Playing the guitar: Steel String for Beginners

Beginning Guitar:

I have found that many people decide to learn to play this wonderful instrument only to give up when the tips of their fingers begin to sting and burn. Some anticipate this and others get the surprise of their lives when they find that playing the guitar hurts and playing the piano does not hurt. Well, when the cat walks up and down the piano keyboard, those notes are true and often clear. Not so with a guitar.

Those who persevere soon learn that the “burning fingers” syndrome is due to the lack of calluses and those calluses can form quite quickly making playing easy and pain-free. The thing is, you’ve got to play! When the music teacher tells you to practice, it serves a dual purpose. Your playing improves and your calluses remain or even grow thicker. If you stop practicing, your playing gets rusty and your calluses fade away. Then, the next time you pick up your guitar, it hurts to play again which makes you want to play even less. We’ve all heard the term, “Play through the pain?” While the term is sports-oriented, it applies to guitar for beginners as well. So if you are a beginner and wish to get good on guitar, just never stop playing. All guitar players, even the big stars, began in the same way, with painful burning fingers; and look at them now!

I learned to play guitar on a 12 string. Imagine my surprise when I found the six-string. It was like running with sandbags strapped to my ankles in the dunes and then taking the weights off and running without them.

Precision on The Fretboard:

When the novice guitarist does progress and learns or creates a few songs, they notice something very interesting is happening on their fretboard. Unlike the piano keyboard which produces a pure and clear note, the fretboard sound will change depending on the downward pressure in the fret, the distance the fingertips are “up” and “down” the fretboard, and the distance each finger ranges from its neighbor.

The act of playing the guitar becomes much more technical and you learn how to use this to your advantage. You can’t “pull” a note on a traditional acoustic piano but you can have a great time doing it on your electric or acoustic guitar. It’s what rock music is all about! If you are to become a seasoned rhythm player like me, you learn the critical essentials of playing your guitar chords true and clear, just like on the piano keyboard.

You can’t have some of the fingers straying up or down the fretboard and you must apply even downward pressure on the board so that all those fingers, all those contributing notes, and the collective sound they make, is good. It becomes one big pure note. The chord called “E,” is the same key as the string note called “E.” Make beautiful music and play on… Cheers!

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