Guitar Playing Tips
Guitar playing tips! Instead of mimicking a theory book, operate your guitar the way your heroes intended; all you need is one little finger for real rock stardom.
The most important ingredient of easy rock guitar is "Drop-D" tuning. Normally, guitars are tuned (low to high) E-A-D-G-B-E. If you tune the thickest, lowest string down one whole step (D-A-D-G-B-E), you can make power chords by placing one finger directly across (perpendicular to) the fretboard. By making this adjustment, a wide variety of simple chords are possible. Songs can consist of only power chords, or if you're feeling artsy, you can put your middle or ring finger on a string (keep your index finger flat along the fretboard) to make different sounds. Experiment initially by making the one-finger power chord and moving it up and back to make the chord higher or lower. Eventually, you will hit on something that you want to hear again. When the Rock Gods smile upon you, keep playing this riff until another riff follows naturally. This riff, or chain of riffs, is a song. Play your song repeatedly. Regardless of how simple your song is, no practice is an beneficial as practicing your own music.
Resist the temptation to learn chords in the style of many popular method books. These are excellent sources of information on a variety of styles, but they can be limiting to a beginner. Often they show chords that are not necessarily difficult, but are sometimes awkward to make, which leads to hand and arm fatigue. With the one-finger method, you are guaranteed to be able to play at length with as little pain and effort as possible.
Rock guitar tone is best accomplished with heaping amounts of distortion, marked "gain" on your amplifier. Distortion sounds cool, and there is no better way to mask the fact that you don't know what you're doing. A heave gain sound can be accomplished in three ways: 1) Turn up the "Gain" setting on your amp. This is effective, but awkward to adjust mid-song. 2) Turn up the volume knob on your guitar. The stronger the signal your guitar sends to the amp, the more distorted the tone will be. 3) Use a Distortion Pedal. By plugging your guitar into a distortion pedal and then running another line into the amplifier, you can give yourself huge amounts of adjustable gain. A major advantage of pedals is that they can be activated and deactivated with a footswitch, making it easy to play those "clean verse/distorted chorus" songs that the kids love today.
It is important to remember that there are no wrong notes, wrong chords, or wrong hand positions. Nothing you can do is incorrect. New innovations arise chiefly out of mistakes and inexperience. The beauty of playing the guitar is that anything you do can be cool, and someone else will probably like it and want to hear more. As you continue to play, you will probably find combinations of chords or riffs that you repeatedly use. Take advantage of these tendencies and use them to create your own personal sound. Your biggest donation to Rock and Roll will be following your own inclinations rather than blindly imitating the styles of other people.