How to Play Guitar Without Learning How to Play Guitar

11 months ago 98

Image for nonfiction  titled How to Play Guitar Without Learning How to Play Guitar

Photo: Svetlana Romantsova (Shutterstock)

If you’re 1 of the millions of radical who someway acquired a guitar during their life—a guitar they person dutifully moved from spot to spot with the sincere volition of someday learning however to play it—you astir apt cognize it’s not arsenic casual arsenic stone stars marque it seem. If you’ve really made immoderate effort to larn the instrumentality you cognize that you person to perpetrate to not conscionable regular signifier and exercises, you besides request to larn astatine slightest the basics of what’s known arsenic “music theory,” which is fundamentally the subject down music. It’s besides fundamentally math, which is 1 crushed galore aspiring guitarists springiness up successful despair and resign themselves to playing the opening riff of “Smoke connected the Water” implicit and implicit again for the remainder of their lives.

If you privation to yet enactment that guitar to usage and you’re consenting to support your philharmonic ambitions modest, however, you don’t really request to bash immoderate of that. You tin play guitar without really learning however to play guitar—in fact, you tin commencement playing songs today, wrong the adjacent fewer moments, arsenic agelong arsenic we specify “playing songs” arsenic strumming chords successful a recognizable pattern. In different words, you won’t beryllium playing “Eruption” oregon “Layla” utilizing this method, but if you person fantasies of starring your friends successful a rousing campfire sing-along utilizing your trusty ax, this volition get you there.

First, let’s get you tuned up

Okay, earlier you tin commencement strumming your mode to popularity and imaginable sound complaints from neighbors, you request a fewer things:

  • A guitar (duh)
  • Something to tune it with (there are tons of escaped Apps disposable connected iOS and Android)
  • Access to the net

What we’re going to bash is tune your guitar to what’s known arsenic Open G tuning. All you request to cognize astir this is that erstwhile we’re done, strumming your guitar without touching the strings with your different manus volition nutrient a G Major chord. This is an uncommon but not wholly antithetic mode to tune your guitar—Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones made this tuning famous, penning a immense fig of the band’s astir celebrated hits this way. There are a batch of advantages to Open G tuning, arsenic we’ll see.

If you’re not definite however to tune your guitar, it’s not truthful hard: Put the guitar successful your thigh arsenic if you were going to play it. Looking down astatine the neck, you’ve got six strings. The 1 closest to you is besides the thickest. If you occurrence up your tuning App and pluck it with your finger, you’ll astir apt get thing successful the vicinity of “E.” If you haven’t played your guitar successful 10 years you mightiness get thing precise different, oregon the drawstring snapped and you are close present rushing to the Emergency Room.

Look up astatine the apical of the guitar—there are six “pegs,” each connected to 1 of the strings. Start turning the 1 connected to the nearest drawstring portion besides plucking it with your fingers. Watch your tuning App and get it to work “D.”

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See, that was easy! Now tune the remainder of the strings, going distant from you, truthful they nutrient the pursuing notes: G, D, G, B, D. Congratulations, your guitar is present a instrumentality that produces a G Major chord whenever you strum it.

Now let’s marque immoderate chords

What’s large astir Open G tuning is that it’s casual to nutrient each large chord connected it with conscionable 1 digit (it’s besides casual to nutrient different chords beauteous easy by moving the aforesaid “shape” up the fretboard). If you look astatine the cervix of your guitar, you’ll announcement it’s divided into small “boxes” known arsenic frets. Most guitars person astir 20-22 frets, but we’re lone going to interest astir the archetypal 10.

Place your scale digit connected the 2nd fret from the apical truthful that it covers each six strings and property down until you tin strum a clean-sounding chord:

Finger presumption   to nutrient   an A Major Chord successful  Open G tuning connected  a modular  guitar.

Image: Jeff Somers

This mightiness instrumentality immoderate practice; those strings are harder to fret than you think. Bracing your manus with your thumb connected the backmost of the cervix mightiness help. Once you’re capable to strum each the strings without immoderate “muted” oregon dead-sounding strings, congrats! You conscionable strummed an A large chord. If you determination your digit to the 4th fret, you’ll get a B Major Chord. Other chords tin beryllium produced arsenic follows:

C Major: 5th fret

D Major: 7th fret

E Major: 9th fret

F Major: 10th fret

Those are each the large chords, and for elemental sing-along benignant of playing it’s each you’ll need. The chord “shape” is conscionable your digit successful a consecutive line, and it’s what’s known arsenic “moveable” due to the fact that you conscionable determination it from fret to fret to alteration the chord you’re playing. By keeping your digit pressed connected the strings and sliding betwixt frets, you tin strum immoderate of the large chords (including flats and sharps, which autumn in-between theses chords—for example, the 3rd fret could beryllium either A Sharp Major [usually written A#] oregon B Flat Major [written Bb], but since we’re avoiding immoderate hint of really learning euphony theory, that goes successful the class of “things Future You volition aspire to larn someday”).

Note: One complication present is that erstwhile playing large chords successful Open G, you’re not expected to play the apical string, the 1 closest to you. The crushed for this digs into euphony theory, truthful we won’t get into it. Some players volition “mute” that drawstring by either touching it with the extremity of their digit arsenic they property down connected the different 5 strings, oregon by wrapping their thumb up implicit the apical to mute it. Keith Richards virtually removes the drawstring wholly from his guitars truthful helium doesn’t person to interest astir it. For our purposes, you astir apt don’t request to interest astir it (if we were fancy, we wouldn’t beryllium Googling “how to play guitar without learning however to play guitar,” would we?), but if your chords benignant of, effort to debar the apical drawstring and spot if that improves things.

You’re acceptable to play a song!

Luckily, this is really the casual part. I’m not saying that a batch of popular euphony is simplistic, seldom request much than a fewer chords for a batch of songs. For example, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born successful the USA” whitethorn not beryllium a enactment favourite (unless you are wholly not paying immoderate attraction to the words) but it’s a rousing opus conscionable astir everyone knows. And you—yes, you!—can play it utilizing conscionable 2 chords: B Major (4th fret) and E Major (9th fret):

[B]Born down successful a dormant man’s municipality / The archetypal footwear I took was erstwhile I deed the ground

[change to E]End up similar a canine that’s been bushed excessively overmuch / Till you walk fractional your beingness conscionable covering up

Try it by strumming on to the opus to get a consciousness for the alteration betwixt chords. Once you get the bent of it, playing and singing on is beauteous easy.

Want much songs? All you gotta bash is Google “[song name] chords.” Ultimate Guitar is simply a large assets for chord maps of songs—just beryllium definite you’re not looking astatine “tabs” (or tablature), which is simply a much analyzable and nuanced mode of penning retired guitar parts for songs.

Now, this isn’t going to enactment perfectly for each opus successful the world. For 1 thing, songs often usage antithetic kinds of chords similar insignificant chords oregon seventh chords. For another, immoderate songs are overmuch much complicated—Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” uses astir 9 chords, including minors and sevenths, in the archetypal verse alone. The bully quality is you tin marque insignificant chords and sevenths and specified successful Open G tuning, truthful erstwhile you get much comfy playing the large chords you tin ever larn however to bash those—though astatine that constituent you mightiness privation to conscionable really larn however to play successful the accepted manner. You tin besides effort substituting a large chord for a insignificant oregon seventh—sometimes this works good capable for a sing-along benignant of performance, truthful it’s worthy a try.

Here are a fewer different celebrated songs that necessitate conscionable 2 large chords:

If you’re feeling ambitious and deliberation you tin grip a opus with three large chords, you could effort your manus astatine playing:

A small net searching volition place plentifulness of different songs you tin bang retired passably good connected an Open G-tuned guitar. Keep successful caput you volition not really cognize however to play guitar astatine this point, and you’re not going to shred “Crazy Train” utilizing this technique. But arsenic you get much comfortable—and possibly larn to propulsion successful minor chords and seventh chords—you’ll beryllium capable to really marque recognizable euphony you tin sing on to.

Pro tip: If you hold until everyone’s had a fewer drinks astatine the party, your playing volition dependable much better.