In this mini-series, we start at the very beginning of guitar playing by discussing how to hold a guitar, how to hold a pick/plectrum and the names of the strings. If you've never even touched a guitar before, then this is the perfect place to start!
As shown in the video, the key to holding an acoustic guitar is to find a comfortable position for you. The ideal scenario is to have a stool and foot rest to support your right or left leg. If that isn't available, crossing your legs also works well to create a raised platform for resting the guitar on. Remember, you should be able to keep the guitar steady, using nothing more than your strumming arm and your leg, so experiment a little until you get it right!
Holding an electric guitar is almost exactly the same as an acoustic, plus you can also use a guitar strap if you own one. This can be extremely helpful as the guitar will balance itself, allowing you to fully concentrate on your playing!
The video above takes you through exactly how to hold the pick, and the images below should help to get it just right. Remember, this will feel strange at first; it will probably take a week or two to become comfortable, so stick with it! In terms of pick thickness (conventionally referred to as "gauge"), any medium pick will do. This means a gauge somewhere between 0.8 and 1mm, which should be readily available in any good guitar shop.
It is crucial that you learn the names of each string on the guitar. They are named for their musical notes when the guitar is in standard tuning, and the easiest way to remember this is using a memorable saying, such as:
Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
You can always make up your own, of course! The thing to remember is that, in standard tuning, the strings (from thickest to thinnest) are tuned: E, A, D, G, B, E. Here is a fretboard diagram to help as well.