A large number of people that I teach are complete beginners on the guitar, and have never even picked up the instrument before their first lesson with me. This means that I have built up a lot of experience in teaching complete guitar newbies right from the first time they hold a guitar, and I have managed to tailor my first lessons to ensure that these students come away feeling encouraged about learning to play music. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful in this online lesson to start right at the beginning with some easy to play tunes that can all be performed on one string!
Your First Guitar Lesson
Every teacher is different, but personally after showing a new guitar student how to hold the guitar correctly and naming the open strings, I like to get them playing a tune as soon as possible, which is where my collection of “one string wonders” comes in handy! Put simply, these are popular melodies that can be played comfortably on a single string on the guitar. I find these particularly useful to a student just starting out for a number of reasons:
- Many new students struggle with fretting chords straight away, so it is more useful to learn how to fret on one string rather than several.
- The correct right hand technique can be taught right away.
- The good habit of using more than one finger on the left hand can be taught right away.
- The student gains confidence by playing tunes they recognise having only just picked up the guitar for the first time.
Guitar – The Very Basics
As mentioned above, before I teach a new guitar student how to play anything, I like to run through a few fundamentals of technique to begin with, as well as the open strings. If you haven’t learnt the names of the open strings yet, then they are, from low to high, E A D G B and E (Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears!) Finally, before you start to learn anything, you will need to learn how to read guitar tablature, or “tab” for short. Please don’t be intimidated by this prospect, as it can be learned in a matter of minutes and is a whole lot easier to learn than reading standard music notation. If you do not know to read tab, then please visit this link for guidance.
Simple Guitar Songs – One String Wonders!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get playing! I usually like to start new students off with a very simple scale played on one string. Here is a sound most people are familiar with, the C Major scale, played entirely on the B string on the guitar:
One you have mastered that, how about learning “Hold Back The River” by James Bay? I have already discussed this song in my top guitar songs for beginners post, and thought I would include it here as a tabbed out melody. I have omitted the bass part that Bay plays when he performs this song, thus simplifying the arrangement and making it easier for beginners to learn. However, you can always relearn this tune at a later date once you are comfortable playing it in this fashion:
I have also arranged “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber in a similar way to “Hold Back The River.” Although the guitar part to this tune is played on 2 strings, it is possible to simplify it and play it entirely on the B string as shown in the example below. You can always learn the full part at a later date, however this method is perfect for beginners who want to practice a simple guitar part in time along to the recording:
Let’s make it slightly trickier now with Ed Sheeran’s monster hit “Shape Of You” – arranged here on the B string of the guitar. This melody is featured prominently throughout this song, and you may want to take things further and learn the chords at a later date:
The final tune on the list of easy guitar melodies is probably the trickiest of the bunch, but don’t let that put you off! Here is the main riff to The White Stripes’ classic “Seven Nation Army” arranged on the A string of the guitar:
I hope you have enjoyed this basic guitar lesson today and I hope you find these basic guitar melodies and riffs useful. I wanted to give potential students a rough idea of what to expect with playing the guitar, and many of current students will recognise the songs being taught here in this free online lesson for beginners. One you are comfortable with these melodies, then check out my next beginner lesson on your first chords. Remember, there is no substitute for having guitar lessons with an actual teacher, so if you want to learn these basic tunes with me, then please get in touch and let’s book either a face to face or online guitar lesson through Skype or Zoom.
Until next time,