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I am 17 and I’ve been wanting to play the electric guitar for a few years now. I haven’t really played the guitar before (acoustic or electric) but since we have the Coronavirus pandemic happening right now, I thought that learning how to play the electric guitar would be cool as I have a lot of time on my hands.

I don’t know how I should start learning, should I get a teacher or teach myself? I think I’ll be more comfortable teaching myself but I don’t know how viable that is. I don’t know what guitar to buy either, or what amp. All I know is that I really want to play electric guitar.

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  • get a cheap squier stratocaster electric guitar, and watch youtube videos on x2 speed (bc there's a lot of them). and no, you don't need a teacher. there's more information online these days than any point in history. – user34288 Apr 22 '20 at 3:21
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    This is ridiculous and dangerous advice. YouTube cannot help you correct posture, and hand position for optimal performance. It cannot correct bad habits. People wind up damaging they hands and fingers pretty badly trying to teach themselves. Developing tendonitis, CTS, cysts on the nerves, trigger finger etc. The "information" on the web is also filled with bad and false information. Like the comment above. I was trying to avoid being an alarmist in my answer but clearly it needs to be said. – ggcg Apr 22 '20 at 14:26
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My youngest son learned to play the electric guitar when he was a couple of years younger than you with a teacher. His teacher's strong recommendation was to start on the acoustic guitar for a couple of years first, which he did. There were two main reasons the teacher gave.

  1. There is a lot more to playing electric guitar than acoustic, at least to begin with, and those foundation skills are easier to learn on acoustic.

  2. An acoustic guitar is much cheaper for a beginner than the setup for an electric guitar. However starry-eyed you may be before you start you don't know for sure in advance if you will really like it and want to continue. Start by learning the basics on a cheaper acoustic guitar before spending a lot more money on an electric guitar.

If you want to make serious progress and you have the opportunity to have a teacher (even an online teacher) then you will find you make better progress with a teacher. As well as teaching you the skills you need a teacher can guide you in what to study and when to study it. This can save you a lot of frustration and help keep you motivated with challenges suitable to your level.

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    There are good reasons to start on an acoustic, but also good reasons to start on an electric. It really comes down to the student; making a neophyte play on an acoustic when the music they want to play is played on electric guitars can have the unwanted effect of evaporating interest. Also, cheap acoustics can be atrocious to play on (killing interest in practice); cheap electrics are more often at least serviceable. – ex nihilo Apr 22 '20 at 3:11
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    I would agree with ex nihilo, if you want electric learn on an electric. – ggcg Apr 22 '20 at 20:46
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Everyone thinks they would do better to try and teach themselves but you could just develop a lot of bad habits. I have found that some beginners are afraid to look like they can't do something. In front of a patient teacher (these should be synonymous) this should not be an issue. The teacher is there to help you get it. Almost everyone does Skype lessons and has been for years not just because of the pandemic. There are some limitations with online lessons but the good thing about a teacher is that you get feed back on what you are doing and that goes a long way to avoiding misunderstandings and bad habits.

When the teacher puts you on a curriculum (provided they put some thought into it) there is a goal of accomplishing certain things over time. So if you stick to the path you will make progress. Doing things on your own you might spin your wheels for too long on one thing and neglect other lessons. You might overload yourself in an attempt to learn something hard right away and get frustrated. Some people do well by self teaching but I think the majority of us benefit from having an experienced teacher.

In my opinion of you want to learn electric get an electric. You can get a decent quality beginner electric for a few hundred dollars, possible used. Chances are if you get it online you will not get it with a perfect setup. I don't know if music stores are even open for this sort of thing right now. The feel is different enough that if you spend time on an acoustic the electric will feel different enough to trow you off. Also, you will want to play around with effects in the amp.

I have a small low wattage Line 6 (I think a spider IV 30) that I actually use as my main gig amp. It was only about $300 new (maybe less), which in the grand scheme of things is a bargain. It has more than enough effects for me to pull off what I need to as a working musician (and it's light weight). You can do some comparisons online with other brands. A basic practice amp, like a Fender Princeton Chorus, would usually have 3 tone controls, volume, overdrive and reverb. Not a lot to play with. With modern technology people are writing software to emulate various high end amps. So you can get a lot for a little and you'll have more fun.

There are always online video lessons but that's not the same as a real teacher. And in the old days we picked up Hot Licks videos. You can find old tutorials by everyone from Joe Pass to Yngwie Malmsteen. In my personal opinion regardless of how you start I would recommend learning to sight read. Literacy is very important and a lot of young people don't want to spend the time. It's a dying art.

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Firstly, if you see yourself (in the future!) playing electric guitar, that's what you need to get. You'll need an amp as well, otherwise it won't be authentic!

Yamaha, Squier, Epiphone and Vintage are all good starter guitars to consider, and can come in a package with everything needed for a beginner. Or buy pre-loved - one Squier Strat I have was £15 at a car boot sale - just needed a set of strings! 15 watt amp at another - £15 again! That's hardly breaking anyone's bank. Although - no such sales just yet. (Sadly!)

A teacher will be, by far, the best way to help you learn, but right now, that's impractical - and may be, from several different angles - location, finances, etc.

There is, as foreyez says, a plethora of lessons on the 'net. Some good, some not so. Your problem as a beginner is that you won't know which is which. And unlike with a teacher, you won't get answers to specifically sort out problems you might have.

Reading music? I believe that side of things comes later. Playing initially means finding your way round whatever instrument you have - learning what it does, and how it does it. The art of reading music comes later, and for probably the vast majority of guitarists specifically, never does come. Not saying it's not a good thing, just that for the first few months at least, just play! One befuddling thing about guitar is that one specific note can be played in so many different places, making reading more complex than on most other instruments.

Learn some basic chords - three of them will give you access to literally thousands of songs. Honest! And since guitar is one of few instruments that chords can be played on, it's a great start point.

Learn some scale patterns - pentatonics are good, and just mess about making your own tunes using them. You may surprise yourself when what you play reminds you of a famous riff...

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