How to Teach Yourself the Electric Guitar

Things You'll Need

  • Electric guitar
  • Guitar chord
  • Pick
  • Amplifier
  • Chord chart or book
  • Song book

The electric guitar is a relatively simple instrument to learn and can offer many hours of musical enjoyment. It's also preferred by beginning guitarists because of the smaller size, lighter gauge strings, and easier chord fingering. This combination of features allows beginning players to learn the skills necessary to play the electric guitar while building hand strength, flexibility, and agility. This article will offers tips on how to teach yourself to play the electric guitar.

Electric guitar amp

As opposed to acoustic guitars, which are self-contained instruments, electric guitars require some extra equipment to work. In addition to the guitar itself, the basic equipment you'll need includes an amp of some type, guitar cord, guitar pick, and tuner. The amp you choose should fit your needs and situation, so don't purchase a 1000 watt amplifier with 14 speakers if you only intend to play in your living room. A medium plastic pick and standard 6-foot guitar cord will work fine for practicing. The strings on an electric guitar are difficult to hear without amplification and are harder to tune. Although you can use a tuning fork or pitch pipe, you'll get the best results from an electronic or analog tuner, which plugs directly into your guitar.

Fender Telecaster electric guitar

Again, as opposed to acoustic guitars, electric guitars require a bit more technical understanding before you can learn to play. The basic elements are the pickups, volume knobs, and tone knobs. Some models offer other features such as effects and multiple pickup configurations. Since every guitar is different, refer to your owner's manual for complete details on your particular model. As a starting point, learn about the parts of your electric guitar. Read your owner's manual and experiment with the settings to familiarize yourself with the neck, frets, pickguard, bridge, tuning pegs, and pickups.

Begin by learning basic notes and chords, then practice them until you are comfortable. Start with the C, G, D, and A chords, which are simple but commonly used chords. A link to a comprehensive chord chart is below for your reference. Practice the fingering for each chord, then strum with the pick in an even, downward motion. As you become comfortable with each chord, practice changing between two of the chords. For example, finger and strum the D chord, move to the G chord, and return to the D. This will help you become more familiar with the chords and improve your flexibility. Continue by adding chords to this sequence.

Purchase a basic guitar song book from a local music store or the Internet. These books usually feature popular songs using basic chords such as G, D, E, A, and C and include chord diagrams and strumming directions. Using these songs is a fun way to practice the chords and begin to play the electric guitar.

Getting together with other guitar players of various abilities will help you practice what you've learned and pick up some tips from other players.


  • For practicing, consider a practice amp, which can be as small as a cigarette box and uses headphones. Dedicate time to practice as often as possible to improve your skills. Watch other players to learn how they produce certain sounds or tones.


  • Don't practice with the amp effects turned on, as this will make it more difficult to hear your progress clearly. An electric guitar should be treated just like any other electrical appliance with respect to electrical safety.