Tablature, or tab, is a simplified method used to read guitar and bass music without having to learn standard notation. With the help of guitar tabs, one can learn how to play a song on the guitar at faster speeds than having to learn all the notes on a staff. Similar to written notation, tabs are charted on lines that represent the guitar strings. By indicating the fret number on the proper string, they show what notes need to be played, how long a note needs to be held, strumming patterns for rhythmic playing, and other techniques used on guitar. Today, with the help of this blog, we are uncovering a few valuable practice methods that will help you read guitar chords at the early stage of your guitar learning.
We will also break down the posture you need to have when playing guitar in a sitting position, so let’s begin!
How to Hold a Guitar While Seated
Before you start learning how to read guitar tab, it’s vital you understand how to hold the guitar in the correct position. Having a bad sitting posture is one of the most common rookie mistakes people make. Here, we explain how to hold the guitar while seated so you can play comfortably and effectively.
Rest the Guitar on Your Right Leg (if you’re right handed)
For both electric and acoustic Guitar, the sitting positions are the same. If you are right-handed, the Guitar needs to be placed on your right leg. Classical guitar players often place the guitar on the left leg with the assistance of a foot stand, but for beginners, starting with the right leg is going to be the most effective approach. If you are left-handed, you’ll be resting the guitar on your left leg.
Use the Strumming Arm to Stabilize the Guitar
While playing or practicing, you’ll want to rest a bit of the forearm of your strumming hand against the top (front) of the guitar. This is the right arm for right-handed players. We aren’t trying to add pressure with this arm since we want it to be loose enough to strum rhythmically but we do want to make sufficient contact with the guitar so it stays in place.
Don’t Hold Your Guitar with the Fretting Hand
Since we’ve already stabilized the guitar with our strumming hand, we shouldn’t need to hold it tightly with the fretting hand. We need the fretting hand to be able to grip and release the strings easily without the guitar becoming unstable. You can try lightly pinching strings with your thumb behind the neck and then letting them go to test if you’ve stabilized the guitar correctly. This should come naturally after a few attempts. The fretting hand should also be able to move up and down the neck easily without causing it to shift out of place. You can try loosely sliding your hand up and down the neck slowly to check if the guitar is positioned properly.
Top 3 Practice Tips That Make Guitar Easier to Learn
If you want to learn how to play guitar for a lifetime or are just looking for some fresh ideas on how to make your guitar learning fun and easy, check out these three practice methods to help you progress as quickly and efficiently as possible.
1 Discovering What You Need to Practice
The very first thing you need to learn are the basics. Even if you’re familiar with guitar, it’s always a good idea to go back to the basics to be sure your technique is proper. These basics include holding the guitar, holding the pick correctly, strumming effectively and consistently, and fretting the notes on the strings so they ring without noise.
2 Warming Up
Before starting your guitar practice sessions, it’s important to get the blood flowing in your fingers and your brain locked into your playing muscles. If you already know how to position your hand to play notes on the string, a great exercise for warming up is doing chromatic runs. This means playing each note on each string starting from the bottom open note. Using your four fingers in sequence, one by one, play the string open, then grip the first fret and play, then the second, and so on to the fourth fret. Then, play the next open string your fingers aren’t touching. Do this on all six strings, then reverse the action and play the notes back from the highest string to the lowest. Repeat this exercise 10 times, resting if you need to between runs.
This exercise will coordinate your fingers and loosen you up to start playing without strain. You can then work on how to read guitar tabs, playing scales, single-line melodies, sheet music reading, ear training, or whatever else you’re trying to tackle. This chromatic exercise of repeatedly playing all 12 pitches of the guitar familiarizes you with so many core elements that build on every aspect of your guitar progress.
3 Play Guitar Chords Slowly and Cleanly
When playing chords, it’s best to start slowly and accurately. You’ll want to get proficient at placing your fingers in the right positions so each note of the chord rings without distortion or unwanted noise. As you learn new chords, practice switching from every chord you know to the new ones. Even if the chords don’t sound great back to back, it’s good practice to switch between chords so your fingers get used to recalling how to form the shapes. When you form the chords in your fretting hand, strum each string slowly to ensure all the notes sound clear. If you don’t get a clear sound from each string, you’ll want to work on placing your fingers in the correct position behind the frets and out of the way of the other strings. With the help of our chord progression exercises, you’ll effectively learn how to perform the transition between multiple chords quickly.
4 Have a Scheduled Routine
“A little goes a long way” is a great mantra for gaining guitar proficiency. If you can practice playing guitar every day, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes, you’ll be making significant progress. We know everyone has a tight schedule, but when it comes to learning a new skill, we have to dedicate specific time out of our busy schedules if we want to succeed. It’s often the best approach to have a designated time slot you know you have available every day but not everyone will have this. If you can’t pick a time that works every single day, it will still be beneficial to practice as often as possible. Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. If you know you won’t be able to get to your hands on a guitar, spend some time learning about other guitar related subjects, like music theory or the anatomy of the guitar. Consistency is key. Learning to play the guitar takes discipline and commitment, so give yourself the advantage by providing consistency in your routine.
What are Some Other Basics of Guitar Playing Everyone Should Know?
For the beginning guitar student, we have curated a few basics of guitar playing that are essential to understand and be familiar with.
First is the anatomy of the guitar. You should be able to name and identify each component that makes up a guitar. From the tuning pegs, the nut, frets, saddle, and everything in between. Every part of the guitar anatomy should be clear in your mind.
We can’t put enough emphasis on how important it is to hold the guitar in the correct way. Get yourself in the perfect position, as we have shared with you above.
There is nothing more irritating than playing an out-of-tune guitar. It can hinder your ear training, make tablature seem inaccurate, and it just sounds bad. Thankfully, learning to tune a guitar is made easy with peripheral tuning devices or tuning apps so you never need to worry about those disharmonious strings ruining your playing.
Rhythm is a critical part to playing guitar well. Understanding how to read guitar tabs is one thing but to strum them accurately is an entirely different game to master. For beginners, using a metronome to practice playing in good time is paramount. Using a single one-stroke-per-beat pattern is often a great place to start. If your metronome is set to quarter-note ticks, the first beat out of every four gets played. Practicing using this technique allows time for you to form the next chord and strum cleanly.