How to play the guitar — Lesson 1

This series of lessons for the absolute complete beginner will get you playing the guitar in no time

Kieran Ball
7 min readMay 19, 2019


The only thing you’ll need for this lesson is your guitar, preferably already tuned! However, if your guitar isn’t in tune, panic not; you can learn how to do it easily by reading my other article: Tuning your guitar with the GuitarTuna app

Anyway, once you have tuned your guitar, you’re ready to begin.

The D Chord

We’re going to learn how to play the D chord on your guitar.

This isn’t actually a D-chord, it’s just a nice picture to show you how to hold your guitar: Photo by 42 North on Unsplash

I’m going to quickly label your fingers, so I can easily explain where you should place them on the strings. Your index finger is 1, your middle finger is 2, your ring finger is 3 and your little finger is 4. We’ll call your thumb T, but we won’t really need it for this first lesson.

Now, pick up your guitar, and with your left hand, press these strings. You should hold your fingers as close down to little metal bars as you can. These are called frets and it will just make sure it sounds clear and not muffled when you strum.

Guitar D Chord

Once you’ve placed your fingers on the correct strings, use your right hand to strum and you’ve played a D chord.

A simple way to strum your guitar is to simply use your index fingernail to strum all the strings as you move it down. You can use your thumbnail to strum them upwards too. Or, you might find it easier to strum down with the fingernail of your middle finger. Just go with whatever is most comfortable to you.

If you want a softer sounding strum, you might want to try strumming down with the skin on the front of your thumb instead. Have a go and strumming with a D chord using your fingernails and the skin to hear the different sounds.



Kieran Ball

Teacher and creator of 3 Minute Languages — a series of books and online courses that help you to learn a foreign language quickly and easily