Electric Guitar

Tips for buying your first Electric Guitar

Should I start on an electric or an acoustic guitar?

It really depends on the style of music that you want to play. Electric guitars can be heard in just about every style of music but are mostly associated with rock music.The advantage of starting out on an electric guitar is that they are easier on your fingertips. The strings are usually closer to the fingerboard than most acoustic guitars making it easier to press down. Electric guitars can also be played without an amplifier or through headphones making it possible to practice anytime of the day or night without disturbing the neighbors or other family members.

What size electric guitar should I buy?

Most electric guitars are full size and fit comfortably for most adults and kids over the age of 10. Kids 10 years of age or younger may want to try a ¾ size or ½ size electric guitar. The smaller size electric guitars make it much easier for kids to hold the guitar and stretch their fingers to reach the chords.

What should I be listening for when buying an electric guitar?

The sound of an electric guitar is far less important then the playability. How easy an electric guitar plays is mostly determined by the action. The action on a guitar is the height of the strings from the fingerboard. A lot of cheap electric guitars have the action set too high and this makes the playability of the guitar difficult. Most electric guitars are easier to play than acoustic guitars but sometimes you will need to have the action of your guitar lowered. You don’t want to give up the first week you start playing just because your electric guitar’s action is set too high!

Can the action be lowered on a guitar I’ve already purchased?

If your fingers are hurting too much and you feel that the action is too high you can have the action lowered at a local electric guitar repair shop. It can cost anywhere between $25-$60. Having the action lowered on a guitar can make it 100% easier to play! You can ask the repair shop to put on a set of the lightest electric strings. This also makes the playability of an electric guitar much easier for a beginner.

How often should I change the strings?

A huge part of the sound of an electric guitar is the electronics and the guitar amplifier but strings that are old and corroded will make the guitar sound dull. Changing your strings a few times throughout the year will make your guitar sound clear and bright. At a minimum try to have the strings changed once per year. We recommend that you use a light gauge set of guitar strings because it’s a lot easier on your fingers.

What If I’m left handed?

If you’re left handed and you’ve already been playing guitar a little bit then you can shop for a left handed electric guitar. If you’re left handed but you’ve never played guitar before we recommend buying a right-handed electric guitar. The advantage is that there is a bigger selection of electric guitars to choose from without having to do a special order. Another advantage is that when you go to play someone else’s guitar it will probably be right handed. When playing guitar you will be using both hands. In fact the left hand does more of the intricate work.

What is the most important thing to learn on the electric guitar?

One of the first things you will be learning on the electric guitar is the basic chords and strumming patterns. If you can change between basic chords and strum you can play of lots of simple songs. Playing rock music on the electric guitar also involves learning lots of scales, solos and classic riffs.

Should I use a guitar pick or my fingers?

Most electric guitar playing is done with a pick. Sometimes electric guitar players will also use the fingers to get a softer and more nuanced sound. There are many different kinds of guitar pick shapes and sizes. We recommend using the standard teardrop shaped pick with a medium thickness.

How long does it take to learn to play the electric guitar?

The answer depends upon how much you practice and how advanced you want to become. You can expect that within the first several weeks or months to be playing the basic chords, power chords and playing some riffs to some popular songs. The more you practice and learn, the more you can see how much there is to still learn. You can always keep learning and improving on guitar throughout your whole life!

How much do electric guitars cost?

An electric guitar can cost anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars. You may want to spend between $100 and $250 for an electric guitar that plays well and stays in tune. The price of an electric guitar is based on the quality of the electronics, the wood, and the overall craftsmanship of the guitar. Electric guitars that are made in the USA are generally more expensive. The more expensive brands sound, play, look, and feel better.

You should also purchase a guitar tuner. Tuning a guitar by ear without any experience can be difficult. A guitar tuner simply clips on to the headstock of a guitar and each string is tuned individually to a note (EADGBE).

Do I need a guitar amplifier?

Although an electric guitar can be played without an amplifier it won’t be loud enough to perform or play with other musicians. A big part of playing electric guitar is the sound of the amplifier. Guitar amplifiers have built in volume and EQ controls for treble, mid and bass. They also include an overdrive, gain or distortion channel that enables the amp to sound like your favorite blues, rock, grunge or metal band. Many guitar amplifiers also have built in reverb and other effects to give you endless sound possibilities. Most new amplifiers have a headphone and phone jack built in. This feature allows you to play along with songs on your phone as loud as you want without disturbing the neighbors!

How much does a guitar amplifier cost?

A good guitar amplifier can cost between $100 and $250. You don’t need a super big or loud amp when starting out. Most small and inexpensive amplifiers will work well and you’ll rarely turn them all the way up. If you eventually join or play in a band you’ll need to invest in a guitar amplifier that can be as loud as your drummer in the band.

Which brands do you recommend for electric guitars?

For electric guitars we recommend – Fender, Gibson, G&L, PRS, Epiphone, Squier and Ibanez.
Most electric guitar manufactures have a range of models and prices. The lower priced guitars from these manufactures are great for beginners. Their higher priced models are usually made in the USA.

Which brands do you recommend for guitar amplifiers?

For guitar amplifiers we recommend – Fender, Marshall, Vox and Orange.
Most guitar amplifier manufactures have a range of models to choose from. The lower priced amps from these manufactures are great for beginners. Their tube amp models are higher priced and are usually made in the USA.

We hope this helps you in your search for an electric guitar and an amplifier!

Please feel free to email us any of your questions at howto@learnguitaronline.com.

Thanks for reading! – Andrew Morrison
Learnguitaronline.com (co-founder)