Holding the guitar

Sitting down, rest the guitar on your right thigh. Keep the thumb of your left hand around the middle of the guitar neck (not poking over the top) and keep you hand relaxed. Keep your left elbow  out from the side of your body.

If you are playing a left-handed instrument all of the above is reversed.

Tuning the guitar

To tune the guitar to itself follow these steps –

  • Press down on the 6th string (low E) at the fifth fret  and pick it.
  • Now play the open 5th string (A). Adjust the tuning of this string until the two notes sound the same.
  • Repeat with the other strings until the 3rd (G) to the 2nd (B).  On the 3rd string press the 4th fret.
  • Return to the fifth fret of the 2nd string (B) to tune the 1st string (high E).

If you want to make sure the guitar is at concert pitch then you need to get a reference note (usually E) from another instrument (eg. piano), pitch pipe or tuning fork.

Alternatively you can use an electronic tuner.


Keep things simple to start off with. Strum using only down strokes at first – from the thickest string down to the thinnest. When you feel comfortable with this add up strokes and try experimenting with strumming different rhythms.

Holding down chords

Press each string down firmly enough to produce a clean sound when the string is plucked. Try to use the tips of your fingers.

Make sure your fingers are not touching and dampening any strings other than the ones they are holding down.

Try playing each string individually to make sure they are ringing out cleanly.

Changing chords

Start out by practicing changing between two chords. It’s very important to learn to change chords ‘in time’ -ie. on the correct beat. Practice strumming four down stokes at a constant rhythm on one chord then change to another chord but be sure to try to keep the same rhythm. This can be quite tricky at first so go as slowly as you need to accomplish this. Even if this seems incredibly slow, don’t worry – with practice you will work your way up to a faster tempo with the ability to play in time.