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Play Guitar!!!

Updated on August 30, 2017

I'm not too old to learn how to play guitar...

Ever since I was a kid I've loved listen to music, but I've never learned how to play an instrument. So this year - 2012 (at age 48) - I decided it was finally time. Not just any instrument though, I want to learn how to play electric guitar. I wonder - is it even possible? I mean I'm kind of old. My dexterity has never been that great, even when I was younger... will I even be able to fret properly? After years of putting it off, I'm going to go for it. I found an online guitar seller that would let me buy the guitar I wanted NOW and pay for it over a year without charging interest. So I'm going for it...

So You Want To Be a Rock N' Roll Star - Actually, no...

I don't want to be a rock star, I just want to learn how to play guitar. I think it would be a blast, and if I ever visit with my sister's ex it will be fun to jam together...

Learning To Play Guitar, Step 1 - Buy a quality guitar...

The first step in learning to play electric guitar is to buy a quality guitar. Buy the best one you can afford. After doing weeks of research and talking to several friends who play, I learned to avoid cheap guitars like the plague. The cheap ones look just as nice, but the necks are made from cheaper wood so they'll warp over time. The hardware isn't as good so they go out of tune faster. Finally, the electronics aren't as good so you might not sound like you'd want. If you can't afford a brand new quality guitar, get a quality used one. A high quality used guitar beats a brand new cheap guitar in every way (provided it hasn't been abused. For me, the choice was easy - my guitar idol is K.K. Downing so I bought a Gibson Flying V.

Learning To Play Guitar, Step 1a (optional) - Buy a practical guitar...

My Fender Stratocaster
My Fender Stratocaster

The Flying V is an awesome guitar - it looks great when you're on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it a good beginner's electric guitar. It's shape makes it kind of hard to hold if you play sitting down - which I do when I practice. Also it's just too dang nice to bang around on while you're learning - at least it is for me. So I decided to get something more practical. I didn't go cheap - I found a nice Fender Stratocaster on craigslist. It's already scratched up a bit (one less thing to worry about) but it sounds great and you don't need to be standing up to play it.

Electric Guitar Handbook - Your best resource if you don't have time for lessons...

I love this book. You can pretty much skip the first chapter unless you're interested in the history of electric guitars. I am but I want to learn so I skipped to chapter 2. I really like this book because it starts right off teaching you to read notes. I know a lot of people like learning tabs first, but that's only helpful if the songs you want to play are available in tab notation. I'll take notes, thank you:) Lessons are broken up into 1 week exercises and start out very simple - the first few only use your picking hand. Some of them are easy to master in about a half hour so it's tempting to move on to the next one right away, but I've found it's a lot better to stay on the same one for the whole week - this builds muscle memory which is very important as you get into the more complex exercises. I love that this is a hard cover book, printed on high quality paper with a spiral binding so it lays flat while your using it. I'd even go so far as to say that any manual on playing guitar that doesn't have a spiral binding would be practically useless.

Learning To Play Guitar, Step 2 - Buy an amplifier...

After you get your guitar, you're going to need an amplifier. You can ask lots of people for and you'll get tons of great advice, most of which is useless. The only way to get an a,p that you like is to listen to (at least) several. It's best if you can play you're guitar through an amp before you buy it, but that's going to be kind of difficult since you don't know how to play yet. Try to take a friend who knows how to play. If you don't have a player friend, go to a reputable music store and ask them to demo several amplifiers for you. If you want to play rock or heavy metal, try to get an amp that will let you add distortion without cranking up the volume too much...

Learning To Play Guitar, Step 3

Buy all the other stuff you forgot...

Besides the guitar and amp, you'll need a cord, picks, a guitar tuner (make sure to get an electric guitar tuner, not a chromatic tuner), and a strap. If you're guitar has a Floyd Rose bridge, you'll also need a small set of tools to adjust it. Your guitar instructor should be able to tell you what you need...

Learning To Play Guitar, Step 4 - Guitar Lessons or not???

So you're going to learn how to play electric guitar and you got everything you need... now what? Well, the first thing you need to decide is if you're going to teach yourself or get instruction. The main advantage to teaching yourself is cost - lessons cost money, and these days lots of people don't have extra money to spend on silly things like music lessons. There's also the hassle of scheduling, getting you and your guitar to the lessons, and besides lots of awesome guitarists were self taught, so why not me?

On the other hand, a good instructor can show you things that will make learning a lot easier (and more fun), keep you from developing bad playing habits, and help with technical issues like tuning your guitar. I tried teaching myself with tutorials I found online for about 2 weeks and wasn't making any progress, so I decided to try an instructor. In just one session I learned more than I had in two weeks of trying to teach myself. I plan to keep going and I consider it money well spent.

Should you sign up for lessons?

The Electric Guitar Handbook - Get yourself an electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play...


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love your guitars. And good call (and advice) on buying two different guitars - the different in sound alone between metal guitars (e.g. Vs) and bluesy guitars (e.g. Strats) is huge. I have the cheapest Strat I could find but I love it because my 'quality' guitar just doesn't have the same twang for a good blues jam...

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      7 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I should spend more time with my guitar (acoustic... Takamine)...

    • jdwheeler profile image


      7 years ago

      You've inspired me to give it a try!


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