- Max Kuehn
Looking to learn how to play electric guitar? Electric guitars are one of the most popular instruments in the world. Though they may seem intimidating at first, with a little practice, anyone can play them. This guide will teach you the basics of how to play this instrument, from choosing the right guitar to learning the basic chords and tuning .
What Is The Definition Of An Electric Guitar?
An electric guitar is a fretted musical instrument with strings that must be plucked (fingers or a guitar pick). It is coupled to an amplifier, which aids in converting the string’s vibrations into electrical signals.
Such signals are amplified by passing them from the guitar’s pickup to the amp, producing the music through one or more loudspeakers.
Electric guitars are employed in various genres for a variety of sounds and styles. Pop and rock, country, jazz, blues, electric blues, rock music, rock & roll, heavy metal, and other genres are all represented.
The solid-body, chambered body, semi-acoustic, full hollow-body, electric acoustic, and six-string guitars are all electric guitars. The latter is the most prevalent.
Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar
The hollow body of an acoustic guitar amplifies the sound produced by the strings. The sound is deeper and louder the larger the body.
The sound is taken up by the pickups on an electric guitar (surprise, surprise) and sent through the electronics to the output device, such as speakers or whatever you’re using. You can use pedals to alter the sound if desired. You can use distortion, overdrive, wah-wah, delay, and other effects.
Most people imagine playing an acoustic guitar, another popular string instrument in the guitar family, when they hear the term “guitar” (and one that often sounds more romantic and serene, you can say).
On the other hand, the electric guitar is fundamentally different because, as previously said, the sound of an electric guitar may be molded or electronically manipulated to generate various timbres or tonal qualities.
Furthermore, when considering whether to learn to play an electric or acoustic guitar, we could claim that electric guitars are, on some levels, more comfortable to learn. They feature thinner strings, are considerably slimmer, and are more portable – to the point that you don’t have to lean over nearly as much to reach the fretboard.
There are, however, specific reasons why electric guitars are more difficult to learn. One of them is that electric guitarists are constantly dealing with extra variables.
To put it another way, there are more settings or dials to tweak to get the optimum sound from an electric guitar. As a result, many newcomers may find this intimidating at first.
Both guitar models work the same way; you can press while keeping your left hand on the strings. You can also make music by strumming the strings with your right hand simultaneously.
Electric guitar chords are also the same as acoustic guitar chords in terms of chords. Of course, when we talk about electric guitar chords, we’re talking about those played on an electric guitar. Furthermore, some chords sound better on an electric guitar than on a traditional guitar (like acoustic).
Classical Vs Acoustic Guitar: Which Is Better For You 2023?
What Are The Different Components Of An Electric Guitar?
The electric guitar, which was first invented in 1932, has dozens of various variants. However, as part of our first suggestion for comprehending this beautiful human-made instrument, it’s useful to learn the typical functions and what they perform. An electric guitar’s standard components include:
The fretboard is where you press down to make a sound (or ‘fret’ notes in “guitarist” jargon).
Machine heads are little knob-heads arranged in a row at the end of the neck/headstock. To tune your strings and adjust the pitches, turn the knobs.
The Tuning Nut holds the string across the fretboard and is located on the fretboard’s outside edge.
This piece is usually found near the bottom of the guitar and is responsible for keeping the strings in place. There are two types of bridges: floating bridges and permanent bridges.
The different ‘pickups,’ located centrally on the guitar’s board, change the tone of the guitar’s sound. They also ‘amplify’ your guitar by allowing it to emit sound via an amplifier. Single coils or humbuckers are the primary pickups.
The ‘Pickup Selector’ Switch
Located near the pickups, this piece changes back and forth to control each pickup on the guitar to produce different tones.
The ‘Volume’ and ‘Tone’ Knobs
These dial controls are near the bridge, and depending on the model of your electric guitar, you may have 2-5 knobs. The knobs are used to adjust the volume and tone of the instrument.
The Jack input is the hole on the bottom of your guitar into which you plug your wire to connect to your amp.
How To Play An Electric Guitar
Method 1: Strumming and Holding the Guitar
Step 1: To hold the guitar, balance the body on your dominant thigh.
Move your dominant leg forward and bend your knee to place your foot flat on the floor while seated. Place the guitar on your thigh with the strings facing away from you and the head (the guitar’s little tip) pointed in the opposite direction from your dominant side.
Keep the guitar upright and close enough to your stomach and chest that its back touches them while resting on your thigh.
Hold the guitar’s neck with your non-dominant hand. The guitar’s neck is a long piece of wood that links the head to the body.
If you’re having difficulties balancing your guitar, connect a strap to it and wear it over your shoulder to help you keep it upright.
Step 2: Using your thumb and forefinger, grasp the neck.
Form a “V” with your non-dominant hand’s thumb and forefinger and place the guitar neck in that “V” to support it. When playing the guitar, place your thumb flat against the back of the neck and press down on the strings with your fingertips.
Even if it feels more natural, avoid looping your thumb over the top of the neck; doing so will cause you to grip the guitar with too much power and limit the reach of your fretting fingers.
The fretboard is the flat side of the neck that is inlaid with metal frets that show where to place your fingers to play various notes.
Step 3: Memorize the names and numbers for the various guitar strings.
E, A, D, G, B, and e are the names of the guitar strings, from thickest to thinnest. The strings are also numbered from thinnest to thickest hence the E string is also referred to as the first string, and the E string is referred to as the sixth string.
From the first to the sixth string, the pitch of the strings descends, with the E string being the lowest and the e string being the highest.
To read tabs and discuss specific notes, you’ll need to learn the names and numbers of your guitar strings.
Try utilizing a mnemonic device like “Eddie And Debbie Got Brown Eggs to memorize the guitar strings.”
Step 4: Take a firm but comfortable hold on your pick.
A pick is a little piece of plastic used to strum or play specific notes on the guitar. To use the pick, place it between your thumb and index finger on your strumming hand and hold it perpendicular to your fist. Your grip should be firm enough to keep the pick in place while playing but not too tight that it causes discomfort.
About 2/3 of the pick should be covered by your thumb and finger, leaving about 13% jutting out of your hand.
You don’t have to use a pick to play the electric guitar, but if you do, you should always hold it in a comfortable and right manner.
Step 5: Practice strumming on the guitar without fretting any strings.
Strumming all six strings simultaneously in a downward stroke with your strumming hand until it seems natural. Once you’ve mastered downstroke strumming, try strumming all six notes with an upward stroke.
If you don’t want to be too loud while practicing strumming, lightly touch the strings with your fretting hand to “mute” them so that no sound is made when you play.
Instead of moving your entire arm up and down, strum the guitar, simply moving your wrist. This will make your strumming more energy efficient and, in the long term, lower your risk of injury.
After you’ve mastered individual downstrokes and upstrokes, practice strumming the guitar in a downstroke-upstroke-downstroke-upstroke rhythm until you’ve mastered it.
Step 6: Strumming and fretting the strings simultaneously is a good idea.
Fretting the strings means pressing your finger between the frets on the fretboard to play a note on the guitar. Strumming the guitar with your other hand while pressing down 1 or more strings with your fretting hand This will assist you in getting in the habit of doing two tasks with your hands at once.
If you press down on the frets themselves, you’ll get a buzzing sound instead of the note you wanted to play.
Only apply enough pressure to the strings to generate a clean sound. The string will vibrate if you press down too gently. However, pressing down too hard will put more strain on your fingertips than is necessary.
Don’t bother about playing chords just yet; instead, concentrate on mastering the fundamental movements!
Step 7: To relieve finger pain, dip your fingertips in icy water or rubbing alcohol.
Although your fingertips will be uncomfortable when you initially begin, the discomfort will fade with time. When you have finger pain, use ice water or rubbing alcohol to help relieve it. To keep from becoming discouraged from continuing to play guitar, remind yourself that the discomfort is just momentary.
Your fingertips will develop calluses over time, making playing guitar far less unpleasant. Don’t be disappointed if your calluses don’t appear to be growing after a month or two.
To promote calluses to grow faster, rub rubbing alcohol on your fingertips three times a day for a week.
Method 2: Learning to Play Guitar Chords
Step 1: Begin by learning how to play a basic first position chord.
A chord is a harmonic group consisting of three or more notes. Because first position chords, such as the C, A, and G, are the easiest to learn, one of these should be your initial choice.
You don’t have to strum all six guitar strings when playing certain chords. For example, when playing the C chord, you only play the bottom five strings and neglect the E string completely.
First, practice the chord’s correct finger placement on the fretboard. Work on strumming and fretting at the same time until you’re comfortable pressing down on the proper notes.
Step 2: After mastering the first, learn how to play three more basic chords.
Almost any song you want to perform on the electric guitar will require you to master at least four different chords, so you’ll need to master more than one. Practice the other first position chords before moving on to something more difficult.
For example, if you mastered the C chord first, the D chord and the G chord should probably be your following two chords to study.
Repeat learning proper finger placement on the fretboard before strumming the guitar while pressing down on the correct notes.
Step 3: Work on switching from one chord to the next.
Place your fingers in one chord’s place, then transfer them to another chord’s position. Rep to this technique until you can swap between the two chords swiftly. Then, toss in a third chord and keep adjusting your finger location as quickly as possible.
You’ll soon be able to transition from one chord to the next without even thinking about it (which is precisely what you need to do to play guitar!).
Step 4: Expand your chord vocabulary with progressively complicated chords.
After you’ve mastered the rest of the basic guitar chords, such as D and E, you’ll want to learn how to play barre chords. Barre chords are created by pressing all the notes on a single fret with your index finger. Barre chords are essential for performing a wide range of songs, despite being more complex.
The E major chord, E minor chord, A major chord, and A minor chord are some of the most significant barre chords to master.
Practice switching between barre chords and going from a barre chord to a simple chord on the fretboard once you’ve mastered one or more barre chords.
Method 3: Practicing and Following a Routine
Step 1: Make and stick to a daily practice regimen.
Learning to play the guitar well takes a lot of time and effort. However, you do not need to spend all of your time practicing. Set aside 15-30 minutes each day to practice guitar and commit to staying on track no matter what.
Use this time to refine your existing chords and introduce new ones to the mix. Once you’ve mastered a few chords, try learning to play an entire song!
The Beatles‘ “Love Me Do,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” are all examples of easy guitar songs for novices.
Step 2: Learn new chords and techniques from music books.
If you’re seeking for new chords to learn, practically any music store or book retailer will provide books with guitar chords for a variety of well-known and popular tunes. Many music books will also offer beneficial guitar tips and techniques that you may not have come across when practicing independently.
Some books will also include helpful multimedia aids, such as CDs, to aid in acquiring new guitar skills.
Step 3: Look for tabs and tutorials for songs on music websites.
Ultimate-guitar.com and ultimate-tabs.com, for example, provide an extensive library of tabs (simplified forms of musical notation) that explain how to play various songs on the guitar.
For additional assistance, there are several video lessons on websites such as YouTube where more experienced guitarists offer suggestions on how to play songs from beginning to end.
If you can’t read traditional sheet music, you can use guitar tabs to read chords. The guitar strings are represented by six horizontal lines, with numbers on those lines indicating which frets you must press down to play the chord.
Step 4: Establish a weekly practice goal that you can achieve.
For example, attempt to learn 2-3 new chords per week or be able to move between two chords seamlessly. Make sure that whatever objective you choose is specific and attainable. Your objective should also be measurable so that you can track your progress.
For example, if your goal is to learn two new chords, you may determine whether you’ve accomplished your goal after seven days. When you establish a goal like “learn new chords,” it’s more difficult to know whether you’ve accomplished it by the end of the week.
How To Tune An Electric Guitar
Use A Tuner To Tune An Electric Guitar.
If you’re learning how to tune your electric guitar for the first time, a guitar tuner will help you rapidly tune your guitar and get back to making music. Most tuners are automated and recognize which note you are playing right away. Although there are many different types of guitar tuners, clip-on tuners are a fantastic place to start.
Standard guitar tuning is the most popular electric guitar tuning. E-A-D-G-B-E is the standard tuning from the lowest to the highest string. Use the chart below to make sure you’re tuning each string to the correct pitch.
Play the low E string (also known as the 6th string on an electric guitar) and adjust the tuning mechanism until the tuner reads a perfect E.
When the “needle” hovers in the middle of the tuner window, the note is “in tune.”
Then, until the tuner reads A, play the A string (5th string).
Rep with the remainder of your strings to their respective pitcs.
Tuning An Electric Guitar By Ear
If you don’t have a guitar tuner on hand and this is your first electric guitar, you can still tune it by ear. While it may appear complicated, tuning an electric guitar by ear is simple.
You’ll need a reference pitch, which you can acquire with a tuning fork, a keyboard, or by searching for a reference pitch sound online. A440 is the most commonly used reference note. It’s the second thickest string on your electric guitar (5th string). However, you might find using E as the reference note easier.
Play the reference pitch and match it with the tuning machine.
Play the low E string with your finger on the 5th fret, then the A string. Tune the low E string with the tuning machine until it is in tune with the A string.
Repeat this process to get the remainder of your strings to their proper pitch.
To tune with the B string, place your finger on the 4th fret of the G string.
Is Learning To Play Electric Guitar Difficult?
Electric guitar playing is only as tough as you make it. Is it simple to learn a new instrument, such as the electric guitar? No, it isn’t. Is it, however, feasible? Yes, some even argue that learning the electric guitar is easier than learning the acoustic.
Is Electric Guitar Suitable For Beginners?
Electric guitars have thinner strings and require less hand strength, making them an excellent choice for beginners. Electric guitars have a narrower neck, which allows for a better grip and a shorter reach for players with small hands.
Is It Possible To Play Electric Guitar Without An Amplifier?
You can play an electric guitar without an amp in four different ways. You can use any headphones or speakers with a PC or Mac, an iPhone or iPad, a micro-amp, or a multi-effects pedal to play your guitar.
For those just starting with electric guitar for beginners, what is your biggest struggle in getting started? What aspect are you working the hardest to master? Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments below.