So, you wanna learn to play the guitar? Here are some tips

Playing the guitar is a lot like solving a Rubix Cube, and for those of you who don’t know what a Rubix Cube is, allow me to explain

rubixBack in the 80’s, there was a sensation running in the nation.  That sensation was the invention of a multi-colored, six sided cube known to be the Rubix.  The object of the cube was to match all the colors on all the sides of the cube…easier said than done.  This cube was so hard to solve, that most people ended up throwing it in their drawers after only playing a few weeks.  FACT: Less than 1% of the total U.S. population can solve the cube.  Another FACT:  less than 1% of the total U.S. population have mastered playing the guitar.

Now, I’m not saying this to discourage you from playing.  I’m just letting you know what you’re in for.  So, here are just a few tips to help you make the easiest and most rewarding decision…to play, or not to play.

1.  Is the guitar for me?

I’ve watched countless videos of my Guitar Gods, and one thing stands out.  Most of the successful guitar players, in history, were shy.  Yes, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen were shy.

“But, they can’t be shy!!??!!  They make a living playing on stage to thousands of people.”  True, but in the case of Slash–he is so shy that he has to wear the hat and sunglasses to block everyone out.  Another fact, guitar players are lonely.

If you’re someone who has problems communicating with people, the guitar can and will be your best friend.

2. Choosing your axe

So, you decided that the guitar is for you.  Now what?  Here are just a few words of caution.  Keep your options open when it comes to buying a guitar.  Often times, people make the mistake of buying a guitar similar to their guitar heroes.  In my case, he hero is Jimi Hendrix.  Jimi played a Fender Strat, and my first guitar was a cheap Strat copy.  I learned a few chords on it, got discouraged and put it away.  Twenty years later, I got the guitar bug back and bought a Gibson.  I was in love, and that love is still ongoing.

There are hundreds of guitars to choose from, but there are only three guitar configurations to choose from.

There are the humbucker guitars.  The single coil guitars, and the humbucker/single coil guitars.  Choosing the right guitar for you means that you must figure out what sound you like.

Single coil guitars sound bright, and the pickups are a bit noisy.  Humbucker pickup guitars are dark sounding, and are not noisy.  It’s hard for one to understand what it is to sound bright or dark until you pick up a guitar and play it through an amp.

stratA Fender Strat has three single coil pickups, and retails for $1,200 for an American Deluxe and $500 for a Mexican.

gibsonA Gibson Les Paul has two humbuckers, and retails for $1,600 for a Standard.  $800 for a studio, and $400 for an Epiphone copy

If those guitars are out of your budget I would highly recommend buying an Ibanez

ibanezHere is an Ibanez RG series with two humbucker pickups and a single coil in the middle.  This one also has a Floyd Rose bridge, and locking nut.  Most people would not recommend this guitar to a beginner, but I disagree.  If your someone who is into Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen this would be good, and the price on this is very reasonable, starting at $300 used or, you can find one without the Floyd Rose style bridge for $189 or less.  I have an Ibanez RX series that I paid $80 for, and it sounds amazing.

When it comes to buying a guitar try staying away from guitars made in China.  They might look really nice, but they all have their share of problems–mostly in the neck.  And that leads to one of the most important things in deciding what guitar is right for you–the feel of the neck.

In my opinion, Ibanez guitars have the nicest feeling necks.  But, that is a personal preference, and everyone is different.

3. Choosing an amp

Choosing a guitar amp is almost as important as what style guitar to buy.  Know your limitations.  Don’t go out and buy a Marshall half stack when you live in a 60 unit apartment complex packed full of retirees.  Try buying a combo amp that comes with built in effects.  Line6 has a nice amp that has over 100 effects, and is priced under $300.  You can also find them on eBay or Craigslist used for $150.  Try to stay away from a tube amp, in the beginning.  Those are finnicky, and are meant to play loud.  Again, know your surroundings.  If you live out in the Country with no neighbors, buy one.

4. I have the guitar and amp, now what?

There will be people that will tell you that you have to learn chords.  You have to learn scales.  You have to learn theory.  You have to memorize every note on the fretboard…I beg to differ.  It is important to learn all those things, but it is more important just to have fun.  There are plenty of resources on the internet.  Youtube is a perfect venue for instruction.  There is Steve Stine from guitarzoom , which I highly recommend.  He makes learning music theory easy.  You can take lessons from your local music shop, or you can teach yourself.  Just go to any tab site on the internet, search for your favorite song and learn.     Youtube also has tutorials on how to read tab.  It’s not hard.

I hope that I informed you on what to look for.  Feel free to like or subscribe, and leave me a comment to tell me what you think.  Have fun, and learn to play the guitar!