Easiest Guitar System...EVER

25th Anniversary Edition

r.a. "Ben" Miller, BS, RTT 10/76, 79, 80, 88, 2001

Easiest Guitar System...EVER 25th Anniversary Edition (VI r.a. "Ben" Miller, BS, RTT 10/76, 80, 88, 2001, 2006 Intro Back in the early 1970's, as a guitar teacher, I began creating bits of songs in a new form of music called tabulature. At the time, I was a student at the University of Chicago. I thought that learning to “read” music was a separate skill that may just slow the learning of the mechanical skills needed to simply play music on a guitar. “Tab” was just the coolest solution. It was a pictoral system. I found that teaching this way made the job a lot easier for my students.

BUT...back in those days, there were no books that taught the way I wanted to, so, when I had enough material, I wrote the first edition of this one. I got it published as Tab, The Easiest Guitar Method in 1976 by Black Hawk Press, Chicago, IL. By that time, I was teaching in Rockford, IL.

In 1977, I moved to Kansas City and began teaching at the University of Kansas. I also kept teaching guitar at a little store in Leavenworth. I kept adding more tab charts. At that time, my plan was that the students would go through the basic four lessons. The ones who got that far, would start on singing and strumming the songs that they wanted to learn. I felt (and still feel) that a student would rather invest in their own song list. My problem was what to do with the students would not sing. So...strumming for them was out of the question. I had to know if they were playing and switching the chords at the right time. So...I converted songs that we were learning into tab for them. I added this stuff to the book as the second edition published in 1980.

We changed the name for Edition III. Because of the remarkable success of this method of teaching, the new name was The Easiest Guitar System...EVER! (again published by Black Hawk Press-1982). In it, I finalized the form and makeup of the first twelve lessons. They were based on old folk tunes and popular tunes from history so that you can check yourself AND play immediately tunes that people will recognize in a common key, so that you feel every day the progress that you are making as a guitarist. I also added advanced tab charts on lead guitar. In Edition IV, I added bass guitar work that I had created for my students.

Edition IV (1988) contained hot lix from the mad hatters of the day (Ted Nugent, Chuck Berry, et al) 20 years later, these music pieces are considered classics. Back then, they were current. Oh, well...I'm old... I began to add lead guitar stuff as more students wished to keep taking lessons onto the stage. I also added a set of instructions for bass guitar that I had been teaching to my bass students.

Edition V (1988) was written only for computer. There were only a few changes in the content from Edition IV. The new system of tab allowed for easy page creation. I added pages from my own recordings to avoid copyright crap. Some of the advanced pieces were from my 1996 CD Good & Faithful Servant and from 2B Continued (1999) and from the 2001 CD Rhythm To This Life. Over the years though, it has been kool to get email from around the world.

Chapter 1; Holding the Guitar

The guitar can be a source of entertainment and escape from the rigors of the everyday world. It is a friend that will never be too busy to devote total attention to whatever you want to do. It is always on your side.

In all fairness, there is a certain amount of training that you two must go through together before this harmonious relationship will be easy for you.

First, let us hold our new friend.

Sit easily in a straight backed (kitchen-type) chair. Place the guitar on your lap. Your right elbow rests on the upper side/face junction. Your right hand will pick the strings over the sound hole usually found in the center of the face of the guitar.

If the guitar is a solid body electric guitar, position your fingers or pick near one of the microphone/pickups.

Your left hand should be in a position so that your thumb can slide along the back of the neck and your fingers will curl around to find the note positions on the fret board. If you are left handed, you may decide to restring the guitar in reverse of the standard string positions and switch the hand instructions in the last two paragraphs. As you begin to play, you may find yourself curling into a semi-foetal position around the guitar in an attempt to see and play at the same time. This must be avoided at all cost. You must teach yourself to play by feel. This will take years to actually accomplish; but it is our end of life goal to be straight backed while playing.

Please remember that playing an instrument is a life time activity. We must develop an Asian or Navajo attitude about goals and time. We must allow enough time to meet our goals or we will become frustrated and consider giving up. Those of us who have played all of our lives (I started at age three on drums, 12 on piano, and 17 on guitar) know that there is always something more to be learned about music and the playing of the guitar.

Luckily for all of us, there are immediate rewards to be found when playing. There is just as much satisfaction to be gained from each step in our progress if we keep the proper perspective

Chapter 2; How to Make Music Using Tablature

Now, let us talk briefly about the system that I will be using to show you some songs to play on the guitar.

A way to teach guitar is to make simple diagrams of the notes so that a nonreader of music can figure out a tune.

Tablature is a system to represent notes in music by showing the fret position on each string of a guitar. The frets are numbered from 0 ( that is, the note made when the string is plucked and no frets are pressed) to 20 on the same string (pressing the fret on that string closest to the hole.)

The first string is the littlest. It is named E. The 6tth string is the largest one. It is also named E but 2 octaves lower.

1st e----------------------
2nd B----------------------
3rd G----------------------
4th D----------------------
5th A----------------------
6th E----------------------

So...as you can see... a number found on a particular string tells you to press firmly at about 1mm above the correctly numbered fret on the string asked for.

The "0" fret is the big white bar near the pegs (also called the "Oh" fret...short for "open note"...in some books.

Chapter 3 One Clear Note

To become a guitar player, all you must do is make one clear note. "How silly..!" you exclaim. No, it is not silly. It is like Zen...It is merely very, very simple.

If you can make one clear note, then you can make another and another. Soon, you have played a tune. The greatest master players approach each piece that they play with the same perspective that I am giving to you.

To make one clear note, place the meaty portion of your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck. Curl your fingers around the neck. Leave them loose.
Place your pointer finger about 1 mm above one of the metal stripes that run across the neck.(These are called frets.) Press down hard enough to make your finger nail turn a white color and pluck the string with the thumb of your other hand.
1st -------6-------------------
2nd -------6-------------------
3rd -------6-------------------
4th -------6-------------------
5th -------6-------------------
6th -------6-------------------

As you can see, you have been asked to play on the 6th fret of the every string. Play them one at a time. If you hear a buzz in your note, check the position of your finger. If you are touching the fret, it will buzz. If you are too far from the fret, it will buzz. If you are not pushing hard enough, it will buzz.

Move around and try other frets until this becomes more comfortable and you hear unbuzzed notes all over the fretboard.

Now, move along in the lesson to the first song.

Chapter 4; Song 1
Playing On the First String

Mary Had A Little Lamb

(traditional)is played entirely on the first string. The first time through, you may want to play it all with your pointer finger.
1st --6-4-2-4-666-444-699-6-4-2-4-666-6-44-6-4-2---
2nd -----------------------------------------------

After a few trial runs using your pointer to locate all the note positions , I would like for you to play the song playing the 2's with your pointer finger, the 4's using your middle finger, the 6's using your ring finger, and the 9's using your pinky.

Remember to keep your thumb against the back of the neck and not your palm.

Chapter 4; Song 2

Introducing the Second String

On this lesson, we will be looking at the second and first strings together to work out a new song.

Tab notes that are close together get played a little quicker.

Star Song (traditional)
E ----55 77 5 33 22 00 ---| 55 33 22 0 55 33 22 0-|----55 77 5 33 22 00 ---|
B 33--------------------3-|-----------------------|33--------------------3-|

Like the first lesson, I would like for you to play the song with one finger for a day or so to get the flow, then, switch to playing the 2's with your pointer finger, the 3's using your middle finger, play the 5's using your ring finger and the 7's using your pinky.

Remember to keep your thumb against the back of the neck and not your palm.

Chapter 5; Song 3; Playing on Three Strings

Skipping Song (traditional)

In this lesson, we will use two songs, a traditional Southern folk song from the Civil War, Skip To My Lou,and a traditional French melody, Frere Jacques.

This way, we will add the third string to your bag of tricks.

Skip To My Lou
1st ----------0--|------------1--|---------0--|---0-1-0-----------|
2nd -1---1--1----|-3--0--3--3----|-1---1--1---|-3--------3---1--1-|
3rd ---0---------|---------------|----0-------|-------------------|

This song should be played with the pointer finger playing the 1’s and the ring finger playing the 3’s. Notice in the 4th measure, that the 1, 0, and the 1 are bunched together. This is a way to indicate a quicker pace (it’s actually a triplet; that is, three notes getting one beat.)

Song 4; Frere’ Jacques’
1st ---0 2---|---0 2--|-2 3 5 2 3 5 -|-57532-|-57532--|-------------|
2nd -3--- 3-|-3----3-|--------------|------3|-------3|-3--3---3--3-|
3rd ---------|--------|--------------|----------------| --2------2--|

This song should be played with the middle finger taking the 3's, the pointer finger playing the 2's on the low parts. On the higher runs, slide up the neck and play the 5's with your ring finger and the 7's with your pinky (L on the diagram).

Chapter 7; Hammer-On’s, Bends, & Slides

A hammer-on is the first lead guitar technique. Place your pointer finger on the second string, 10th fret. Make a note, holding down hard, bring your ring finger down fast. Do this over and over until two clear notes are clearly heard.

Oh, yeah, to hammer-off, just reverse the process. Hold both fingers down hard enough to turn your nail white. A trill is a combination of a hammer-on and a hammer-off.


To make a bend, place your ring finger on the 3rd string, 7th fret and your middle finger right behind it on the 6th fret. Holding down and make a note. Moving both fingers together, still making the note ring, push up and make the tone rise. Here is a classic bit of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s lix.

G| ---7b--------|----7b-------------

To achieve a slide (glissando), you make note any where and (holding down firmly), slide up one fret. Then, try sliding two frets.
The symbols are thus:

h = hammer on f = hammer off b = bend s = slide

Chapter 7; Song 5

Here is a nice version of “Amazing Grace”. It uses both hammer-on’s and slides in a 3 string mode.
e|--------------|-2f0 ---- 2---|- 0----|---------|
G|---2h4 -------|--------------|-------|-----2---|
e|-----|2f0---0h2|2s 3s 5--|2s 55-|-2f 0 ---0h 2|--------|-------|-2f0 0 ---|
G|2h4 -|---------|---------|------|-------------|---4s-2-|-2h4 --|----------|

Remember to keep your thumb against the back of the neck and not your palm.

Practice Protocol

By now, you should be playing every tunes each session. This should be about 10 minutes per day, every day. You will make progress at a rate of 1 time per week. Progress is then, algebraic...3 times faster for 2 times per week...5 times faster for three times.

I know...get off your back, already...

Let's just have some fun and make some music...

Chapter 8; Fourth String

Your first 4 string song is F.S. Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” in E

B-0-------0----9 7 5 -------------9 7 5 4---2 4 55 ---------------
G---1--1-------------------- --44-----------------------4 1 ------
D-----2-----------------6 7 9---------------------------------2---

B-------------5---9 7 5-------------9 7 5 4 2 4 5 5 ----------9 9 9 10 1212-
G-4 1---1 4-------------1 2 4 44----------------------41-------------- -----
B-10 9 7 9 10 10 10 9 7 5 4 2 4 5 -----------5 5 5 4 2 7 10 9 7 5 6 4-
G------------------------------------------4 1------------------------

The grand ending.... e--------3--5--7--8--10---------------------------------------------

Chapter 9; Simple Chords

When I wrote this book, (1976) tablature was in it's infancy. We put the numbers in the spaces between the lines. The system became known as the "Nashville" tabs. They are still used in banjo and steel guitar books. Today, we use "International Standard" tablature. This is where the fret numbers are right on the string.

1st -----0----
2nd -----1---- pointer
3rd -----0----
4th -----2---- middle finger
5th ----(3)--- ring finger
6th ----------

1st -----2---- middle finger
2nd ----3---- ring finger
3rd -----2---- pointer
4th -----0----
5th ---------
6th ----------

1st -----3---- Little
2nd ----0----
3rd -----0----
4th -----0----
5th ---- 2--- pointer
6th -----3---- ring finger

Chapter 9; Song 6

Here’s a fun song using those three chord positions
(by Lynnyrrd Skynnyrrd’s lead guitarist J. Rossington)
Sweet Home
1st -------3---|- --------|--------3-------3-|
2nd --------2--|------1 --|--------0-------0-|
3rd -- --------|--------0-|--------0-------0-|
4th --00---- --|----------|------------------|
5th ---- ------|--33------|------------------|
6th -----------|----------|--33--------33----|

Remember to keep your thumb against the back of the neck and not your palm. Song 7 Let’s have some fun with some simulataneous 2 string licks Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” in A E| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- B| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- G| -----2 4 55------2 45 -----2 4 55-----754 2---202------------------------ D| -----2 4 55------2 45 -----2 4 55-----754 2---202------------------------ Song 8 Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- B|------------------------------------------------------------------------------- G|-----2 5 7------2 5 87--------2 5 7-----5 22--------------------------- D|-----2 5 7------2 5 87--------2 5 7-----5 22--------------------------- Chapter 10; Your Masterpiece Every guitar player needs a song to play for their friends that make them just green with envy. Simple positions for Etude for guitar in 5ths & 7ths in G Paul McCartney learned it in school and wrote words called Blackbird E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- B|- 0--1--3--12--5--8----7--10----8---8---7---10-----5--4---3---2---1--12---8--101110--7-3-2-1-0--- G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A|--- -0--2--10--3---7--5-----9----7---6--5-----9-----3--3—2—1--0----10--7---9- 9- 9--5-4-3-2-1--- E|---3------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Let’s talk about your first picking pattern, the “pinch”. It is logical that I expect you to play as if you were pinching someone. All of the notes on the 5th & 6th string are played with your thumb. Simultaneously, you are to play the notes on the 2nd string as 2 string paired notes. Chapter 11; A Picking Pattern for Black Bird Up until now, most of our focus has been on the left hand. This chapter is about right hand work. To illustrate, it is simpler to work without making any chords. Key: T = thumb P = pointer M = middle R = ring L = little The next pattern is a variation of the pattern from chapter 10. I call it the syncopated pinch. First, play the pinch. Next, we add a single intervening note (called syncopation.) It is played with the pointer finger, picking the 3rd (G) string open. Next, pinch the second position of the song. Next 3rd string open. Etc… E|------------------------ B|---M---------M----- G|--------P----------P- D|------------------------ A|--------------T--------- E|---T-------------------- The next pattern I am calling “P2” . It is a series of triplets when stopped on certain chord positions. E|------------------------ B|------M---------M----- G|----------P----------P- D|------------------------ A|--------------T--------- E|---T-------------------- Please practice this pattern until it is rapid and smooth. Expect this to take several months. Chapter 12; The Final Masterpiece Expect this masterpiece to take shape over a period of months. I did not perform this on stage for almost a year. Notice the line underneath the tab. Every time there is a P, perform the picking pattern once. Black Bird 3 E|---------------------------|-----------|--------------------------------------------------------------- B|--0------1------3--------|--12-----|----5----8----7--10----8---8---7s10--5-- 4--- 3--- 2-- 1- G|-----0-------0-----0-----|----------|--------0----0---0----0-------------------------------------------------- D|---------------------------|------- ---|--------------------------------------------------------------------------- A|----------0------2--------|---10----|----3-----7--5-----9----7---6—5s9---3-- 3— 2— 1-- 0------ E|---3-----------------------|----------|--------------------------------------------------------------------------- P2x4 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 Chorus E------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ B-----12---8--- 10h-------11f10----- ------- 4-----3---2--------1---------0------- G---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- D----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A-----10--7---- 9------------9---9-------------3 -—2—1----------0----------- E----------------------------------------------------------------------------------3------------------ Black bird fly eee I -ii into the long dark night Chapter 13; My Masterpiece One Saturday in 1981, I ran my first 10K. Still thoroughly buzzing on endorphins, I walked into a music store. There was a beautiful Ash guitar there. I asked it to sing for me. There and then, I heard this song playing in the air around me. I asked the guitar if I could keep the song and she said yes. Here it is. Enjoy my Prairie Symphonette! Pt1 E --0s2---|-0s2-----|-0s2----|-s5-|--0s2---|-0s2-----|-0s2----|-s5-| B ------3--|-----3---|-----3---|-----|------3--|-----3---|-----3---|-----| G -------2-|-------2-|-------2-|-----|-------2-|-------2-|-------2-|-----| PT2 E 10 -7 -5755----------------------|10 -7 -5755----------------------|- B --------------7 5755--------------|--------------7 5755--------------| G ----------------------7 4s2 4s7 --|----------------------7 4s2 4s7 -| E –---------------------------------|---------------------------------|- B ------------------10-------------|----------------10--------------|- G --------7 9s11-----11f9 -7---|------7 –9s11-----11f9 ---7--|- D – 7h9-------------------------7| 7h9----------------------------|- E -----------------------------------|--------------------------------------------| B ---10---12---10---8---7h8f7---|-------------10----------------------------|-- G ---11---12---11---9---7h9f7---|-----7 9s11---11f9s7-------7---7h9f7-|- D ------------------------------------|7h9-------------------9f7h9--9---------|- Play pt 2 again, then Pt 1 gradually slowing the tempo. Chapter 14. Fret Names 6th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st Frets E A D G B E 0 Open F C F 1 E A 2 G C F D G 3 B 4 A D G C E A 5 F 6 B E A D B 7 C F G C 8 B E 9 D G C F A D 10 11 E A D G B E 12 Learning the names of the fret positions is the beginning of lead guitar. First, you decide that lead guitar is for you. It can be played on an acoustic, but, really, lead is no fun without a really loud amp and a real electric guitar. Each of these can be purchased for 200~300 bucks in the paper. Do not buy a guitar for the paint job, or because your buddy has one. Two guitars of identical look and model will be ENTIRELY different in performance, sound and feel. You must play the guitar. It must “sing” to you. Notice on the chart that I have highlighted 7 A’s Buy a $99 POS to get started and begin your search for the perfect guitar. (I find at least 3 every year. I buy them play them, hate them after two gigs and sell them to next guy who falls for them. {usually one of my students…}) For the next year or so, you must begin to learn this chart by heart. Start by learning the notes assigned to the frets found at the “nut” (the piece of bone at the bottom of the scale at the 0 position on every string…) Next, learn the names of the dotted frets on one string. Do not be embarrassed to simply count up the neck (toward the body from the nut) and across the neck to locate actual notes that you are needing to finish a tune. Chapter 15; Basic Theory/Magic Circle Chapter 16; Bass Guitar Any discussion of bass guitar has no meaning without historical props to Willy Dixon. He was a record producer and songwriter who convinced Leo Fender to create a guitar with giant strings, frets that corresponded to guitar fret positions, and pickups so he could play with his friends and be as loud as them. This allowed people without perfect pitch cover the low end of hot arrangements and really added punch to what would become rock and roll. He wrote tunes and produced records for the greatest blues artists in history. He created a whole school of music. He insisted that all bass players that followed him tuned their basses to the lower four strings (down 2 octaves) as a regular guitar. His approach to playing with drive and acumen was to create patterns. These patterns moved from chord to chord in lock step. To illustrate this method of playing, let’s look at Willy Dixon’s Box Pattern. It starts at a root, then move two strings over to the next higher octave note, then back two frets, and last to the next string down and two frets up from the root fret. Bass is as much a part of the rhythm section as any musical instrument can be. It bridges the gap from the drummer to the guitarist. Properly played, all a combo needs is 3 hot players (lead, bass, drums) who totally get their role inside of a tune to rock any Kasbah. Bass Pattern1; The Box Let’s look at this box in G. G is found on the biggest string, 3rd fret. Place your pointer finger on this note. This song will be played with the Pointer and the ring fingers alternately. From the magic circle discussions of the last chapter, you can determine that that the next most likely chord the guitarist will choose is C. From the fret name charts, you know that the best location to find C is one string over at the 3rd fret. Then, the last chord in the pattern is D. These are the positions. G ----------------------|-------55–33-------|--------77---55-----| D -------55–33-------|-----------------55--|------------------77-| A -----------------55--|---33----------------|----55---------------| E ---33----------------|----------------------|----------------------| GG GG FF DD CC CC Bb GG DD DD CC AA -- Bass Pattern 2; 1-4-3-Triangle G --------------------------|-------------------------|-------------------------| D --------------------------|-----3--1---------------|----5 3----------------| A ------3—1---------------|---3------3--33---33--|--5-----5---55---55--| E ---3--------3---33---33-|-------------------------|------------------------| G C Bb G GG GG C F E C CC CC DG F D DD DD Bass Pattern 3; Hootchie Kootchie Man G ----------------------------| D ----------------------------| A -----1 --1 -- 3-----------| E –3 -- 3----------33 33 -| Pattern 4; The Boogie Woogie Bass This pattern was created on piano by Fats Waller in the 1880’s. Les Paul converted it for guitar in the 1930’s and it was translated to bass right away. This is the pattern in G. G-------------------------------------------|----------- D----------------22----55----22----------|----------- A -----22---55-------------------55--22--|---------- E--33---------------------------------------|---33---- Bass Pattern 5; Lookin Fer Trouble This is a fancier variation of the box that came from the players down Texas way. I used it on a song called Lookin Fer Trouble that wrote back in 1998 and later released on my Old School CD. On the CD, I used G#, but here it in G. G ------------------3h5 3--------------- D ------3 5--------------- A----5-------------------- E ------------33----------- Bass Pattern 6; Red House Here is Albert King’s Red House bass lick. In G G --------------------------- D --------- 5- 3----3--5--------- A-----4s5--------5----------------- E --3------------------------ 12 D A D F# A D D Major Open Tuning Chart This is a popular folk and country open tuning As you will remember from the magic circle, D is your I chord. G is then the IV chord and A is your V chord. Here is Rock Me in this tuning. D ------------------------------------- A ------------------------------------- F# -------0 ---- 1 ----3 ----- D ------- 0 ---- 0 ----0 ----- A ------ 0 ---- 2 -----3 ----- D -----0 ----0 ---- 0 --- 0 Here is the I-IV-III triangle D ------------------------------------- A --------0------5-----3---0---------- F# -------0 ---- 5 ----3 ---0-------- D ------- 0 ----5 ----3 ----0 ------- A ------ 0 ---- 5 ---3 ----0-------- D ------------------------------------ Chapter 18; G6 Delta Blues Tuning Okay…for the first open tuning, we are going to use John Lee Hooker’s “Rock Me, Baby in blues G6” tuning. It is my favorite. Rock Me, Baby On the g chord… D C E-----------------|-7-----------------| -5--------------|--------------- B 00- 01 03 01-| 77 78 710 78-| -55 56 58 56-|--------------- G 00 -00 00 00-| 77 77 77 -77-| -55 55 55 55 |--------------- D 00 02 03 02-| 77 79 710 79-| -55 57 58 57 |-------------- G-----------------|-7----------------| -5---------------|----- D-----------------|-7----------------|--5---------------|----------- Let’s try a cute little run…. E-----------------------|--3------------------------|------- B----------6--05—03-|--3--5-3---------3b------|-------- G----6s7-----05--03-|------5-3---------3b------|-------- D----------------------|---------------5~------5~|-------- G----------------------|----------------------------|----- D----------------------|----------------------------|----------- G E D G D D C Bb Bb G Look at the G6 chart to name the frets and plan where to play on the IV chord and the V chord 6th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st Frets D G D G B E 0 Open G6 1 E A E A 2 F F D G 3 B B 4 G C G C E 5 F 6 A D A D 7 G 8 B E B E 9 C F C F A 10 11 D G D G B 12
any questions..?Ben Miller
Byte.Me Software Solutions,
Rossford, OH 7/19/01