How to/DIY
Your First Song. How to Play the guitar for beginners.

Your First Song. How to Play the guitar for beginners.

  • Job Shadow a working jazz guitarist.


It is easy to learn guitar basics and you will use them every time you play. But the guitar is a seductive instrument and learning to play well can take a lifetime. So let’s start with two simple chords that can be used to play a song.” 


You will need a guitar with strings on it. You can use a free online tuner to tune it.

      The Placement of the Guitar and Hand Positions

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 Hold the guitar on your right knee and straight up and down (vertical) to the floor (see photo above). Sit up straight. You can peek over the guitar to see what your hands are doing.                    

Step One: The Right-Hand and the Beat. (Video One)

  1. Using your right hand strum the strings. You can also pluck them individually. You count a beat with either up or downstrokes. Try it either with a pick held between your thumb and first finger or just with your thumb.
  2. First, try strumming downstrokes on all six strings together and count out three strums. Try picking one string at a time. Begin at the top (string #6), and count three downstrokes. Repeat this with each string in order.

Step Two: The Fretboard and Left-Hand used to make a Melody (Video Two)

  1. Now change your focus to the left hand and the fretboard. To sound a note and one that doesn’t make a muffled or a buzzing sound, you should place your fingers as close to the fret as needed and apply some pressure until you hear a clear note. No more and no less will do.

2. Next, practice playing a few consecutive notes. Let’s say starting at the 5th fret (count up from the top of the neck) three times per note in ascending order (low note to high note). Do this on each string and sing the notes as you go. Now you have a basic melody.

Step Three: The Fretboard and Left-Hand used to make a chord (Harmony) (Video Three)

  1. Now try placing your left hand’s first or index finger at the second fret on the fifth string. Pluck it until you can sound it out clearly and keep it there.
  2. Next, snuggle your second finger up beside it on the second fret again but on the fourth string. Now hold both in place and strum this simple E minor chord three times.

Step Four: Pivoting between chord shapes (Video three part two)

1. Now you will learn a simple technique called “pivoting.” Hold that second finger in place and pivot your first finger to the first fret on the second string (try to keep your thumb on the back of the neck for added balance). Hold both fingers down and strum this second C chord.

2. First downstroke the notes four times and then upstroke three times and repeat this pattern alternating and pivoting back and forth between the two chords.                      

Your First Song.

• These two chords form the basic pattern of many songs. Congratulations, you have learned your first song. 


“In this lesson, you have learned to play a song by playing two simple chords and counting beats by strumming the chords. Songs also have a melody that is usually sung as words called lyrics. But it can also be played by plucking single strings or notes or played by another guitarist or a bass player.”

Terry Mockler

Additional Tips:

Practice and more practice.

Fair Use/For educational purposes Copyright PBS               

The origins of the Legendary Carnegie Hall Joke

A good guitar teacher is a great asset but doesn’t play the songs and exercises for you. Click the link below and follow the arrows to see what the life of guitar teacher Tom Lippincott is like.

Prezi by Terry Mockler

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