Pasha Bocharov
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How to play songs on guitar

Today’s article is going to be pretty unusual. It is not going to be about techniques or exercises. This article is going to be for those, who wants to start playing guitar, but has doubts about it.

If you see all those videos on the internet with famous guitarists playing live and you wonder how is this even possible, then I will tell you how. Here I will give you a brief introduction into guitar playing. Which means I will describe you, how basically playing songs works.

You need to press stings with left hand to get some chords and to pick them with the other to get some rhythm.


What is chord? The most common question from my beginner students. Pick any string and you will hear a note. Press this string on some fret and you will get another note. If you play several notes on different strings at the same time you gonna get some chord.

There are lots of chords out there, but in fact 90 percent of popular music uses all the same basic simple chords. For example there are chords Em, Am, C, G, D, Dm, A, F.

Here are diagrams with shows how to play these chords:

simple basic chords Em, Am, C, G, D, Dm, A, F.

If you don't know how to read these diagrams you can google my article "How to read guitar chord diagrams by Pasha Bocharov".

If you learn these basic chords once, you will be able to play a lot of songs, here just a few of them:

The Beatles - Let it be

The Beatles - Let it be chords

Bob Marley - No woman no cry

Bob Marley - No woman no cry Chords

Cranberries - Zombie

Cranberries - Zombie Chords

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama Chords

There are tones of popular songs you can play using these just chords.

Don’t be afraid of all those chords, guitar works in such a way, that there are just a few basic positions. And these positions cover the whole variety of different chords. For example, learning an F chord is enough to cover almost every possible simple chord, because it is enough to move the whole hand along the neck. Of course, there are some complex chords out there, and they are also used in some songs. They are harder to pick, but they can add color to the song’s sound. But your learning process is gradual, so by the time when you will get to learning them, they probably won’t look so scary and complex to you. And for now, it is enough to learn how to pick the basic ones, and only then move to more complex stuff.


Now we need to mention another important thing, called rhythm. It is obvious, that playing a chord once is not enough to hear a song. In order to get music, you need to keep playing those chords the particular number of times (strokes). And strokes you make with your right hand forms a rhythm.

how to start playing guitar

To understand what it is, try to listen to some simple song you like and clap your hands every time the guitarist hits the strings. A pattern of your claps will show you the rhythm of the song. It can be very easy or complicated, just a constant repeating of a chord also creates a simple rhythm. Just don't start with songs with difficult rhythms.

So basically that's how you play songs on the guitar :)

About the author:

Pasha Bocharov - guitar instructor in Moscow, professional guitar player. Check out his guitar lessons .