So you’ve bought your first electric guitar and you’re ready to learn how to play some of your favorite AC/DC riffs or Jimmy Page solos, right? Before you play anything, however, you have to learn electric guitar. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for learning how to play electric guitar, though. Whether you get a teacher, rely on the Internet, or buy a series of video lessons (or rely on the exceptional free lessons on YouTube), you’re going to have to study and practice.
Don’t let the words “study” and “practice” scare you away, though. There are lots of ways to learn electric guitar that are fun and simple. You can approach learning by studying scales and chords and all that other music theory, or you can do what a lot of beginning guitar players do and learn by listening.
Pick a few of your favorite songs by your favorite bands and then do a little search online for guitar TABS to those songs. Guitar TABS are transcriptions of songs you want to play, written out in a way that makes sense to guitar players, allowing you to read music without having to learn traditional notation. TAB simply tells you graphically what fret to play on what string. By using TAB and learning to play some of your favorite solos and riffs, you’ll be teaching yourself electric guitar while learning songs you play to impress your friends and family.
Here’s an example of a classic Led Zeppelin riff, “Whole Lotta Love.” The riff has a pretty complex rhythm with its use of double stops, sixteenth and eighth note patterns. Listen to the recording and you’ll get a feel for it.
Lessons like the technique lesson below can also help you learn electric guitar. The first is an exercise in picking that helps develop wrist strength, The second example uses slide, bending, and trilling—all essential elements of lead guitar playing.
You can learn electric guitar online, with a teacher, or just by putting on your favorite albums and listening and replicating. However you choose to approach learning to play guitar, be prepared to commit to practice and you’ll eventually find your skills improving at a steady pace.