginners, but it’s really not a mystery. For example, A# and Bb sound exactly the same – and they are! They are written and called one name or the other depending on their use in other scales. The primary reason is to keep the note names in alphabetical order. This concept will become a bit clearer as we move on to future learn guitar lessons, but for now, don’t worry about it!
Since each fret on the guitar equals one half-step in the chromatic scale, any one fret movement, up or down, results in the next note in the chromatic scale (also up or down).
For example, play the low “E” string on your guitar, and locate the note in the chromatic scale above. Press on the first fret. You’ve just produced an “F” note, which is the next note in the scale. Press on the second fret, and you’ve produced an “F#/Gb” note. Third fret will produce a “G”, fourth fret will produce a “G#/Ab note, fifth fret produces and “A” note, and so on. As we learned in our guitar tuning exercise, the fifth fret of every string (with the exception of the 3rd (G) string, which is the fourth fret) produces the same note as the next open string. The guitar is laid out this way, in order to offer a certain dynamic range and ease of playability.

Exercise – Notes And Fingering
Learn the chromatic notes on the guitar up to the 5th fret on each string (except the third string, which you will learn to the fourth fret). This grouping of notes is what is called the “first position” on the guitar, starting from the low “E” string. Use your first finger for notes on the first fret, the second finger for the second fret, third finger for third fret, and fourth finger for the fourth and fifth fret…easy enough?
Play and say each note on each string, moving along to the higher strings until you finally come to the fifth fret of the high “E” string…that note will be “A”. This exercise will get your fingers used to the fretboard, and learn all the notes, and proper fingering, in the first position.
We hope you have enjoyed part 1 of our learn guitar beginners series and are excited about learning the guitar. So, what are you waiting for? Get into stuck into guitar tuning and start learning a few of the basic notes as mentioned above. If you can stick to our guitar lessons and get each one nailed before moving to the next, you will be well on your way to becoming a rocking good guitarist in no time!