How do you play electric guitar? If you’re trying to learn to play electric guitar, you probably know that it can be a daunting prospect. There is a lot to consider, so we give you the ultimate guide to playing electric guitar for beginners.
There is nothing cooler than rocking out on the electric guitar, but it is not as easy as it looks. All the masters have gone through picking out a guitar, amp, and some pedals and sitting down to practice.
It is essential to follow some expert guidance before making an expensive mistake or picking up any bad habits. If you wonder what you need to play electric guitar, you have arrived at the right place.
There are many things to discuss when it comes to playing the electric guitar. Unsurprisingly there are many divisive issues in the electric guitar community Guitarists are constantly arguing. Whether it is over the Telecaster vs Les Paul debate or Ibanez vs Gibson. There is always plenty of discussions when it comes to learning and playing the guitar.
Whether you are just looking to dip your toes into the world of playing the electric guitar or want to become an expert, our tips will help you get where you need to be.
Whether you’re reaping the benefits when learning guitar on your own with the help of blog posts or with an app that has online guitar lessons you can always improve technique and proficiency through concerted practice.
If you are someone who prefers a guitar app to help you while learning to play guitar, then see our list of guitar apps that we have reviewed.
How to Play Electric Guitar for Beginners
- Get the necessary equipment. You can make your electric guitar experience a lot more fun if you know which gear to get as a beginner.
- Find your perfect starter electric guitar. There are many great beginning guitars on the market. Do your research before you make your purchase to ensure you get the right guitar for you.
- Learn basic chords and scales. After you have browsed the best electric guitar for beginners and chosen the one for you, it is time to get practicing!
- Learn to use an amp. Owning the best beginner guitar amp can make a difference when developing the tone and sound of your electric guitar.
- Get some lessons. The best way to advance your playing is to get a good teacher and listen to their advice.
- Learn online. Nowadays, we are blessed with extensive online resources for the guitar. The best beginner electric guitar players are those that take advantage of the online resources available.
- Listen to your favorite electric guitarists. You can learn a lot by actively listening to your favorite musicians.
- Practice as much as possible. There is no replacement for practice when it comes to quick progress. The best beginner electric guitar players are those that practice regularly and intelligently.
- Use a metronome. Good timing is vital for any musician. If you want to be able to play wicked guitar solos start practicing with a metronome.
- Play with other musicians. You can have the best beginner guitar amp and the best beginner electric guitar but it won’t mean anything if you can’t play well with other musicians.
- Try learning some music theory. It might not be vital for a beginner, but it will certainly help to know some music theory to improve your understanding of the electric guitar.
1. Get the Necessary Equipment
Before you get started, there are a few items you will need to learn to play electric guitar efficiently.
In order to play the guitar, you need a decent amp. Now as a beginner, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on something top of the line, but you should have something that sounds halfway decent.
An amp is an essential companion to the electric guitar. Without a decent guitar amp, you won’t be able to get the full sound from your electric guitar. A good amp is the best way to release the full potential of the electric guitar.
Not sure where to look? Here’s a list of some of the best amps for electric guitar novices.
You will also need an instrument cable to go with your new amp. This is to connect your new electric guitar to the amplifier in order to create the best sound. The amp is pretty useless without it!
As a beginner at playing guitar, you will need to learn to tune your springs. This is made much easier if you have a good tuner to help you out.
There are several styles of tuners you can get for the electric guitar. The most common type of tuners is the Chromatic, Polyphonic, Strobe, and Microphone. Any one of these will help to keep your guitar in tune and sounding great.
Some tuners are more suited to live and group environments. Make sure you speak to your local music store about which tuner is the most suitable for you.
You can find these at a local music store or online.
To make your guitar playing experience as comfortable as possible, we recommend getting yourself a guitar strap. They come in all kinds of colors and sizes, so you should have no trouble finding one you like.
Straps also come in many different types of material. The most important things are comfort and functionality. You want the strap to fit your shoulder nicely and have the strength to hold your guitar. It is very embarrassing when your strap breaks on stage, so make a good investment!
If you love to make your basic guitar strap stand out and show off your personality, try decorating your very own one with these enamel pins custom featured with any music notes, inspirational quotes, or clipart images that mean to you. Going beyond the guitar strap, you can customize your entire guitar with supplementary personalized stickers to make a whole cool look.
Guitar picks are essential when you learn to play electric guitar. These come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s prudent for beginners to start out using a thickness between 0.65-0.73.
This will ensure you can strum and pick effectively. Over time you will probably lose many picks and find many more in strange places. It is always a good idea to have a few spare picks if you play a live gig!
Last but certainly not least, you should make sure to purchase a guitar capo.
This tool is essentially a clamp that tightens the strings when used, meaning you can change the key you are playing in.
It is particularly useful for a beginner because it minimizes the number of complex shapes and stretching you need to play a song. Similarly, many online tutorials assume that you have a capo to hand. So make sure you get a quality capo as you begin your electric guitar journey.
2. Find Your Perfect Starter Electric Guitar
In addition to all of the equipment we just discussed, you will, of course, have to choose the best starter electric guitar for beginners. Playing electric guitars in all their shapes and sizes is an excellent place to start.
It is essential to be aware of what kind of guitar you need. As a beginner, do you need a full-size electric guitar? Or a lightweight electric guitar? When will you need an electric guitar with a whammy bar? These are all critical questions to ask yourself before you purchase your starter electric guitar.
Know Your Budget
So how much should you spend on a good beginner electric guitar?
It will depend on what you can afford to spend and how decent a guitar you want to start with. You will have to spend a bit to ensure you get a good product, but you also want an affordable electric guitar for beginners.
If you are serious about succeeding at playing, you can expect to spend around $200-300 at least to learn to play electric guitar. This is on the lower end as far as cost is concerned, but this will get you a decent enough instrument to practice on and play regularly.
Beginner guitars are cheaper than the more prestigious and professional models, but that does not mean they are bad instruments. Your beginner guitar should last for a while.
The best electric guitar for beginners is one that keeps you playing even when practicing is challenging. When you are a great guitarist with a room full of instruments, your first guitar should hold a special place in your heart.
Do Your Research
Before purchasing anything, you will want to make sure you do some research on the best beginner electric guitar options and their features.
If you are interested in learning, you could probably spend all day playing electric guitars and trying out every type of guitar available.
Most importantly, you should consider the options for electric guitar body styles.
You can go with a solid-body guitar, which includes a few different options:
- V-Shape is one type of solid-body guitar, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. It simply refers to the guitar body being a V.
- A Single-Cutaway has one curve in the guitar body, making it simpler to play high notes on the fretboard. The word “cutaway” refers to the curve in the body, on one side of the fingerboard.
- A Double-Cutaway is precisely what it sounds like, a guitar with two curves in the body near the neck.
- The Explorer Shape is a unique body that is shown in the Ibanez Destroyer and the Gibson Explorer.
If you are looking for something other than a solid-body electric guitar, you can also take a look at hollow and semi-hollow bodied options as well. These are electric guitars that have hollow bodies, like acoustic guitars.
Semi-hollow guitars also have a completely solid center block, which helps cut down on their feedback.
Hollow and semi-hollow guitars are typically used with jazz music and some blues, rock, and country.
If you are looking for a guitar that can do funk and jazz and rock, it may be worth picking up a Fender Telecaster starter pack. And maybe in the future, you will move on to an Ibanez Stratocaster copy or a Fender Jaguar.
When looking at the top body options, make sure you consider the best options for your preferences regarding pickups and bridges. For most people, the easiest electric guitar to play and practice on is a double-cutaway body.
Your local guitar store should be able to give you a recommendation when it comes to starter guitars. If you want to be entirely sure, it will help if you visit other guitar stores to get a second opinion and browse some online forums for expert advice.
3. Learn Basic Chords and Scales
Regardless of the type of music you want to play with your electric guitar, you should make sure you take the time to learn your chords and practice scales. This will make it easier and more satisfying to know your favorite songs.
Some chords like B or F will be more challenging to learn as a beginner until you build your finger strength. However, you can learn simplified versions of any chords you have difficulty with, making it much easier to learn to play electric guitar.
As you progress, your finger dexterity and your muscle memory will develop. Running through scales and chord progressions will feel natural. And that is where the fun begins!
Once you have most of the basics down, try learning some really easy tunes. Picking out some of the best electric guitars for beginner songs will motivate you to practice harder.
Learning basic chords and scales will also make it easier when you come to play with other musicians. You will have common knowledge that will allow you to play songs and improvise together. This is the actual value in practicing and why many people learn to play the guitar in the first place!
4. Learn to Use an Amp
Obviously, with an electric guitar, you will want to be familiar with your amp. The amp is simply taking the noise from your guitar and making it louder. Knowing the ins and outs of your amp will make playing your starter electric guitar easier.
Typically, an amplifier will have different channels, making huge adjustments to the amp’s sound. Even the most basic amps will have specific features to allow you to modify and amplify your sound. The best beginner guitar amps will be easy to use and give a great tone.
All of them will have what is known as a “clean” channel, which is the pure tone that comes from your guitar and the speaker inside of the amp. Then most amps will also have another channel that gives you a more distorted, “dirtier” sound. This is commonly known as distortion or overdrive.
Some amps have even more than one gain channel, which offers you several different, distinct sounds that you can switch between with a foot pedal.
If you are brand new and just starting to learn to play electric guitar, you may want to use a standard clean tone as a default. To do this, we are going to talk about how you can EQ your amp.
You will want to set your three EQ controls (low, mid, and high, or they could be labeled bass, mid, and treble) at 5. They should have a range from 0-10. Then turn off any onboard effects that the amp has, like chorus, delays, etc.
After that step, you will want to select your clean channel and then turn your volume on the guitar up to 10. Then turn the tone control to the midpoint.
With the guitar and amp set up this way, you will have a standard setup that allows you to play with a predictable and consistent tone. If you have one of the best beginner guitar amps, then this should not be a problem. But playing electric guitars through bad amps is a sure-fire way to ruin your sound.
As you progress, you will be able to experiment with how an amp can change the tone and texture of your guitar and the volume. Messing around with your amp is one of the most enjoyable parts of becoming an electric guitarist.
5. Get Some Lessons
Once you familiarize yourself with the technical elements of the electric guitar you may want to get some proper lessons. It is an important step in your guitar learning journey.
There is only so much you can do on your own. This is especially true for electric guitarists because the possibilities are so wide and almost overwhelming for a beginner.
A professional will help you learn notes, chords, and progressions. A teacher will also help you set up your guitar properly.
It is important to treat your guitar, amp and other accessories right. A tutor will be able to give this guidance so that you can learn quickly and efficiently.
A pro will help you achieve clean or distorted sounds and show you the best way to deploy your pedals. This will help you when you are practicing on your own at home. If your guitar, amp, and pedals are not appropriately balanced, this can ruin a practice session. A tutor can help you get this right.
Additionally, playing with another electric guitarist is an excellent way of becoming inspired and vigilant with your practice. It is easy to become ill-disciplined if you only practice on your own.
An electric guitar usually sounds the best when played alongside other instruments like drums or bass guitar. Taking lessons will help you learn how you can use your electric guitar to complement the song and band as a whole.
It is a no-brainer! It should be easy to find lessons that focus on electric guitar for beginners in your local area.
Even if you have the best beginner guitar amp and the sexiest-looking electric guitar, you will need to learn from an expert if you want to sound good.
Getting some form of guidance will make you a better guitarist. Find a tutor that suits your personality and skill level if you genuinely want to improve your electric guitar for beginner skills. You won’t regret it!
6. Learn Online
Thankfully there are now several ways to develop your skills without ever leaving your home. There are so many online resources for guitarists that it is almost overwhelming.
There are several guitar-centered websites that can offer help. And plenty of guidance can be found on YouTube. If you want to be a great electric guitar player, several online teachers can have several online teachers that can help you do just that.
Online tutorship may be the perfect solution if you are not keen on taking lessons in person. Many musical educators like Adam Neely, GuitarJamz, and Andy Guitar, all guide development as electric guitarists. Their advice is free and informative.
Obviously, there are some techniques and avenues that, while available to electric guitarists, are not possible for acoustic guitarists. There are plenty of online videos that show you exactly how to use pedals, amps, and other electric guitar accessories.
7. Listen To Your Favorite Electric Guitarists
The best way to develop a style is by listening to some of your favorite guitarists. Knowing the sound, you like to listen to will be easier to determine how you want to play. While it may be difficult to sound like Jimi Hendrix or Jonny Greenwood, it is always helpful to feel inspired.
An electric guitar for beginners can seem daunting. There are so many knobs and effects to mess around with. You can become distracted from what is important. And it is difficult to become inspired if you feel isolated and frustrated with your playing.
Listening to a pro will show that practice is the key. Owning all the pedals in the world won’t make you a great electric guitarist. You can buy the most expensive amp, and it still sounds terrible.
A loud amp can make you feel vulnerable. You can hear every imperfection. Listen to how your favorite guitarists use their amp to make them sound better, not just louder. Listen to how they can extract different tones and textures and how they play around with rhythm.
Even some seasoned acoustic guitarists struggle to get the best out of an electric. It is all about using each tool at your disposal in the service of the song or piece of music.
By listening to a variety of your favorite guitarists, you will be able to hear how each person uses their amps and pedals differently. Sometimes you want to rock out. Other times an electric guitar can be used exclusively for rhythm.
The electric guitar is also capable of many things. Every electric guitar for beginners’ guide should advise you to use and train your ears as much as possible. Sometimes an electric guitar solo is the best thing in the world, but sometimes it is inappropriate. This is something you will become more aware of as you listen to more music featuring electric guitars.
8. Practice as Much as Possible
Practice makes perfect! Our final tip to start the process of helping you learn to play electric guitar is simply to advise that you practice as much as you possibly can. Whether it’s 20 minutes a day or 2 hours, making sure that you consistently take out your guitar daily will make you a good player.
Once you have assembled all the necessary equipment and accessories it is time to start playing. There is no substitute for good practice. This involves finding a good teacher, using online resources, and listening to lots of electric guitar music.
It is all about getting into a good routine. Every time you pick up your electric guitar, you should feel that you can make some good music. This means taking care of your instrument and having an objective every time you practice. It can be challenging to feel inspired every session, but thankfully there are now many resources to help you.
Inspiration can be found in many places. If you genuinely want to succeed, you will become excited and not disheartened when listening to masters like Hendrix and Clapton. You should take comfort in knowing that legendary guitarists only became great by practicing every day and staying curious.
9. Use a Metronome
Timing is vital if you want to become an excellent electric guitarist. The best way to learn any piece of music is by playing it slowly and gradually increasing the tempo.
If you practice this way with an electric guitar, a metronome is extremely helpful. It is a simple piece of advice that will be useful for anyone learning electric guitar for beginners.
It is a good idea to start practicing your rhythmic control at the earliest possible stage. You won’t be able to have fun playing with other musicians if your timing is off.
You can spend hours browsing the internet for the best electric guitar for beginners. But you should also ensure that you take advantage of other gear that will help you nail the important technical elements.
10. Play with Other Musicians
Don’t be shy! Start playing with other musicians as soon as possible. One of the best ways to improve is by learning from your peers.
You can spend hours playing electric guitars on your own without making any tangible progress. The electric guitar in genres like rock, blues, and jazz works best when played alongside other instruments.
Find a pianist, a drummer, a singer, and even other guitarists. They will help you expand your musical horizons.
11. Try Learning Some Music Theory
Learning some music theory early on will make your life a lot easier. Having extensive music theory knowledge will not instantly make you a great guitarist. Practice and all the other steps we have mentioned are more important for beginners to embrace.
Eventually, as you become a better guitarist, you will find that knowing some music theory is essential to learning pieces and playing with others.
By acquiring a knowledge of music theory, you will know how notes, chords, tempo, and keys relate. This is essential to becoming an electric guitarist who can solo, play rhythm guitar, and even compose.
So, it is best to start early.
Can I teach myself electric guitar?
Yes, you can teach yourself electric guitar! However, learning electric guitar can be tricky, so following these steps will be immensely helpful as you work to teach yourself this new skill.
- Find the right electric guitar for you. Every electric guitar is slightly different, and some are better for beginners than others. Do your research and test out different guitars before purchasing one. That way, when you decide to buy a guitar, you feel confident in your choice. The question of how to learn electric guitar just became one step easier, as you now have the proper equipment to start.
- Choose the proper training for yourself. Some people are great self-teachers; they can master playing a new instrument by fiddling around with it. However, others require structured training. If you find yourself asking, “how do you play electric guitar?” And feeling lost, it’s probably time to get relevant lessons.
Can I learn to play electric guitar first?
There is no right or wrong answer here. You can learn to play the electric guitar first; however, before choosing to start with the electric guitar, it’s helpful to know the trade-offs of learning electric or acoustic first.
It’s first important to note that the fundamentals of acoustic and electric guitars are the same. They have the same amount of strings (six, to be exact), the same notes, and are tuned the same way.
Learning Electric Guitar First
Based on others’ experiences with learning to play the guitar, many say that the electric guitar feels easier to learn at first than the acoustic. The first reason that the electric guitar feels easier is that its strings are thinner. Because of the way an electric guitar’s vibrations play, it is unnecessary to have thick strings.
Oppositely, however, because the strings on an electric guitar are smaller, they are closer together. This closeness can make it tricky as you are figuring out how to learn electric guitar.
Another great benefit to playing the electric guitar first is the size of the guitar’s neck. An electric guitar typically has a thinner neck, making it easier to reach your hand around it.
Learning Acoustic Guitar First
Just like the electric guitar, you can most certainly learn to play on an acoustic guitar first. However, as we’ve already addressed, strings on an acoustic guitar are thicker. Because of that, learning to strum the chords can be taxing on your fingers in the beginning stages. However, your hands will become stronger starting on an acoustic guitar because of this.
Another benefit of learning the acoustic guitar first is the weight of the guitar. Acoustic guitars tend to be lighter than electric guitars, just by the nature of the guitar’s build. This makes it easier to maneuver the guitar.
Can beginners learn electric guitar?
Yes, you can learn to play the electric guitar first. Many guitarists suggest learning to play guitar on an electric vs. an acoustic to start. Utilize the following tips in your effort to find the best way to learn to play electric guitar.
- Take your time. While new musicians are working to learn any type of instrument, it is easy to get frustrated by your lack of ability. Some people try so hard to learn the advanced stages of playing a guitar. However, when you ask yourself, “how do you play electric guitar,” the beginning of the process starts with learning basic techniques. Once you’ve mastered the basics, learning the complicated parts of the electric guitar will become exponentially easier.
- Practice the guitar while you’re standing and sitting. The best way to learn to play electric guitar is to diversify your practice. If you only practice sitting down, performing in front of people while standing up will be difficult and vice versa. Whatever you are learning the electric guitar for, practice playing in a variety of ways, so you are prepared for all circumstances.
Is it hard to learn to play electric guitar?
Playing the electric guitar is as difficult as you make it. Is it easy to learn something new, like the electric guitar? No, it’s not. However, is it achievable? Yes, absolutely, and some even say that learning the electric guitar is easier than learning the acoustic guitar.
For example, the strings on an electric guitar are thinner than they are on an acoustic guitar. The thinness makes it much easier to start learning the electric guitar than it does to learn the acoustic guitar. Once you get past the initial mental blocks that come with learning something new, you’ll be able to practice, practice, and practice some more, which will lead to great skill at playing the electric guitar.
How To Make an Electric Guitar for Beginners
If you want to know how to make an electric guitar, you need to be prepared for a serious undertaking. It is probably a good idea to start on the best electric guitar for beginners before building your own.
There are plenty of detailed online guides on making an electric guitar that you should consult before buying any materials.
Have a look at some of the best beginner electric guitars on the market for some guidance on what body shape, materials, and style you might want.
The best guitars for beginners aren’t necessarily the most flashy and eye-catching ones. Make sure to keep it simple!
So get your guitar out, plug your amp in, arrange your pedals, and start playing!
For those of you just starting with electric guitar for beginners, what is your biggest struggle in getting started? What aspect are you working the hardest to master?
Share with us in the comments below!
Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.