Guitar Tips

Here’s the quickest way of learning guitar –  even a potato head like me managed it.

Here’s the nub of it: there are over 65 classic songs that can be played by learning just four easy chords. Learn those four chords and there’s nothing stopping you.

You can play loads, from “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey to “Poker Face”. All from four chords…

Now let’s get you up to speed on the guitar:

A guitar in ‘normal’ tuning, which is what the guitar is tuned to for the 4 chord song, is tuned to (starting from the 6th string) E-A-D-G-B-e.

The thinnest string, the one nearest the ground when you’re holding the guitar, is the 1st string, and the thickest string, the one furthest away from the floor, is the 6th string.

Both acoustic and electric guitars are tuned this way, so you can play the 4 chord song on either.

To start playing, you will need to understand how to read ‘tab’. Think of tab as a really simple version of sheet music.

An example of what the ‘D’ chord looks like on tab is shown below.

The six lines represent the six strings. The numbered circles are where you will put your fingers. Learning guitar is great, because everything is numbered, and your fingers are no exception! Your index finger is finger 1, and your pinkie is finger 4, and you don’t use your thumb – it really is as simple as that!

The strings with an ‘0’ beside them denote that it is played ‘open’, meaning you just strum without any fingers touching it.

A string with an ‘X’ next to it doesn’t get played at all. Don’t twang it!

If this is the first time that you have picked up a guitar, you’ll probably find it hard to hold the chord for any amount of time. Don’t worry – it just takes practice.

For now, just practice going from one chord to another.

There are literally hundreds of chords out there, but, as you start playing, you will soon realise that most songs use the same main chords. For here, we will concentrate on the 4 chords that make up the 4 chord song, which are D, A, Bm and G.

Easy eh?

To start with, try strumming each chord once, and then changing to the next chord.

If the chords sound ‘fuzzy’, it is most likely due to either not pushing hard enough on the strings, or fingers touching strings that are not part of the chord, just have a look and see what it is.

Don’t be disheartened if it is because you aren’t pushing hard enough on the chords, finger strength, just like any strength, takes a bit of time to develop, just play regularly and you will be surprised at how quickly you improve!

Once you have got used to changing the chords – or are near to it – it is time to think about strumming the chords in time to the music. It is here that some people stumble at first, so be patient, and you’ll soon get it.

I find the best way to keep in time with this is to count to four like this “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”, and repeat.  Depending on the song, you will need to say this quicker or slower.

To get the speed, the best thing to do is to listen to the song. Sometimes I find it easier to listen to the song, and strum each chord once in time with the song. Then when I have mastered this, and am getting the feel for the song, I can start strumming in time.

Here’s what I mean – you’ll recognise this, James Blunt’s ‘She’s beautiful’:

1 and   2   and     3 and   4  and

D                     A

My life is brilliant, my love is pure.

1 and  2  and  3 and  4  and

Bm              G

Get it? Just slow it down till until it falls in to place.

The speed of each individual ‘song’ in the 4 chord song is at a different tempo, so you may need to listen to the song more than once to get a feel for the speed.

So next up, we can start looking at the whole song, and start playing the whole thing!

D                     A

My life is brilliant, my love is pure.

Bm              G

I saw an angel, of this I’m sure.

D          A

Forever young, I wanna

Bm             G

be forever young.

D             A

I won’t hesitate no more,

Bm             G

no more, it cannot wait, I’m yours.


This is the way you left me,


I’m not pretending,


No hope, no love, no glory,


No Happy ending.

D              A

Cause you are amazing,

Bm       G      D

We did amazing, things.


If I could, then I would,

Bm          G

I’ll go wherever you will, (go)

D       A         Bm     G

Can you feel, the love tonight?

D        A

And she will, be loved,

Bm       G

Yeah she will, be loved.

D                A

Pictures of you, pictures of me,

Bm                    G

up upon your wall for the world to see.

D    A        Bm          G

’cause I cant live, with or without you.

D     A       Bm   G

And if I fall, at your feet.

D               A              Bm

You’ll let your tears, am I not pretty enough,


is my heart too broken.



D              A

When I find myself in times of trouble,

Bm           G           D

Mother mary, comes to me.

A           Bm          G       D

Sometimes I feel like I dont have a partner.

A              Bm         G       D

That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin’,

A             Bm      G

We’ll be ridin’ on the horses, yeah yeah.

D  A         Bm

No woman, no cry,

G           D

It surely is a dream,

A               Bm  G

I come from the land down under.

D            A        Bm          G

Once a jolly swagman, camped by a billabong.

D    A  Bm  G

Take on me,(When I come around)

D    A  Bm  G

Take Me On,(When I come around)

D    A  Bm  G

I’ll be gone

D A   Bm

In a day or, two.

G      D      A

Save tonight,   (Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you.)

Bm                 G

Fight the break of dawn.

D        A

Come tommorow,  (There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.)

Bm            G

tommorow I’ll be gone.

And that is all there is to it, all you need to do is practise!

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