how to play the Acoustic Guitar

Have you found out yet how you can have fun with the acoustic guitar?

Mastering the acoustic guitar can feel similar to a huge mountain to go up. As an element of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning the Acoustic Guitar’ range, this specific section will let you start your journey by offering the principles to help you get moving…

How To Play The Acoustic Guitar

Posture

Put the instrument on your right leg, and tuck the guitar in close to your body. Try and point the strings straight out at the wall of the room you’re in rather than at the ceiling. It might be easier to see where your fretting hand is on the fingerboard with the strings pointing up, but you’ll have to bend your wrists too much to hold the notes down comfortably.

Now that you’ve got your posture in good shape, let’s look at some different techniques to play the guitar.

How to play the acoustic guitar

Fingerstyle

To play with fingerstyle technique put your plucking hand index finger on the first string – the one closest to the floor and pluck it with an upwards motion.

As you release the string, the finger should come underneath the rest of the hand, try this again with your middle finger, then your ring finger. Put them on the 3 top strings – the 3 strings closest to the floor and then try them in different patterns. Spend a long time doing this and it will really pay off.

Keep your fingers resting on those 3 strings. Now it’s time to try using your thumb. The thumb should come off the string, straight out from the body and slightly downwards towards the floor.

With the thumb and fingers, try not to hook underneath the string and pull the strings, unless you really mean and want that sound!

How to play the acoustic guitar

Picking

How to play the Acoustic Guitar

Hold the pick between your index finger and thumb, making a circle between your index and thumb. Try not to use the tip of the finger to hold the pick, instead, use the tip of the thumb to hold the pick against the side of the index finger’s entire tip joint.

The pick is V-shaped at the end so that it can cut through the strings at an angle. Place the pointed tip of the pick flat against the string, but then angle it so that one side travels through the strings before the other – releasing the string at the tip.

Once you’ve done that, try strumming through all of the strings at once, without preparing the pick flat against the strings first. Then just strum 5, 4, 3 and 2 strings at once. 

Once you’re used to strumming with both down and upstrokes, you can then focus your attention to single strings. 

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Extra Tips

When picking a single string you’ll need to exercise more control than before, so try and push the pick through the string slightly towards the body of the guitar on a downstroke and then away from the instrument on an upstroke. Then get comfortable doing just that for a while on each string.

Fretting Hand Technique

Now we can incorporate the fretting hand. Take your index finger, and put it by the 1st metal fret (strip) on the 1st string (closest to the floor).

Using the tip of your finger and keeping it arched, apply pressure to the fret but don’t let your finger collapse. Then pluck the string with your right hand. 

This technique is the same for all of the fingers on your fretting hand. Having a good fretting technique is simply a matter of building up this coordination and strength in each of the fingers of your fretting hand.

So what can you do to develop this finger strength? Here’s a short exercise.

Fretting Exercise

Remaining on the first string, repeat this process with the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret and 4th finger on the 4th fret. Following that. Try it on all of the different strings – they all feel slightly different from one another. Then try and reverse the order, go backwards – 4321, change the order of the notes – e.g. 1324, 4123, 3124 etc.

These tips will get you off to a great start with some technical fundamentals for guitar playing. But to really kick start your learning it’s a great idea to go to a teacher.

See our article recommending some different ways to learn from a great teacher and find out which way will help you most of all.

How To Play the Acoustic Guitar - Summary

By now, you should be able to:

  • Know the right posture when playing the acoustic guitar
  • Know how to play fingerstyle
  • Know the right way of holding a pick
  • Know a few techniques in fretting 

Now it’s time to improve your technique…

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