Electric Guitar Tuition

Gibson ES 335

People often ask if it's necessary to learn the basics on acoustic guitar before transferring to electric. In my experience beginners are best off learning on the instrument that they want to play. If you want to play electric guitar, get one. The initial stages of learning any instrument can be difficult and frustrating, so it's important to enjoy the noise you're making. There's little point spending years mastering classical technique if you really want to be playing the blues.

Choosing An Electric Guitar

The choice of electric guitars available in even the smallest of guitar shops can be overwhelming for the beginner. Luckily, modern manufacturing techniques mean that most things on offer will be pretty reasonable. There are, however, still a few lemons out there, so make sure you try out the guitar before you part with any money. No matter what the discount, don't be tempted to buy your first guitar over the internet. You might get lucky, but it's equally likely that you won't.

The bulk of the electric guitars on the market can roughly be split into two groups: those based on the designs of the Gibson corporation (Les Paul, SG, ES335 etc.) and others modelled on the famous instruments designed by Fender (Stratocaster, Telecaster). As a general rule, Fender-derived instruments tend to suit beginners well. They are well-balanced and usually not too heavy. Equally, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with Gibson-type guitars, although it's advisable to steer clear of some of the more outlandish body shapes (Flying V, Explorer, Firebird etc). These can be very heavy and unbalanced.

There's no substitute for trying before you buy, preferably in the company of someone who knows something about guitars. You don't need to be an expert, just trust your instincts and ask yourself a few questions. First of all, do you like the guitar? Does it sit comfortably on your knee? Can you reach around it without stretching? Can you press the strings down without drawing blood? Play every string on every fret and listen for buzzes, rattles and dead spots. Do you like the sound it makes?

Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions. Any guitar shop worth its salt will be staffed by people who love guitars and will be only too happy to share their knowledge and advise you. If they're not, go somewhere else.


If you're going to play electric guitar, you'll need an amplifier. Unless you're going to be playing gigs straight away, you'll find a small practice amplifier will do perfectly well. They're small, light and unlike some bigger amps, don't have to be turned up very loud to sound good. There are many different models on the market, ranging from the very basic to the mind-bogglingly complex. Good names to look out for include Roland, Marshall and Peavey. As with guitars, the advice is the same - try a few and trust your ears!