Welcome to the essentials course part one! During these 5 lessons we will be taking you through how to read tab, learning your first guitar gym exercises, developing perfect technique, learning the notes on the first two strings and a cool scale. Think of this first 5 lessons as the foundation that will allow you to play solos and riffs a little later on the course.

Summary: 1234 spider exercise

These exercises are known as ‘spider exercises’ as they help us gain independence in each of our fingers (which ends up looking like a spider is climbing up and down your fretboard!). As shown in the video we will start by getting the hand into the correct position. As a quick recap you need to:

  • 1. Put your thumb at the back of the neck
  • 2. Spread your 4 fingers across 4 frets, one finger per fret
  • 3. Make sure you push down on the edge of the fret
  • 4. As you start, be sure to alternate pick with your right hand

We also look at how to read guitar tab in the video, so if you need a little reminder, please take a look at this diagram:

Materials: 1234 exercise tab

Click on the link below to see the full exercise in tab. Remember, our tab player allows you to actually play along with the tab and slow it down if you need, so get your guitars at the ready!

Summary: The major scale

If you want to be able to solo like all of your favourite players, you need to start learning scales! A scale is the equivalent to knowing the words when learning a language. You need to know which notes will work when you come to improvise, and knowing your scales is the best way to do this. The major scale is the foundation that all other scales are based on. We won’t get too deep into the theory at this point, but basically all other scales are based on the 7 notes of the major scale which are then altered.

Materials: The G major scale

Below is your first look at our fretboard application. Remember that the fretboard us essentially upside down with low E string on the bottom, just like guitar tab. The red dotes indicate the notes of the scale. You will notice that if you hover your mouse over the fretboard it will show you all the notes in the neck, which will come in handy later on in the course!

Materials: The G major scale tab

If you would like to double check that you are getting the scale 100% correct, then please click through to the tab where you can play along as well.

Summary: Picking technique

The main thing to remember is that picking technique takes time and it takes consistency. You need to put into practice what we go through in the video, find a comfortable position and stick with it. Be sure to double check how you are holding the pick each time you play and in a few weeks you'll find it far more comfortable and natural. As a quick reference point, here are two images to demonstrate how the pick should be held:

Summary: Notes on the neck

It is very important to have a good understanding of the notes on the neck of the guitar as this knowledge will become more and more important as you progress. Knowing the notes will allow you to not only play lead guitar to a much higher standard, but also play any chord or scale you wish! We only need to look at the E and A string at the moment, and the notes are as shown below.

Materials: The Notes in sharps (#)

First we will look at the notes on the E and A string in sharps. Remember, the sharp symbol looks like this: #. Try to memorise the notes on the E and A string.

Materials: The Notes in flats (b)

Now we will look at the notes on the E and A string in flats. Remember, the flat symbol looks like this: b. Try to memorise the notes on the E and A string.

Summary: Moving the scale

One of the brilliant things that you will come to love about learning the guitar is that almost every single scale shape shape you learn can be moved anywhere on the fretboard to create a totally new scale! In this lesson we start to understand how this works by taking our G major scale (learnt in the previous lesson) and turning it into 11 other scales! The best part is, it’s so easy that you’ll have this learnt in 2 minutes!

Materials: How to move the scale shape

To keep it simple, the scale shape we learnt last time (The G Major scale) is a major scale shape. The shape itself, if you play it from the e string, is a major scale shape. The element that makes it ‘G’ major is the fact that the scale starts on the G note on the E string. This is called the scale root. So, following this logic, if we wanted an ‘A Major Scale’ we simply move the whole shape up to start on the A note. Click on the red boxes above the fretboard to see how the scale shape moves across the neck.

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Essentials Part 2

During the next 5 lessons we will be focusing on the Pentatonic scale. We will not only be learning the shape, but also learning how to play major and minor as well as playing in any key so that you can start improvising!