T Nation

Electric Guitar

Hello All,

I’ve always wanted to play the electric guitar - which guy has never wanted to be a rock star. But recently i have been consumed with an intense desire to play, nothing like I’ve ever felt before. So i’ve decided i’m going to learn (what a break through!)

Just wanted to know if any of you had any advice. I’m gonna get some lessons from a pro teacher, since i figured that teaching myself would be difficult and i don’t want to get into bad habits.

How long do you reckon until i can play some songs that i know and can sing along to. My ulitmate ainm is to be able to play the solo from “Sweet chilg of mine” by Guns N Roses - awesome.

I’m 21 and can’t help wishing that my parents had made me play the guitar instead of the fucking violin since i was 11 - i could be fucking awesome by now!



I’m 32, been playing since I was 15 or so. I had no formal lessons, for electric guitar I really don’t think you need it. My friend however had lessons. We played differently, but were about the same level. Find a teacher that actually likes the type of music you want to play and you will be right.

If you have been playing violin for a while I think you will progress fairly quickly, especioally with your fretting hand. They are fairly similar skills.

BTW, you will have that solo down before you know it, it isn’t all that hard.

good luck with it.


How long it’ll take to get proficient enough to play my solo in “Sweet Child” depends purely on your drive and how much you practice, practice, practice. You’ll have to love your guitar more than your girlfriend. Remember, master the basics first, such as scales, reading music and above all, don’t get frustrated. Although it won’t happen overnight, you’ll get there. I’ve been playing 20 years and I continue to keep learning. Good luck to you…

MicroSlash - “Unable to believe Axl is really trying to replace me with a fucking guitarist named “Buckethead” in his new GNR lineup since 1998.”

How fast you learn is all a matter of how much you practice. I’m 24, I’ve been playing since I was 9. I’ve been teaching for 2 years.

Violin should definitely help your fretting hand. Although, most violin players I’ve come across fret with their fingers flat. That won’t fly on guitar, you’ve got to be on the very tips of your fingers, especially if you want clean chords.

Get lessons, for sure, in my opinion. Most people who teach themselves end up re-inventing the wheel a bunch of times. If you want quick progress, find a teacher who is as motivated to teach as you are to learn.

With basic chords, you can learn some Guns stuff that will keep you interested. Also, if you like AC/DC(there should be a lightening bolt key just for that), simple open chords will get you through quite a few of their albums.

Good luck

If you?ve played the violin before, you should know some valuable music theory already. This will come in handy, but as you know the positioning of your scales and what not will be different as the violin is ( I believe) tuned in fifths between strings whereas the guitar is tuned in fourths. Learn as much theory and fundamentals as possible so that you know what is going on once you are playing actual songs. This will also make it easier to figure out how to play music on your own. There is a great book called the Guitar Grimoire for scales and modes that has a ton of info.
I would suggest learning playable songs that you like as you go along studying your theory because it is obviously pretty boring to sit there and play scales all day, at least until you are shredding over them.
Get a good enough guitar and gear so that you aren?t limited and discouraged by the limitations of crappy equipment. Check out some used guitars at your local smaller guitar stores and check that the neck is comfortable and the action is good and low enough to play easily. If you go to a super store like Guitar Center, they will either point you toward great PRS and expensive Les Pauls and things like that if you have a large budget, or they will try to sell you a ?beginner? Ibanez or something that isn?t very good. I love the better Ibanez guitars and have a few myself, but their recent mass-produced cheaper stuff just isn?t that good. The super stores will also have some used stuff, so check it out there as well. You might want to check out the Carvin website, as they have guitars that you can get virtually custom made for low prices because they are a direct seller. I have an Allen Holdsworth model from them, the H2, and it is awesome for around $1000.
Judging from your aspirations of playing GN?R stuff, you are into hard rock sort of stuff. You will want a pretty good piece of gear to get some nice distortion and crunch, and I have a recommendation for you. The Behringer V-Amp 2 pre amp is great for this and it?s so cheap you won?t even believe it. I got one for $149 and have seen it as low as $99 during a Christmas sale thing in Musician?s Friend. I have had a lot of rack based gear in past from ADA, Yamaha, Rocktron, Alesis, BBE, etc., all (except the BBE) at much higher prices, but you shouldn?t invest in all that stuff at this stage when you can get something as reasonable as the V-amp2. The same goes for foot pedals. I wouldn?t waste my money on a foot pedal (which I?ve also done many times in the past) when you can get a piece of gear with as many features as this one for the same price range. You?ll need an amplifier with an effects loop so that you can plug this pre amp into it.
There will be many people telling you to ?just plug in? to an amp and ?keep it natural?, but the fact is that you have to be playing at pretty high volumes to really get the best distortion and sustain out of an amp, and you need a good one at that to get really good tones. I think Slash goes straight into a Marshall head, but like I said, he is playing pretty loud to get those great sounds and may well have some modifications done to his amps.
I would also suggest buying instructional videos from some of your favorite guitarists or other guys who play in styles that you like. I got Paul Gilbert?s Intense Rock when I was in 8th grade and it was a big help for learning good technique even if you aren?t into the shredding type of stuff. Frank Gambale also has a couple of great tapes, but they are rather advanced. It really helps to see what is going when you are learning, and most of these tapes have tablature included so you can see the notation.
You should also download powertabs and use those to learn from, and try to learn complete songs. One big mistake I made in my early days was not learning whole songs, but just learning the main riff and the solos, which are the fun part but don?t make up the larger part of the song.
I hope this helps and I anticipate much contradiction from other guitarists. The big thing is to keep it fun and interesting enough to keep you playing.
PS - I just saw Microslash’s quote, and I don’t know if you’ve heard buckethead play, but that guy is pretty awesome, albeit quite different and way less tasteful than Slash. Good luck!!

I’ve been playing for 1 year, without lessons. To give you an idea of how i progressed, I can play a lot of the easy nirvana songs and AC/DC, but I’m not going to be able to touch the freebird solo for a while.

Guys, thank you all very much.

I’m hoping to be able to play songs from a range of rock bands eg INXS, oasis, queen, clapton, GnR etc.

I reckon i will get some lessons to help me get on my way. I quite like the idea that as you get better you can work out songs for yourself.

Another question though - is it necessary to be able to read music to get really good at the guitar - for violin, reading music is absolutely 100% essential, but i get the feeling for guitar that not everbody does it. If i want to write my own stuff, will i need to be able to do this.

Thanks again for you advice. I can’t wait to get into this.


I’ve been playing guitar for a little over a year.
My daughter borrowed a guitar from a buddy of mine for a class she was taking. I took a semester of guitar in college twenty years ago, and never picked up a guitar again. I figured, what the heck. Picked up the guitar, logged on to the internet, and keyed in “free online guitar lessons”.
The resource I found most helpful was www.guitarnoise.com. What T-mag is to weight lifting, www.guitarnoise.com is to guitar playing.
I’ve learned a log. From basic chords to some songs to music theory.
Also, check out your local library. Ours has video tapes and books, some of which promise “play guitar in an hour”. Might save you some cash, time, and energy.

You don’t have to learn how to read music to play guitar. It really won’t help you all that much if you’re going to stick to rock. Tablature will be your friend. It’s kind of like “color by number” for guitar. It’s super easy to read and write, and it get’s the point across.

The only thing I would suggest is that you learn what notes you are playing, as they fall on the guitar. Like if you play a certain fret on a certain string, know what note it is. This will help when communicating with other players. Reading music, however, will be something you won’t really use very much, unless you start to play jazz or classical.

Also, you can learn some basic music theory about how notes and chords work with each other, if you want to start to write your own songs. I actually find that it is just as easy to teach this to some one who can’t read than to some one who can.

One more thing. Find some one to jam with. It’ll help you more than anything, as long as you get some one who is willing to slow down a little for you at first.

find a teacher that teaches what you want to play. it may sound obvious but you probably don’t want to learn “On top of old smokey” or Row your boat.
Learn the notes on the fretboard, i didn’t and its killing me now.

Oh for sure. I will definately learn the notes on the fret board, learn the scales, chords and other drills…i just can’t be bothered to go through the trauma of learning musical scripture again - i was never very good at reading violin music!

Can’t wait to do this…but i’ve got exams coming up in April and so need to revise. If i get a guitar now, all my time and energy wil go into that and my medical degree will fall by the wayside.

Thanks for your help guys.

Another question though - what kind of progression does a beginner go thorugh? Do you start off by learning scales and then go on to chords or do they progress together?

Also, thank for the website recommendations. Any book/CD/DVD recommedaions, or will the websites do?

Thanks again.

Also check out the “OnLine Guitar Archive” called OLGA. It has a VERY large collection of songs. The pages include tablature of songs, but not the words. Tablature is a six line grid representing your six strings and where to put your fingers. If you are just learning, this may help you to jump into some songs that interest you without too much frustration.

[quote]kung_fu_king wrote:
Another question though - what kind of progression does a beginner go thorugh? Do you start off by learning scales and then go on to chords or do they progress together?

Also, thank for the website recommendations. Any book/CD/DVD recommedaions, or will the websites do?

Thanks again.

I have been playing off and on for quite a few years (no lessons) and I finally broke down and joined a site called guitaralliance. They really simplify things very well and provide a structured way of learning to play.
And they emphasize playing, not just learning a bunch of chords and theory (although you will obviously have to learn some). I highly recommend this site.

I’ve been at it for a number of years off and on. The best thing I could tell you is to play every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
I can read music but not very well so I learned Tab, which is just fine for my purposes. I think it was about a month or so before I could play “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.

I am by no means great, but my playing impresses most people…I dont think you have to be great, if you learn the scales and a few songs, you’ll be a hit at parties haha.