Finger Names

The following diagrams show the names typically used for fingers in most guitar notation and instructions books.

The use of ‘C’ for the pinky finger is less common because most traditional guitar instruction text only use PIMA notation for the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers for the plucking hand.

These initials are derived from the Spanish names for fingers dating back to early  classical guitar instruction books from the Romantic period (approximately 1790 to 1830).

For right-handed players:


For left-handed players:


Copyright © 2015 Luis Rojas. All Rights Reserved.

Fretboard – Part 1

The following diagrams show the names and positions of notes on the guitar. One of the challenges of learning to play and read music on the guitar is that the same note can often be played in several different positions on the fingerboard.

We will cover more on where to play specific passages on the fingerboard in a future post. For now it’s more important to develop a thorough knowledge of the fingerboard and memorize the note names and positions.

This can seem like a daunting task at first but it will become easier as you progress. Like with anything new and unfamiliar, start by breaking the task up into smaller chunks and don’t try to learn it all in one go.

Diatonic* notes and positions:



The corresponding keyboard diagrams are:


*Diatonic notes are ones that are unaltered by sharps or flats. You can think of these as the white notes on the piano keyboard. The next post will cover the chromatic notes that include all note names and positions.

Note: The stacked notes in the tablature notation above should not be interpreted as chords but in this case, as alternative positions for the same notes.

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Copyright © 2014 Luis Rojas. All Rights Reserved.

Parts Of The Guitar

The following illustrations show common parts of the guitar:


Arch-top guitars with different cutaways:


Side views:


Copyright © 2014 Luis Rojas. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction To The Guitar

The guitar is part of the chordophone family of instruments. That’s a fancy way of saying that guitars are stringed instruments. Chordophones are musical instruments that produce sounds through vibrating strings. The strings are usually at tension stretched between two points and the sound is made by plucking, bowing, or striking the strings.

Acoustic instruments usually have a cavity or resonator that amplifies the sound of the strings. Electric instruments can have either a hollow, semi-hollow, or solid body and one or more  electro-magnetic pickups that convert the movement of the strings or the vibration of the body to electrical signals that are then converted to sound using an amplifier.

Guitar Types

Guitars come in all kinds of styles and variations. If you are trying to decide what type of guitar to play, the best thing to do is to listen to as many recordings and artists as possible and visit different music stores that will have a wide variety of instruments to try.

While some of the guitars shown below are more traditionally associated with jazz, you can play jazz with any guitar. Jazz is a language, not an artifact. Choosing what type of guitar to play is about what you want to say with it rather than the mechanics of the instrument.

Acoustic Steel String Flat-top Guitars







Acoustic Nylon String Guitars


Electric Archtop Guitars


Electric Solid Body Guitars

strat les-paul      7string double-neck    synth-guitartravel-guitar

Every guitar has its own unique sound and feel. Even two guitars of the same model coming out of the same factory or handmade by the same luthier will have variations in sound and feel due to differences in materials. Other factors contributing to differences in sound include the size and construction, the type and gauge of the strings, the age of the guitar, the electronics, the amplifier, and the signal path or sound effects used.

You may need to try a variety of guitars to find the one that feels and sounds right to you. Your tastes may vary over time and different playing situations may call for different instruments. Try to find as high a quality of an instrument as you can afford and then experiment with other variables such as different gauges (thicknesses) of strings, round-wound, half-round, or flat-wound strings, different alloys, and other factors. Read interviews of your favorite artists to find out what gear they like to use and why. And above all, have fun while you’re at it.

Copyright © 2014 Luis Rojas. All Rights Reserved.