Playing Electric Guitar for Beginners | Tips & Tricks

Learning to play an instrument can be an intimidating process. Electric guitars definitely aren’t the easiest to master. Overall, there is a lot involved with picking up a guitar and shredding those complicated solos that only legends guitarists like Angus Young or Eddie Van Halen can play in under a minute.
There’s no doubt that playing electric guitars will make you popular while giving you a satisfaction that virtually no other hobby or career can fulfill. The caveat is the learning process that comes with mastering this instrument.

Moreover, we are going to give you the simple to digest tips that a beginner needs to start building momentum to possibly get you one step closer towards that goal of becoming a guitar guru.

Listen to Guitar Riffs in Songs You Like

Listening to a pro is the first step to developing a skill. Everyone has their own musical preferences. Since guitars are arguably one of the most popular instruments out there, there is a high probability that your favorite artist or genre has guitar notes.

By matching up your preferences with your guitar research, you start developing musical preferences that later translate into your guitar style, whether that’d be songs with a ton of arpeggios or double taps. This could also be a vetting process that could trigger an interest in songs played by one guitarist vs. another (Jimmy Page vs. Noel Gallagher).

Beginners get overwhelmed by all of the hardware that is involved in an electric guitar. If not intimidated, they often get distracted. Therefore, it is more than essential for guitar novices to be inspired by all the musical capabilities; there is no better thing to do than to listen to pros like Eric Clapton as you’re exposure will help you in the long run.

Only Invest in What You Need

As a musician learning to play the electric guitar, here are the five pieces of equipment:

Amp

You can’t have the full electric guitar experience without a guitar amp. One comes with the other. Otherwise, you just have an electric that plays acoustically. In that case, you might as well get an acoustic as it amplifies sound in a clearer tone.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend nearly a grand on an amp like a Roland. Instead, you can find one that works perfectly as a beginner that is under $500.

Instrument Cable

To connect one essential piece of equipment (e.g., the amp) with your guitar, you need a cable. Some come with the amp, while others don’t.

Guitar Tuner

As beginners, you are going to need to understand how to tune a guitar’s springs. These allow you to play out notes in a precise manner. In the beginning, it can be tough to differentiate whether a spring is tuned or not. Therefore, a tuner guides you with a microphone or strobe that detects the vibration’s sound wave.

Strap

In order to make your experience more comfortable, especially if you are standing, you should consider buying a strap. They come in all sizes, materials, and colors. Many of them are adjustable. Some are stronger than others. The takeaway to have from this is to make sure you have a guitar strap that fits you nicely while capable of holding the guitar around your stomach area.

Guitar Picks

Unless you plan to finger-pick (which is common, just ask Johnny Cash), a pick would probably be next on your bucket list. Similar to straps, they come in all textures and sizes. We’d recommend a thick pick for beginners because it requires less force to effectively pluck the guitar’s strings (around 0.7 millimeters).

Guitar Capo

As a clamp that acts as an extension when playing chords, this device is another crucial thing to have when playing songs that stretch your fingers by three or more frets. Many online learning platforms teach tablature and sheet music under the assumption that a capo can be used (mostly on the first fret). Make sure to purchase one when you visit your music store.

In conclusion, these are the items you should own when starting off. You can’t talk about necessities without mentioning expenses (which is our next tip).

Know Your Budget

Before you go to the store, keep in mind that price doesn’t mean everything as guitars are typically priced at least in the three-figure range. What matters is you have a decent guitar to start out with. The good news is that many guitars for beginners are cheap. What’s nice is the fact that more and more guitars are made to last.

Overall, try not to have “shiny object” syndrome. Vintage amps and speakers are nice to have but aren’t required when first pick up the guitar.

Search for a Compatible Starter Electric Guitar

Well, no, this is not advice for dating. However, finding the right guitar to start can be as involved as finding your true love.

It is crucial that you know what you need in a guitar. As a novice, do you need a solid body, a lightweight guitar, or do you need one that has a cosmetic appeal? Ok, probably the latter is not as crucial for a beginner to consider. Nevertheless, these are examples of questions you should be asking yourself before you even enter the guitar shop.

The music genre you are looking to dabble in is also a factor to consider. Unlike solid bodies, semi-hollows and hollows are more for guitarists that want to play jazz and blues. In those genres, their licks involve a change in harmonic progression. Therefore, the way they are crafted caters to this and many other characteristics exclusive to blues and jazz.

Lastly, some guitars come with a body curve on the fingerboard (flat strip on a guitar’s neck) known as a cutaway. Most of them come with a single or double cutaway. The former is more for playing higher notes on the fretboard. At the end of the day, it is all up to you.

Congratulations You Have Made a Monumental Step Towards Becoming a Guitarist, Now it is Time to Play

Many are overwhelmed about where to start practicing. Should you begin with learning octaves, chords, or go all just learn to play songs via tabs like Paul McCartney or Jimi Hendrix did? There is no “right” approach. However, it is recommended that beginners learn to play chords and practice scales.

Chords like the E minor and A are simple as they require the least muscle memory. On the other hand, others like the B chord may require more finger flexibility to get the hang of it. What is nice is that you don’t have to worry about learning the advanced stuff right away as all that matters is you unlock the dexterity it takes to master the simpler skills. This also applies to scales. It all builds. In no time, with dedication, you can learn arpeggios and even play solos that dazzled you on the radio or at the concert. It takes dedication.

Additionally, becoming sheet literate is a cool perk to develop early on. Interestingly, guitarists tend to be the least sheet literate in the music world. Nevertheless, this skill allows you to not only interpret music in a much more flexible manner. It also grants you the ability to go beyond the fretboard by understanding the pitches and duration per note.

We Can’t Mention Electric Guitars Without an Amp

Being familiar with the amp is a must. What this apparatus does is augments the sound emitted by the guitar strings. Understanding how they work will increase your experience as a musician; it will enrich the music you play as different channels adjust the sound to any setting you like, depending on the amp.

They come in channels that can either increase/decrease the bass, the treble, or volume of the amplified sound. It all comes down to modifying the sound your guitar emits, whether you want a cleaner tone for rock & roll, a heavily distorted /overdriven tone for heavy metal, or anything in between.

As a beginner, start with a clean tone. This will involve EQ (equalizing) the amp, which means that you are adjusting certain frequencies in a sound. For example, guitarists often subtract bass or emphasize or set a specific tone (i.e., 440 Hz) to reach the same pitch as the A on the 5th fret of the first string. For simplicity, set your EQ controls (low, mid, high) at 5 with no onboard effects such as delays.

Once that is established, switch to the clean channel, and turn the guitar volume up to its max. There, you would want to turn the tone control to a midpoint. That is all you need to have a consistent tone to start out on an amp. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything else. You will learn it as you experiment with sounds, textures, and volumes. Honestly, this is the most rewarding part of playing an electric guitar.

Start Learning from Experts Either in Person or Virtually

You can only do so much on your own, especially if you are a beginner. A teacher will be there to start you off in the right direction. They can show you how to mix in distorted sounds, introduce sound effects with the whammy bar or a pedal. Plus, it brings accountability to the experience, which is vital as you may hit roadblocks on your learning journey that will tempt you to give up. On top of that, who wants to play by themselves?

Playing with Others Takes Your Exposure to the Next Level

Check out the plethora of courses online if you don’t have the time or money to learn from an instructor. Whether it is Yousician, YouTube, GuitarJamz, or Rocksmith, to name a few, there is a ton of information to take in. The number one thing a beginner should take away from everything else is to HAVE FUN.