Playing Guitar - Alfred Music

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PlayingGuitarby David HodgeA member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ContentsThis book is dedicated to the memory of Thomas “Todd” Lange.ALPHA BOOKSPublished by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, NewYork, New York 10014, USA Penguin Group (Canada),90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, OntarioM4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin CanadaInc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’sGreen, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin BooksLtd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 CamberwellRoad, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division ofPearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books IndiaPvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, NewDelhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 ApolloDrive, Rosedale, North Shore, Auckland 1311, New Zealand(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books(South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd.,Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL,EnglandCopyright 2013 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronicform without permission. Please do not participate in orencourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation ofthe author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. Nopatent liability is assumed with respect to the use of theinformation contained herein. Although every precautionhas been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisherand author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions.Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting fromthe use of information contained herein. For information,address Alpha Books, 800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN46240.International Standard Book Number:978-1-61564-417-9Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:2013935162151413  876543 2Note: This publication contains the opinions and ideas ofits author. It is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subject matter covered. It is sold withthe understanding that the author and publisher are notengaged in rendering professional services in the book. If thereader requires personal assistance or advice, a competentprofessional should be consulted. The author and publisherspecifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss,or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application ofany of the contents of this book.Part 2Publisher: Mike SandersPhotographer: Ogden GigliExecutive Managing Editor: Billy FieldsBook Designer: Brian MasseySenior Acquisitions Editor: Tom StevensCover Designer: William ThomasDevelopment Editor: John EtchisonIndexer: Johnna VanHoose DinseWarming Up to Play. 19The What and Where of Notes.20Getting in Tune.22Holding the Guitar.24The Right Hand.26The Left Hand.30Reading Guitar Tablature.32Reading Rhythm Notation.34Most Alpha books are available at special quantity discountsfor bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fundraising, or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts,can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write:Special Markets, Alpha Books, 375 Hudson Street, NewYork, NY 10014.Trademarks: All terms mentioned in this book that areknown to be or are suspected of being trademarks or servicemarks have been appropriately capitalized. Alpha Books andPenguin Group (USA) Inc. cannot attest to the accuracy ofthis information. Use of a term in this book should not beregarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or servicemark.Getting Your Gear.3The Guitar—Past and Present.4The Three Types of Guitars.5Getting Your Guitar.6Classical Guitars.8Acoustic Guitars.10Electric Guitars.12Changing Strings on Classical and Acoustic Guitars.14Changing Strings on Electric Guitars.16General Maintenance and Care.171Interpretation of the printing code: The rightmost numberof the first series of numbers is the year of the book’s printing; the rightmost number of the second series of numbers isthe number of the book’s printing. For example, a printingcode of 13-1 shows that the first printing occurred in 2013.IDIOT’S GUIDES and Design are trademarks of PenguinGroup (USA) Inc.Senior Production Editor/Proofreader:Janette LynnPart 1Part 3Getting Good with Rhythm. 37Your First Easy Chords.38More Easy Chords. 40Making Chord Changes in Rhythm. 44Root Notes and the “Bass/Strum”. 48Practice: Root Notes and Bass/Strum.50Alternating Bass.52Practice: Alternating Bass with Chord Changes.54Practice: Alternating Bass Line.56Strumming Eighth Notes.58Practice: Eighth Note Strumming. 60

ContentsPractice: Alternating Bass with Eighth Note Strum.62Simple Syncopation. 64Introducing Suspended Chords.65Practice: Syncopation and Suspended Chords. 66Practice: Syncopated Strumming.68Taking a Rest.70Combining Alternating Bass, Syncopation, and Rests.71Practice: Rests, Alternating Bass, and Syncopation.72Strumming Sixteenth Notes.74Practice: A Little Island Music.76Triplets and Swing Rhythms. 78Double Stops and Shuffles. 80Practice: Shuffle Style. 84C and G Chords.86Practice: C and G Chord Changes. 88Walking Bass Lines. 90Practice: Walking Bass Lines.923/4 Timing. 94Slash Chords.96Practice: Slash Chords.98Practice: 3/4 Time and Slash Chords.100Part 4Growing Beyond the Beginner Stage. 103Half-Barre Chords.104Practice: Half-Barre Chords.106Practice: Song with F Chord.108Percussive Strumming and String Muting. 110Left-Hand String Muting. 111Practice: Palm Muting.112Practice: Percussive Strumming Techniques. 114Playing Arpeggios. 116Practice: Arpeggios with Chords Aadd9 and E7. 118ivIdiot’s Guides: Playing GuitarPractice: Songs with Arpeggios.120Basic Fingerpicking.122Practice: Two Easy Classical Studies.124Introduction to Travis-Style Fingerpicking.126Practice: Basic Travis-Style Fingerpicking.128Practice: Basic Travis-Style Fingerpicking with Pinching.130Hammer-ons and Pull-offs.132Strumming and Picking Hammer-ons and Pull-offs.134Practice: Hammer-ons and Pull-offs.136Slides and Bends.138Practice: Slides and Bends.140Practice: All Four Slurs.142Part 5Adding Theory to Your Playing. 145The Major Scale.146Intervals.147How Chords Are Formed.148Power Chords and Suspended Chords.150Practice: Various 5 Chords and Suspended Chords.152Seventh Chords.154Practice: Various Seventh Chords.156Really Fancy Chords.158Practice: Various Fancy Chords.160Full Barre Chords.162Practice: Full Barre Chords.166Creating Different Chord Voicings.168Practice: Various Chord Voicings. 170Keys, Key Signatures, and the Circle of Fifths.172Diatonic Chords and Transposing. 174Using a Capo. 176Practice: Song for Two Guitars. 178Playing with a Slide.182Contentsv

IntroductionAlternate Tuning.184Practice: Double Drop D Tuning.186Practice: Celtic Song in DADGAD Tuning.188Practice: Song in Unusual Alternate Tuning.190Open Tuning.192Practice: Open G Tuning.194Practice: Rock Song in Open G Tuning.196Practice: Hawaiian Slack-key Style in Open G Tuning.198Practice: Open D Tuning. 200Practice: Fingerstyle in Open D Tuning.202Practice: Blues Song in Open D Tuning with Slide.204Crosspicking.206Practice: Focusing on Crosspicking.208Creating Fills. 210Practice: Fills Within a Song.212Chord Melody. 214Practice: Simple Chord Melody. 216Getting Fancy with Chord Melody. 218Practice: Fancy Chord Melody.220Playing in a Group.222Practice: Playing in a Group—Second Guitar.224AppendixesGlossary.226Chord Charts.232For Further Study.236Index.238Making music on the guitar may seem nothing short of magical to you. Guitarists seem to createemotions out of sound when they play—the harplike notes of a lullaby; the sad bending notes of ablues song; the pulsing, hard-edged drive of a rock anthem; or the cocky twang of a country tune.Whatever kind of music you enjoy, you can play it on a guitar. You can strum chords to sing over.You can fingerpick mesmerizing melodies and harmonies and bass lines. You can beat out excitingdance rhythms with your fingertips.Learning to play the guitar is not hard. The basics of playing are the same no matter what typeof guitar you have or what type of music you want to play. You don’t even have to be able to readmusic.Idiot’s Guide: Playing Guitar is designed to get you started playing guitar right away, even if you’venever even held a guitar before. You’ll get a thorough step-by-step rundown of all the fundamentalsof playing, and then learn to expand on those basic skills with more intermediate guitar techniques.If you’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar, then get ready to make some magic.Get ready to make some music!How This Book Is OrganizedThis book is divided into five parts:Part 1, Getting Your Gear, introduces you to the guitar and helps you understand which onemight be best for you—at least as a first guitar! You’ll also learn to change your guitar’s strings andsome basic maintenance tips.Part 2, Warming Up to Play, teaches you how to tune your guitar as well as how to hold itproperly to get the best playing out of both your left and right hand.Part 3, Getting Good with Rhythm, gives you a solid foundation in the basics of making,strumming, and changing chords.Part 4, Growing Beyond the Beginner Stage, builds on the skills you picked up in Part 3. Hereyou’ll get introduced to playing half-barre chords and different styles of fingerpicking in additionto left-hand slurring techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs. Your guitar playing will take ahuge leap forward.Part 5, Adding Theory to Your Playing, helps you take your skills even further. You’ll learnabout using capos and transposing, explore different guitar tunings, and discover some alternativepicking styles.

IntroductionYou’ll also find that almost every topic in Parts 3, 4, and 5 contains numerous musical examples andexercises, all designed specifically for this book to help you learn quickly and easily. Plus you’ll geta number of songs that serve as examples for the different ideas and techniques you read about. Infact, all the songs incorporate parts of the accompanying exercise as part of the arrangement. You’llfind these bits taken from the exercises color-coded into the music of the songs.Due to copyright issues, all the songs you’ll find in Idiot’s Guide: Playing Guitar are traditional songsin the public domain. But each song has also been arranged specifically for this book in order tocreate fun, musically interesting pieces for you to play and enjoy.Finally, as always, I have to thank the people who do so much to inspire and motivate me on adaily basis: Paul Hackett, the creator of Guitar Noise (; my youngest brother,Tom; and my great friends Laura Pager and Greg Nease, whose hands also are literally all over thisbook—that’s him posing for all the chord charts and fretboard photos.And to Karen Berger (who took the photo for Part 1 and Gene Autry’s guitar), no amount of thankswill ever be enough. Fortunately, I have a lifetime to keep giving them to you.But Wait! There’s More!Throughout this book you’ll find songs and exercises with links to online audio tracks. Whereveryou see the headphones icon, point your browser to, click on theappropriate track, and listen to the sample exactly as it should be played!All these recordings have been produced professionally in a studio in order to give them the bestpossible audio quality. Thanks to Todd Mack and Will Curtiss of Off the Beat-n-Track Studio inSheffield, Massachusetts, for recording, mixing, and mastering the audio; and special thanks to mygood friend Nick Torres for his great singing on many of these songs.AcknowledgmentsAs always, my first thanks go to my terrific agent, Marilyn Allen, for thinking of me when thisproject came up.A huge thank you to the team at Alpha Books, with special acknowledgment to Tom Stevens andJohn Etchison, and especially to Brian Massey, who created the art design and whose ideas haveshaped this book’s tutorial philosophy.The exceptionally precise and clean photographs for the chord fingerings, as well as most of theother photos, are the work of photographer Ogden Gigli (, for whom thereis not enough praise. Ogden pulled off the almost impossible task of recreating images from theguitarist’s perspective and made this book even better than we all thought possible.I also would like to thank John Reichert for use of his photo on the “Playing in a Group” pages.viiiIdiot’s Guides: Playing GuitarIntroduction1

The Guitar—Past and PresentThe Three Types of GuitarsMost guitars can be put into one of three distinct categories: classical, acoustic, and electric. There are,of course, exceptions, not to mention many different subcategories within each type.Today’s guitars come from a very long family tree, dating backbeyond the Scandinavian lutes and the Arabic ouds of the eighthcentury. During the Renaissance, guitars were much smaller, withvery thin necks sporting eight to ten gut strings, usually set in pairs,or “courses.” Still, just as today, they were both strummed to providerhythmic accompaniment and plucked to create musical melodies.It’s important to note here that you can play almost any kind of music on any kind of guitar. Youjust have to know that the music you make is going to sound different depending on the guitar youuse to play it.Classical guitars have nylon stringsand are used to play classical music orflamenco music (there are flamencoguitars, too, which are smaller, lighterversions of the classical). But you’llalso hear them in many other musicalgenres, such as jazz and Latin music.In the 1800s, guitars began to look a lot more recognizable asguitars, with six strings and larger bodies. The designs of Antonio deTorres, in particular, led to the instrument we call the modern-dayclassical guitar.While Torres was creating guitars in his native Spain, ChristianFrederick Martin was designing and building guitars in Nazareth,Pennsylvania. And in the 1890s, Orville Gibson, who had noformal luthier training, manufactured guitars at his homeworkshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan.Acoustic or steel-string guitars arefar and away the most popular of guitars, and there isn’t a musical genre inwhich you won’t hear someone playingone. While classical guitars are almostall identical in overall appearance andshape, acoustic guitars come in manydifferent subcategories.The strength of these American designers’ guitars proved tobe a match made in heaven for the steel strings that were beingintroduced to the world at the turn of the twentieth century.ClassicalAcousticElectricElectric guitars are the brash kids of the family. They come in two main types: solid body andhollow (or semi-hollow) body. It’s impossible to think of music without electric guitars. You’ll hearthem in rock, blues, jazz, country, and just about any other type of music you can think of. Electricguitars usually have very narrow fingerboards, and the strings are much lighter than those of anacoustic.This Panormo from 1836 sharesmany similarities with today’sclassical guitars.This 1950’s steel-string acoustic guitar wasplayed by legendary American folk singerGene Autry.4Part 1: Getting Your GearIt’s a common debate among guitarists as to whether it’s best to learn on a classical, an acoustic, oran electric, and there are good arguments for each type of guitar. Ultimately, though, you shouldfigure out what kind of guitar will make you happy, excited, and eager to play every day, throughthe good, the getting better, and the great days of practicing ahead of you. If you think you’ve madea bad choice of guitars, then you’re not going to play it, and that would be a shame—not to mentiona waste of a good guitar.Plus, remember that your first guitar is very probably going to be just that—the first of many you’llplay and enjoy throughout your lifetime.The Three Types of Guitars5

Getting Your GuitarAlso keep in mind that your new guitar is probably going to be only part of your purchase. You’regoing to want to get a case. Cases are often, but not always, included in the price of a guitar, somake certain before you buy your instrument whether or not a case comes with it.Just as people choose to play the guitar for many reasons, there are all sorts of guitars to choosefrom. If you think there’s only one “right” guitar for you, you might miss out on many that willmake beautiful music with you.Whether you play sitting or standing, it’s good to have a guitar strap if you’re going with anacoustic or electric guitar. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have picks (and extra picks) as well as aspare set of strings when you’re just starting out.You want a guitar to fit you like a shoe does (or should!). Many people assume that they can justsit down and play any guitar, but beginners have to take a lot of things into account. The first iscomfort. You may never have played a guitar before. You may never have held a guitar before. Butyou certainly know what it’s like to be uncomfortable—and you really want to play attention to thatwhen you’re trying out guitars.If you buy an electric guitar, you’re going to need an amplifier. Electric guitars (and acousticelectric guitars) also need a cable (often called a “cord” or a “lead”) to connect the guitar to theamplifier.This is even more important if you’re planning to buy a guitar online. If you’ve never tried to evenhold a guitar before, you could end up ordering something that you cannot play, and instead oflooking at other guitars you might just give up the instrument. You owe it to yourself to get yourhands on as many different types of guitars as you can, just to see what works for you in terms ofthe instrument’s size and shape.Make sure you can both stand and sit comfortably with the guitar. Can you easilyreach the frets of the neck with the fingertips of your left hand? Is the necksmooth, or can you feel sharp edges of the frets as you slide your hand along?While sitting, can you strum and pick the strings with your righthand without making your right arm uncomfortable?If at all possible, bring a friend who plays guitaralong with you when you shop. Initially, you want to tryout whichever instruments strike your fancy. If you areable to pare down your choices to a handful, thenhave your friend play each one while you listen.Don’t even look at the guitar while it’s beingplayed; just listen to what it sounds like. Becausethis is what you’re going to sound like.And make sure your friend (or the storesalesperson if you’re on your own) plays the sort ofthing you’ll be playing as a beginner—simple strummedchords for a start. If your friend plays something veryfancy, you’ll focus on the fancy playing and won’t evennotice the different sounds and tonal qualities eachguitar has.6Part 1: Getting Your GearA tuner is essential and will last you a lifetime if you treat it well, although you will need to replacethe batteries from time to time. And a guitar stand is certainly worth thinking about adding to thelist, as are both a music stand and a metronome. If you’ve decided on a classical guitar, check out afootstool so you can play even more comfortably.Most people play guitar right-handed—even many lefties, such as Paul Simon, David Byrne, andMark Knopfler. If you’re left-handed and undecided on which way to play, give yourself a simpletest: without thinking about it, pick up a broom or a yardstick and pretend to play. Even playing “airguitar” will work. Take note of which hand is doing the strumming. Chances are likely it will beyour left, and if so you’ll want to seriously consider getting a left-handed guitar. Rhythm is essentialto playing, and most guitarists prefer to leave that important job to their dominant hand.If you buy your guitar at a store, besure to have it set-up before it leavesthe shop. A set-up for a guitar is a bitlike a tune-up for a car. The guitar techwill check your instrument’s actionand intonation, as well as make surethere are no fretting problems. Oftenyou’ll get a cleaning and a fresh set ofstrings as well (although they may askyou to pay for the strings). Ask if yourstore includes a set-up as part of thecost when buying a new instrument, asmany do.Assess if you play left-handed or right-handed by noting which handinstinctively strums the guitar.Getting Your Guitar7

Classical GuitarsGuitar WoodsClassical guitars are the grand patriarch of the guitar family, direct descendants of the first six-stringguitars that began to appear at the very end of the 1700s. Generally, they are slightly smaller than typical acoustic guitars (particularly th

Learning to play the guitar is not hard. The basics of playing are the same no matter what type of guitar you have or what type of music you want to play. You don't even have to be able to read music. Idiot's Guide: Playing Guitar is designed to get you started playing guitar right away, even if you've never even held a guitar before.

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