I think Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke said it best when he wailed, “anyone can play guitar” on the title track of the same name. While it is true that there are many reasons and motivations for wanting to pick up an electric guitar and play, the one long-standing reason is mainly because of the musicality involved. If you are someone who truly appreciates the harmonies, timbre and the full, resonating sound that playing an electric guitar can give you, then you are someone who appreciates the beauty of the instrument. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to fantasize that you could be a rock star too, someday.
Getting back to basics, however, is very important whenever you try to learn something new. The very first thing to do is to pick up an electric guitar. Buy one, borrow one, it hardly matters as long as you have an instrument to practice on. It doesn’t even matter if you begin on a branded electric guitar, although some might say that starting on the best type of electric guitar is the preferred method of learning. Whichever the case is, get an electric guitar that you will want to play, because of the way it sounds.
As with all things in music, you will need to immerse yourself in the basic notes required to play any sort of music on an instrument. In the case of the electric guitar, you will want to focus on learning the main chords of the electric guitar, and the necessary finger positions required to do so. Find yourself a chord chart and start practicing on the basics. Remember, learning something new is also all about attitude and motivation. Do not get disheartened if you feel that you can’t get the finger positions right, or if you can’t seem to strum properly. Learning the electric guitar takes some time – you just have to keep at it. If you are having a hard time with the finger position, or if you lack the pressure needed to push the strings, try moving your wrist a little more outward when you are holding the neck and putting your fingers into position on the frets. Keeping your hand in this position allows you more space to apply pressure on the strings, resulting in you actually playing the chord. Strumming is all about timing, so keep a beat in your head and try to strum to that first before moving on to the more advanced stuff.
I cannot stress the importance of individual practice enough. You will need to practice day and night before you get any better. One of the best ways to learn is to pick out a song that you really like to listen to, something that can help you rock out. Learning how to play this song should motivate you into wanting to learn it even more, so start with a song or piece that you are familiar with. Next, download the chords or ask a friend to write down the tablature for you so that you can practice. Try singing along to the song as you play. With this kind of practice, you will get the hang of the song in no time, and you will find yourself slowly being able to memorize the actual chord progression without having to look at the frets!