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Course Walk-Through: Session 4 - Notes on the 5th & 6th Strings

Friday, February 18, 2011
We're already onto our 4th session in the course walk through! After about 2-3 weeks in Session 3 (20-30 minutes of practice a day), you should be ready to advance to Session 4. This session will focus on the final two strings, as well as give a good overview of all strings. (est. time: 2 weeks)notes on the A string

Notes on the 5th String

The last two strings both have three notes per string in the first position. The 5th string, or A-string (played open, the note on this string is an A), has A, B and C. A is played without any fingers (or open), the B is played with the second finger on the second fret and the C is played with the third finger on the third fret. Notice the notes on the staff go below the bottom line. It can get tricky reading these lower lines and keeping them straight, but with practice, you'll learn them.

Notes on the 6th Stringnotes on the low E string

The 6th string is the lowest string on the guitar. When played open, it plays a low E, which is the lowest note on the guitar.  The other two notes are the F, played with the first finger on the first fret, and the G, played with the third finger on the third fret. This string is commonly called the 'Low E String' because if you recall the notes on the first string (also the E string), the notes and the finger placements are the same. Both are E strings and they basically mirror each other, except one is much lower!


Now that you know all the notes on all the strings, a great warm up and regular pre-playing routine to get into is playing through a scale. The scale will help you play through all the notes in the first position and will also help your fingers remember their place. Many great guitarists warm up by going through scales. Here's the basic scale with the tab below:

scale in first position

The best thing you can do in this session before moving on is to memorize all the notes on each string and be able to play through them without hesitation.

A quick note (haha!) on sharps and flats...

Sharps and flats alter the note one half-step (one fret). The sharp RAISE the note a fret and the flat LOWERS the note a fret. If you have a sharp, you simply move up one fret to play it. For example, on the first string F (first finger, first fret), to play an F#, you simply move to the second fret with your second finger! Here is the sharp and flat scale:

scale with sharp and flat notesOne of the cool things about Session 4 is that we learn two chords! I know you've been waiting to play chords, and in Session 5, that's all we do. But for now, here's two common and simple chords you can start practicing...the Am (A minor) and E:

A minor and E chordsThe circles above the chord chart means that string is played open. The X means you don't play that string. The chart corresponds with the fret board. Low E string is on the left and high E on the right. The solid circles with the numbers represent where your fingers are to be placed. For example, on the Am, your first finger goes on the second string, first fret. Your third finger goes on the third string, second fret. And your second finger goes on the fourth string, second fret.

Practice these chords each time you are practicing your 5th and 6th string notes and you'll be ready for Session 5 in a couple of weeks!
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