Let’s Talk Strings
Since you are in this article, we can safely assume that you are interested in learning the acoustic guitar.
For beginners, it is ideal to start learning with strings that have lighter gauges. A gauge of .011 inches to .052 inches (known as 11s) would be the one to go with for an acoustic.
The string material is also crucial in terms of sound. For a bright sound and more metallic-looking string, you have 80/20 Bronze. And there are even phosphor bronze strings, which are ideal for people who like to strum a lot. The phosphor bronze string has a dark, mellow, and warm sound to them.
Strings are held on the guitar with small loops of string coming from the tuning pins in the sound block. They can be tightened or loosened by sliding a small bar up and down a hole in the instrument. This keeps your guitar in tune and improves its sound quality for playing your favorite songs.
The role of the guitar strings is significant, both as a resonating and a sounding element. The extreme tension they exert can produce loud volumes and timbres that are reminiscent of the human voice. However, if they are allowed to become slack, the instrument loses its resonance when plucked or strummed and, because of stray string energy, one may inadvertently cause physical pain.
The Guitar Essentials
To make your learning experience more effective, you should purchase the necessary equipment to play the guitar. For now, you should focus on the bare essentials, and then as you progress, you can consider buying more advanced equipment.
Guitar picks are the small triangular pieces you may see in the guitarists’ hands to strum or pick their guitar strings. Because picks come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors, the entire process of choosing the perfect pick for you can become overwhelming. Ideally, plastic picks are popular for most guitarists since they offer a good grip and flexibility at the same time.
Instead of trying multiple numbers of picks, we recommend picking a standard shape and size pick, such as Fender’s Celluloid Pick. This pick is particularly a popular choice amongst a lot of guitarists. The optimum thickness you should go for is medium (between .73 mm–.88 mm) since it will provide you a firm grip over it, and it won’t become too challenging to handle when you play your guitar.
Knowing how to use a guitar pick is an important skill. When you pick the string, you need to know how to grip it between your thumb and index finger. This will help when you change chords or play notes on a line. You can use your thumb and index finger together or just one of them.
If you’re planning to play your instrument while standing up, then it is vital to have something that will keep your guitar stable as you play. For that to happen, you need to buy a guitar strap. Your number one priority should be your comfort while playing. To prevent a possible neck or shoulder pain, we recommend picking a strap that is 2 inches in width and, if possible, has padding. Considering the variety of straps in the market currently, we’ll let you decide what color, material, or design strap you want.
A strap is made of string, leather, or synthetic material attached to the headstock and fastens around your torso. It allows you to move around while playing without having to support the weight of the guitar.
Guitarists of today’s day and age are lucky to have access to clip-on tuners. These tuners are a great option because they are super portable, easy to use, visible, and can be clipped onto your guitar’s headstock. Moreover, these tuners use the guitars’ string vibrations to tune your guitar.
Your guitar has been tuned correctly when the tension on each string is equal to that of its mate (the next note up). This is called “just intonation” tuning. This means that the string no longer produces an exact fifth.
A tuner has a meter to indicate the correct tuning and can be used to do it. The tuner will make a different sound each time you press it. You use this to find the correct note that is in tune with the string. This is done with practice and time. You can tune your guitar using a tuner, tuning fork, or another instrument. Another tuning method is to use your voice. To do this, you need to know which note each string produces and try and match that pitch with your voice.
Other than that, you can also download guitar tuning apps on your phones from the internet. These apps listen to the sound the strings make and let you know if your strings sound too high or too low.
There is a chance that your fingertips may hurt by playing the guitar. But please don’t let that discourage you from playing. When you’re a beginner and keep practicing, you will eventually build enough muscle strength in the arm you play with. Similarly, your fingertips will start forming calluses on your fretting hand.
These minor inconveniences will not last for too long, as long as you give in the required practice.
This is why we suggested using lighter strings in the first place. Another option that you can avail of is getting your guitar’s action reduced by a professional (action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard). This will require you to exert less pressure on the strings.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
Consistent practice is essential to improving your ability. But it’s not the only practice that gets the job done; you have to make sure the way you are practicing is proper. It is essential to practice correctly to avoid building up lousy playing habits that become rather difficult to overcome later.
Give yourself an allotted amount of time to practice each aspect of the guitar. If you are learning to play by ear, then you will need to practice playing for 10 minutes every day for a month. If you are practicing technique, then spend 20 minutes every day, five days a week for a month. Learn to master one skill at a time and make sure you practice it correctly by writing down what you have learned.
Maintaining correct hand positioning, hand posture, and preventative stretching should always be in check. In the first few months of your learning, you may face discomfort, which is entirely normal, so we advise you to take care good care when you have to bend your wrist and fingers unnaturally.
The most common assumption every beginner guitarist will make is to master all the abilities and techniques in one day. This is entirely untrue and will only make you frustrated. This assumption has led so many potentially incredible guitarists to give up and abandon their passion for their instrument. It is vital to make your learning experience a slow and steady one by having patience. Good things always come to those who wait.
Remember that all the greats like Jimmie Hendrix and Slash were once beginners like you, who decided to keep going despite the several drawbacks they faced when learning the craft. It will take time to be a professional guitarist, but the time would surely be worth it.