L earning electric guitar without learning acoustic first is absolutely fine. Both electric and acoustic guitar techniques are the same – whatever you learned is transferable between both guitars.
I clearly remembered having the same thought. I was a total beginner and was more interested in electric guitar.
So I went ahead and bought an electric guitar and I turned out fine! Whatever you learned in electric guitar also applies to acoustic (and vice versa). You don’t have to learn acoustic first – just follow what you like.
But of course, there are a couple more things to consider. Which is why I am writing this article.
In this article, I am going into detail and cover below topics:
- Can an absolute beginner learn electric guitar?
- Why beginner should learn electric guitar first (without learning acoustic)
- Downsides to learning electric guitar first
- Electric vs acoustic guitar for beginners
- Should you learn electric guitar first? (Or Acoustic)
- Things you need to start learning electric guitar
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Can an Absolute Beginner Learn Electric Guitar?
An absolute beginner should have no problems learning electric guitar. You are not required to read musical notes and also not required to know tools like amps, the knob, pickups.
I know how intimidating an electric guitar looked as an absolute beginner.
The guitar itself has multiple buttons and knobs. Let alone the other components you need to tinker with – like amps, whammy bars and audio interfaces.
Turns out, you don’t need to know any of these to start learning electric guitar. And you definitely don’t need to know how to read musical notes.
As a beginner, you should focus on learning basics things like fretboards, chords and the guitar strings. This is the same for electric and acoustic guitars.
Personally, I was able to play many songs and riffs without ever configuring the amp, pickups or tones. All I needed was simple chords and tabs.
If you are an absolute beginner and want to learn electric guitar, you can absolutely do it. Don’t let the complicated components intimidate you. You won’t need them at all in the beginning.
5 Reasons Why Beginner Should Learn Electric Guitar First
Not only can an absolute beginner start with electric guitar, there are actually benefits to this as well.
Here are 5 reasons why you should learn electric guitar first (without learning acoustic):
- Electric guitar can be easier to play than acoustic. When using an amp, an electric guitar string is more sensitive. Which means you don’t have to press as hard to get a good sound from an electric guitar.
- Your passion for electric guitar will keep you playing. Many beginners stop playing because they get bored. If you are passionate about electric guitar, playing it will not be boring and can keep you playing and practicing for a long time.
- You can play more styles with an electric guitar. Electric guitar allows you to play various effects like distortion. Which means, you can play multiple styles and songs with an electric guitar alone – this includes acoustic songs.
- Skills learned in electric guitar are highly transferable. With electric guitar, you will learn guitar concepts like chords and also guitar tools like amp and audio interfaces. Which means switching to bass and acoustic in the future is easier.
- You can play electric guitar quietly. With an electric guitar, you can practice quietly using headphones and guitar interfaces. Or even unplugged if you just want to practice the skills without sound.
See? So many reasons why you should learn electric guitar first. After reading this section, I assume you are all fired up to buy an electric guitar and start learning.
But hold up! There are some downsides to electric guitar for beginners as well. But I promise you it’s not that bad.
4 Downsides To Learning Electric Guitar First (As Beginner)
The downsides to learning electric guitars usually come down to complexity. If you can make sure you don’t get intimidated – you should be fine.
Regardless, here we go 4 downsides to learning electric guitar first as beginners:
- You need to buy more tools to play electric guitar. To play electric guitar you at least need an electric guitar and amp (or audio interfaces). This means additional tools to set up and buy.
- Cannot properly play electric guitar without amp / audio interfaces. This is related to the first point. To play electric guitar properly, you either need a big and bulky amp or you need to play with headphone wires around you. This is annoying.
- Electric guitar is heavier. Electric guitar requires much more components inside it to work. Unlike an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar is much heavier. Depending on you, this could be an issue – or not.
- Small transition required to acoustic. As I said, an electric guitar requires less pressure on the string to produce a good sound. You can get used to this and have to readjust when playing acoustic (just a small adjustment, though)
Should You Learn Electric Guitar First (Or Acoustic)?
As an absolute beginner, you should start with the guitar that’s used in your favorite songs. This makes sure you keep going and go pass the beginner stage and eventually become a great guitar player.
If you like acoustic songs that use strumming and fingerpicking, then you should probably go with acoustic guitar. Especially true if you like to sing along. – you typically use acoustic guitars when singing along.
If you like rock, metal or you generally just like the sound effects coming from an electric guitar, then you should go with the electric guitar.
It all comes down to what types of songs you like. Don’t make decisions based on what people tell you to do. Identify what you like and go with it!
Trust me, I have been there. When I was much younger and never played guitar, I tried taking acoustic guitar lessons because “you are recommended to start with acoustic first” (not true).
The result? I absolutely hated it. I was learning easy strumming songs like “Let it be” from the Beatles and “Wonderwall” by Oasis. Many people liked it but I hated them – They are not my style at all
I ended up quitting guitar about 2 months after. I only started learning guitar again many years later and this time, I started out with an electric guitar. I haven’t stopped playing ever since.
Things You Need To Start Learning Electric Guitar
Like I said earlier, the downside to starting out with an electric guitar is that you need to mess with a lot of equipment.
Let me make it easier for you. Below are the things you need when trying to learn electric guitar for the first time (with explanations for each of them).
1. Electric Guitar
To play electric guitar, you obviously need an electric guitar…. What I want to point out is that you don’t have to buy an expensive electric guitar.
Cheaper electric guitars (that come with a set) are usually good enough. When you are completely new, you won’t be paying attention to the sound or tone. It’s all about learning the basics for now.
You can get an electric guitar set from Amazon. Any random $100 electric guitar set is good enough. It should come with everything you need like the guitar, amp, strap and picks.
Personally, I got this electric guitar set and it has been great.
2. Electric Guitar Amp
An amp is a device that converts signals from your electric guitar into sound waves and outputs it via the speakers.
A guitar amp looks like a speaker but is not a regular speaker. An amp needs to read the signals from your guitar. Regular speakers can’t do this.
Plugging in regular speakers into your electric guitar won’t work. You need an amp.
Similar to the guitar, you don’t need an expensive amp as a beginner. As long as it works and can produce sound from your guitar, it’s good.
Don’t bother buying an amp separately. Just get the amp that comes from your guitar set.
3. Guitar Pick
Guitar pick is a pointy plastic tool that you use to strum or pick the strings in your guitar. This is not required but is recommended when playing electric guitars.
Most electric guitar riffs are played using a pick because a pick can help you produce much better sound.
However, it’s not required. You can always use your fingers to pluck the strings. In most cases, a pick is included when you buy a guitar. (If not, you should ask for it for free!)
Picks usually come with different thickness. This is personal preference. Just use the one that’s provided with your guitar set.
4. Headphone Amp (Amplifier)
A guitar headphone amplifier is a device that replaces a bulky amp. A headphone amplifier can convert signals from your electric guitar and output it to your headphones.
This is of course optional, but I highly recommend it. Headphone amps are great when you want to play quietly with your headphones.
If you have the budget, you should also get this. Very useful if you are living with roommates or families / girlfriends. Nobody appreciates your guitar noise when practicing.
This is the headphone amp that I bought as a beginner (Vox AmPlug). It’s about $40 and is usually the standard go to headphone amps. Get the AC30 or Clean version – these work best for me.
You just plug the headphone amp into your guitar audio jack and your headphone into the guitar amp.
Here’s a YouTube video I found that shows you how each Vox Amplug sounds like. Listen to it and make your pick.
5. Guitar Lessons (Yousician)
Last thing you need is a place to learn. Many people choose to attend local guitar lessons or even learn it for free from YouTube.
From my experience, the guitar lesson that is most enjoyable and gives me the most success is Yousician.
Yousician is a mobile (or desktop) app that teaches you by playing. With the app, you need to connect your guitar to your phone / desktop – in which the Yousician app can then hear you play.
Using the Yousician app, you can watch lesson videos and play along with their libraries of songs based on your level. They provide a great backing track and can immediately show you feedback.
Have you played the PS2 game called Guitar Hero? It’s exactly that, but for learning. How fun is that?
I am not affiliated with Yousician in any way. But props to them for creating a great product. I am personally subscribed to Yousician and paying them a monthly fee of $9.99 / month (1 year contract).
Another thing to note, if you decide to use Yousician, then you need to purchase another tool to connect your guitar to your phone.
I personally use the iRig 2. It works well and is quite cheap at $40.
Here’s an official YouTube video from Yousician showing you how to connect your guitar to your mobile device.