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Getting Started: The Guitar
The Record is happy to launch Getting Started, a brand new series dedicated to helping you learn how to play a musical instrument of your choice. If you've always wanted to learn but didn't know where to begin, then this section is for you. We kick things off in style and bring you the beginner's guide to The Guitar. It can be the way to a woman (or man's) heart, the way to Rock God status, or both! Whatever your reason, let's get started!


Ravi Iyer, guitarist of veteran rock band Vayu and founder of the guitar academy School D'Rock, outlines a quick list of all that you need to get started.
A guitar, of course. Be sure to spend some time choosing your first guitar. Trinity from Furtado's Music recommends a Granada TN 12561 which comes with an in-built equalizer. Other brands available are Hobner and Givson. Acoustic guitars cost anywhere between Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,500.
An extra set of guitar strings. They are sold in a pack or individually, so make sure you definitely keep some extras, especially of the thinner strings (numbers 1, 2, 3).
A plectrum/pick. Ravi says that either a Java or Dunlop model is preferable. Thin picks are good for playing rhythm guitar while thicker picks are good for playing lead guitar. Get one of each for yourself.
Pitch pipe. You should tune your guitar every time you begin playing. For this purpose you will need a pitch pipe, available at any music store. More on tuning later in the article.
Guitar books. One of the most recommended books is the Modern Guitar Method series by Mel Bay. Get Grade 1 to begin with. The lessons are well explained and illustrated. Alternately, you can also refer to tablature (which shows the guitar strings and which note to play by indicating numbers on the string). Check out or For learning chords yourself, Trinity recommends Mel Bay's Guitar Chords.


The top-most part of the guitar. Attached to it are tuning pegs. These are used to adjust the pitch of the strings on the guitar, the very basis for how the instrument will sound. At the point where the headstock meets the neck of the guitar lies the nut, a small strip that has grooves carved into it through which the strings run up to the tuners.

The slimmest part of the guitar that the strings are stretched over, on which lies the fretboard where your left hand does all the work.

The fretboard of the guitar is divided at specific intervals by horizontal metal strips called frets. Pressing down on the strings at different frets causes different notes to ring.

This is where you find the most variation between guitars. Acoustic and classical guitars have hollow bodies and a sound hole which projects the sound of the guitar. Electric guitars are solid and do not have a sound hole. The sound is generated through microphones, called pick-ups, fitted into the body of the guitar.

The Bridge
This is the wooden plate that anchors the strings to the body of the guitar.

The Strings
Six strings is what you need to make a whole lot of noise! There are guitars which have seven and even twelve strings, but for now we will focus on the 6-string. Classical guitar strings are usually made from nylon. Electric guitar strings are made from metal. It is important that you know the names of each of the strings.

[Quick music theory lesson: there are seven alphabets used for the notes in music A B C D E F G. Memorize these!]
Coming back to the strings ~ when they are not being pressed down to play a note they are called open strings. It is important to know what the names of the open strings are.

String 1 The thinnest string on the guitar. This is the E string.
String 2 This is the B string.
String 3 The G string.
String 4 The D string.
String 5 The A string.
String 6 The fattest string on the guitar ~ this is also called the E string but it is a lower sounding E than String 1.

Recap: Going from fattest to thinnest you have the following strings: E A D G B E You play chords by pressing down on combinations of notes across these strings.

You can read the rest of our special feature Getting Started in the October 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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