Transitioning to electric guitar from acoustic or classical should be fairly easy, though it can take some getting used to. The softer strings, lower guitar action, and great selection of styles and features make learning electric guitar less difficult and more fun!
In 1936, Charlie Christian, a jazz guitarist, played an “acoustic” guitar to do solos that were usually done using horns. This guitar, however, has something unique to it: it had an attached picked up. And since then, electric guitars had taken the world by storm.
You might have come for this article wanting to know whether you have what it takes to handle an electric guitar with all its glory. And we understand, playing an electric guitar looks incredibly cool! Still, there are multitudes to consider and a lot to think about before making the final call.
To help you out, we’ve compiled some must-knows for a crash course on electric guitars!
Electric Guitar Characteristics
You might have some fundamental insights into how an electric guitar looks and functions. Understanding its playability relies on knowing each part of the whole (as Philosophers would say).
To function, an electric guitar must be plugged in, as the names suggest. Unlike a traditional acoustic guitar, it also requires additional amplification to be heard at normal performance levels (when played without amps, they’d usually sound low). Some people may not know that these guitars are essentially constructed of wood since the bodies are coated to seem like plastic or metal and are typically fairly vibrant.
● Electric guitars have softer steel strings
The majority of electric guitars use gauge strings, which are six metal composite strings of variable thickness. Strings on electric guitars are of a lower tension (despite being made of metal alloys). As a result, they’re significantly easier to pluck and are less tiring for beginners’ fingers. Electric guitarists may also do a variety of acoustic acrobatics, including string bending and vibrato techniques – all thanks to the added flexibility.
● You’ll notice a slimmer fretboard
The necks of electric guitars are slimmer (Hence, making the fretboard narrower compared to other guitar types). For novices, this makes learning difficult chord progressions a lot simpler. However, there’s a caveat: the narrow fretboard renders it considerably more difficult to execute quick scales and possible for the user to accidentally mute the strings.
● Pickups and amps
The vibration of the strings of an electric guitar is converted into electrical impulses by one or even more pickups. Loudspeakers recreate these signals as sound. To produce varied timbres or tonal characteristics, the sound is sometimes molded or electronically manipulated. If you’re going to practice, though, you don’t need to attach them to speakers (they’ll still be loud enough for you to hear).
Still, it is important to note that there exist several other types of electric guitars. But don’t worry, we got you covered with a brief rundown.
There is no vibrating soundboard on solid-body electric guitars that amp up the vibration of the strings. The solid-body prevents wolf tones and undesired feedback by ensuring that the amplified sound only reproduces the string vibration.
A semi-hollow sound chamber is created by a solid wood block running through the core of these guitars. They can be used unplugged in intimate performances because they can usually be played at the same volume as an acoustic guitar.
The pickups convert a mixture of string and body vibration into an electrical signal – in the same manner as solid-body electric guitars do, except that the vacuous body vibrates as well.
Is Electric Guitar Hard to Learn? The Verdict
There is a lot going for and against an electric guitar through a beginner’s lens. But after considering every corner of its features, we can say that it can be difficult to get used to (just like any instrument) but it is definitely relatively easier! Why?
● Lower Guitar Action
Thanks to their slimmer necks and narrower fretboards, it would be easier for you to maneuver through basic chords. It’ll also be easier to handle. Still, be mindful that you may mute your strings if not careful.
● Softer Strings
As said, electric guitar strings (despite also being made of steel) offer surprisingly lower tension. This means it would take a lot more to get your finger fatigued from strumming.
● Good Variety
There are different types of electric guitars with a wide range of features, playability, and sound! Knowing this, you can surely choose one that best suits your playing style and genre.
Here is a helpful video to help you pick the right type of electric guitar for your playing level and style:
Electric Guitar Playing Tips
Regardless of whatever craft you intend to master; practice is always key (as cliché as that sounds). To help you with your first couple of steps, we’ve compiled a few handy must-knows that you can apply along the way:
1. Constantly remind yourself to warm up.
Yes, electric guitar strings do have lower tension but warming up for fingers can save you from getting strained. Warming up also applies to strings too!
2. Go through chords and scales 101.
Mastering a few chords is enough to get you a long way!
3. Know your amps.
Depending on what sound you want to produce (or the genre you play), an appropriate amp is needed.
4. Mirror your favorites.
Try watching clips from your most beloved guitarists (and learn a thing or two from them).
5. Look into metronomes.
If you want to progress into playing jaw-dropping solos, you need to get your timing in check.
6. Bring some friends with you.
Playing with other beginner musicians or even experienced ones can be a great booster during practice sessions.
Overall, electric guitars are surely a solid choice for beginners and experienced musicians. These guitars (despite their price and accessories) boast a roster of novice-friendly features: slimmer fretboards for a more manageable guitar action, softer strings for less finger fatigue, a handful of subtypes for a wide scope of the genre.
Still, it doesn’t mean that playing the electric guitar is a stroll in the park – so far from that to be exact.
English actress and author Sheila Hancock once uttered, “Learning a musical instrument is challenging, it demands fine motor skills and coordination.“ Just like any instrument, it will definitely take some time and passion (and callus). But with the right attitude and the tips we compiled for you, you’ll surely get there.
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.