How to count while playing guitar

How to count while playing guitar

Learning how to count while playing guitar is often the hardest part about learning the instrument. If you are a beginner, counting can be even more difficult, as it sometimes seems like you are constantly counting! Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to learn how to make counting easier.

When playing guitar, the most important number is “1”. When you start plucking your strings, there is always one string that will play with each pluck of the pick – hence the name “1”! Now let’s turn on some tunes and break down some creative ways to keep your numbers in mind when playing guitar.

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Counting while playing guitar

Counting while playing guitar can be a little tricky for beginners. The best way to remember how to count is to think of the word “one.” Every time you pluck a string, there is one note that will sound and one number that will flash in your head. It’s easy once you get the hang of it! You can also use your fingers or pick hand to help you remember numbers 1-5. This way, when you pluck a string, you know whether it’s time to add another number (1) or go back and add a number (2). Another great way to keep track of your counting is by using your fretting hand. If you are playing an open string on the E-string, then it’s easiest to use your left hand as counting hand; if not, use whichever fretting hand feels most comfortable. If the string is plucked with your right hand (or fretting left), then count: “1,” “2,” “3,” “4,” and so on.

Keep the number 1 in mind

Counting while playing guitar can be difficult, especially for beginners. One way to remember how to count is by starting with the number 1. No matter what string you are plucking, when you play the first note there will always be one string that plays with each pluck of the pick. This is when it becomes important to start counting in your head.

Use your fingers to count

One of the easiest ways to remember your numbers is by using your fingers. To start, hold your pick in one hand and pluck the string with the other. Now that you have a “1,” count off in a different order on your other hand in sync with your counting. This will help you remember what number comes next.

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Remember, it’s always the next string

When counting while playing guitar, it’s always the next string. This is because “1” will always be the first string played. When playing, remember to count the next string over, not the one you are currently on. For example, when you play a G chord, your fingers should be on strings 3 and 2. String 3 is your “1” string and string 2 is your “2” string.

Try counting sets of 8

One of the most difficult aspects of counting is that it’s not always clear how many beats are in a measure. For example, if you’re playing 3/4 time, do you count 12 or 8?

It doesn’t matter! When counting sets of 8, the first beat of the first eighth note will always be counted as 1. From there, you count 2-8 to determine how many eighth notes are in your measure.

So if you’re playing 3/4 time, and on your first pick (1), you count out “1-2-3-4-5-6 -7 8”. This would mean that there are 4 quarter notes in your measure.

Similarly, if you’re playing 4/4 time, and on your first pick (1) you count out “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12.” This would mean that there are 12 quarter notes in your measure.

Visualize the fret board

Your fingers are on the fret board, and as they move up or down, you can see them line up with each number. For example, if you have your fingers on the first fret of your guitar, they will be lined up from 1-5. If you have your fingers on the second fret of your guitar, they will be lined up from 2-6.

This is a great way to keep track of what notes are being played and is a skill that can’t be learned overnight. But with time and practice, this method will help tremendously when it comes to counting while playing guitar!

Use different types of counting to keep track of different parts in a song

When playing guitar, the most important number is “1”. When you start plucking your strings, there is always one string that will play with each pluck of the pick – hence the name “1”! Now let’s turn on some tunes and break down some creative ways to keep your numbers in mind when playing guitar.

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The first thing to remember is that counting up means hitting higher notes on the fretboard. For example, when you are playing a song, if you are having trouble remembering where to put your fingers next, count up from the last note. If you count up 3 times in a row, then your next finger will be on the 5th fret.

Another way to think about counting is using an alternating pattern. The trick here is that counting 2 at a time alternates between numbers 1-5 and 6-10. Counting this way will make it easier for you to find which notes are in between frets easily because they are in sequence.

If you want to make things even more complicated (or interesting!), try counting backwards instead of forwards when playing guitar! When counting backwards, every number brings you back one fret closer to 1. When counting backwards take care not to go lower than 1 or higher than 5.

Counting out loud

If you are playing with a partner or band, it can be helpful to count out loud. Counting out loud is helpful for beginners, as it helps them get in sync with the rest of the band. If you’re playing by yourself, but want the added help of counting out loud, set your metronome to 60 BPM and start counting aloud. The most important thing is that you keep your voice consistent throughout the song.

Saying numbers silently

Saying the numbers silently in your head is a good way to keep up with counting while playing guitar. This way, you can stay focused on the music while still keeping up with counting. This might be especially helpful for beginners who are just learning how to count while playing the guitar.

Mapping out your guitar fretboard on paper

One of the best ways to learn how to count while playing guitar is by mapping out your fretboard on paper. With this, you can go from string to string and figure out where each note is. When mapping out your fretboard, make sure you write down both the letter and number for each fret. For example:

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A: 5th String = A and 5th Fret = A#

B: 4th String = B and 4th Fret = B

C: 3rd String = C and 3rd Fret = C

D: 2nd String = D and 2nd Fret = D

E: 1st String = E and 1st Fret – E

For more information on mapping out your fretboard, check out our blog post “How to Map Out Your Guitar Fretboard”.

How to count while playing guitar FAQS

I forgot to count and now I can’t find my way back! What do I do?

If you forget to count and need to find your place, there are a couple of ways. First, if you know the chords in the song, you should be able to locate your place by using the chord progression. You could also try to think about what you were doing before you lost count. It could be one of these two things – either counting the number of strings that have been plucked or counting how many times you have plucked each string.

When counting, am I supposed to say “1-2-3-4” or “1&2&3&4”?

Counting is largely up for interpretation. Some people say “one” over and over while others say “1-2-3-4”. Some people even use their fingers to count with 1=1 finger, 2=2 fingers, 3=3 fingers, 4=4 fingers. The only requirement is that it’s standardized for everyone playing with you so they know when it’s their turn.

Conclusion

Now that you have some creative ways for counting while playing the guitar, it’s time to get started!

Do you have a guitar near you? Pick it up and let’s get started. Take a moment to find the strings on the guitar and remember the order of the strings from low to high. Starting from the bottom, you have your six bass strings, followed by your five treble strings. In between each of the bass strings, you will find a treble string. So, for instance, if you are looking at a guitar that is tuned to G, you will have a low E string, followed by a D string, then a G string. You can then count out from that point to keep track of your numbers.

Got it? Great! Now that you know how to count while playing the guitar, it’s time to start practicing.