Best Way To Learn Electric Guitar For Beginners

learn to play electric guitarFirst of all, let me congratulate you for making the decision to learn electric guitar. You already took the first step and what I’m about to try over the next few minutes as you read through this article, is to help you with the next challenges that lie ahead. Very likely you have a few questions, such as what is the best way to learn to play electric guitar? Because there are many different options available to you. Some of which actually don’t deserve to be considered as viable, but even among the legitimate methods, it can be difficult to figure out which way to go. A lot of that will strongly depend on YOU! That’s right. Because what’s considered the ‘best guitar learning method’ by some people may not be the best approach for you personally.

My goal is to help you navigating to this and a number of other challenges. I’ve been playing guitar since 1990 and I’ve been teaching – with interruptions – since 1995. I’ve worked with many students and know first-hand the issues all guitar beginners have to deal with. Unfortunately, the fact remains that most people give up after only a short amount of time. Let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. I won’t make any promises here. I have nothing to sell to you. So, unlike many other online guitar learning resources, you won’t hear me making statements such as: hey, buy my course and you will learn guitar in no time. Instead, I will tell what happens in reality and what you need to know as you embark on your electric guitar learning journey.

Since we will be covering a good amount of topics, I structured the following article in subsections that you can navigate to directly by clicking on the respective link of your choice below. However, I would encourage you to actually read the entire article, as I feel that you will be getting some valuable information out of it. At least that’s my hope. However, if you feel that I didn’t answer your specific questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or alternatively, send me a personal email – either way, rest assured, I will get back to you promptly.

1. Getting Started
2. How hard is it to learn electric guitar?
3. Types of Electric Guitars
4. Electric Guitar Learning Methods
5. Video Discussion: What is the best way to learn electric guitar for YOU?
6. Learning Electric Guitar – Comparing the Methods
7. What You Shouldn’t be doing!
8. Conclusion and Recommendations
9. More Resources On Learning To Play Electric Guitar

1. Getting Started

My first guitar was actually a classical guitar. I can’t remember the brand but it doesn’t matter. All I know is that after about three months of practicing, I desperately wanted to figure out how to learn electric guitar, too. After all, the prospect of playing guitar through an amplifier and trying to follow the footsteps of my guitar heroes was obviously very tempting. But I’m glad that I started out on an acoustic guitar first, for a number of reasons.

Of course, I acknowledge that there are different schools of thought around this topic. And people often ask me, isn’t electric guitar easier to learn than acoustic guitar? Well, this is a tough question, because on one hand, I’m inclined to say Yes. However, while ‘easy’ is always good, there are reasons why at times it simply makes more sense to choose a slightly more difficult path. Here is a short video I made on that specific question.

One of the reasons why in my opinion it’s better to start on a classical guitar are the nylon strings. Those strings are gentler to your fingertips which is an important factor for guitar beginners. While undoubtedly your fingers will hurt either way, they hurt less with nylon strings. Secondly, when playing electric guitar with an amp at high levels of gain or distortion, a guitar beginner runs the risk of masking his mistakes. Little inaccuracies are difficult to hear when playing through an amp in the ‘dirty’ channel. We will get back to that topic in a little bit where I will elaborate on that in a little more detail.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to discourage you. Maybe you had already dabbled a little bit in playing acoustic guitar or it’s simply your preference to start out on an electric guitar. Either way is fine. So, let’s look at a couple of things that you should think about before you even get going.

Instrument or Toy?

best electric guitar to learn onAlright, do you already have an electric guitar? If yes, that’s great. If not, then let me give you a couple of general guidelines around buying a good electric guitar for beginners.

The most important thing is to get a real instrument and not a toy that just looks like a guitar. It happens all too often that parents – who obviously mean well – get their kid what they think is a cool looking guitar. Typically, something theme-based, such as a Batman guitar or a Hello Kitty toy-guitar. There is nothing wrong with those, except for the fact that they are not playable instruments and therefore completely useless for the purposes of seriously wanting to learn how to play electric guitar. They make great toys or accessories for decoration, but that’s it. So, if you are looking to get a youngster a decent electric guitar, make sure you’re getting him or her an actual instrument that is conducive to a successful learning experience. Here is more on that topic with specific recommendations regarding the best kids electric guitars for children.

Of course, what I brought up is not just true for kid’s guitars, but any electric guitars in general, irrespectively of the age of the guitarist. Even as an adult you want to make sure that you get yourself a decent instrument and not something that makes it impossible for you to take your first steps. Click here for more on the topic of “Best Electric Guitars for Beginners“.

Accessories for electric guitar beginners

Inevitably, you will need a few accessories as you learn how to play the electric guitar. The question is, which ones do you need now to get started vs. those that you can purchase at a later point – and others, that you definitely don’t need at all.

It goes without saying that a good reserve of spare strings is a must for all guitarists. And especially if you’re brand new to the instrument, chances are that you’ll break a few of them in the first couple of months. Simply because tuning an electric guitar can be a bit of a challenge and at least I broke a couple of dozen high E-Strings – and others – in the beginning. So, definitively make sure that you get yourself at least one or two sets of spare strings just in case.

electric guitar accessories for beginnersWhich brings up an important question: what can of strings should an electric guitar beginner use? I am not a string expert. I know some people are very particular about the brand they play and other things. The brand doesn’t really matter to me – what matters most is the string gauge. The ‘gauge’ is a reference to the thickness of the strings. You can get all kinds of different string gauges, from very thin to ultra-thick. As a beginner, I would recommend that you start out somewhere in the middle, such as 09 or 10 gauges. After a while you will know if you prefer to go with thicker or thinner strings. But for the start, it makes sense to go with the mid-range. No worries, later on I will give you specific recommendations with regard to the best electric guitar to learn on as well was the best electric guitar strings for beginners.

So, we talked about strings. The next must-have accessory is a tuner. Good tuners don’t have to cost much and just for practicality purposes, I do recommend that you get yourself a decent clip-on guitar tuner. Of course, you can try to tune your electric guitar by ear or via an online guitar tuner – but that’s rather difficult for a guitar beginner and also impractical. Therefore, a good tuner, such as the Snark Clip-On tuners is an inexpensive yet highly recommended guitar accessory. Alternatively, you could get yourself a tuner guitar pedal. I will introduce you to a number of different tuner options later on.

Guitar picks are also something you need to stock-up on. Believe me, these little gizmos keep disappearing all the time! I must have lost dozens of those over the years. So, get yourself a few extra picks, they always come in handy. As for what type of guitar picks, it all comes down to personal preference. While they come in different sizes, I guess the main criteria is the flexibility grade. Picks come in light, medium and heavy – ‘light’ being the most and ‘heavy’ being least flexible grade. Just as with the strings, I would recommend that you start out on ‘medium’. After a while you will know if you want to switch to heavy or light, or just stick with medium (which works best for me). Of course, there’s a little bit of science around what type of guitar picks work best for certain genres, but let’s leave that for later.

In addition to strings, picks and tuners, there are a whole bunch of other items that are undoubtedly useful, but which are not necessary have-to-haves at this point. I’m talking about things such as a guitar strap, sheet music stand, footrest, capo, special guitar cleaning stuff, etc. Nothing wrong with these things, but not something you need to worry about at this point.

Lastly, there are other things that you definitely don’t need at all. Below is an overview where I structured everything for you into categories. That should make it easier for you to distinguish from the accessories you need vs. those items that you don’t need.

Necessary Good To Have Not Yet NEVER
Spare Strings Footrest Special Cleaning Stuff “Learn Guitar In You Sleep” DVD set
Guitar Picks Guitar Strap Recording Device “Learn Guitar In 2 Days” online program
Guitar Tuner Metronome Amplifier, Capo, Sheet Music Stand “NEW Method – Learn Guitar Super Fast” course

2. How hard is it to learn electric guitar?

easy songs to learn on electric guitarAlright, one of the most popular questions I get all the time from prospective students is: How long does it take to learn electric guitar? And how hard is it?

Well, that all depends on a number of aspects as you can’t quantitatively measure how ‘hard’ something is to learn. But one way to think about it is: what is your understanding of being able to play electric guitar? There is obviously a difference between learning a few power chords to just have some fun and rock out versus trying to learn to play Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’. These might be two extreme examples but I’m sure you get my point. The former is obviously relatively easy to accomplish while the latter may take years or a life-time.

A lot is also dependent on your personal mindset and your ability to manage your own expectations realistically. Unfortunately, there are many online vendors who try to lure you in with offers that are not reasonable. The fact is, if you want to learn to play the electric guitar, there are no shortcuts to take. You need to be willing and able to hold up your part of the deal. In other words, without you putting in the practice, there is no chance of success. Even the best learning program can’t spare you to sit down and practice hard.

So, what does practicing hard mean? As a guitar beginner, you need to ease yourself into the task. But at a minimum, my standard guidance to my students is 20 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. Again, that’s the minimum. The important point here is the regularity and the quality of your guitar practice. Sticking to a regular schedule and practicing guitar in an environment that’s conducive to the task – meaning no distractions, background noises, etc. – are imperative to learn electric guitar fast. Whatever ‘fast’ may be. Here is another quick video on that question:

3. Types of Electric Guitars

There are all different kinds of electric guitars. However, I don’t want to go into too much detail. Because ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what type of electric guitar you’re using for learning purposes, as long as it is a playable instrument. Again, it will all come down to a matter of personal preference. Some people find Gibson SGs very playable and great to learn on, others say the same thing about Strats or other models.

best electric guitar for beginnersSo, all I can tell you here is what worked best for me. I started out on a cheapo Rockson Stratocaster imitation. The guitar couldn’t have been more than $100, if that. Back then, to me it was the greatest thing ever – but I’m sure if I had a chance to play this instrument today, I would find all different kinds of issues with it. But that’s exactly my point: If I was you, I wouldn’t worry too much about things such as the ‘right’ brand or type of electric guitar – or the price for that matter. The same basic concept that we discussed before applies here again – as long as you have a playable instrument in your hands, you’re good to go.

Of course, I realize that some guitar beginners already have a particular brand/model in mind. Nothing wrong with that, but as I said, to me it makes much more sense to start out on an inexpensive electric guitar and then later on ‘upgrade’ to something a little (or a lot) better. For learning purposes, a cheap Squier like the one in the picture to the left, is perfectly fine. I paid just under $120 for it new and this thing is by far better than my very first electric guitar, the Rockson that I had just mentioned.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a guitar yet, see if you can find someone in your family or among your friends who would lend you his. That way, you don’t have to make an investment upfront, but instead you can gain some experience and insight which will help you at a later point when you’re ready to buy your first own electric guitar.

For those of you who want some specific advice regarding my top picks for good electric guitars for beginners, I will show you a few models later that I can vouch for and which are all very affordable.

4. Electric Guitar Learning Methods

So, assuming you got a playable guitar and the necessary accessories, the next step is to figure out the best way for YOU with respect to how to learn to play electric guitar. The “YOU” part is critical here. Because what works best for one person may not be the best method for you.

A while back ago I compared all the different guitar learning methods to each other and highlighted all of their advantages and disadvantages. You may want to take a look at that article.

learn how to play electric guitarBut in short: I think it’s reasonable to conclude that in this day and age, learning electric guitar online makes a lot of sense. Now, I’m not saying that this is always the best option. If you have enough cash, if you are okay with following directions and if you are flexible as far as logistics are concerned, then you may want to consider learning electric guitar by taking individual lessons from a good teacher. This method is highly effective, because the teacher can tailor the content of each lesson to your specific needs. Also, you get on the spot feedback and the teacher can correct any mistakes right away. So, no doubt, definitely a very viable option. However, guitar lessons are expensive – as they should be, considering the teacher’s time, etc. But this method also has the disadvantage that you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Not everybody’s schedule is flexible enough to accommodate for that.

Alternatively, you could go down the “learning electric guitar by myself” route. Nothing wrong with that either. But the challenge here is, that it requires your willingness and your ability to do your own research and pull all the bits and pieces together by yourself. That’s much easier said than done. Especially a guitar beginner needs some sort of guidance.

That’s where online guitar learning can make a lot of sense. That is if you find a reputable and serious course or program amidst all the nonsense. However, let’s assume you found something you’re comfortable with – and I will certainly help you with that in a minute – then you’re getting the best of both worlds. One on hand, you are getting the content provided to you in a structured and logical manner. You don’t have to figure things out by yourself. Secondly, you are in charge of your learning pace and you are logistically and geographically flexible. You can do everything on your computer at your own convenience. Yet, even the what I personally think of the best online electric guitar learning program, doesn’t cost a fortune and is only a fraction of what you would pay if you’d work with a guitar teacher.

Now let’s go back to you for a second. Just take a moment and think back to a time where you learned something new. It could be anything – at school, on the job, or learning how to drive. Whatever it is – but try to figure out for yourself how you normally learn best. With or without pressure? With or without a teacher? With or without guidance? Why don’t we watch a quick video on that topic and then continue with this thought?

5. Video Discussion: What is the best way to learn electric guitar for YOU?

6. Learning Electric Guitar – Comparing the Methods

Again, here is the link to the article I referenced above if you are interested to learn more about the different guitar learning methods. However, the long and short of the whole topic is summarized in the table below:

best way to learn electric guitar

Now, only YOU can make a decision as to what works best for you. Just be honest with yourself. And, of course, you need to consider the other aspects such as budget and time constraints. But I would venture to say that a good online program that is focused on teaching how to learn to play electric guitar for beginners is for most people a very attractive option, for the aforementioned reasons. Therefore, for the remainder of this article, I will primarily focus on offers around learning the electric guitar online.

7. What You Shouldn’t be doing!learn electric guitar easy

I’m sure these sound familiar:

Sign-up today for my “How to learn electric guitar fast” course!

Or

“Easiest Way To Learn Electric Guitar – Check out my revolutionary learning method that makes guitar teachers mad”.

You’ve seen these before, haven’t you? Well, I certainly mean to discredit what people have to offer. However, as I told you before, I hope you believe me that there are no shortcuts here. Sure, a good learn electric guitar online program is key to your success, however, if you don’t put in the time and effort, it’s not going to work. Therefore, I would caution you and be very skeptical when contemplating such a dubious offer. There are tons of marketing experts out there whose goal is to lure you in. And the promise of cutting practicing time in half or selling you a course that would allow you to learn guitar overnight plays sound almost too good to be true – well, that’s because it is too good to be true. Therefore, just be careful and don’t waste money on things that simply don’t exist. That’s not to say that there aren’t reputable online guitar teachers or programs out there – they certainly do exist. You just need to know where to find them. More on that in the next section.

8. Conclusion and Recommendations

learning to play the electric guitarAlright, time to get you some concrete recommendations. In the following I tried to summarized the key points of this article, along with specific tips that should help getting you started.

Best Electric Guitar For Beginners:

Essentially, brand and model doesn’t matter. Also, a good beginners’ electric guitar doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Click here for my personal Top 3 best electric guitar for beginners models.

Accessories:

Again, most of the knick-knacks that the marketing experts tell you are an absolutely must, are in actuality not necessary. Instead, let’s focus on the items that are relevant and actually useful to anyone who want to learn to play the electric guitar. As mentioned above, get yourself a tuner, spare strings, picks and maybe a metronome. That’s really all you need to start your journey. Here is more on “5 Essential Guitar Accessories for Beginners“.

Best online Electric Guitar Learning Programs:

There is no doubt in my mind, that Jamplay continues to be the leading guitar learning online platform. Well, actually, what I think is really not that relevant, the fact is, that Jamplay has been consistently rated #1 by guitar players as the best online guitar learning resource on the Internet. To be honest with you, I was initially rather skeptical. However, not too long ago I had the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate what Jamplay has to offer – not just for guitar beginners, but all levels of players with all different kind of musical preferences. After I was done with my due diligence, I concluded that I can vouch for them. Therefore, anyone who asks me for my opinion, I refer to Jamplay, because I know they will be in good hands. The prices are very flexible, it all depends on what type of program and option you want to go for. Oh, and speaking of prices: I have a couple of exclusive coupon codes for you that work on ALL Jamplay offers, not just the guitar beginner courses. Here is what I suggest: why don’t you go ahead and have a look for yourself. See what they have to offer, browse around a little bit and look at some of their free guitar lessons. I you like what you see, then use the coupon codes below as you sign-up with them.

33C6CE – 10% off all guitar products (monthly, quarterly, yearly)
1BA1E2 – 25% off first month

learn guitar chords online

Alternatively, you can also check out my Beginners Guitar Course. Now, this course is not specifically for electric guitar. As a matter of fact, I am using an acoustic guitar throughout the whole course. Nonetheless, there is not difference as to what you learn as a guitar beginner, irrespectively of whether you start out on an electric or acoustic guitar. The basics are all the same. Also, the course is completely free of charge and therefore there is absolutely no risk for you to give it a shot. Hundreds of students went through this program successfully. So, go ahead and see for yourself if this is something for you.

9. More Resources On Learning To Play Electric Guitar

In this last chapter I want to share a number of other useful and completely FREE resources with you.

Top 3 Electric Guitars To Learn On: Here I selected my personal Top 5 picks for electric guitars that are ideal for beginners and come at a very reasonable price.

Guitar Accessories For Guitar Beginners: Just a summary of necessary and useful guitar accessories for the guitar beginner. All at great prices.

Online Guitar Tuner: As the name suggest, a nifty little tool that allows you to tune your guitar online. In case you don’t have a real tuner handy.

Online Guitar Metronome: Having a metronome is important, but instead of buying a new one, you might as well use this online version which is of course completely free of charge.

How to Tune a guitar with a tuner: Tuning a guitar is a challenge for the guitar beginner. Here is a quick video where I show you exactly how it works.

Snark Guitar Tuner Review: There are of course a number of other brands and models, but Snark Tuners are for a good reason the #1 Bestseller. Here is a review with a link for all purchasing information.

Free Guitar Chords Chart: A handy pdf-document that has hundreds of guitar chord charts.

Easy Songs to learn on electric guitar or acoustic guitar: Tons of free guitar tutorials and worksheets to tunes across all genres.

Guitar Chordbank: A library of guitar chord videos. A great way to learn new chords fast or to look-up specific chords.

Guitarshop: Selected items that I either personally reviewed or that we discussed on this website. All items are sold through amazon.

Guitar Gear Reviews: Lots of guitar gear reviews.

So, that’s it. I know I threw a lot of information at you. But I do hope that you found it valuable. As always, I’m here to help. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or send me a personal email and I will get back to you promptly.

Published date: March 5th, 2016 by Ulrich Peise

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