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Back to 4 Skills Course Outline

Lesson 1: Overview of 4 Skills

Lesson 2: How Frets Work, Fingering Notes

Lesson 3: Picking Simple Melodies and Scales

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

Lesson 5: Strumming Technique - Songs in C and G

Lesson 6: More Chords - Am, E, Em, B7

Lesson 7: Two More Strum Patterns

Lesson 8: How to Use a Capo

Lesson 2: How Frets Work, Playing Notes

How frets work, play your first scale and first simple melody

First let's look at the way frets work. When you press down on a string at a fret you change the pitch of the note created by that string. As you move up the neck the pitch gets higher. Each fret raises the pitch by what is called a SEMI-TONE.

Just think of a piano keyboard. As you play the notes, for example, from Middle C, towards the right where the higher sounding notes are, each key raises the pitch by a semi-tone - just like the frets on the guitar.

If you go all the way up to the 12th fret, the pitch will be one full OCTAVE above the open value of the string. For example, the 1st string, the thinnest is usually tuned to the note E at the open position. When you press down at the 12th fret of this string (there's usually a double dot on the fretboard at the 12th fret) the resulting note is also an E, but a full octave higher in pitch.

How Guitar Frets Work

The Notes at the Nut (Open Strings)

Even though you may not use this information right away, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the note values of the open strings. If nothing else, this will help you tune your guitar properly.

The strings are usually referred to as String 1 - the thinnest string, to String 6 - the fattest string. When you hold the guitar in the usual way and you look down on the strings, String 6 is at the top and String 1 is at the bottom. They are normally tuned like this:
- String 6: E
- String 5: A
- String 4: D
- String 3: G
- String 2: B
- String 1: E

In other words they are: E-A-D-G-B-E

A useful phrase to help you remember this order is...

"Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie

Here's a short video describing this in a bit more detail...

Some Important Notes

For starters let's learn where G is, and then we'll learn the G Major Scale...

G is at E3 (both strings 1 and 6)

G is also at G0. That's the open position of the 3rd string.

Now let's learn the G Major Scale.

The G Major Scale

Now here are the notes of the G Major Scale...

Your First Song - "Ode to Joy"

Exercises for this lesson

Learn the G scale. Play it on the three highest (in pitch) strings (String 3) G0 to (String 1) E3.

Learn "Ode to Joy" in the key of G.