Guitar Lesson: Getting Started — Chromatic Scale


When beginning playing the guitar, it is real important to make sure that you start with the basics and master those techniques. I see too many beginning guitarist start to immediately play songs and tough repertoire without having a fundamental honor of the instrument. This usually results in students playing things with sloppy technique, which holds with them through their playing careers. It is much easier to start playing properly in the beginning than to have to change the way you play later. That is the approach I will take for this first beginning lesson.

We are going to start with mobility, getting the fingers and hands moving together. We are going to play the chromatic scale. Chromaticsm is when you play every note in order with out skipping frets. This scale is played Open-1-2-3-4 frets on every string from the low E (6 string) to high E (1 string). The left hand should play the notes using the same finger as the fret you're in. First fret first finger, second fret second finger, etc. If you are using a pick in the right hand, start simple and just do down strokes until your hand becomes accustom using the pick. If you are finger picking, use i and m fingers (index and middle fingers).

In addition to playing the scale, it is important to play it correctly with proper technique. I am going to give you a set of practice tips that I want you to be thinking about while you practice the chromatic scale.

First is thumb placement. It is important that your left and thumb not creep up over the back of the neck. This is a sloppy technique that a lot of players have a problem with. Ideally, you want your thumb to be placed in the middle of the neck. However, everyone's hands and fingers are different. Some might be a little higher than the middle, some might be lower. That is OK, just do not let it creep over the neck.

Second is playing on the tips of your fingers. It is very important to play on the tips of your fingers to ensure you will have enough pressure to play the note. In addition, you want to make sure you keep your fingers curved. If your knuckles flatten then you will not get a good enough arch to avoid the incorrect strings.

Third is fret placement, or where to place your fingers in between the frets. This rule is important to get a good clean sound. We do not play right on the metal fret, that will create a very dull and weak sound. We do not want to play to far back in between the fret cause that will create fret buzz. Ideally we want to place our fingers from the middle to the front of the fret. This will give us a firm grip on the string and a clean sounding note.

If you practice this scale and consciously think about these general rules you will start off with a good fundamental base for moving around on the fret board.

Robert C Myers