Beginning Guitar Lesson. Fretting Notes

Ready to begin learning to play the guitar? We’ll be starting with the very basics. You’ll need a few things to get started.

A little information about the frets and what they do

The frets divide the length of each string into segments. Notice the dots on the side of the guitar neck, blocks or dot inlays on the face of the fret board. They mark the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, etc. positions. When you press a string at the 5th marker, you’re limiting the strings length to the 5th fret. The note’s pitch is higher than the sound of the string played “open”. The markers are not exactly related to the musical scale (a concept we will explore in more depth later). They are visual landmarks that you use to guide your playing.

Let’s Begin Playing

Guitar tuned and ready to start? Let’s begin… You’ve probably already strummed the strings and experimented with pressing the strings down against the frets. Let’s go through some specific exercises to begin learning to play the guitar.

The picture below shows the basic position of the thumb and fretting finger and where to press the string down. The nut is at the left which means in this example we are fretting the not at the 2nd fret.

Right or left handed it’s the same for plucking the string and fretting notes. One hand is held in position on the guitar neck, the finger presses the string down enough to touch the fret, while the other hand plucks the string to make the note ring out. It’s important to get the hang of the correct way to fret notes to avoid problems which are difficult to “unlearn” later. Pay attention the position of the fingers, thumb, and wrist angle.



What you see in the picture below is called tablature. It’s an easy way to show you what notes to play and what to practice. Tablature is an old idea, originating in use as lute music. Study this picture to learn the basics of tablature.

Zeros indicate open notes (the open string), numbers indicate fretted notes – the number is the fret that the string is pressed behind. The lines represent the six guitar strings from the thicker 6th string at the bottom; lowE. To the thinest 1st string; High E.  The notes of all the string are from bass to treble are E, A, D, G, B, E in standard tuning.

Use the tablature (Tab) examples below we’re going to start teaching the muscles in your hands to play guitar. Your mind and muscles will learn as you play so that in time this type of exercise will be easy.



Pluck the string four times for each note, then move to the next string. Count notes as you go as, 1, 2, 3, 4. Play this exercise for 2-3 minutes at a time, gradually picking up speed (tempo). Don’t practice for too long, and stop if your hand cramps or you have any pain. Continue with the other patterns as you like.


All open notes, four notes per string, work on an even tempo. This exercise uses just the strumming hand to pluck the single open string notes.


First fret, four notes per string across all six strings, even tempo. For this exercise we add in using your 1st finger to fret the note behind the first fret.

Exercises continue on the next page…

Published by ModGuitar Senior Editor

I have been building and modding guitars for 20+ years. My goal is to share my knowledge with readers, as well as offer affordable learning and do-it-yourself resources.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.