Here’s everything you need to know about getting started with the electric guitar. This no BS guide covers all the basics and the guitar brands to start with…
You want to learn electric guitar but you don’t know where to start, what brands to look at, or even what a chord or a scale is.
Don’t worry: we ALL started in the exact same place. This guide is your map for how to get from complete n00b to in-the-know beginner guitarist.
It’ll cover all the basics, link to the myriad of resources we have on ELECTRIKJAM, and show you which electric guitars we recommend for beginners.
Let’s dig in…
Electric Guitar Basics: What You Need To Know
Why Should a Beginner Learn to Play the Electric Guitar?
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🎸 Electric guitars are beginner-friendly with lighter strings and slimmer necks.
- 🎶 The variety of sounds available makes learning exciting.
- 🤘 Versatility across musical styles keeps your playing experience dynamic.
- 🌟 The electric guitar is not just for playing; it’s an avenue for creative exploration.
Starting with an electric guitar can be a game-changer for beginners. The design of electric guitars often includes lighter strings, which are gentler on the fingers, making it easier to press down and form chords.
This is a significant advantage when you’re just starting and building up finger strength and dexterity. The neck of an electric guitar is typically slimmer as well, which can be more comfortable for novices to grip and navigate.
But the real excitement comes from the electric guitar’s versatility in sound. With an array of effects and amplifiers available, you can experiment with tones that range from clean and shimmering to distorted and gritty.
This sonic flexibility keeps practice sessions fresh and engaging, as you can play around with different sounds that suit your musical taste.
Whether you’re into the bluesy bends of B.B. King or the searing solos of Eddie Van Halen, the electric guitar offers a palette of sounds to explore.
Moreover, electric guitars are well-suited to a variety of musical styles, from rock and metal to jazz and pop. All you need to do is dial-in some tones. As long as you’re running humbucker pickups, the musical genre world is your oyster.
What Are The Benefits of Playing the Electric Guitar?
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🧠 Playing the electric guitar boosts hand-eye coordination and cognitive function.
- 🎨 It provides a creative outlet for self-expression and emotional release.
- 🤝 The guitar can open doors to new friendships and opportunities to collaborate musically.
- 🏆 It offers a sense of achievement and the joy of developing a skill that can be enjoyed throughout life.
Playing the electric guitar is a complete brain workout. As you learn to navigate the fretboard and strum strings, you’re enhancing your hand-eye coordination significantly.
This skill is crucial not only in music but in many daily activities and other sports.
Beyond the physical benefits, engaging with music theory and the practical aspects of playing can boost cognitive functions.
It’s a form of mental exercise that involves memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills.
s you progress, you’ll notice an improvement in areas like discipline and patience, which are transferable to other aspects of life.
The electric guitar also serves as a powerful creative outlet. It allows for self-expression in a way that can be therapeutic and emotionally rewarding.
Crafting your own riffs and songs, or even just playing along to your favorite tracks, can be a significant stress reliever and a source of personal satisfaction.
Moreover, the journey of learning guitar often leads to social opportunities. Joining bands, participating in jam sessions, or simply sharing your progress online can connect you with like-minded individuals.
As you continue to play, you’re not just learning an instrument—you’re building a lifelong skill. The joy and sense of achievement that come from mastering a song, nailing a solo, or even just improving a little each day, are profound.
What are the Different Types of Electric Guitars?
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🎸 Solid-body guitars like the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul are versatile and can handle a wide range of sounds.
- 🎷 Hollow-body guitars like the Gibson ES-335 offer a richer, more acoustic tone ideal for jazz and blues.
- 🎶 Each guitar type brings its own unique tone and playing experience, influencing the music you create.
The world of electric guitars is rich and diverse, with each model offering its own unique flavor. Take the solid-body guitars, for instance.
They’re the backbone of the electric guitar family, known for their durability and versatility.
- The Fender Stratocaster, with its bright and punchy tone, has been a favorite among legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
- Then there’s the Gibson Les Paul, a staple in rock music, beloved for its warm, rich sound that can sustain notes seemingly forever.
On the other end of the spectrum are the hollow-body guitars, which are revered for their deep, resonant tones.
A classic example is the Gibson ES-335, which combines the warmth of a hollow body with the feedback resistance of a solid-body. It’s a favorite in jazz, blues, and even rockabilly circles. Josh Homme also used one of these on Songs For The Deaf.
Each type of electric guitar, with its distinct shape and construction, contributes to a specific tonal character.
- The solid-body is typically associated with clarity and sustain, making it suitable for everything from clean, twangy country licks to distorted rock riffs.
- Hollow bodies, with their acoustic qualities, offer a woody, organic sound that’s hard to replicate with any other type of electric guitar.
When you’re choosing an electric guitar, it’s not just about the look. It’s about the sound and the way the guitar feels in your hands. It’s about the music you want to play and the voice you want to give to your melodies.
Whether you’re shredding solos or comping jazz chords, the guitar you choose will shape your musical voice.
The Basic Components of an Electric Guitar
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🎸 The body’s material and shape are pivotal in defining the guitar’s tone.
- 🤲 The neck’s design impacts playability and comfort, essential for practice and performance.
- 🎚️ Tuning pegs on the headstock are crucial for achieving and maintaining the correct pitch.
- 🔊 Pickups are the electric guitar’s voice, translating string vibrations into the sounds you amplify.
- 🌉 The bridge is integral for string stability and can add a new dimension to playing with effects like vibrato.
Diving into the anatomy of an electric guitar, you’ll find that each component is essential to its operation and sound.
The body is not just the guitar’s largest part; it’s the foundation that holds everything together and contributes to the instrument’s tone and resonance.
Whether it’s made from ash, maple, or mahogany, the body’s material and shape influence the sound you hear.
The neck is where your fingers do the work, pressing strings against frets to create notes and chords. It’s typically made of sturdy woods like maple or mahogany to withstand the tension of the strings and the wear of play.
The neck’s shape and width affect playability and comfort, which is crucial for beginners and professionals alike.
At the top of the neck, you’ll find the headstock, which houses the tuning pegs. These pegs, or machine heads, are where you’ll twist and turn to get each string to the right pitch.
Precision here is key, as proper tuning is critical for your guitar to sound correct and harmonious.
Then there are the pickups, the heart of the electric guitar’s voice. They’re essentially magnets wrapped in wire that capture the vibrations of the strings and convert them into electrical signals.
Different types of pickups, like single-coils or humbuckers, offer a range of sounds from bright and twangy to thick and smooth.
The bridge anchors the strings to the body and can vary in complexity. Some bridges allow you to adjust the string height and length, affecting the guitar’s intonation and action.
Others come with a whammy bar, adding vibrato effects to your playing.
Understanding these components is crucial because they all contribute to the instrument’s overall sound and feel.
When you’re familiar with your guitar’s parts, you’re better equipped to tailor its setup to your playing style and maintain it properly, ensuring that it always sounds its best.
Choosing an Electric Guitar
When you’re ready to pick your first electric guitar, the choices can be overwhelming. But with the right knowledge, you can make an informed decision that sets the stage for your musical journey.
What to Consider When Choosing an Electric Guitar
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🎵 Match the guitar to your favorite music genre for the best sound fit.
- ✋ Look for playability in the neck and string action to ensure comfort.
- 👀 Choose a guitar that excites you visually to inspire regular practice.
- 💸 Balance affordability with quality to get the best value for your investment.
Selecting your first electric guitar is a pivotal moment on your musical path. The market is flooded with options, and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of models, features, and specifications.
Armed with the right information, you can sift through the noise and find an instrument that resonates with your aspirations and musical tastes.
Start by considering the genre of music you’re drawn to. Different guitars cater to different styles, so knowing whether you want to riff heavy metal or strum soft ballads will guide your choice.
Look into the body styles that are common in your favorite music; they’re often a good match for the sound you’re after.
Next, think about playability. As a beginner, you want a guitar that’s comfortable to hold and play. A neck that fits nicely in your hand and strings that are easy to press down will make a huge difference in your learning experience.
You don’t want to fight with your instrument; you want to enjoy playing it.
Don’t overlook the importance of aesthetics. Loving how your guitar looks can inspire you to pick it up and play more often. While looks aren’t everything, they do matter. Your guitar should make you feel confident and excited every time you see it.
Lastly, consider your budget.
It’s wise to start with something more affordable, but don’t compromise on quality. A well-made guitar can last years and stay with you from your first lesson to your first gig.
How to Choose the Right Electric Guitar for Your Needs
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🤔 Determine whether you want a versatile instrument or one with a specific sound.
- 🎸 Test various guitars to find the one that feels comfortable and sounds right.
- 🎼 Trust your instincts to choose a guitar that feels like an extension of your musical expression.
Ask yourself: Do I want a guitar that can handle a wide range of tones for various music styles, or am I aiming for a specific sound characteristic of my favorite genre?
Versatility is a key feature for many players, especially those who enjoy experimenting across different musical landscapes.
In this case, a guitar with a range of pickup configurations, like a Stratocaster with its three single-coil pickups, might be ideal. It allows for a broad spectrum of sounds, from sharp, cutting leads to mellow, rhythmic backing.
Conversely, if you’re drawn to a particular sound, like the heavy crunch of rock or the smoothness of blues, you’ll want to focus on guitars known for those tones.
A Les Paul, for instance, with its humbucking pickups, is renowned for its rich, full-bodied sound that’s become synonymous with rock music.
And then you have the balls-to-the-wall metal tones of guitars that use active pickups.
Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, the next step is hands-on testing. Visit music stores, feel the weight of different guitars, the comfort of the neck in your grip, and the accessibility of the frets to your fingers.
Listen to the sound each guitar produces through an amp similar to what you’d use at home. The nuances in tone and playability will speak to you.
The right guitar will click with you. It won’t just be an instrument; it will feel like a part of your musical voice and identity.
It’s a deeply personal choice, one that should be made with care and consideration. Trust your instincts—they will often lead you to a guitar that not only meets your needs but also excites and inspires you to play.
What are Some Good Beginner Electric Guitars?
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🌟 The Yamaha Pacifica is versatile and well-built, suitable for a wide array of genres.
- 🎸 The Squier Stratocaster offers the classic Fender experience for those on a budget.
- 🎶 The Epiphone Les Paul delivers the legendary Les Paul tone, perfect for aspiring rock and blues guitarists.
- 💡 Another great brand for beginners is Harley Benton, it has a HUGE amount of options and the vast majority of them are brilliant. A Tele-style guitar with EMG pickups for less than $300 is headline-worthy any day of the week.
When you’re on the lookout for your first electric guitar, certain models stand out for their exceptional quality and beginner-friendly price tags.
- The Yamaha Pacifica series, for instance, is celebrated for its solid construction and ease of play. It’s a versatile choice that can gracefully handle everything from the clean, articulate tones required for jazz to the distorted edge needed for rock.
- The Squier Stratocaster is another excellent option for novices. It’s a subsidiary of Fender, the brand that brought the world the iconic Stratocaster. Squier offers that same classic look and feel but at a more accessible price point.
- Then there’s the Epiphone Les Paul. Epiphone provides the quintessential Les Paul experience without the hefty price tag of its parent company, Gibson.
These models are not just budget-friendly; they’re also crafted to offer playability that can rival more expensive guitars.
This makes them ideal for beginners, providing a satisfying playing experience without overwhelming the learner with complex features or an overbearing price.
Need More Help?
Getting Started with Your Electric Guitar
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🛠️ Build a solid foundation by mastering the basics of posture, hand positioning, and strumming.
- 🤚 Familiarize yourself with the guitar’s feel and learn proper finger placement.
- 🎼 Practice chords and scales diligently to develop technique and fretboard knowledge.
- 📈 Be patient and consistent with your practice to ensure steady progress.
Once you’ve chosen your guitar, it’s time to start playing. The initial steps are crucial to building a solid foundation for your playing.
How to Hold an Electric Guitar
Sit up straight and hold the guitar comfortably against your body. The neck should be at a slight upward angle, and your fretting hand should easily reach the fretboard without straining.
How to Tune an Electric Guitar
Use a tuner for accuracy. Start with the sixth string (the thickest one) and work your way to the first string, following the standard tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E. Tuning is a fundamental skill that ensures your guitar sounds harmonious.
➡️ How To Tune A Guitar (Like A Pro): The Basics Detailed
➡️ Guitar Tuning Issues 101: Beginner Tips & Tricks
➡️ Standard Tuning On Guitar Explained
➡️ D Standard Tuning On Guitar Explained
➡️ Open G Tuning Explained
➡️ The 7 Most Common Guitar Tunings Used In Music
How to Play Basic Chords on an Electric Guitar
Chords are the building blocks of songs. Start with open chords like E minor and C major. Practice switching between them smoothly, as this will be the foundation for playing songs.
How to Play Basic Melodies on an Electric Guitar
Melodies often involve single-note picking. Start with simple scales, like the pentatonic, to develop finger dexterity and an ear for pitch. Playing melodies will help you understand the guitar’s layout and how notes work together.
How To Practice Guitar Properly
🔑 Key Takeaways:
- 🎯 Focus on the quality of practice, with structured and targeted sessions.
- 🎸 Include a mix of technical exercises, song learning, and improvisation to keep practice engaging.
- 🎧 Record your sessions to track progress and identify areas to work on.
- 📚 Balance your playing with some music theory to broaden your musical knowledge.
- 🔄 Consistency and patience in practice will lead to steady improvement over time.
Consistent practice is crucial for anyone looking to excel at playing the electric guitar. It’s not merely the number of hours you put in, but how you use them that truly counts. Quality practice means having a focused, structured approach that targets not only your playing but also your musical understanding.
Consistent practice is the bedrock of any skilled guitarist’s routine. It’s not just about quantity, but the quality of practice that leads to improvement.
The Importance of Practicing Regularly
Regular practice cements muscle memory and improves your technique. It’s the difference between playing a few songs and truly mastering the guitar. Even short, daily sessions can lead to significant progress over time.
How to Develop a Practice Routine
A good practice routine should be balanced. Include exercises for finger strength, chord transitions, scales, and learning new songs. Start with warm-ups, move to skill-building, and then apply those skills musically.
How to Set Goals for Yourself
Setting clear, achievable goals keeps you focused. Whether it’s mastering a new chord each week or playing along with a song, goals should challenge you while being realistically attainable.