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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Guitar Questions and Answers 2

18th December

More Guitar Questions And Answers

guitar question and answersYes ladies and gentlemen – boys and girls … it’s time for another round of the guitar playing stuff that may help you on your quest to learn electric guitar sooner rather than later. So, since you’re probably in a hurry to be rockin’ and rollin’, let’s dive right into it!

If you have any guitar or learning guitar question, please feel free to leave your question in the comment field below or contact me; don’t be shy!

Changing guitar strings – how often?

Q: How often do you recommend I’d change to a new set of strings? When they break? What’s this thing about new strings anyway?


A: In general, you would commonly want to change your strings as often as you can afford … unless you like a duller, more lifeless sound (which some players actually do).

Before discussing this issue further, I’d like to point out that classical (nylon) guitar strings differ slightly from nickel or bronze strings (electric or acoustic). The three treble, unwound nylon strings on a classical guitar is usually changed less frequently than the wound ones.

As for electric or steel string guitars you normally change the whole set at a time. The exception is when you break a string prematurely. If you play hard and/or the guitar is not properly set up, you may find  the high E and B strings snaps at frequent intervals.

Why would you want new strings? Well first and foremost they simply play better and sound far better.

They also tend to be better in tune (the intonation is more correct), as there’s inevitably some build up of sweat, dirt and grime on older strings – even if you clean them on regular intervals. This makes the older strings vibrate more unevenly, leaving the intonation slightly off.

As for keeping your strings last longer, you should clean the strings with a dry, clean piece of cloth after each session – don’t forget the fingerboard also!

A dirty fretboard will kill the sound of your new strings fast. The grime will simply stick on those new strings you just put on … bad idea.

Proper guitar care and maintenance is so important!

You may also use coated strings since they stay bright for a longer period of time than non-coated ones. The downside is that these guitar strings are quite a bit more expensive.

So how long can you keep the strings on? Apart from the sound, tuning and the dirt issue, it is no direct sin to keep them on for months at a time! But let me put it this way – there’s a reason why some pro guitar players change their strings as often as every other day…

…And no, that is not to impress the musos :-)

Any advice on staying motivated?

Q: These days I get easily distracted or bored with the guitar playing. Any tips on how to stay motivated?


A: First of all I would sincerely urge you to hang in there. Don’t give up! You will most likely beat yourself at a later stage if you quit.

Eventually, everyone goes through one or more of these phases – it’s  inevitable in my experience. If you keep at it, the “flow” and inspiration will kick back in sooner or later.

One piece of advice is to sit back and listen to some of your favorite artists and players. Me, I like to try and figure out the guitar parts … keeps things fresh and interesting. How do they do this or that? How do they get that sound?

Challenging yourself and going outside of the box is another way to stay on your toes. Why not try out a new, open tuning or slap on a capo? Try to approach the way you pick or play – swap your pick for your fingers or vice versa. Personally, just for the fun of it, try to teach myself a totally new way of playing guitar … something I’m not comfortable with at that point

You know, even as simple and “boring” as putting on a fresh set of strings can bring back that old love affair – breathing new life in old trusty (that’s your guitar in case you wondered :)

Some day, further down the line, you may be thrilled you kept at it – learning how to play. Or, you may be very unhappy with the fact that you quit. It’s totally up to you.

Do take a rest and lower your ambitions for a shorter period of time. Just don’t give up!

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A Great Beginner Guitar Course

13th December

online-guitar-courseAn acquaintance of mine, British guitarist and over all super nice fellow Phill Mason has released a brand new online guitar course: Crash Course Muso – Beginners Guitar Video Lessons.

He is graciously giving away several total beginner lessons for anyone keen on starting out to learn guitar.

And I must say, the quality of these lessons are totally jaw-dropping. The audio and video on these guitar lessons are nothing short of amazing (yes, of course I signed up to have a look – everything else would be cheating in my book…). I never, ever go about recommending something I haven’t actually tested myself.

Phill has chosen a wise slogan for his course: “Play first – learn later” With this he’s correctly stating that it is (to anyone but the hard-core – 100% theory-driven “guitar nerds”) far more satisfying to actually learn how to play some basic riffs and easy songs from the very beginning, rather than being bogged down with a lot of boring, “mumbo-jumbo” theory.

We all obviously want to actually learn how to play something worthwhile on the guitar, right?

Of course, the theory bit is also taken care of. After you have learned to play some rewarding stuff, you will be shown the basic underlying principles (in other words theory) as you progress. Smart move!

Phill has a very relaxed, pleasant and laid-back – still firm, direct and no-frills – style of teaching. This makes you believe in him as a teacher and trust in his ability to deliver the goods. You will also very soon begin to believe in your own abilities to actually learn guitar.

Is it all guitar rosy then?

Anything negative to say at all, it can’t all be total guitar nirvana? Well, the only thing I have found so far is the fact that this is strictly a total beginner guitar package as far as I can see.

If you have some basic skills already in place, you might want to opt in for the more advanced, paid options. Mind you, these are still very, very cost effective.

Even if this is, by nature and design, basic guitar skills being presented, you are also being shown how to do proper right hand (strumming hand) damping of the strings. A vital lesson to be learned early on indeed!

A rocking good way?

If you’re seriously interested in the fastest way possible to learn electric guitar, then I would urge you to have a look at the Crash Guitar Course! For a free guitar course option, it doesn’t get any better that this – definitely amongst the absolute best online guitar courses I’ve come across so far.

Five thumbs up … eh…, could I borrow three of your? You’ll get them back – promise! :-)

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Beginner Guitar Lessons

5th December

Your First Guitar Lessons

When you’re starting out with electric guitar, it is always beneficial to consider early on what type of beginner guitar lessons you could see yourself having on a regular basis. As with everything else in life, it is fare more likely things will go according to plan, if you have a plan to begin with :-)

Your options are more or less these:
- Doing it all by yourself, “happy-go-lucky style”
- Using on-line tools, such as the much applauded Jamorama or Guitar Superstars
- Picking up stuff from friends
- Playing along to free on-line video on YouTube and similar places.
- Taking guitar classes at a school or institute
- Learning from guitar books or DVD’s
- Hiring a private guitar tutor
- Any combination of the above

beginner-guitar-lessonLearning on your own

Honestly, the only advantage I can see here is that you’d probably be more inclined to develop a unique style – for better or worse.

Seriously though, this is not something I would even consider. It is so easy to pick up bad playing habits. And if you want to learn electric guitar properly, bad habits and sloppy technique is the last thing you want to have!

Learning from a friend or with free video

This is an OK option I guess … if you have absolutely no money at all to spend on tuition. Still, you would need to consider this: How much real life skill and teaching qualifications does this other person have?

When you’re starting out it is a real challenge to be able to spot these things. And – the difference can mean a world of difference to your future ability as a guitar slinger. Sure enough, when you have gained quite a bit of experience, it is absolutely crucial to learn from others – left and right. At a more advanced stage, you’ll be able to pick up things and adapt the major or minor stuff you see fit.

Another thing to think about is the structure – or rather: lack thereof. Proper on-line or off-line guitar learning tools take into consideration a proper sequence and schedule. Without these guiding principles, you will likely, sooner or later, become stuck and frustrated. What you really need is a tested system, not videos or friends showing you some random cool licks…

Learning from guitar books and DVD’s

There are heaps of guitar books and DVD’s out there – some great, some not so great. If you find a book and/or DVD that is specifically geared at beginner guitar lessons, you can’t go much wrong. I would personally take a DVD over a book any time. It is much easier to see a playing sequence on video than than it is in a static book format.

However, the same DVD tends to be kind of boring and stale after a while, and it can be expensive to buy new ones all the time. Also, you don’t have the option to get feedback on your playing with these learning tools.

On-line guitar learning

This is where special tools such as the earlier mentioned Jamorama course (perfect for beginners) and Guitar Superstars come into play. Here you have on-line video, Jam tracks (play-along possibilities) proper learning structure laid out, feedback systems in place, fresh content being added, varied learning styles and more.

If you can’t afford a private teacher, this is the route I would advise you to take. I have tested both the above places, and they are both totally cool!

Guitar school or private teacher

Some schools (public or private) have classes or courses designed for teaching guitar. I would absolutely check this out if I were you!

Then you have of course the advanced, specialized institutions like LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) in Liverpool, UK; Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, California – as well as a host of other, similar places. Here you will definitely need some skills before you apply though!

If you really want to be as good as you can be in the shortest amount of time, then nothing can beat a professional guitar teacher. Whether you want to learn classical, blues, rock or anything else – this is the way to go.

However… Having your own teacher will cost you – not an arm and a leg – but still, it’s an investment. Think of it more in terms of the time you will save!

If you choose this route, then do make sure you spend enough time to check out qualifications and if that persons style and personality is something you can be happy with.

Sounding off

Hope you’ve found some of this information helpful? I will come with more information on the issue of having a plan, as well as other stuff. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Happy hunting for proper lessons in beginner guitar skills!

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