Learn Electric Guitar

12th November

online-guitar-course2Thinking back, I can vividly remember how bad I wanted to learn electric guitar skills. You know – probably just your average teenager at the time, with a deep passion and burning desire to become a great rock star and chick magnet… And who knows, have I had access to the remarkable tools available today, like the web based Jamorama guitar course or the superb, free Beginner Video Lessons shown to your right, then perhaps the dream would have become a reality?

My parents, bless them, tried more than once to convince me it was for my on good to learn classical music and study piano or violin (ouch). “Proper music”, that’s what I do tend to remember they called it back then.

I did in fact try that “un-cool” piano for quite some time – more to please my folks than anything else. However, all I really wanted was to grow my hair long, buy a Gibson Les Paul guitar and play loud riffs all day and all night long. Soaring lead guitar – oh, yeah! Naturally, just the kind of stuff parents didn’t approve of at all.

That ol’ beat-up six string

Without telling anyone but my closest friends, I borrowed an old German Hofner guitar – from where, I can’t quite recall – and began to teach myself guitar whenever my parents were not at home. In the beginning, I tried to pick up songs from the radio or from records.

Learning electric guitarI could sit for hours just trying to figure out simple songs, basic chords and licks on that beat-up, old guitar wreck. Actually, like the song goes, I literally “played it till my fingers bled”. Small wonder when you combine an untrained wanna-be rock star going for hours on end, real heavy strings and a guitar with an action that would make a classical guitar player green with envy. I suppose it was just sheer luck I managed to avoid getting tendinitis…

After a while I hooked up with a couple of guys who were a little more experienced than me, and I was in “advanced guitar lessons” heaven. Thinking back, it was still basic stuff. But hey, these dudes played lead guitar! At the time, I thought this was way cooler than playing your average rhythm, chords and riffs stuff, and I tried to suck up those lead guitar lessons like there was no tomorrow.

Getting my first proper electric guitar – a Japanese Gibson copy – helped getting things up to speed. With that old Hofner wreck I probably never would have managed to learn electric guitar properly.

Eventually, we (myself and one my guitar allied) formed a band. My parents had eventually, and very reluctantly, accepted my stubborn vision of becoming the next Jimmy Page (yeah, right…) and from that moment on, Chopin and Brahms was a lost case. A guitar case on the other hand… I could see myself getting a handle on that.

The leading man

As luck would have it, my friend was a better guitar player than me (he taught me stuff, remember). Consequently, I was delegated to keeping the rhythm going, while he took those enviable lead playing chores. At the time, I didn’t fancy that much, so how can I talk about luck?

Well, years later I found that my friend never quite had mastered the basic – and really needed – skill of playing songs. So he gave up and drifted along to other things, while I kept plugging away; perhaps not your bona fide riff master, but quite capable as years went by.

Many years later, I even managed to save up money for a real Gibson Les Paul custom, and I haven’t looked back since. Shoot, I even grew to love classical music through the guitar. It was said I managed to make my old man proud in the end.

The moral of the story

If you intend to teach yourself guitar, then I strongly suggest you A. learn the art of playing songs … even if the riffs and solos is what you urge, and B. that you play with other people in a duo, group, ensemble or band – what ever tickles your fancy.

With all the brilliant tools available today you can save years on your learning curve. You have any number of DVDs in all styles and a host of web solutions. The earlier mentioned Crash Course Muso (Beginner Video Lessons), or Jamorama is perfect for beginners and intermediates (I would probably been able to kill for something like those two…), or the way cool Guitar Superstars, which is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced player alike. I have tested and used all three of these programs extensively, and they are all worth their weight in gold. Great time savers! The first one has the added benefit of offering free lessons.

Needless to say, your best option would be to pay for private tuition. This can be costly, however, and you would need to find someone who “talks your language” as well. Not all teachers are created equal!

What ever you choose to learn to play electric or acoustic guitar, do seek qualified advice and tuition! It will save you both time and (consequently) money.

Who knows, if I had laid my hands some of the tools you guys have at your fingertips these days, maybe I would have become a chick magnet and rock guitar hero? Probably not quite. Becoming a better guitar player in far less time, on the other hand? Definitely!

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How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar

11th September

Learning electric guitar – how long does it take?

How long does it take to learn guitar?Answering this frequently asked question is almost like answering “how long is a piece of string?”

There are so many variables involved that it is close to impossible to say how long it will take for any individual to get up to a certain level.

And also, what will it say to having learned something after all? Is this a level where you have the minimum of basics down – like knowing a few chords and being able to strum along to a simple song? Or, is it more like having mastered the task at hand?

If you are more thinking along the lines of having mastered the art of playing guitar then a likely answer to “how long does it take to learn guitar?” will be something along the lines of “all your life … and then some”.

Keep it real – keep it simple!

Some of the best things you can do to yourself is to keep things in perspective – I call this to keep it real. Such perspectives will include the realizations that A. Learning guitar takes an investment of time and effort, and that B. There are no short-cuts.

You will inevitably also be aware of the fact that it is easier to become good at anything when you start at a young age. Does this mean that you can not become proficient or learn guitar at all if you start at a later stage? Not at all! The only thing to remember is that it likely will take more efforts on your parts – again: remember to keep it real :-)

It should also be fairly obvious that the more concentrated effort you put into it (noodling around and just browsin for something to learn i not a concentrated effort), the better off you’ll be.

When you want to learn electric guitar (or any type of guitar for that matter), keeping it simple involves doing the steps which will ensure you get the most out of your time and efforts. This again revolves around the points discussed below.

Doing it all by yourself?

One of the most persistent myths is how “easy” it is to teach yourself guitar.  Is it possible? For some folks, absolutely. However, let us look at the flip side of the coin.

Is this really the best investment of your time and efforts to try and piece together this highly complex task on you own? I dare say no, not at all. Also, browsing through all the free stuff available online and picking up bits and pieces of information from friends here and there is no way to guarantee that you’ll avoid picking up bad habits and counter productive information along the way.

Furthermore, this “jumping about” and “take it as it comes” way of learning is lacking the all important structure which is needed if you want to make sure that you will succeed with the best possible result in the shortest amount of time.

Getting help – the easy and cost effective way

Make no mistake about it. The best and most efficient way, bar none, to help you reach your goals is to take lessons from a qualified and dedicated guitar teacher. However, this is also the most expensive route to take. You will also have to find someone who is somewhat on the same wavelength as yourself, someone you will trust, respect and like.

A good compromise is to take one of the better online courses available, such as Guitar Superstars, Next Level Guitar or Guitar Success. You will be amazed by the content these course have and how inexpensive they tend to be. This is a far, far better investment of time and energy than going through all the hoops to try and find some golden nuggets for free.

Setting your guitar playing goals

Another way of making sure you learn guitar with easy and efficiency is to set goals for yourself. From the perspective of learning how to play guitar, setting goals has two sides as I see it. One is how often and how you practice guitar. The other is what you intend to learn in a given period of time.

It is without a doubt far easier to achieve something when you have a clear goal of when you will have achieved it! Just ask any athlete. If you say to yourself that “by Christmas I shall have learned all the open style chords and the basic barre chords”, then chances are much better you will do just that. Just to remind you – please keep it real :-)

As far as practice schedule goes, you will again be best of by keeping it real as well as simple. Set a time which you know you can have as yours – 20 minutes, half an hour, one hour – close the door and make that a no interruption time! Work on the things you want to learn and keep at it. This is in essence the only way to become good at anything.

The tools of the trade

Having a properly adjusted guitar which is a breeze to play will ensure that you “stick to your guns” and don’t give up on your dream of learning the guitar. Far too many people give up simply because they forget the importance of having a good beginner electric guitar which has been set up properly. You can read more about the importance of a proper guitar set-up here.

The “final piece of the puzzle” (if you learn on an electric guitar) is to have some sort of of practice amp or practice tool to plug into and maybe even jam along to. What is the best tools for your need? Hard to say for sure, but you can search more here for the best practice amp. Just be aware that you can also practice your guitar plugged into a smart phone, with software on your computer, through headphones and a multi-effects units, as well as with a practice amp.

Sounding off

Rather than asking “How long does it take to learn guitar?”, it may probably be a far better idea to ask yourself “How do I make sure I’ll stick to my guitar playing for the time it takes to learn it?”

Hopefully, you will have picked up some tips above. Still, in the end, I tend to believe the best answer to that is found within yourself. Just be certain about this simple fact: If you want it bad enough and you give it enough time and effort, you will achieve it!

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Good Beginner Electric Guitar

28th March

Finding the best beginner electric guitars online

good beginner electric guitarToday, seeking out a really good beginner electric guitar is virtually a breeze.

However, finding beginner electric guitars with great, consistent build and set-up quality at an affordable price can be somewhat more of a challenge.

One brand of guitars we have found which really fits this bill to T is the Agile electric guitars.

I haven’t tested their acoustic line of guitars, but I will assume these are great value for the price also (although they don’t seem to have some better steel string acoustics though – kind of a shame…).

As far as their electrics goes, I haven’t heard anything but really great things. They are well set up, superb looking – and their prices…? Wow!

Their better models have the kind of specs that can put any US built instruments to shame any time, and at a fraction of the price for a Fender or Gibson.

Some comments about the Agile guitars

Here are some of the comments given about the Agile brand of electric guitars from the suppliers web site (rondo.com).

“The problem that I have is my wife would rather play my Agile than her Gibson. She says the Agile plays much better and sounds just as good.”

“I may have played better guitars, but not by much and NEVER at this incredible price!”

“I just wanted to tell you that this has been one of the best guitar purchases I’ve made in the past ten years.”

“(…) I just can’t believe the sound, the look or the price!”

“My personal opinion on this guitar is that it kicks its competitors in their teeth.”

For anyone thinking about buying an Epiphone Les Paul, new or used, I urged you to seriously consider picking up one of these Agile Les Paul guitars – you will not be sorry.

The good, the bad and the ugly?

When you’re looking to purchase a lower end guitar, either online or at a store, you may have to run through (not literally, do you hear! :) a huge number of instruments to “strike gold”. The quality really is up and down. One instrument can be gob-smacking good, while the neck from the same production run couldn’t really be fit for anything but firewood.

The Agile electric guitars seems to be built at a much higher consistent quality. So, any of these guitars have the potential of serving you well for many years to come.

I should in all fairness have to make an exception for the cheapest guitar models though. After all, a $50 guitar will probably never be an instrument fit for the likes of Eddie Van Halen or Eric Clapton.

But dude, seriously – Why in the name of Robert Johnson wasn’t some these instruments around when I first started out! Oh dear, the sad excuses for guitars we had to stick with…

If you have $200-300 or slightly more to spend on an electric guitar, one of these babies will make your goal to learn electric guitar properly and easily so much more achievable, worthwhile and downright fun.

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How To Sound Like…

10th January

How To Play Like Your Favorite Guitarist

how-to-sound-likeOne of the most frequent guitar related questions we get goes something like this: “How do I sound like (insert name here)?”; or “how do I get my equipment to sound like (again insert name here)”?

Although it is very understandable wanting to learn how to play blues guitar like B.B King or Eric Clapton, rock out like Jimmy Page or Eddie Van Halen, or how to sound like the amazing Steve Vai or Brian May – just to mention a few of the many great electric guitar players ot there – this is a very hard thing to do. Subsequently these are questions which are really hard to give a satisfactory answer to.

When you start out wanting to learn electric guitar – emulating and mimicking other players and artists in your field is a great idea. I would go as far as saying that studying other great guitar players in detail is one of the best ways there is to learn.

In our quest to follow the path of other master guitarists, it is only natural that we also attempts to get a sound that is at least somewhat similar to what he or she has.

Let’s face it, if you want to learn how to play guitar like (country guitar great) Brent Mason or the late great “the Humbler” Danny Gatton, then you probably don’t want to play with a death metal set-up, or use anything else than a Fender Telecaster as your starting point.

However, this urge to get the exact tone as your role model, is another thing all together.

Observing guitar greats up front

Through the years I have had the chance to watch quite a number of amazing guitar players performing live – not only on their usual equipment, but others as well.

And you know what? They always sound like themselves no matter what they plug in to or play on. This should really be some food for thought…

I can vividly remember seeing greats like Slash or David Lindley playing on run-of-the-mill borrowed equipment in smaller venues. They sounded just like they were supposed to – 100% themselves.

Here’s a quote from guitar great Steve Morse (during an interview with musicradar.com:

“I’ve seen this time and time again, and I’m sure you have, too: You get two guitar players, give them the same guitar, same amp, same setup, you can even give ‘em the same pick [laughs]…and they’ll sound totally different. Equipment has very little to do with it; it’s all about the player and his feel and approach to music. It’s just like acting: two actors can read the same words from the same script, and you’ll get two completely different performances.”

There’s also a great comment – I think it is on the Gibson guitar site – from this guy who once had the chance to watch LA Guns with Tracii Guns (real name Tracy Ulrich) on lead guitar. He was playing a Les Paul through a regular combo amp. Also, Brian May of Queen fame and another great player from the Alice Cooper band at the time did stints on the exact same rig and guitar used by Tracii.

The other players reportedly sounded nothing at all like Tracii. Brian May sounded like he always does (no surprise there)!

Does all this tell you something? At least it was an eye opener for me when I realized how much of the sound is in the heart, soul, mind and hands of the player.

Getting in the same ball park – sound wise

Like I said previously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong about attempting to get a sound similar to what other players are getting.

In order to get a guitar tone closer to what you’re aiming fore, you will probably need to play a guitar kind of similar to what that other person does. Then you’d want kind of a similar guitar amp type with the majority of guitar effects that this other player uses.

By doing a search online, you will probably manage to dig up information about most of the equipment used by a particular artist. You should eventually be able to find more information on how to sound like that guy from your favorite band.

Just don’t forget that you still probably will have only one small piece of the puzzle.

Another thing to spend some time reflecting upon is this: Why try to become someone else? Why being a lesser copy of Carlos Santana, Jimmy Hendrix or Duke Robbilard? After all it is so more rewarding (and a heck of a lot easier) to be yourself, would you not agree?

If you intend to get anywhere with you playing (aside from being a cover artist or perhaps a session player) – having a unique style, just being you and becoming as good as you can get, will likely get you the furthest.

So what do you think? As always, I’d love to get your opinion and feedback on this issue. Do feel free to contact me or post your comment below!

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Used Electric Guitar

9th January

Beginning With A Used Instrument

used electric guitarFinding a used electric guitar – or used acoustic guitar for that matter – should probably be one of the simplest and most straight forward tasks a budding guitar player could ever undertake.

The shops are constantly full of second hand guitars and these stringed instruments are being advertised in guitar magazines and online sites such as Craigslist and eBay by the thousands each and every day.

Add to that another massive number of classified ads running in newspapers and other magazines, plus used guitars changing hands trough bulletin boards and personal contact.

There are many valid reason why someone wanting to learn how to play guitar would want to consider buying  a used guitar.

At the same time there are quite a substantial number of potential pitfalls and things you should be aware of when you might be considering purchasing a second hand guitar.

In the following, we’ll take a closer look at all this.

Why buy a second hand guitar?

Why would you want to consider buying used in the first place? After all there’s an abundance of  really good brand new beginner guitars and the prices are way low too! These days, finding a new electric guitar bargain is basically compared to a Sunday stroll in the park.

Well, the way I see it, is that you may get a better quality instrument for the same price … if you know what to look for. Secondly, you will get an instrument that is played and thus has had the chance to “settle in” properly. Again you will need to know what to watch out for.

What to look for in used guitars

First of all you will absolutely be best off if you can manage to get help from someone who knows how to test guitars properly. Just trusting your eyes and the words of a seller is not the way to go about it.

If you have someone helping you out, then you may consider trying all sorts of used electric guitars – well known brands as well as the totally unfamiliar ones. You may be positively surprised by what you can find :-)

If you go about this without qualified help, you should stick to the better known brands. For a start, you may want to check out what other players are saying about the actual make and model at: Harmony Central.

If you like what you see here, you should examine and play the instrument thoroughly. It should go without saying that I advice you not to purchase a used guitar without having the chance to test if first when you’re a complete beginner.

Here are some of the things you should check:

Neck: Is the guitar neck straight? Look along the length of the neck. It should look perfectly straight. If you press down one of the outer strings at the first fret and the 12th fret, you should see just a tiny, tiny gap between the string and the fret in the middle – around the 5th or 6th fret. If the neck is bowed or got a “lump”, don’t buy – unless the owner can adjust the neck for you at the spot.

Frets: check all the frets. Loose frets is a no-go. Play all strings one note at the time all the way up and down the neck. If you hear any major buzz or dead notes (or indeed the same note on two different frets when you go up or down the string), you have a problem. You may also run your fingers (carefully!) along both sides of the neck to feel if the guitar frets are sticking out. If they are, you may check the frets more closely, since there may be a problem with the wood drying out. Finally, check the frets for major grooves and fret wear – some wear is common and not a problem.

Guitar wood: Check the back side of the head stock for hairline fractures or cracks. A broken headstock that has been fixed by a pro is not a problem. Done by someone who don’t know how, it is probably not worth taking the risk. Check along the length of the neck for fractures as well. How is the neck and body fit? Does it seem tight and solid? This is very important on glued in necks!

Hardware: Are all the guitar tuners working properly? Is it possible to adjust the bridge height and the bridge saddles? If there’s a tremolo bar – does if function well? Are both strap buttons in place and screwed on tight?

Electronics: When you plug the guitar in and test it (which you definitely want to do of course), is all switches working properly. You may sometimes try to tap all pick-ups lightly and carefully with a screwdriver to make sure they work – at least you should hear how the sound changes as you play the guitar and use the switches and pots. Scratchy pots can most likely be fixed with contact spray but  do use a little caution! You want to check that the guitar cable fits firmly into the output jack of the guitar, and that there are no sound drop outs.

Playability: How does the guitar feel? Is it hard to press down the strings at the first fret? Is the neck width and size OK to you? Use a guitar strap and check that it hangs and feels OK.

Intonation: If you know how, you should probably also check the guitar intonation. I will advice you to bring a guitar tuner and that you learn how to use it before you start looking at guitars. Go online and do a search for how to check intonation on a guitar. There’s also a video below which shows you how to do this.

If you go through these steps and you don’t rush into things, you should have no problem finding a nice used electric guitar, perfect for your playing style and needs.

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12th November

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About Us

12th November

Learn electric guitar.net is dedicated to providing helpful, quality information on the subject of learning guitar and in particular, learning electric guitar online.

Here you will find helpful reviews, informative information and tips and much more. This site is in the format of a ‘weblog’ so that each time I post new information, it will come to the top of the front page. This means that you can check back here frequently to see new updates to the information found here.

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