How to Play the Electric Guitar: Songs, Techniques, Effects, and other Beginner Fundamentals

Guest post by JBostian

Music making is more accessible than it has ever been. In fact, there has been a significant rise in searches for music creation software and instrument sales in the last couple of months.

Anyone from beginners to virtuosos can now make a record of their own from the comfort of their homes. Now, what if you don’t know how to play an instrument? As we’ve already tackled in our article on learning how to play guitar, you can learn how to play all on your own through diligent practice.

If you’ve already read that article and are looking to add a little more oomph to your guitar playing, then you may want to consider the electric guitar. To help you out, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to play this instrument. Read on if you want to learn more about the basics, effects pedals, and easy songs you can start playing!

Basics and Fundamentals

One thing you have to learn from the get-go is the difference between an electric guitar and an acoustic one. One key difference is that the sound of an electric guitar goes through its pickups and is transmitted to an amplifier. You can also use effects pedals to change up its core sound – but more on that later.

So how does this factor into how you play the instrument? First off, the strings on an electric guitar are thinner and are easier to press down on. This makes playing chords (especially bar chords) easier, as you won’t need to apply too much pressure on the strings. However, one downside is that fingerpicking is harder due to the electric guitar’s strings being closer together.

One way you can get around this is by making use of alternative picking techniques. The concept behind this is simple. Instead of only using downstrokes when plucking strings, you’ll be alternating between upward and downward motions. With enough practice, this will lead to increased picking speed and an overall improvement in the level of your guitar playing.

Effects Pedals

As we’ve already mentioned above, effects pedals largely influence the sound an electric guitar makes. Because there are hundreds (if not thousands) of different pedals out on the market today, we’re only going to be talking about the most common and most used ones to help you out on your electric guitar playing journey.

The distortion pedal may be the most ostentatious of the core pedals that you’ll be using. This is because using the pedal enables your guitar to produce aggressive riffs that harken back to the golden age of rock n’ roll.

However, pedals aren’t just all about making your guitar loud. There are different sounds that different types of pedals produce. If you need a good starting point, the reverb pedal is one of the most commonly used pedals in the world due to its flexibility that can match multiple genres. This pedal gives off a resonant sound that makes your guitar sound like it’s in a large room or stadium. While adaptable, it is mostly associated with surf rock and modern indie music.

Another excellent choice is the flanger pedal, which gives your guitar a unique flair by delaying the sound and altering the rate that the sound is delayed while you’re playing. This results in a sweeping warbly melody similar to that of a jet plane that’s taking off.

Songs to Practice

Now, for the fun part: What songs can you learn to help you improve your skills on the electric guitar? For beginners, one good choice is Nirvana’s classic song “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” This is a great song for learning how to play the electric guitar since it only contains four easy-to-play riffs. And while it does feature a guitar solo, it’s pretty manageable with enough practice.

If you’re looking for something easier than that, then The Troggs’ hit, “Wild Thing,” may be a better place to start. The song is made up of four chords and doesn’t feature a guitar solo of any kind. This should help you get in the rhythm of playing and is a good starting point before heading on to more difficult songs.

If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more tips on how to play different instruments, check out the rest of the posts featured on our site!

JBostian is a music enthusiast who loves to write about her passion and share it with the world. While mostly interested in rock music, she loves discovering new music from other genres and making playlists for her friends.

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