Understanding a basic guitar note will start you on your way to mastering the guitar. After all, you’ll be playing them all the time so you might as well understand how they work! It’s very simple Physics. When you play (‘pluck’) a note on the guitar it makes the string vibrate, creating a sound.
Placing your finger on various places on the guitar string changes the pitch of the sound.
On the guitar each place that you place your finger on the string is called a ‘fret’.
Placing your finger/fingers on a string in-between a fret is called ‘fretting’.
Plucking a string to create a note can be done using your thumb, fingers or plectrum.
(some techniques can require all at the same time but we’ll get to that later!)
When you are fretting a note, there are ways to make it stand out from other parts of the music you are playing. Violin players use a technique called ‘vibrato’ that involves pivoting the end of their fingers from side to side to create a very tiny pitch bend, but the note does not actually go out of tune.
Many blues and rock players use this technique. Jimi Hendrix used this all of the time in his music! Listen to the mp3 below to hear an example of Hendrix vibrato -
Hendrix Vibrato .mp3
The clip below shows the difference between a standard note and a vibrato note. The first note is standard and the second note has vibrato.
To learn your first chord see the basic guitar chords page