How to Play Electric Guitar for Dummies

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The Basics: How to Play Electric Guitar for Dummies

The electric guitar is perhaps the most distinctive and successful advancements in music history. Though it’s a bit more technical than a simple acoustic guitar, the electric guitar presents a wider array of tonal options and musical opportunities.

The points given below amount to a “how to play an electric guitar for dummies” guide that you can refer back to while learning.

Know Your (Non-Guitar) Equipment

Unlike an acoustic or classical guitar, the electric guitar will require a few essential pieces of equipment before you can rock out. It’s best to start off with a smaller budget as you try your hand at the instrument, and gradually upgrade your purchases.

Amp (and Pedals)

No electric guitar is complete without an amplifier. There are tons of various options to choose from. We recommend buying a small, portable, cheaper amp as you’re starting out.

Amps usually have three basic settings: equalizer, volume, gain. Other higher-end amps may also give you the option to choose between a ‘clean’ channel for non-distorted, clear and vibrant sounds, and an ‘overdrive’ channel for distorted, thick, heavy sounds.

As you start out, it isn’t necessary to buy additional guitar effects. But down the line, you might want to invest in effects pedals. They change and revamp your guitar sound in various ways, but they can get expensive. So, a multi-effects processor might give you more bang for your buck as they have various pedals and amp models within a single device.


To plug an electric guitar into an amp, you’ll need a guitar cable. If you decide to get an effects processor, you’ll need another cable. Go for the rugged and durable types so that they don’t break or alter your sound too much.


If you want to sound good, it’s crucial that your guitar is tuned properly. Though there are many mobile phone apps that function as tuners through a microphone, you can invest in a cheap, purpose-built tuner that can attach to your headstock and guide your tuning too.


We recommend getting a guitar strap if you’re planning to play an electric guitar. Firstly, this will ensure that your guitar doesn’t fall down accidentally. Secondly, you’ll be a much better musician if you also learn how to play while standing up.


A capo can be very helpful if you’re trying out new songs and are currently unable to play certain chord shapes. You can then transpose the song to a key in which you can play all the chords and attach the capo to the fret that lets you play in that key easily.

Pick or Plectrum

For an electric guitarist, a pick or plectrum is a must. Though there are many players who use only their fingers to pick and strum the strings, for beginners, using a pick is recommended.

At first, learn how to hold the pick properly. Following that, you should learn how to strum naturally; for an electric guitar, you don’t need to strum as aggressively as you would an acoustic guitar. After that, you should also learn how to mute the strings that you’re not playing, so you get a clear and crisp sound.

Research and Choose an Electric Guitar

Once you’ve got the basic accouterments down, now it’s time to choose the right electric guitar for your particular preferences. There are a host of different options, from Fender to Gibson, or Ibanez to Schecter, to name a few.

Based on your budget, you might want to shortlist a few options and compare their sounds and functions by watching videos or, better yet, going in a store to test the guitars out.

Learn Basic Chords and Scales

Once you have your equipment ready, it’s time to start your exciting electric guitar journey and learn how to play the electric guitar! We recommend starting off by learning a few easy songs. This will help build your rhythm and fretting skills while being enjoyable.

An easy-to-recommend resource for learning the electric guitar is GuitarTricks.Com. The site has a massive collection of video lessons from quality instructors in different genres. It will guide you through your initial stages all the way to more advanced levels.

For some inspiration, listen to your favorite electric guitar heroes and emulate their playing. With the right learning resources and practice routine, you’ll be an electric guitar legend yourself in due time! We hope this ‘How to Play Electric Guitar for Dummies’ guide eased you into some of the basics.

Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.