I’m decided to take up playing (learning) electric guitar. I have basic knowledge of sol-fa (I can read music), but not that much of advanced sol-fa (scales...)

I’ve played for years using tabs mainly, and technically I can get by, although I’m definitely not a fast player.

My goals are to keep improving technically (being faster) but also actually learn about music (where notes are in the whole fretboard, scales, chords, chord progressions, their relation, improvisation, etc). Summing up, stop being a tab player and actually know music and electric guitar

Could you suggest a learning path and resources (books, webs...) necessary to achieve these goals?


1 Answer 1


You can learn all the things you mention from TAB too. TAB is just one way to express information. The standard is Standard Music Notation, which is equal across all instruments. That allows you to read sax or piano music as well. I personally think all beginning music students should learn SMN but TAB is an other avenue. TAB does take some decision making out of your hands. It takes time to learn the optimal fingering of a phrase or chord written in SMN. Most classical guitar sheet music has string number and fingering numbers along side the notes. So in some sense there is TAB superimposed on the sheet music. As for learning the fingerboard, improv, etc. You can pick up any beginner book on the guitar as a starting point. You can also get basic music theory work books to build up your knowledge.

Improv skills depend on the style of music you like. It is better to listen to a lot of music and try to transcribe solos by ear rather than learn some sort of scale - chord equivalence relation. I teach guitar and have worked through dozens of graded guitar methods. I still like Mel Bay (grades 1 - 7) the best. There is also William Levitt modern guitar method in 3 volumes. Hal Lennard has a graded series as well that one of my students brought before coming to lessons and we're working through that, it's similar to Mel Bay but the exercises are based on more current blues and rock tunes. These types of books usually have some music theory lessons dispersed throughout. As for specific music theory work books I'd recommend the Master Theory Series by Peters and Yoder (volumes 1-6). These are very basic and small books with focused work sheets related to a half page lesson. Ideal for true beginners. I recommend these are Mel Bay because the lessons are grouped into small digestible sections that increase in complexity, each book is fairly cheap so you can buy as you go rather than have a 500 page tome that looks overwhelming. I'd stay away from large, expensive college texts. They may be great but not ideal for beginners interested in self teaching/learning. If you are a Vai fan you might try Vaideology (I've not reviewed it but the theory is presented from a guitarists point of view).

As for getting faster, you need to learn how to practice correctly. Speed can be achieved on any instrument and in any style. The mechanics are the same. Get a metronome and learn to use it properly. There is a great book out there "Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar" by Troy Stetina. It seems geared towards metal heads but the lessons are universal.

Take lessons.

  • Excellent answer, I appreciate it Jan 8, 2020 at 14:20

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