Amazingly, over 1.5 million electric guitars are sold every year - clearly showing that becoming an electric guitarist is on a lot of peoples’ bucket lists.

In fact, if any instrument has garnered a cult following it’s probably the electric guitar with many enthusiasts signing up for beginner electric guitar lessons after being inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz, Slash or Carlos Santana.

Learning to play the electric guitar is actually quite different from classical, folk or acoustic guitar playing.

One of the main differences is that the neck of the guitar is much thinner. Also, the strings are much closer to the guitar’s bridge and this actually produces a better sound.

So how does one go about finding electric guitar lessons for beginners? What are the tips or secrets to learning the guitar? Do you need to sign up for a guitar tutorial?

The Difference Between an Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar

The main difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar is about amplification and usage.

Decide on the sound that you want to produce and also give some thought to the genre of music you intend to play. In general, an electric guitar is ideal for metal and rock, while an acoustic guitar is the perfect choice for creating pop, country and folk music.

The sound has a lot to do with the way the guitar is made. The hollow soundbox of an acoustic guitar naturally creates sound, but the solid body of an electric guitar needs what is called a ‘pick up’ to amplify sound. This is done by plugging in the amplifier.

In terms of shape and form, these guitars are also very different from each other. The electric guitar is thinner and has a much longer neck than an acoustic guitar. Once again, the reason for this is in the usage: to play arpeggios or accompaniment, the acoustic guitar is great, but as soon as you have to play lead, especially using very high notes, then the electric guitar is called for!

The Pros of Playing the Electric Guitar

Did you know that an electric guitar is actually more versatile than a classical or acoustic guitar? It can do everything that an acoustic guitar can do and more. And it can play lead guitar higher than the 12th or 14th fret.

With an electric guitar, you can play at high speed and even alternate between techniques like hammer-on, legato, and slide. The reason for this is because the neck is more suited to sliding the hand and moving the fingers. The strings on an electric guitar are also thinner which makes it easier to play and move on the neck than it would on an acoustic guitar.

Electric guitar lessons for beginners can be quite addictive and the bonus is that you could practise at 2 am in the morning by simply plugging in your headphones and not even disturb your neighbours.

black guitar amplifier beside electric guitar
Don't forget that you will also need to buy an amplifier. (Source: Unsplash)

When it comes to sound effects, the electric guitar has so many choices. You could use the pedals or other effects and alternate from a heavy to a light sound in one single riff. All of these techniques and so much more can be learnt in your beginner electric guitar lessons. The key is to find the right teacher and ask a few important questions before you commit. Consider this part of your guitar playing investment.

It’s true that an electric guitar will cost you more because, in addition to the guitar, you will also need an amplifier and cable. Also tuning the electric guitar and amp is not easy for a beginner which might be frustrating, so factor in that you may need some help regarding that in the beginning.

Basically, setting up and playing the electric guitar will take more preparation than simply picking up an acoustic guitar. But if this is your dream, you can do it.

Learning the Electric Guitar

Like any instrument, beginner electric guitar lessons will come with theory, exercises and the practise of many different methods.

In fact, people who are self-taught are rare to find and very few reach advanced levels, so take the time to find the right tutor to help you get started.

To stay committed and to avoid disappointment and frustration we highly recommend that you build a solid foundation by considering electric guitar lessons for beginners in whichever way suits your learning style.

The wonderful thing about learning anything new today is that you don’t necessarily have to go to a class, you could find a private tutor near you or learn how to play the electric guitar with a tutor online.

You could actually book your first online guitar lesson here.

Depending on your personality and musical goals there are several options when it comes to electric guitar lessons for beginners:

  • Private lessons with a tutor who comes to your home.
  • Attending private lessons at a music school.
  • Online guitar lessons where you could learn from videos or tutorials. Some of these are even for free, but not all of them. When it comes to online lessons, bear in mind the quality of the lesson when it comes to free versus an investment!
  • Learning by books. Many bookstores or music stores offer specific books on guitar tabs, guitar scales and other theory.

Teaching Yourself to Play

Even though we have already said it would not be easy, it is possible to teach yourself electric guitar, guitar tabs and guitar scales, but you will need great discipline and motivation to keep practising.

Learning to Tune Your Guitar

Your first step to playing well is to have a tuned instrument. In your beginner electric guitar lessons, this is something that will definitely be covered. If not, you could ask a seasoned musician or sales assistant in your local music shop. Consider investing in a small electronic tuner which you will probably never regret!

cream electric guitar
Be sure to tune your electric guitar regularly. (Source: Unsplash)

Your perfectly tuned guitar will help you to play the right notes and also improve your intonation. An out-of-tune guitar, on the other hand, will reproduce poor-quality sound and end up discouraging you.

Learn the Music Basics

Like most instruments, the electric guitar is best played upon a good foundation of musical and instrumental knowledge.

The more you familiarise yourself with guitar scales, guitar tabs, and music theory, the faster you will hone your skills. This will make your musical education so much more enjoyable and who knows, soon you could be playing lead guitar in a band and even go on to be famous. Everyone starts somewhere!

Learning to Read Tablature and Sheet Music

All electric guitar lessons for beginners will include learning how to read guitar tabs, which mainly uses numbers that make it easier for new players to play chords and songs.

Another reason to learn how to read sheet music is so that you can play guitar scales which will ultimately take you to being able to play lead guitar.

Did you know that the foundations of some of the most famous lead guitarists are rooted in the use of guitar scales?

In case you didn’t know, guitar scales are a succession of notes that are played in a particular key and that are determined by a root note.

Listen and Repeat

Just remember that learning to play an instrument takes practise especially if you intend to be able to play lead guitar.

Whatever you would like to play, you should be able to play it over and over until it comes naturally.

Also, don’t only play lead guitar, attempt to know the whole piece, pay special attention to the bass pieces, read your music and keep time.

It’s actually more important to be able to identify, hear and recognise the right notes in order to play them perfectly, than to become a lead guitar virtuoso.

black whiskered single-cutaway electric guitar
You will need a good musical foundation to play the electric guitar. (Source: Unsplash)

If you need more of a challenge to your electric guitar lessons for beginners, you could always supplement your learning by watching YouTube tutorials or videos on other music platforms.

Alternate the Easy and Complex Pieces

One way of ensuring that you don’t become bored, discouraged or lose focus is to alternate your practise between the easier and more complex pieces.

After working on a difficult piece, take a break to play something easier that you already know and which allows you to stretch your fingers and regain your confidence.

When it comes to guitar tabs and guitar scales, train yourself in a way that gradually increases the complexity of your practice. Evaluate yourself and keep progressing slowly. When you find a difficult piece, play it slowly and use a metronome.

Other Tips to Kick Start Your Lead Guitar Career

  • Choose a tutor who is interested in the same genre of the guitar as you.
  • Play without accessories in a raw manner, this will show up your weaknesses so that you can improve.
  • Know your instrument and how to use it, this means knowing where to place your hands for different techniques.
  • Practise constantly.
  • Record yourself to track your progress.
  • Aim to be able to improvise one day.
  • Learn your basic chords, guitar tabs, and guitar scales

Finally, consider finding a private tutor for beginner electric guitar lessons through the classifieds, recommendations from friends, or even an online platform where you can filter tutors based on your own location.

It’s really important to connect with the right tutor too, and on Superprof many of the tutors even offer their introductory lesson for free.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.