Learn Electric Guitar In 9 Easy Steps

Learn electric guitar quickly with this 9-step program. This is one of our most popular guides so let’s get started!

In this free guide you’ll learn everything you need for a perfect start.

  • Quick-start gear guide: Guitars, tuners, amps, picks
  • What the different parts of your electric guitar do
  • The secret way to learn chords at lightning speed
  • How to make your amp sound good, consistently (channels, EQ & effects)
  • 10 easy songs for guitar beginners
  • How to strum with rhythm and musicality
  • How to hold a pick correctly
  • The most effective way for beginners to practice

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After reading this guide you will clearly understand how to learn electric guitar, so let’s dive in!

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how to learn electric guitar fast

How to learn electric guitar step 1: Buy the essentials

There’s a few things you’re going to need in your quest to learn electric guitar.

You’ll need an electric guitar (of course) and you’ll also need a cable and a small practice amp.

learn electric guitar for beginners

You’ll need a guitar tuner. (Something like the Korg GA-1 would be perfect.)

how to learn electric guitar for beginners

You’ll also need a capo. The Jim Dunlop trigger capos are fantastic:

learn electric guitar

You’ll also need a guitar strap and a few different guitar picks (a pick thickness of 0.65-0.73 is best for beginners).

learn electric guitar easy

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

How to learn electric guitar step 2: Learn what the different parts of your electric guitar do.

Learning to play electric guitar isn’t that different from learning on an acoustic. The basics are the same:

  1. You press and hold strings down with your left hand.
  2. You strike the strings with your right hand and that creates music.

So the basics are the same, but overall, learning electric guitar is harder than learning acoustic guitar because for electric guitarists there are more variables in play at any one time.

There are more ‘controls’; dials and things that influence the sound you create.

An acoustic guitar is simply a piece of wood with a hole in the middle, there’s not much that can go wrong there. But for electric guitar there are a lot more links in the chain that need to be mastered if you want to sound good.

Let’s cover them off now so you can start making music as quickly as possible! 🙂

learn-electric-guitar

Jack input

This is where you plug a guitar lead in. (You connect the other end of the lead to your amp.)

Tone and volume controls

On your guitar you will have 2-5 dials near to the bridge. These are your volume and tone controls. Depending on what pickup you select some of these controls will be inactive.

Pickups

Electric guitars can change their tone by using different ‘pickups’. You can select which pickup you want to use and that will give you a different tone.

  • If the pickup selector is leaning towards the neck of the guitar you will get a warmer, more muffled tone.
  • If the pickup selector is leaning away from the neck of the guitar (towards the bridge) then you will get a brighter, crisper tone.

If you want to learn electric guitar you need to get comfortable switching pickups and understanding their different tones.

Whammy bar

You can press and release this to ‘wobble’ the tone of the guitar. It creates a tremolo effect. In my experience 99% of guitarists unscrew this and never use it again.

Machine heads

Turn these to tune your strings!

How To Play electric Guitar

How to learn electric guitar step 3: Learn the names and numbers of your guitar strings

This is important for tons of reasons, but the main two are:

  1. If you want to learn electric guitar you must be able to read chordboxes and tabs.
  2. It’s important you can communicate with other musicians and guitarists.

Going from the thickest to the thinnest, the guitar strings are: E A D G B E.

learn electric guitar

A good way to remember this is:

Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears.

Or…

Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie.

You pick!

For more info on guitar notes and the musical alphabet (including ‘sharps’ and ‘flats’) read this article by Jack and Mike: Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

Important! Do you know how to tune your guitar properly?

To learn more about tuning and tuners read Rob’s article: How To Tune A Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

learn electric guitar

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How to learn electric guitar step 4: Learn basic chords

Regardless of genre, if you want to learn electric guitar, you MUST know basic chords.

There’s an entire section of this site dedicated to easy beginner chords so have a good look around there. Chords are an essential part of your quest to learn electric guitar.

The easiest way to learn chords is to follow Mike’s stepping-stone approach.

For every chord you see, there is an easy version. As a beginner, you simply will not be able to play chords like F or B.

So, you have two choices:

  1. Chew off your own fingers in frustration…
  2. Learn an easier version of the chord!

Choosing option 2 allows you to have fun playing music while developing your dexterity and control. This allows you to ‘graduate’ to playing the more difficult chord versions later.

learn electric guitar

If these chordboxes don’t make sense to you, read our article How To Read Chordboxes In 60 Seconds.

(Figuring out how to learn electric guitar will be impossible if you can’t read chordboxes!)

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

How to learn electric guitar step 5: Learn how to create a good amp tone, consistently

Now this is super-important.

The most fundamental difference between learning the acoustic guitar and trying to learn electric guitar is volume: we’re talking about amps!

To play electric guitar we use amplifiers and while it’s not essential for you to use an amp, if you play electric guitar without an amp it will be very quiet (and you will be denying yourself the most exciting aspect of the guitar experience).

If you are a total beginner guitarist there is nothing wrong with learning to play your electric guitar without an amplifier. But once you have a few simple chord shapes under your belt you should start using your amp as soon as possible.

Why your amp sound is so important

A guitar amplifier is simply a loudspeaker. That’s all it is. You plug in your electric guitar and your loudspeaker (AKA ‘amp’) makes it louder by amplifying the electric signal that you sent to it from your guitar.

It’s absolutely crucial that you learn how to use your amplifier.

One of the most influential factors that will determine whether you are successful or not in learning to play your electric guitar is how good you sound when you play. 

  • If you sound good when you play there is a greater chance that you will enjoy playing and that will encourage you to practice more (and you will  therefore progress faster).
  • If you sound bad when you play this will predispose you to play your guitar less.

If the tone of your amp is crappy even a great guitarist can sound bad.

If you want to learn electric guitar it is absolutely vital that you learn how to get a pleasant tone from your guitar amplifier.

But of course, it will take time for you to master the various controls and understand how that shapes your amplifier’s tone. Let’s break it down in a simple way and make this easy.

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