General Question

stevenb's avatar

Do any of you have any tips for me on learning to play electric guitar?

Asked by stevenb (3826points) August 17th, 2008

I figured a few of you may play and thought I would pick your brains on your best tips or ideas on learning. I know a few chords and can pick ok, but what I want to learn is blues/rock, or even a bit of country. A little of it all I guess you could say. I am not looking to start a band, I just want to be able to play what I feel, and to play songs for my wife and possible children someday. Thank you!

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20 Answers

Lovelocke's avatar

Learn accoustic first… that way you get good instead of relying on the compenstory effects electric affords you.

generalspecific's avatar

yeah if you don’t wanna start a band and just wanna play by yourself, i would definitely go with an acoustic guitar. then you don’t have to deal with amps and all that mess. it can get crazy. if anything you can get an acoustic/electric but i dunno, just a suggestion

iwamoto's avatar

funny, i started with electric, but only got really into effects about a year later, and i must say i don’t really miss not starting with the acoustic, i mean, i play a lot of clean blues and jazz on my electric 7 stringer, so i guess it’s just a matter of style ad what you want to play… my advice, get lessons, really helps me :)

mee_ouch's avatar

lessons, lessons, lessons…and then more…..

You’re already one step ahead of the game. Trust me, your lovely wife and future offspring will appreciate the effort.

Randy's avatar

I agree. Acoustic is a better learning tool because you have to learn how to actually play. Also you should practice as much as you can. Good luck.

iwamoto's avatar

how can you not learn how to actually play on an electric ? overdrive and distortion only make your playing flaws more visible, for example, “something”: i recorded some time ago, you can hear some of the flaws pretty good

edit: damn, can’t find the original, well, it’s on my profile page
you can see a music player there, with the “fast blues at night” song, damn it, i want my own mac back

stevenb's avatar

The practice is what I am looking forward to. I love learning more chords, progressions, etc. The lessons will be hard though. I am self employed and as such dont have any good day time available for lessons. Any good ways for me to learn on my own without lessons?

Randy's avatar

I taught myself. I’m no master, mind you, but I’m decent. Just spend as much time with it as you can. I started by looking up tabs online. Lessons would be faster, but I can empathize with the not having time for them. Remember to not get frustrated. Just stick to it and you’ll be performing for your family in no time. =)

cyndyh's avatar

I’d say to get some music you’ll be motivated to learn to play whether it be looking up tabs or getting a book of popular songs. Also, practicing 15–20 minutes every day works out better than that same amount of time (2 hours or so) on, say, just Saturdays. You can learn on an electric, but I wouldn’t start off playing with a lot of effects.

Pluses with an electric are: 1) The action doesn’t have to be as high while you’re learning what your fingers should be doing. You can toughen up your fingers more slowly. 2) You don’t have to be plugged in sometimes when practicing if you live with someone you’re trying to let sleep once in a while. Do plug in when you can though so you are used to how you sound.

Also, if you have a music background you’re more likely to be successful teaching yourself guitar. If not, you really want to find a way to take lessons. Most music stores will have someone who can give you once a week lessons for not-too-much money. You can often set up evening lessons.

I hope this helps.

stratman37's avatar

Go to and click on lessons. Plus if you already know most chords, has all the tabs you need to strum along (and pick if you like) with your favorite songs.

And as far as lessons go, I teach plenty of students at night – just work something out with your teacher.

steelmarket's avatar

Start out on the best instrument you can possible afford. The quality of your instrument has a marked effect how fast you progress and also upon your individual stylistic development.

stevenb's avatar

I got a telecaster for my birthday. I was told it is a 69 but I am dubious. It has a serial number VN306728, which by fenders web site is a Korean made guitar. Anyone know if they are good? It ha been modified with a humbucker in the back and a custom paint job. I have tried online to track info about them with no luck. I love it because it was a gift from my wife, but it bugs me that she was told it was a 69. Thanks for all the help on lessons too.

MooKoo's avatar

Personally, I don’t think lessons are all that great. If you get the chance to take up some, go for it, but you can do the same thing just by reading from a book. It may take longer and all, but it’s cheaper and I think you can get more from it.

Another thing, learn to read tabs. Don’t worry about reading sheet music yet, I’ll give you an 90% guarantee that it will make you almost wish to quit learning to play. If you already can read some sheet music for another instrument, you’ll fall under that other 10% maybe. I always find learning to play first is better than learning to read. Tabs though, simple to learn. Seriously you can learn to read them in like 5 – 10 minutes. Once you know how to read them, practice!

Practice playing some of your favorite songs that you can learn from tabs. I’ve been playing for about a year now and I still don’t know how to read sheet music, but I can play the guitar well. All because of tabs and plenty of practice.

Really, just learn to read tabs, get a book to set up a guideline and learn new things, and then just practice during those TV commercial breaks. ;)

iwamoto's avatar

well mookoo, the thing is, using that method teaches you bad fingering, and pretty much just powerchords, however, if you get a good teacher, he’ll teach you how to play, what to play, and learn you things at twice the rate as learning things at home, and yes, i know, i played 2 years without, and 2 years with.

MooKoo's avatar

He asked how to get started learning, not how to become a master. Of course if he would like to do that, he’ll need to get a few lessons. He doesn’t have the time for lessons either he said. I’m just trying to help him out a bit. After he learns to play a bit, and wants to take it further than songs for the family, then he can start learning modes, arpeggios, and the like. Of course this is getting technical, and it’d be best if he was able to get someone who knows what they’re doing, which means lessons. For what he wants to do, there is nothing wrong with the method I first provided. Plus, learning on your own will help you to develop your own style, not what your instructor would show you ‘how’ to do. =)

cyndyh's avatar

Not only that, MooKoo, but there’s something to be said for fiddling with it first to figure out what sort of thing you want to do from there. That will tell you what kind of teacher you’ll want later when you’re ready for one.

stevenb's avatar

Thanks to all! I appreciate the tips, and any others you may have!

Knotmyday's avatar


Practice, practice, practice is the only way to get good.

As far as fingering, two words: Django Reinhardt. The guy only had two on his fret hand, and listen to the cat fly.

Learn your chords, and the scales will follow. Explore the reason why some notes sound good and others don’t (within the song).

To you, my Baja Telecaster-wielding friend, do I bequeath THIS LINK. Save it to your favorites, and use it wisely.

(I also suggest replacing the stock bridge pickup in that particular guitar with a Seymour Duncan Little ‘59 pickup, but all things in good time.)

Did I mention practice, practice, practice?

rahm_sahriv's avatar

PRACTICE. That and you can find instruction books for the type of music you want to play. Go get some and good luck :)

stevenb's avatar

@knotmyday, thanks! I saved it!

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