Today, I want to cover the basic technique every new (and old) guitar player should be aware of. If you master these fundamental hand positions, then you will progress seamlessly as you learn new styles and advanced levels of music. On the first string (the string closest to the floor) play frets 0 0 3 0 5 0 7 0 evenly, using your first (index) finger for every note.
Lets start with the right hand. As you hold the pick make sure to only use your right hand thumb and index finger. Initially, it might feel more secure to hold the pick with your middle finger as well, but this will only hurt you in the long run. Also, make sure no part of your hand is resting on the guitar. If your hand feels unstable, than you may rest your pinky finger on the guitar beneath the strings. Play the exercise again with this in mind.
There is a little more to think about when it comes to the left hand. Every time you fret a note, your finger should be curved and as close to the Front of the Fret as possible. Press down fret 3 with your index finger and move it as close to fret 4 as possible without being on top of the metal. Once you are at the front of the fret, make sure you are pressing down the string with the very tip of your finger. Unfortunately, if you are a new guitar player, this will hurt for a few weeks of practice. Finally, your thumb should be fairly relaxed and directly across from your first finger. If the guitar was removed, it would look like your first finger was pointing directly at the upper section of your thumb. As your left hand index finger moves down the neck for frets 5 and 7, make sure your thumb moves with it. Play the exercise again with this in mind.
I know it is a lot to think about to play such a simple exercise, but I promise it will save you hours and hours of practice later in your development. If you have any questions or would like to sign up for guitar lessons in Austin, Texas or Skype lessons around the country, then send me an email through the contact page of my website, FarrGuitarStudio.com.