How to Play Guitar in One Easy Lesson.

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If you live in North America, and you're a vertebrate, then you've dreamed of playing guitar at one time or another. You've probably also tried, but been quickly frustrated by your own lack of coordination, or enraged by the condescending attitudes of guitarists who *clearly* don't want you to join their club, and therefore teach things in the most arcane fashion available. And don't even get me started on writing/reading music. Clearly the monks who thought that up had some serious anger issues.

There's really only three ways to get around this:

1) Diligently apply yourself for years on end, gradually being corrupted into the established order of guitarists, and then lavishing scorn and derision upon the generation that follows your own.

2) Going to live in Appalachia, where some hillbilly will teach you the real way to play guitar minus the ego and dogma.

3) Cheat.

Since most of us don't live hear hillbillies, and since hillbillies tend to be heavily armed and liquored up, making them a bit touchy about meeting new people, that leaves "Cheat." "Cheat" is a good option, a very solid one.

Ok, here's how it goes:

1) Get a guitar. Acoustic or electric. Electric is generally easier to finger, I think Acoustic sounds a bit easier to control, however.

2) Tune the strings like this:
Big fat string: D
Next string down: G
Next string down: D
Next string down: G
Next string down: B
Skinny little easily broken string: G

Be careful and slow while doing this, as it puts more tension on some of the strings than they'd normally have, and doing it too fast will break 'em. *

3) Congratulations, your guitar is now tuned to "Open G. Major." Strum it. Hear that noise? It's open G. Now, barre chord the top fret, making sure to push down *all* the strings at the same time. Strum. That's a G-sharp chord. Easy! Move your finger down one fret, and barre that one as well. Strum. Congratulations, that's an A. The next fret down is A-sharp, the one under that is B, then C, then C sharp and so on.

From top to bottom, the chords are
(Open) G
G sharp
A
A sharp (On most guitars, this fret has a dot on it)
B
C (Generally there's a dot on this one as well)
C sharp
D (Dot)
D sharp
E (Dot)
F
F sharp
then you're back to "G" again at the base of the neck, a higher G than the open one, obviously. After that, the cycle repeats.

You might want to get some stickers and label the frets on the side of the neck until you can remember them on your own.

4) Hold down all the strings on any particular fret, and strum. Practice jumping back and forth from fret to fret. The disadvantage is that you can basically only strum, which makes you a rhythm guitarist at best, and your arm will move around a lot more than a "real" guitarist, but the advantage is it's really easy, and "Real" guitarists get really freaked out when you do it.

5) Congratulations! You can now play guitar.

Practices playing and singing simple songs ("Do ya'" by ELO is basically D/C/G over and over again. "Save it for later" by the English Beat is basically D/A/G over and over. "This Time" by INXS spends the whole verse in D, does a quick hit on E. then goes D/G/C twice, then back to D for the next verse. It's easy), or compose your own. Have trouble holding down all the strings? It'll come, but in the meantime get a slide (About $10 at any musical supply store) or just use a butterknife.

Granted, you're far more limited playing this way than the "Real" way, it's next to impossible to play anything by Aimee Mann. But then, no one listens to her anymore anyway. The advantage is that you get combinations of notes on individual strings that are unusual and unique, and, when you learn them gradually over time, will give you very interesting progressions and chords that will befuddle the more talented, yet conventionally minded.

This is called "Hawaiian Tuning." When the guitar came to Hawaii, the locals loved the sound, but immediately concluded that whoever came up with that method of stringing it was a vicious sociopath, and they invented their own means.

You have now accomplished the twin goals of musical independence and undercutting the relevance of those who scorned you. Now: go and teach others to do likewise.

Freely hast though received, now freely shalt thou also give.

*- Alternately, you can open-tune your guitar like this (From fattest to skinniest strings) D/G/D/F#/B/G. That's still a G and gives it a slightly brighter sound. All the frets have the same chords I told you above.

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