Melody is the main tune of a piece of music. It is the line a single voice would follow when singing a song.
Harmony (or counter melody) is any line that fits along with the melody to enhance and broaden the music. Usually a harmony is complementary to the melody, but that is not always the case.
Rhythm describes how the notes of the melody and any harmony exist across time. The same sequence of notes will become a different tune when the rhythm changes.
There are three main styles that guitars come in: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and classical guitar.
Acoustic Guitar: These guitars may come in various styles and sizes but for the most part they share several common features. For one they usually have a sound hole for the sound to come out of. Also, the inside of the body is hollow which allows the sound to bounce around inside the guitar. This means that you do not need external amplification in order to hear the sound of the guitar clearly. However, depending on the gauge of the string and other factors, this type of guitar might be harder to play that other styles of guitars.
Electric guitar: There is even more variation in styles when it comes to electric guitars. There are three main body types: the "Les Paul", the "Strat", and the "Super Strat." Most electric guitars (with the exception of hollow-body and semi hollow-body guitars) use a solid body. This means that in order to hear the guitar you need external amplification such as an amplifier or a PA. This means that electric guitars are not as portable as acoustic guitars. However, they are more versatile when it come to the sound it can produce. The electric guitar can be used with different pickups, amps, and effect pedals to achieve many different sounds.
Classical Guitar: Classical guitars are very similar to acoustic guitars but there are some differences. Classical guitars or flamenco guitars use nylon strings. Also, the body tends to be smaller than most acoustic guitars and the neck is thicker. The nylon strings on these guitars give an overall warmer sound than acoustic and electric guitars. This makes it ideal for classical guitar and jazz.
The three major divisions are the headstock, neck and body. These are some of the parts on a guitar
- Tuning head: the part on the headstock that holds the string and allows the string to be tuned
- String: These are usually made from steel, bronze, or nylon. In the past they were made from gut. When the strings are plucked or strummed, they produce vibrations which produce sound.
- Nut: The nut is the bone piece between the headstock and the fretboad. This raises the string so that they are not touching the fret board. They are either made with bone or plastic.
- fretboard: The front of the guitar neck where guitar players place their fingers.
- fret: Thick metal wires on the fretboard that separate the different pitches on the the fretboard. The fretboard is organized in half steps. Some guitars do not have frets.
- fret markers: These are inlays on the fret board and the side of the neck. These help the guitarist to quickly find a specific fret.
- Bridge: Much like the nut, the bridge helps raise the strings so they do not touch the frets. On electric guitars this can be adjusted to get different string height or action.
- Saddle: The saddle hold the bridge, and in most cases the strings. Electric guitars usually don't have a saddle.
- Sound hole: The hole in the front of the guitar through which sound comes out. Most electric guitars don't have sound holes.
- Sound Board/Guitar Top: The top of the guitar body. This is what produces most of the sound in a guitar. Because of this higher quality wood is used on the top that on the sides or back. In electric guitars the wood is not as important as acoustic guitars.
- Pickup: These are devices that pick up the vibrations in the strings or in the wood and turn them into an electronic signal. In electric guitars the pickups are in the body and under the strings. In acoustic/ electric guitars, they are usually installed under the bridge or under the saddle.
- Tone/ Volume knobs: These are potentiometers on the guitar that control the tone or volume of a pickup or set of pickups.
- Pickup selector switch: If a guitar has more than one pickup, there will also be a switch to choose different pickups, combinations of pickups, or pickup configurations.
- Preamp: These are more common on acoustic/electric guitars. Like the tone and volume knobs, they help control the volume and shape the sound before going into an amplifier.
- Jack: The output that allows the signal of a pickup to go to an amplifier or other device. It is usually a female mono 1/4 inch jack but can also be XLR.
The posture of a guitarist depends partly on the style of playing. However, guitarist should make sure that when they are playing there is not unnecessary strain on pain on the joints or other part of the body. If there is pain (other than on the tips of the fingers) you should stop playing and rest as playing in that position could cause permanent damage to the joint or other part of the body.
Sitting: When sitting the guitarist should make sure that the wrist on his fretting hand is relatively straight. Playing with a bent wrist could cause pain and eventually permanent damage to the joint. Classical guitarist sit with their backs straight, shoulders relaxed, and sitting near the edge of their sear. The right foot should be flat on the floor (for right handed guitar players) and the other foot is either on a foot stool or flat on the floor as well. The contour of the guitar rest on left leg. The neck is pointed up. This makes it easier and more comfortable to play on any position in the neck
Other guitarists tend to rest the guitar on the right leg. The posture is very similar.
Standing: When standing the strap should be adjusted so that the guitar is around waist level. The neck should be pointing up.
From high string (thinnest) to low (thickest) the strings are E, B, G, D, A, E. One memory device to help remember the strings is the phrase, "Easter Bunnies Go Dancing At Easter."
On a piano keyboard your high E string is the E just above middle C with your low E being two octaves below that.
A chord is a group of three or more notes that is played together. In the case of minor and major chords, they are build using the Root, or first note, third note, and the fifth note of their respective scale. For example:
Here is the 'C' scale
C D E F G A B C 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
To make build the C major chord we would use C, which is the first note, E, the third note, and G, the fifth note. So if we wanted to play a C chord we need to hit these three notes. An open C chord is played like so:
e||-0--- <== This is an 'E'
B||-1--- <== This is a 'C' G||-0--- <== This is a 'G' D||-2--- <== This is an 'E' A||-3--- <== This is a 'C' E||-X--- <== This string is not played in an open C chord.
To make a C minor chord we use the same scale but the third note is flat. In the case of the C major chord, we used 'C', 'E', 'G'. To make it a minor chord we would use 'C', 'Eb', and 'G'. One way to play this chord is:
e||-3--- <== This is an 'G'
B||-4--- <== This is a 'Eb' G||-5--- <== This is a 'C' D||-5--- <== This is an 'G' A||-3--- <== This is a 'C' E||-X--- <== This string is not played in an open C chord.
It should be noted that because of the way the guitar fretboard is built there are many ways, voicings, to play the same chord.
Another thing that should be noted is because of the way the fretboard is built, chord shapes can be moved. This is an easy way to find all the major and minor chords without necessarily memorizing all the chords. There are three requirements for this: 1. Know a little bit of music theory, 2. Know the basic chord shapes, and 3. Know how to play bar chords.
When you bar a chord it is like you are using a capo or moving the nut, essentially changing the pitch of that note or chord. Because of this, you can build a chord using only the root note and the basic chord shapes. For example, this is an 'E' major chord:
B||-0--- This is the "E major" shape G||-1--- D||-2--- A||-2--- E||-0--- <== Using this method we only look at the root.
In this case the root note is "E". Before we start building chords we first have to see how the fretboard is organized. On the fretboard, the notes are in half step intervals. Since the root note is on the low E string in the "E" shape, if we learn the notes on the "E" string, we can use the E shape to find the chord.
This is the low E string: E||-F-|-F#-|-G-|-G#-|-A-|-A#-|-B-|-C-|-C#-|-D-|-D#-|-E-| 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 *The numbers are the frets. **Note that there is a half step between E and F and between B and C
So to find a chord we simply find the root note and play the shape. For example, if you wanted to play a G# major chord, you would bar on the 4th fret and play an "E" shape like so:
e||-4--- B||-4--- This is the "E major" shape G||-5--- D||-6--- A||-6--- E||-4--- <== The root note is G#
The same can be done with the "E minor" shape. This is the "E minor" shape:
e||-0--- B||-0--- This is the "E major" shape G||-0--- D||-2--- A||-2--- E||-0--- <== Using this method we only look at the root.
So to play a G# minor we would again bar the 4th fret and apply the "E minor" shape like so:
e||-4--- B||-4--- This is the "E minor" shape G||-4--- D||-6--- A||-6--- E||-4--- <== The root note is G#
This can be done with all the basic Chord shapes: C, A, G, E, and D. This is one of the reasons it is called the CAGED method. This is however a very broad topic and guitarist are encourage to find out more on their own or through a tutor.
A flat note is represented by a 'b'. When a note is flat it goes half a pitch down.
A sharp note is represented by a '#'. When a note is sharp it goes half a pitch up.
The guitar is organized in half step intervals so if we wanted to play a G# on the low E string, we would go to G which is on the third fret. Then we would need to go up one fret, to the 4th fret, to get to G#.
Similarly, since G is on 3rd fret on the low E string, Gb is on the 2nd fret of the low E string.
Nylon: Nylon strings are made of synthetic materials. If you buy nylon string they usually come in different tensions such as low tension strings and normal tension strings. They are usually easier to press than steel strings and they are also thicker. Because of they they hurt less when people are beginning to play. The notes are warmer when they are played, especially the treble notes. The bass notes are also fuller on nylon strings. They are often used in classical guitar, flamenco, and jazz. Nylon strings also allow for more expression and nuances than steel strings.
Steel: Steel strings can be made using many different materials. Some of the most common are steel and brass. When you buy steel strings they come in gauges rather then tensions. For example, you can get a set where the high E string is 0.09mm or 0.10 mm. The bigger the gauge the better the sound. However, increasing the gauge also makes it harder to play. While nylon strings are warm, steel strings tend to be very bright, and have less pronounced bass notes. This makes them good for most styles of music, and thus they are more versatile than nylon strings.