Acoustic Guitar

easy way to learn to play guitar
by guano

Acoustic Guitar

A. Parts Of The Acoustic Guitar:

The Headstock & Tuning Pegs

The Headstock is the very top part of your acoustic guitar and holds the “Tuning Pegs ” (also known as machine heads, tuners or tuning keys). The Tuning Pegs can be turned either to your right or left and they adjust the pitch of your strings.

Nut

This small strip is located linking the Headstock and Neck of your guitar. It is usually made of plastic or bone, but is sometimes made of other materials like brass or stainless steel. It may be small but it is a very vital part. The Nut has small slits in it where the strings rest and guides the strings from the Fretboard to the Tuning Pegs. If you look closely at your guitar, you will notice that the Nut is slightly raised higher than the Fretboard. This is for the purpose of keeping your strings raised higher than the Fretboard at a certain height.

Neck , Fretboard & Frets

 the Neck is the long narrow part of the guitar that connects the Headstock to the Body. It is here where you will find the Fretboard (also known as Fingerboard) and the Frets. The Fretboard is a long piece of wood that has thin metal strips attached to it known as “Frets”. The Frets are used to divide the Fretboard. The Frets are really the spaces in linking the metal bars and not the bars themselves. Each Fret represents a different “pitch” or “note ” when pressed down and played.

Position Marker

Position Markers are small markers on the Fretboard (usually circles) that can be found on specific Frets. They serve as a guide of sorts. They are found on the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth and seventeenth Frets.

Body

The Body is the large hollow part of the acoustic guitar where the Sound Hole, Bridge, Pick Guard and Soundboard are located. If you play from a seated position, the Body is the part that rests on your leg.

Sound Hole & Pick Guard

The Sound Hole, as the name suggests, is the large hole found in the body of the guitar. The Sound Hole is where the sound waves made by playing the strings exit the Body of the guitar. The Pick Guard is the dark and smooth piece that is located right next to the Sound Hole. As you strum your guitar, your hand will naturally travel downward against the Body and the Pick Guard is there to protect the Body from scratches.

Saddle & Bridge

The Bridge is a wooden plate that is located on the Body of the guitar and it anchors the strings to the Body. The Saddle is a small strip attached to the Bridge, usually made of plastic or bone. The purpose of the Saddle is to raise the strings up higher than the Body and Fretboard. The Bridge Pins secure the guitar strings into place on the bridge.

Truss Rod

The Truss Rod is usually a steel rod that is located surrounded by the Neck of your guitar. The purpose of the Truss Rod is  to help stabilize and adjust the curvature of the Neck. The Truss Rod has a bolt at the end of it that is used for adjustments. The Truss Rod is a very vital part of your guitar. Without it, the Neck of your guitar would likely warp over time. It is highly recommended that you do not try and adjust the Truss Rod on your own and hire a professional. If you are not sure what you are doing, you could do some serious hurt.

Soundboard

The Soundboard is the piece of wood on the body of your guitar that is responsible for amplifying the sound.

Strings

Strings come in two kinds – coated and uncoated.  Coated strings are ‘slicker’ feeling when you play them because
they have a coating that keeps dirt and oils from tarnishing the strings (and it keeps their tone sounding bright.)  So coated strings sound “new” longer.

Coated strings will last a excellent bit longer (and sound ‘new’ longer) because they stay untarnished. They cost more,
but it’s worth using it.

 Wash your hands before you play.  Your hands have oils that you don’t even notice…so strings get ‘gunked up’ and rotting…losing that clear ‘ring.’  Washing your hands before you play minimizes this oil transfer so your strings last longer.

And finally the Thumprule is,if you can not remember the last time you altered your strings,then it’s time to buy new strings.Lighter strings for beginners,as it is simple to push down though it sounds small small in tone and heavier strings for professionals  as it increases your sustain and volume but it’s hard to push down.

B. How To Hold Your Guitar:

Holding your acoustic guitar is not an exact science. Everyone has different body types, fiddle with lengths and there are a variety of different sizes and shapes of guitars. There are many points to keep in mind and it ultimately comes down to how comfortable you are when holding and playing your guitar.

Culture to play the guitar involves physical and mental work. The largest challenge for most new players is the physical part. For starters, how do you hold your guitar?

The On-The-Knee Approach

There are a couple of ways of looking at this. Some people feel that resting the guitar on the right leg is how to hold a guitar. This is a real established position in most cases. 

There are some questions to consider if you use this method. The first question is does the neck of the guitar rest comfortably in your hand? Do you have to go the guitar around to play hard chords? Is your left hand having to support the weight of the guitar? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then this may not be how to hold a guitar for you.

For this method of holding the guitar to work, the guitar itself has to be a certain size. To make it more confusing, the guitar has to be a certain size in family member to your physical size and shape.

Here’s what I mean. If the guitar is too large it will slip around on your lap and will be hard to hold. If you’re having to wrestle with holding the guitar you can’t place your full attention on playing the guitar.

The opposite side of the coin is if the guitar is too small. Here’s an model. Let’s say you’re 6 feet tall and you’re playing a solid body guitar like a Strat or Les Paul. The height of these guitars is so small that you’ll end up hunched over the guitar. This can produce lower back problems and will possibly slip and be hard to hold.

How do you dodge these problems?

The Classical Approach

Classical guitarists are taught how to hold a guitar from the beginning. For them, how to hold a guitar means they place their left foot on a footstool and rest the guitar on the left thigh. The most well loved types of footstools can be adjusted in height.

Classical guitarists will also use a small cushion linking the guitar and their thigh to bring the guitar up to the proper position.

Something that has come out in the last few years is a small support that mounts on the guitar side itself. Suction cups are normally used to attach it to the guitar. This support will hold the guitar in the proper position for the guitarist.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to all of these methods. The largest problem for me is that they all require that you play while seated. This may be perfectly O.K. in most situations. The problem comes in if you have to play standing.

Suddenly all of the technique that you’ve developed while sitting goes out the window. This is especially right if you play a variety of styles.

Straps Are the Solution
Using a guitar strap is one of the best ways to hold a guitar. Adjust the strap so that the guitar will be in the same position standing or seated. Now you won’t have to make any changes in technique. It also means that you don’t have to hold the guitar in position with your left hand. This makes it simpler to play.

Using a strap doesn’t always work. If the player has neck or back problems, this force make it worse. It is also sometimes a problem if a large guitar like a dreadnought is too high on the chest. Some players develop pain in their right shoulder from tiresome to reach over the guitar. They need to either lower the strap or get a smaller guitar.

C. Fiddle with and Thump Position:

we will now proceed to how you should hold the pick when strumming. Don’t get me incorrect here, you should hold the pick the way you see it in the picture below.

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The reason why I say this is because people have sometimes been asking me how come their guitar strumming seems to sound so loud and forceful. So, here’s what you have to take note when strumming:

For strumming, the pick should be held at a 45 degree angle tilted upwards when doing a downstroke. This will ensure that there is not too much force used when strumming. Most of the time, I see beginners holding the pick 90 degrees or perpendicular to the strings when strumming. This will produce the strumming to be very forceful and loud. More importantly, this is the incorrect way to hold a pick when strumming.

The same thing goes for the upstoke when strumming. If you do the upstroke holding the pick 90 degrees or perpendicular to the strings, you will get a loud and forceful strum. So, you should hold the pick 45 degrees downwards, and just use your wrist to tap upwards on the upstroke.

I can imagine that all this can be quite hard to visualise. So, here’s some pictures to visually clarify more clearly what I am referring to.

[Strumming Downstroke-Right

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